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The Department of Development Sociology works together with the Cornell Graduate School to process applications. Required documents must be submitted online via the Graduate School online application and requested test scores must be sent through the testing agency.

Application deadline:

December 15; no spring admissions

Before You Begin

  • Graduate study at Cornell is organized using a field structure. You can familiarize yourself with this structure to gain a better understanding of which faculty members might serve on your master's and/or dissertation committee(s).
  • Decide whether to apply for the M.S./Ph.D. or the Ph.D. program. If you have completed a master's thesis as part of the requirements for a graduate program in the social sciences, you should apply for the Ph.D. Otherwise, you must apply for the M.S./Ph.D. If you are currently enrolled in a master's program but have not completed your thesis, you may apply for the M.S./Ph.D. program and note that you will submit your thesis upon completion; during your first semester, faculty will review your thesis and determine whether you are eligible for a change of status to the Ph.D. program. If you are applying to the Ph.D., your thesis must be deemed equivalent to what we require of our M.S./Ph.D students; if it is not, you will still be considered for admission to the M.S/Ph.D. program. First-year students, regardless of whether they are M.S./Ph.D. or Ph.D. students, all take the core courses together as a cohort.
  • The application will ask for your major concentration. The options are Population and Development, Rural and Environmental Sociology, and State, Economy, and Society. Here you will find an overview of the concentrations as well as a list of core and affiliate faculty associated with each concentration.
  • You are encouraged to familiarize yourself with faculty members' research areas before applying and to identify in your personal statement faculty members with whom you are interested in working. It is appropriate to email faculty members to see whether your interests and goals align, though this is not required.
  • Please contact the graduate field assistant if you are interested in visiting campus before you apply.

How to Apply

Submitted by the applicant via the online application

  • on-line application form; indicate whether you are applying to the MS/PhD or the Ph/D program
  • master's thesis for those applying to the PhD program (email to
  • statement of purpose (uploaded PDF)
  • transcripts from all universities listed on the application (uploaded PDF)
  • transcripts may be official or unofficial: official copies will be requested upon matriculation
  • academic CV (uploaded PDF)
  • short writing sample (under 10 pages, uploaded PDF)

Submitted by recommenders via the online application

  • three letters of recommendation, two of which must be from academic recommenders

Submitted by the testing agency to the Cornell Graduate School upon applicant’s request

  • GRE general test scores (use the Cornell code of 2098 and the rural sociology code of 2103).
  • TOEFL Exam scores (required of applicants from countries where the native language is not English; see the Cornell Graduate School website for requirements and exceptions.)

Any material that you cannot submit online can be sent directly to our field (i.e. such as sealed transcripts and sealed letters of recommendation that your recommenders opt not to submit via the on-line system). We will not accept emailed recommendation letters. Send to: 

Graduate Field Assistant
240D Warren Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853


Call 607-255-3092 or email