Department of Sociology

Preparation for Graduate School

Many professional careers require graduate study. You can raise your probabilities of acceptance into graduate school by clarifying your career goals early and using courses in sociology and other fields to prepare you for your future course of study. If you are not sure what you want to do, discussions with your advisor and the staff at the office of career services might help you to clarify your interests and options. Internships in this and other department can also be of immense help, allowing you to get an inside look at various careers before making a commitment to any one field.

Once you have committed yourself to preparing for graduate study (even if you choose not to attend right away), you should pay attention to several issues:

  • Keep your grades as high as possible, even if that means taking fewer courses and graduat­ing a bit later. Most graduate programs require an average of at least 3.0.
  • Develop good relationships with several teachers in whose classes you perform well, since those teachers will most likely feel comfortable writing good reference for you. Most graduate schools will request three references from your undergraduate teachers. If you don't plan to attend graduate school right away, teachers can put references on file for you in the Sociology Office. This step can be especially helpful in case a teacher is on leave or retired when you decide to apply to graduate school. If you are not sure how to get to know your teachers, try visiting during office hours and ask questions about the course, or about careers or graduate school.
  • Prepare yourself to take whichever graduate entrance exams are required by the programs in which you have an interest. Most sociology programs, for example, require either the Graduate Record Exam (gre) or the Miller Analogies Test (mat). You can buy practice books for these tests, and also take courses off-campus specifically designed to prepare you for them.
  • Study the catalogues or bulletins of various programs to get a sense of what they can offer you, Career Services has graduate school bulletins, and you can write for your own copies of those that interest you, Also, ask your advisor about graduate programs.

Once you have decided to apply to graduate school, it's a good idea to visit the schools in which you have an interest if at all possible. This is the best way to get a sense of how a program really works for students, and to verify information in the school's publications such as tuition, fees, possibilities for financial support, etc.