Admission to Ph.D. Program in Family Science

Students may enter the Family Science specialization after receiving a bachelor's or master's degree. Students entering the Family Science specialization with a bachelor's degree will be expected to fulfill the requirements for a M.A. degree in the process of working toward the Ph.D. degree.

Admission to FSOS is based on a review of multiple sources of information. We take a holistic perspective when reviewing applications; no one score or factor determines an applicant's success or failure. Three overall criteria guide our admissions decisions: Applicants are required to submit specific information to provide evidence and documentation for faculty to evaluate each applicant on the following three overall admissions criteria:

  1. Evidence of strong academic preparation and the ability and desire to perform graduate level scholarship, including research.
  2. Fit of applicant's professional goals with FSoS faculty scholarship and with the overall FSoS mission, that is, enhancing the well-being of diverse families in a changing world.
  3. Unique contributions applicant would make to FSoS values, including social relevance, collaboration, inclusiveness, excellence, innovation, and diversity.

Complete applications are due no later than December 1st. Start early, as every year individuals fail to meet the deadline. Faculty are not obligated to review incomplete applications. Except under unusual circumstances, applications for the doctoral program and master's Plan A program (with thesis) are reviewed only once each year, a few weeks after our December 1 deadline.

Apply Online
The application process is an online process, using the ApplyYourself admissions system. All supplementary information must also be submitted online (e.g. writing sample). Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the online application. If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of this material.

You do not have to complete the online application in one sitting – you may access your application and make changes as many times as you like with your PIN and Password from any computer with Internet access. However, you can submit your application only once. After submitting the application, you will no longer be able to make changes to your application information using the online application system. For more information visit the Graduate School's prospective student's page.

Family Social Science Program Requirements
The following information is requested specifically by Family Social Science to help faculty evaluate applicants using the admission criteria.

  Family Social Science Admissions Checklist (PDF)
Indicate if you are applying for a Master's, Ph.D. or Masters/Ph.D. If pursuing a Ph.D. indicate if you are applying for a Family Science or CFT specialization. Verify that all required information has been submitted for your application to be complete.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required by our program.
The department will not accept GRE reports that are more than five years old. For testing purposes, the University of Minnesota code is 6874 and the Department code is 2299 (Social Sciences – other). More information about the GRE is available here.

TOEFL, MELAB, IELTS – English language assessment tests
The TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS is generally required of all applicants whose native language is not English, regardless of U.S. Citizenship status. Applicants who have completed 24 quarter credits/16 semester credits (within the past 24 months) in residence as a full-time student at a recognized institution of higher learning in the United States or other English-speaking country before entering the University of Minnesota are generally exempted from this requirement. The operational standards for admission to the Graduate School are: TOEFL Internet based test – 79 or above with section scores of 21 on writing and 19 on reading (Paper based test – 550 or above); IETLTS 6.5; MELAB 80. More information about English language assessment test can be found here.

Transcripts/Credentials
You must list on your online application each institution of higher learning from which you have earned credit. You must also submit transcripts or academic records for each of these institutions. This includes partial or incomplete transcripts. Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the online application. Please do not mail in paper copies of your transcripts, there is no need for official transcripts or academic records for initial review. If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of this material.

Transcripts are evaluated for:

  • GPA. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) is preferred for admission. The most competitive applications will have higher GPA's.
  • Significant social and behavioral coursework (i.e. family and consumer sciences, human development, psychology, economics, sociology) highly preferred
  • Course work in research methods as well as statistics for Master's and Ph.D. degree applicants including:
    • One course in advanced undergraduate statistics for Master's degree applicants
    • OR
    • Two courses in advanced statistics and/or research methods for Ph.D. applicants. This coursework ideally includes descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, probability, correlation, ANOVA, or regression.

Letters of Recommendation
A minimum of three letters of recommendation, preferably from professors, are required. Letters should address your potential for research and successfully completing the FSoS degree program.

  • Provide writers the  Letter to Writers of Letters of Recommendation (PDF) regarding the content for letters of recommendation.
  • Our program uses the online letters of recommendation system. Carefully follow the instructions provided online for listing your recommendation providers. An email address for the letter writer is required. Once the recommendation provider information is saved, an email will be sent to the individual with an access code and instruction on how to proceed with the online recommendation. Please notify the individual that he/she will be receiving an email from the online application system with the necessary access information.

Writing Sample
Demonstrated writing ability. Include a sample of your writing in English (e.g. a research paper or term paper that you feel best reflects your abilities). Submit online in Program Supplementary Information. Follow instructions provided to upload document.

Two Applicant Statements

  • Statement #1 (Ph.D. applicants with Master's Degree)
    Write a statement of at least 500 words describing your responses to the following questions.
    1. How do your long-term professional goals fit with the mission of Family Social Science? The mission of the Department of Family Social Science is to enhance the well-being of diverse families in a changing world through teaching, research, and outreach.
    2. Describe your research interests, experiences, and connections to faculty scholarship. Specifically address:
      1. What content areas of research and methods do you hope to pursue as a graduate student and beyond (i.e. specific problems or issues, research questions, types of families/relationships, types of research methods/approaches)?
      2. What types of research experiences have prepared you for a doctoral program in Family Social Science? For example, you might have experience (individual or with teams) with different methods (i.e. various qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods); research processes (i.e., theoretical development, collecting and analyzing data, grant writing, submitting and publishing manuscripts, professional presentations); or content areas.
      3. Please list at least two faculty members with whom you hope to work and briefly describe how your research goals and interests fit with the expertise of these faculty.

        FYI. Faculty areas of scholarship can be found on the faculty profile pages
        • Child Adjustment in Family Context
        • Families and Culture (i.e. refugee and immigrant families)
        • Families and Financial Decisions
        • Family Formation and Intergenerational Issues
        • Families, Loss, and Trauma
        • Intimate Family Relationships
    3. Describe specific experience and skills in teaching that have prepared you for the doctoral program in Family Social Science.
    4. Describe specific experience and skills in outreach that have prepared you for the doctoral program in Family Social Science (.e.g. working with different types of families in communities; family focused prevention or intervention work)
  • Statement #1 (MA/Ph.D. applicants with B.S. Degree)
    Write a statement of at least 500 words describing your responses to the following questions.
    1. How do your long-term professional goals fit with the mission of Family Social Science? The mission of the Department of Family Social Science is to enhance the well-being of diverse families in a changing world through teaching, research, and outreach.
    2. Describe your research interests, experiences, and connections to faculty scholarship. Specifically address:
      1. What content areas of research and methods do you hope to pursue as a graduate student and beyond (i.e. specific problems or issues, research questions, types of families/relationships, types of research methods/approaches)?
      2. What types of research experiences have prepared you for graduate studies? For example, you might have experience as an undergraduate (as an individual or with teams) with different research processes (data gathering, analysis, presenting); methods (i.e. various qualitative, quantitative); or content areas.
      3. Please list at least two faculty members with whom you hope to work and briefly describe how your research goals and interests fit with the expertise of these faculty.

        FYI. Faculty areas of scholarship can be found on the faculty profile pages as well as below:
        • Child Adjustment in Family Context
        • Families and Culture (i.e. refugee and immigrant families)
        • Families and Financial Decisions
        • Family Formation and Intergenerational Issues
        • Families, Loss, and Trauma
        • Intimate Family Relationships
    3. Describe any additional experiences that have prepared you for graduate study in Family Social Science (i.e. teaching, experiences with families in the community).
  • Statement #2
    Enrolling and graduating a diverse student body is central to the University of Minnesota's mission. Please write a statement that identifies the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to your graduate program and to the education of fellow students at the University of Minnesota. You may wish to include examples that address your contribution to the diversity of the student body and illustrate your motivation to succeed by setting high standards for accomplishing intellectual and other goals, overcoming obstacles to achievement, and/or helping others to gain access to the resources necessary for success. (Please do not exceed one page in length unless your program has provided separate instructions)

Optional: Common Ground Consortium fellowship
If you wish to be considered for a Common Ground Consortium (CGC) fellowship for African American students indicate this by uploading your statement in the Program Supplementary Information - Upload #1 section.

The statement should briefly address the following:
Given that the U of MN is a public land grant institution, it is imperative that CGC scholars can both benefit personally from their membership in the program as well as further the university's founding mission to contribute to scholarship that benefits the local and greater communities. Please describe how your participation as a CGC scholar would do the following: (a) enhance your graduate student experience, (b) prepare you for your chosen career, and (c) benefit the public.

Click here for more information on the Common Ground Consortium

The number of graduate applicants admitted into the program varies from year to year, depending on applicant qualifications (academic preparation, fit, and unique contributions), the availability of faculty advisers, and available financial support. A typical incoming graduate student cohort includes 9-12 students, a few Masters and a majority Ph.D. degree seeking students. Decisions are typically made by the end of January. Accepted applicants are invited to a Welcome Weekend in February. Students must inform Family Social Science of their final decision to attend or not attend by April 15th.

If you have any additional questions, please e-mail fsosgrad@umn.edu.