A Sociology undergraduate degree is not required. Your sociological interests should fit our program and we encourage you to thoroughly investigate our program and other programs before you apply.
There are UW-Madison graduate school admission guidelines that the admissions committee needs to adhere to (see Graduate School Admission Requirements, English proficiency requirement, minimum 3.0 GPA.) The Graduate Program of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology rarely admits students with TOEFLs of paper-based (PBT) scores below 620, computer-based scores (CBT) below 260, or internet-based scores (iBT) below 105. We accept scores from the current GRE General Test and from the GRE revised General Test. Concordance information will be available when scores are received. Please check the GRE website for further information about the revised test.
The faculty on the admissions committee conduct a holistic assessment of application materials and don’t automatically eliminate from consideration any applicants solely on the basis of test scores. We require students to present other evidence of their abilities in their application (e.g., references, writing sample, statement of reasons for graduate study).
In general, committee members look for students with the ability (or potential) to define a research question succinctly, to articulate clearly how they might go about answering it, and to use the empirical evidence they gather to address significant sociological issues. Many students have strengths, but sometimes they’re not fully developed or complete. For instance, it’s not uncommon for students to have advanced statistics skills but little experience defining a problem. Conversely, often there are applicants who can define a problem but lack experience in data analysis. In such cases, the committee attempts to assess applicants’ potential to develop strong analytical skills and to formulate compelling research programs and address them scientifically. Beyond that, they make efforts to identify individuals who demonstrate the potential for a creative approach to investigating empirical and conceptual social science issues.
This is challenging and is one of the reasons the committee pays special attention to applicants’ writing – the writing sample and the statement of purpose. Indeed, the personal statement is often the first thing committee members read, because they want to know how applicants became interested in sociology, what their intellectual interests are, what type of research they hope to conduct, what their professional goals are, why UW is an ideal fit for them, and so on. The members also pay attention to an applicant’s intellectual fit in our departments. Every year we get many more qualified applicants than we can admit; thus the admissions committee takes care to ensure that the faculty are well situated to train and mentor each applicant accepted to the program.