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Sociology (Ph.D.)

Ph.D. in Sociology. Work with award winning research faculty on research that shapes policies and solves problems
3 students in graduation regalia

Program Overview

Virginia Tech’s Sociology graduate program offers ideal training for academic, applied, and research careers. The doctoral program requires 48 graded credits and is both stimulating and rigorous, with faculty academic advisors that are open and supportive.

Doctoral students will receive advanced methodological training, gain experience teaching and develop a teaching portfolio, have opportunities to collaborate with faculty and other students on research projects, and explore a range of topics in and beyond the discipline. Admitted students are fully funded through an assistantship program that includes a 9-month stipend, health insurance, tuition remission, office space, and conference travel support.

Program alumni go on to academic positions at research, comprehensive, and teaching focused universities as well as applied positions outside the academy.

Curriculum and Courses

The core course series consists of theory, research methods (qualitative and quantitative), research design, and a foundations course on inequalities. Click here for a full list of the required coursework

Students can tailor their program towards their interests with 15 credits of within-discipline electives and 9 credits of open electives, along with 3 credits of advanced methods that they may take from inside or outside the department. Departmental electives are typically offered within our Areas of Specialization.

Students may use their free electives to concentrate in Women and Gender Studies (WGS) or Africana Studies (AFST).

Program Milestones

Students that enter without a master’s degree or without a sociology background complete a thesis and obtain their master of science degree (these students are typically admitted to the M.S. program). All students in good standing that complete an M.S. in the Virginia Tech Sociology department have the option of continuing in the Ph.D. program.

Beyond the M.S., students take additional coursework (graded credits taken in support of the M.S. apply to the Ph.D.) and a Qualifying Exam in a substantive area of the discipline. They then develop a dissertation proposal under direction of their academic advisor and schedule a defense with their committee. Finally, they defend their dissertation research before their committee.

Students entering with a master’s degree in sociology can complete these requirements in about four years. Students entering without a sociology background or without a masters degree take five or six years depending on the scope of their dissertations – like the Ph.D. program, the M.S. program is funded via an assistantship.  

student receiving award from a faculty member
male student graduating with his Ph.D. with a group of his professors

Admission and Application Information

Students are admitted on a full-time basis in the fall of each academic year. In addition to the admission standards prescribed by the Graduate School, students applying for an advanced degree program in sociology must also meet the following requirements: 

  • A bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution
  • Three letters of recommendation, preferably from former professors
  • A written statement describing research goals, relevant experience, and motivations for pursuing a doctoral degree in sociology
  • An academic writing sample
  • A 3.0 minimum GPA (on a 4 point scale) in all sociology courses previously taken
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 (out of 4.0) for the last two years of undergraduate study
  • Applicants to the PhD program who do not have a BS/BA or MS/MA in Sociology must have 15 credits in Sociology coursework at the 3000 level or above (graduate courses apply). Applicants who do not have this background may be better served by the MS degree (and many of our MS students roll over into the PhD program).
  • The GRE is no longer required but is still recommended. If you elect to take the GRE, please have the testing agency send your official scores to the Virginia Tech Graduate School, code 5859. 

International students must also have the following TOEFL scores: Paper: 550 | Computer: 213 | iBT: 80  Click here to learn more about testing requirements. 

Those wishing to pursue the M.S./Ph.D. track with SOC@VT should apply to the M.S. program. With satisfactory progress towards their thesis, they can request funding to continue into the doctoral program by January 15 of their second year. Although the M.S./Ph.D. track can be completed in 5 years, the department provides funding for a total of 6 years (2 years for M.S. and 4 years for Ph.D.) for those who maintain satisfactory progress throughout their enrollment in our graduate programs. 

Up to 24 credit hours of previous coursework may be transferred in to meet doctoral program requirements and electives. The department also allows for certain requirements to be bypassed if previous coursework indicates a student’s command of applicable topics. Students must apply prior to having previous coursework evaluated for transfer or considered for bypassing program requirements. 

Degree-seeking students must include a $75 fee with their application, though you can check to see if you qualify for a fee waiver

Applicants will need to include a scanned copy of their college transcripts with the online application and then arrange for an official copy to be sent to the Graduate School upon an offer of admission. Official transcripts should be sent directly from your institution(s) to Virginia Tech Graduate Admissions. Click HERE to apply now!

To apply to the graduate program, students must submit the Virginia Tech Graduate School online application

Submission Deadline for full consideration for funding: January 15 

Submission Deadline for Domestic ApplicationApril 15 

Submission Deadline for International Application: April 1

On the online application, please select the following options when prompted:

  • Application Type: First Time Graduate Study or Readmission
  • Program: Sociology
  • Degree Type: Ph.D.
  • Campus: Blacksburg (Main Campus)
  • Term: Fall

Each year the department awards assistantships on a competitive basis that include a stipend for the academic year and full tuition remission. We aim to fund all admitted students to either the MS or PhD program. The typical practice is to award admitted students with funding for the standard time to completion for their degree (2 years for M.S. and 4 years for Ph.D.). However, funding may also be awarded on a provisional basis at the discrepancy of the Sociology Graduate Committee.

Students can apply for such funding as part of their admissions application; no separate application is required. 

The University also provides a health insurance subsidy for graduate students. Click here to learn more about the health insurance benefit.

Contact Us

Micah Roos, Director of Graduate Studies 
Sociology Department
656 McBryde Hall