Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students


  • When should I apply to the program?
    In order to be considered for department funding, ALL application materials must be received by January 15th.  The deadline for fall admission without funding is March 1st.  (Application deadlines)

  • What materials do I need to send in to apply to the program?
    Applicants need to submit a completed online application, $30 application fee, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation (form),  a writing sample and a statement of purpose (info). Applicants should select a writing sample from an upper level undergraduate course, preferably in sociology. (Link to where materials should be sent)

  • What GRE score is required for admission?  How do I sign up to take the GRE?
    The department does not have a minimum GRE score that is required for admission.  Applications are evaluated as a whole and many different factors are considered.  However, most students who are accepted to the program score a combined total of at least 1000.  (Link to the GRE website and testing locations)

  • Kent and Akron have a joint PhD program?  What does this mean for me?
    The joint PhD program at Kent and Akron allows students to take advantage of an expanded network of colleagues, additional course offerings, and more campus resources.  Required and elective courses alternate between the two campuses and all students will be expected to take classes at both campuses, depending on the semester.  Also, students are allowed to have an advisor at Kent State if they choose and can have Kent faculty on their thesis and dissertation committees.  However, all graduate assistantships will take place at the University of Akron.


  • When do you need to know whether or not I will attend?
    We must hear from you by April 15. If you have chosen another school before that date, we would appreciate it if you would let us know as soon as you make your final decision. 


  • Does the department have a Masters Degree program?
    Yes. Although the graduate program is designed for those who are planning to pursue their Ph.D. in sociology, we do award Masters degrees.


  • Can I apply to enter your program in the spring?
    No. All applications must be for fall admission.


  • What should I emphasize in my application?
    All applicants to the graduate program in Sociology submit GRE scores, transcripts from undergraduate and (if relevant) graduate institutions, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a sample of written work. The graduate admissions committee will carefully review everything that you submit. The committee looks for evidence that you have the academic preparation and skills to succeed in the program, and that the program can offer you the training that you desire. In keeping with the latter, the committee will evaluate how well your interests match with the interests of department faculty. Do not feel that you have to identify specific faculty with whom you would like to work (although you may do so, if you like). But do provide some idea about the areas of sociology in which you have interest so that we can evaluate our ability to train you in those areas.

    The graduate admissions committee evaluates applications in total. Thus, no one part of your application will make or break your case. For example, GRE scores are important, but the committee will discount low GRE scores for students who submit strong writing samples or whose letters of recommendation describe strengths in the areas in which students received low scores. One approach might be to identify any weak areas of your application and draw the committee’s attention to those parts of your application that either compensates for the weakness or that speak to the inadequacy of the indicator for evaluating your competency. For example, if your quantitative GRE scores are low, point out high grades that you have received in math or statistics courses, or discuss relevant quantitative research experience that you have had, as a way of arguing that the admissions committee should pay less attention to the low score. You can make such points in your statement of purpose.


  • What kind of background is required?  Will my application be considered if sociology was not my major?
    Successful applicants come from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. Undergraduate work in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and mathematics are all appropriate.  Some students enter the program directly from their undergraduate institutions, while others enter with a Masters degree or several years of work experience. Regardless of undergraduate academic background, an applicant's statement of purpose describing current goals, plans for a professional career, and reasons for selecting Sociology as the field of study is taken very seriously by our review committee.


  • What funding opportunities are available in the department?  How many students are normally funded?
    Most graduate students work for the department as instructional support assistants.  Grants and external funding sources also allow some students to work as research assistants.  These assistantships provide a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend to cover most living expenses.  After students take a course in college teaching and have a MA degree, most students begin teaching their course, instead of working as instructional support assistants.


  • What should I expect if I have an assistantship?
    Every assistantship is different, but students will be assigned to a professor as a teaching assistant or a research assistant.  Teaching assistants are usually responsible for grading papers/exams, holding office hours, attending classes, and possibly guest lecturing in the class on occasion.  Research assistants are asked to assist a professor in his/her current research endeavors.  This can include data entry, interviewing, coding data, helping with literature reviews, etc.  Assistantships do not exceed 20 hours of work per week.  Students who have an assistantship are also expected to attend any necessary department functions/meetings during business hours, which does not generally exceed one or two hours every couple of weeks. 


  • Can I have an outside job if I have a graduate assistantship?
    Any students working for the department as a graduate research and teaching assistants are NOT allowed to have a job outside of the program.  The only time it is acceptable to have outside employment is during the summer, if students choose not to work for the department during the summer break.


  • Useful Resources

(Useful Links through the Graduate School)


  • Are there other programs or certificates I can complete while in the sociology program?

Students are not required to earn additional certificates through the department or within other disciplines.  However, those who are interested in pursuing qualitative research methods may earn a Qualitative Certificate by completing two classes in qualitative methods. A Women’s Studies Certificate is also an option to those interested in pursuing women’s studies topics. Please contact Dr. Kathryn Feltey for more information regarding the Qualitative Certificate and Women’s Studies Certificate. 

  • What is a typical course load? 
    Students are expected to register for at least nine credit hours per semester.  This corresponds to three graduate courses.  Students working on their thesis/dissertation, may choose to take thesis/dissertation hours as part of their required number of credit hours. 


  • What is the climate like in the Akron area?

Akron is in Summit County and located approximately 40 miles south of Lake Erie.  During the winter months, lake effect snow does reach the Akron area. The Climate Zone is a good resource, which outlines the average temperatures per month within Akron.

  • What kinds of jobs do people get with a PhD from this program?
    Most Ph.D.s from this graduate program fill teaching and research positions at universities and colleges, while some attain research positions in government or private organizations.  You can visit the “Where are they now?” Map in the Students section for more information. 


  • What are some of the academic, social, and leadership opportunities available to graduate students in the department?
    Graduate students in the Department of Sociology are a diverse group of individuals seeking a range of employment opportunities.  While earning their degrees, students are encouraged to foster inclusive, supportive, and lasting support structures with their peers.  Also, students have abundant opportunities to participate in graduate student life both academically and socially, either as leaders or active members or both – within the department and or the greater university. The inclusive structure of the department is evidenced by the democratic appointment of graduate student representatives to faculty and graduate committees within the department which serve to carry out the business of teaching and scholarship.  Professional development is encouraged by emphasizing collaborative research between students and faculty and departmental funding support for students who participate in regional and or national conferences.  The department prides itself in the collegiality that exists between and among faculty and students alike.  Social functions, for example, such as our annual AKD banquet (AKD) are special occasions where the accomplishments of our students and faculty are celebrated at the end of every academic year.
  • Will the program accept transfer credits that I've completed in another graduate program?
    The Sociology Department will allow a maximum of 9 credit hours in specialty courses.  The credits must be relevant to the student's academic program as determined by the student's academic department and must fall within the ten-year time limit to complete degree requirements if beyond the master's degree.  All credits transferred must be at the "A" or "B" level in graduate courses.  The Graduate Committee will review the syllabus and reading list for comparable courses from other universities.  A student may also receive additional specialty credit (but not hours) beyond 9 hours may be allowed by the Graduate Committee with a review of the syllabus, readings, and a rationale.

Credits transferred may come from a prior degree.  No more than thirty credits may be transferred from a single master's degree.  Credits earned in prior or concurrent programs at The University of Akron shall be treated in the same manner as credits earned elsewhere.  A University of Akron student who seeks to enroll in courses elsewhere for transfer credit here must receive prior approval.

If you have any questions not answered by our FAQs section or would like more information about admission to the Department of Sociology at the University of Akron contact:

Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. John F. Zipp
Department of Sociology
University of Akron
Akron, OH 44303-1905
Office OLIN 247G
Office phone: 330-972-6893