How to Apply to the PhD Program

Thank you for your interest in the PhD Program in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM). Before applying, please read this entire page.

When an application for graduate study at UWM is submitted, the Graduate School first reviews it to confirm that certain minimum qualifications (see section A below) are met. If minimum qualifications are met, the application is then considered by the Sociology Department, where a faculty committee reviews applications and makes the final admissions decisions.

Applications are submitted electronically through the Panthera graduate application system at Materials that must be submitted with the application are listed in section B below.

New students are admitted to the PhD Program in Sociology for the fall semester only. For best consideration, completed applications should be received by the Department no later than January 10th of the year that you intend to start, but if space permits we continue to review applications until mid-April.

Most applicants to the PhD program possess an MA degree in sociology, or expect to earn that degree prior to beginning PhD study. We also consider applicants whose MA degree is in a closely related field. Applicants without a sociology/closely-related MA will be considered if they hold (or will hold, prior to beginning PhD study) a bachelor’s degree in sociology or a related field, and show exceptional preparation for graduate work.That means that BA-holders who intend to obtain a PhD are welcome to apply to the PhD program directly, though sometimes we will redirect such applications to the MA program.”

Note that PhD students who are admitted without an MA in sociology will, in addition to other PhD degree requirements, need to complete the required courses for the Sociology MA (or substitute comparable courses from elsewhere), and earn or transfer an additional 24 acceptable graduate credits in sociology or a closely related field.

General information on doctoral study at UWM is available at International students must also visit for additional information specific to international applicants.

A. UWM Graduate School Minimum Qualifications

Applicants for admission to the UWM Graduate School must have the following:

  1. A baccalaureate degree, or its equivalent as determined by the UWM Center on International Education, from a regionally accredited institution, completed before the first term of enrollment in the Graduate School.
  2. Proficiency in the English language. International students will find information on demonstrating proficiency at
  3. A minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale, or an equivalent measure on a grading system that does not use a 4.0 scale.

    Applicants whose undergraduate GPA is below 2.75 must provide additional evidence of ability to succeed in graduate study. Possible forms of this evidence are listed at (see “Minimum Qualifications”); prospective applicants whose GPA is below 2.75 should consult with Sociology Director of Graduate Studies Prof. John Roberts to determine which type of evidence is appropriate and sufficient. Submission of this evidence is a requirement to be considered for admission, but is not a guarantee of admission.

    All of an applicant’s undergraduate coursework completed before award of the first undergraduate degree is included in the GPA computation. For courses that were repeated for credit, each attempt is included.

B. Materials to Submit with the Application

In addition to the information entered in the Panthera application itself, the following items must be submitted for your application to be considered complete.

  1. Transcripts: All applicants, including UWM students, must upload an official or unofficial transcript directly in the Panthera admission application system for all work (undergraduate and graduate) done at higher education/post-secondary institutions. Be sure to check into the cost of an unofficial transcript as this might be more cost-effective.

    All applicants who are admitted to the Graduate School will be required to submit official transcripts with the degree posted within two weeks of the beginning of their first term of enrollment. Official transcripts are received by the graduate school directly from the issuing institution. UWM students will not have to submit their official, degree-bearing transcripts.

    International applicants should refer to International Admissions for more information.

  2. Reasons Statement: An essential part of your application, the Reasons Statement is used to determine the appropriateness of your educational and professional goals and serves as an example of your ability to express yourself in writing. In the statement:
    • Explain your reasons for pursuing graduate study.
    • Describe specific interests and your background in the field.
    • List any relevant skills or training you have acquired.
    • List relevant academic awards or honors you have received.
    • List the names of those individuals who will write letters of recommendation on your behalf.
  3. Fee/s: A non-refundable, $75 base application fee is required of all applicants.
  4. Writing Sample: Upload a scholarly writing sample. Applicants who have completed an MA thesis/paper should submit that. Applicants who do not have an MA thesis/paper should submit a research paper that focuses on a topic in sociology or a closely related field.
  5. Names and Contact Information for Three Recommenders: After this information is entered in the Panthera application, the system will then automatically e-mail these individuals with instructions on how they can upload their letters of recommendation directly. It is best if most (or all) of the recommenders are faculty (not necessarily in sociology) who are familiar with the applicant’s academic work and potential.
  6. Official Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test: Applicants do not enter their scores in the Panthera application; rather they must have official scores sent directly to UWM. The GRE website has information on how to register for and take the GRE test, and how to send scores to a particular institution. Note that GRE will not send official scores for tests taken more than five years earlier. Applicants who are taking the test now can take advantage of many free test preparation materials that GRE provides on its site; these materials can be very beneficial.

If you have questions about the application process, or the PhD program in general, please feel free to contact the Sociology Director of Graduate Studies, Prof. John Roberts, at, 414/229-6944.

We hope that you will decide to apply to our program, and we look forward to reading your application!