Sociology Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study


Program Description

The Graduate Field in Sociology enrolls about 6-7 doctoral students each year, with about 40 graduate students in the program at any given time.

Graduate Students in Sociology are advised by the Sociology Graduate Field Faculty – more than 30 eminent sociologists from across the Cornell campus. Most, but not all, of these sociologists have their primary appointments within the Department of Sociology. Graduate students in Sociology can be advised by any member of the Sociology Graduate Field Faculty. Applicants are encouraged to review the list of Sociology Graduate Field Faculty and their areas of ongoing research and to reach out to faculty whose research interests are relevant. (However, applicants should note that students are admitted in a general pool; not to work with specific faculty or in particular labs.)

Doctoral students in Sociology register in general sociology initially, and during the first year of study, they take a sequence of core courses in theory and methods. Then, students select two areas of concentration within which they develop a strong foundational knowledge of theory and research. These areas are chosen from the list below; students may focus on two major areas or one major area and one minor area. Descriptions of these areas of concentration, as well as the faculty whose research falls within these areas, are listed on the website here:

After completing the required course sequence in the first year, students take two concentration examinations (one for each area of concentration) and then develop a Qualifying Paper. The Qualifying Paper should be a solo-authored research paper that could be revised and submitted to a journal for publication. After the paper is drafted, students are prepared to apply for Admission to Doctoral Candidacy. Students in full-time residence are normally expected to take the examination for Admission to Candidacy in the summer prior to the third year or in the fall of their third year. This examination is followed by the dissertation prospectus, the dissertation, and the oral defense of the dissertation.

One year of directed teaching experience at Cornell is required unless the student is specifically exempted.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-4266

316 Uris Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • community & urban sociology
  • computational social science
  • culture (minor)
  • economy and society
  • gender
  • inequality and social stratification
  • methodology (minor)
  • organizations, work and occupations
  • policy analysis (minor)
  • political sociology/social movements
  • race, ethnicity and immigration
  • science, technology & medicine (minor)
  • social demography
  • social networks
  • social psychology (minor)
  • sociology of education
  • sociology of family
  • sociology of health and illness


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

December 15

Requirements Summary:

  • Academic Statement of Purpose
  • Personal Statement
  • Writing Sample
  • College Transcript(s)
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume or C.V.
  • GRE Scores
  • The English Language Proficiency Requirement for all applicants, with these specific scores required for the field of Sociology:
    • IELTS overall band score of 8.0 or higher or

    • TOEFL iBT (minimums): Speaking: 28; Reading: 24; Listening: 22; Writing:24

  • A nonrefundable application fee of $105

You do not need to have an undergraduate or Master’s degree in Sociology in order to apply or to be competitive in the admissions process.

Learning Outcomes

The Field of Sociology focuses on five key goals for our graduate students.

Students who are working to complete a Ph.D. in Sociology should be able to:

  • Conduct original, publishable research.
  • Demonstrate a broad knowledge of theory and research in two subfields within the discipline.
  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge at the research frontier of one area of specialization.
  • Write and speak effectively to professional and general audiences about issues in the field.
  • Teach effectively. Design a course, grade and comment constructively and authoritatively on student work, lead discussion, and lecture.