Applications FAQ

PhD Program FAQ

Q: What is the required length for the Statement of Purpose?
A: Typically 1-2 pages, single-spaced.

Q: What is the required length for the Writing Sample?
A: Typically 25-30 pages, double-spaced.

Q: Are there recommended GRE scores you tend to admit?
A: Many of our admitted students have GRE scores in the top deciles, and all have very strong letters of recommendation and personal statements that are evidence of a good sense of fit with our strengths.

Q: How long are GRE and TOEFL scores valid?
A: GRE test scores are valid for five years while TOEFL scores are valid for two years.

Q: What are the GRE institution and department codes?
A: Brown University Graduate School: 3094 & GRE department code: 2102

Q: Am I required to take the TOEFL?
A: Please see the TOEFL guidelines listed on the Graduate School website.

Q: I've read the TOEFL guidelines. I'm an international applicant whose native language is not English but earning a degree from an approved country under the TOEFL guidelines after the application deadline. Am I required to take the TOEFL​​?
A: The TOEFL will be waived if: 1) You have earned your degree before enrolling at Brown and 2) You have requested a waiver from the Graduate School after submitting your application. Please submit your waiver request at

Q: How many letters of recommendation are required?
A: We require at least three letters, though we accept up to five.

Q: Do I need to send official transcripts to the university?
A: No. At the application stage of the process, unofficial transcripts are sufficient. We may, however, request them at a later point in the decision-making process. If admitted into the program, you will be required to send official transcripts then.

Q: I took courses at an institution but did not earn a degree. Can I include this in the Education History section of the application?
A: Please include an unofficial transcript for all courses taken but do not include this particular education information in the Education History portion of the application. Only include degrees earned. We suggest you address this type of education in your cover letter.

Q: Do I have to have a master’s to apply?
A: No. You can earn a master’s on your way to earning a PhD.

Q: My background is not in sociology; can I still apply?
A: Of course! Not all of our students have undergraduate degrees in sociology, but most have a solid academic background and clear sense of direction.

Q: Can I visit the department prior to the admission decision?
A: We do not formally host visits prior to the application decision, but strongly encourage all admitted students to visit in the spring. 

Q: If admitted, how will I be funded?
A: We offer a competitive funding package to our accepted students, which includes guaranteed funding for five years through fellowship, RA, and TA appointments. Funding is also provided for summers in residence. Other units on campus offer additional funding opportunities. We have an outstanding record supporting our students in obtaining external fellowships. Current students are funded by fellowships from the NSF and EPA. Some students are on Fulbright Awards, ACLS Awards, among others.

MSAR Program FAQ

Q: When is the application deadline?
A: For candidates outside of Brown (not currently enrolled as an undergraduate student at Brown), the deadline is March 1st.  For current undergraduate students applying for the 5th year masters program, applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis but must be received before completion of the undergraduate degree requirements.

Q: How many letters of recommendation should come from professors?  How many from professionals?  
A: Two letters of recommendation are required. While we loosely suggest one from each, your letters of recommendation should evaluate your motivation, academic capacity, methodological strengths, and interpersonal skills.

Q: What are the GRE requirements?  What is the average GRE range for those admitted to the program?
A: Unfortunately, we do not release averages of GRE scores for the program as we do not set minimum GRE requirements. Applications are looked at holistically and all materials are weighed equally when the committee reviews and grants admission.

Q: I took the GRE previously; can I use the scores?
A: GRE scores are valid for 5 years, so if you have taken the GRE less than 5 years ago, the scores can be used.

Q: What are the GRE institution and department codes?
A: Brown University Graduate School: 3094 & GRE department code: 2102

Q: I do not have a good foundation in statistics/research methods. Will my application be considered?
A: All entering students are required to have completed a one-semester introductory statistics course (SOC 1100 Introductory Statistics for Social Research or an equivalent), (2) a more advanced course in statistics or a course in college calculus (MATH 0050 and 0060, or MATH 0090 or above), and (3) a one-semester course in research methods (SOC 1020 or SOC 1050 or an equivalent). However, students who have not formally completed these college courses, but can demonstrate how these skills may have been gained through work or research experience will be considered. Applications are looked at holistically and all materials are weighed equally when the committee reviews and grants admission.

Q: Does this program offer scholarships?
A: No, this program does not offer scholarships, research or teaching assistantships.

Can this program be taken part-time and at night?
A: No, all course must be completed in one year.

Q: Can you take longer than a year to complete the program?
A: No. All courses must be completed in one year.

Q: Can students take courses that are outside of what is listed for the program?
A: To successfully complete the MSAR, you must take four required courses and four elective courses over the course of one year. Of the four elective courses, you may petition the director or associate director of graduate studies – MSAR to take a course outside of the sociology department. This course must be an advanced-level methods and/or statistics course. Depending on their interests, student may elect to take this elective course in departments such as Public Health, Applied Statistics, Computer Science, etc.

Q: Do I need to have a background working in sociology?
A: No. Some of our students are accepted straight from undergraduate studies, therefore have no work experience.

Q: How many students take part in this program yearly?
A: Last year was our inaugural year therefore the program is growing in terms of students coming straight for the MSAR program. We are looking to grow the program to no more than ten students per year.

Q: Is the MSAR program a STEM-designated program?
A: Yes, the MSAR program is STEM-designated.

Q: What is the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) Code for MSAR?
A: 30.1701