I'm applying for a Ph.D. program in Sociology for Fall 2019. My background is in Computer Science, but I've attempted to build a competent resume by taking courses in my intended field and having relatively good grades in my non-major courses (philosophy, research methods, writing, etc.).

My query is related to writing samples. NYU requires a writing sample that, at maximum, should be 30 pages. While I have some great papers I wrote while at college, I'm wondering what it means to have a writing sample in your Ph.D application.

Do you write a sample from scratch, or do you simply make some changes to a paper you wrote in college? Are these samples supposed to be reviewed by a professor? If I write one from scratch, what's the recommended amount of time I should spend on it? I'm not looking to submit any applications before October, but not later than that, so I have about 4 months to write one and edit it.

Any advice would be useful. Thank you so much!


1 Answer 1


I would not suggest starting from scratch. I am assuming you do not yet have publications, (but if you do, you should definitely submit the paper that has already been published in an academic journal). If not, don't worry. The schools you are applying to are aware that you have not done any graduate level work before and they are probably not expecting you to deliver a published or publishable article, but rather your understanding and ability to convey your ideas clearly in writing. If the papers you wrote previously are relatively well written, you can refine/improve one of them and have an outside reader (not necessarily a professor, but it would surely be useful) to read it and give you feedback.

While you are refining your paper, you might want to look at published articles in Sociology and try to use them as a model to demonstrate your familiarity with the general disciplinary conventions.

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