Graduate School. Is it for you?
If you like sociology and have a Grade Point Average of 3.0 or better, consider a graduate program in sociology. Even with a lower G.P.A., you may be eligible if your recent grades have been strong, especially in sociology. Periodically, the Department sponsors meetings to discuss graduate school options. These will be announced in classes, on the departmental bulletin boards, and in the Sociology Club Newsletter.
Sociology graduate programs mainly prepare students to be researchers and scholars. There are many job opportunities for people with advanced degrees because private companies and public agencies are constantly doing different kinds of social research, from marketing, needs assessment, and program evaluation to political polling and so much more. In addition, those with doctoral degrees may pursue careers as college faculty.
What should you do if you are interested?
Start off by talking to your professors and doing some research on your own. Look for programs that have areas of specialization that interest you. The Web is a great place to start. This Web site has links to all of the graduate programs in the area and to a listing of all graduate programs nationwide. Spend some time exploring. There is a copy of the American Sociological Association's Guide to Graduate Departments (along with other graduate school materials) in the Duffy lounge. The bulletin board next to Carman Hall, Room B60 has more useful information.
If you are not a senior, now is the time to plan your course work to put your application in the best possible light. For example, it is wise to take statistics and to complete the research methods sequence as early as possible. Also, start keeping track of your papers so that you will have a good writing sample to submit. There are also a number of programs within CUNY that help to prepare students to apply to graduate school, including the Ascend/McNair Program and Project 1000, a national program that helps minority students apply to doctoral programs.
When to apply?
Although some programs (especially at the M.A. level) have rolling admissions, if you want to have the best chance of admission and to receive the most financial assistance, you need to apply for admission in the fall, prior to the September in which you would like to start your graduate work. Most Ph.D. programs require a completed application, including Graduate Record Exam (G.R.E.) scores, around January 1.
What else do you need to do to apply?
Most programs encourage you to print their application forms from the Web and some want you to apply on line. Think of which professors to ask for letters of recommendation and ask them several weeks before the deadline. The same letter will be used over again, so don’t wait until you decide on all of the schools you will apply to before asking for the letter.
Many students worry about the G.R.E.'s, but don't let anxiety about them keep you from applying. G.R.E.'s are just one factor in a program's admission decision-making. However, it is worth studying for the test. The Lehman library's "Electronic Resources" is a good source. You can also sign up for a commercial test prep course or the less expensive courses offered at the CUNY Graduate Center. You can buy a study guide at most bookstores. The Web site of the Educational Testing Service also has a lot of useful study material.