General Info

  • Faculty working with students: 19
  • Students: 41
  • Students receiving Financial Aid: 95%
  • Application terms: Fall
  • Application deadline: December 20
Application Info


Scott Lynch
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Sociology
Duke University
Box 90088
Durham, NC 27708-0088

Phone: (919) 660-5614



Program Description

Areas of specialization are Culture, Affect, & Cognition; Health, Demography, & the Life Course; Organizational & Economic Sociology; Race, Ethnicity, & Inequality; Religion & Social Change; Social Networks & Computational Social Science. Our mentorship approach to graduate education allows students to have a close working relationship with faculty members. Research productivity is high, and most students publish by the time they graduate. Students also have the opportunity to receive teacher training and gain teaching experience.

Duke provides extensive computer support services, a first-rate research library, and a comprehensive collection of social science data bases. Graduate study is further enhanced by opportunities to participate in many interdisciplinary programs and centers at Duke, such as the Population Research Institute, the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, the Center for Child and Family Policy, the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research,  the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences, the Duke Network Analysis Center, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and the Social Science Research Institute. 


Application Information

Application Terms Available: Fall

Application Deadline: December 20

Graduate School Application Requirements
See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores: GRE General Required
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English
    *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required

Department-Specific Application Requirements (submitted through online application)

Statement of Purpose Guidelines
We train future researchers. As such, we want to know about your interest in and experience with research. Tell us about your senior thesis, research apprenticeships, and experience at a think tank or other research institute. Tell us, too, about what you want to study in the future. You don’t need to have a precise research question nailed down – in fact, we don’t want you to come in with your heart set on a single question – but we do want to hear about what kind of questions motivate you, what your interests are, and why. If you have any demonstrated strengths (awards, high grades, etc.), mention them too, though in a matter-of-fact way rather than in a boasting way.

We also want to know why you think Duke is a good fit. Of course, we want to know your intellectual reasons, but if you also have a tie to North Carolina or any other reason that makes you specifically excited about Duke, please tell us that too.

There are also things that some applicants include that you should probably avoid. Since we are training future researchers, we’re less interested in your experience with activism, teaching, and extracurricular activities. Of course, these are all potentially great things to do; they are just not relevant for admission to graduate school.

Writing Sample
A 10-20 page writing sample should be uploaded to the Departmental Requirements section of the online application. This is generally a seminar paper written for a Sociology class. If you have been out of school and have written/co-written and/or published/co-published an article, you may submit that article, too. We look for two key criteria: evidence of understanding and executing social science research and writing ability.

Additional Components
Applicants to the joint Ph.D. program in Public Policy and Allied Disciplines must submit an additional essay for admission to the program. Regardless of your selection of primary department, please respond to the following prompt:

In 500 words or less, please explain your interest in the joint Ph.D. program offered between Public Policy and an Allied Discipline. Highlight how your research interests and past experiences lie at the intersection between Public Policy and the Allied Discipline and how participation in the joint program will facilitate your professional goals after receiving your degree.

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance