Skip Navigation

Prospective Students, Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the deadlines for applying?

We admit both MA and PhD students in the Fall only. The deadline for all applications is January 15, 2021. All applications and their attendant materials must be submitted online. Please access the Graduate School page for information on application materials and the portal for submission of your application:

What is a good statement of purpose?

This is the most important part of your application. A good Statement of Purpose should tell us about your academic background and about what kinds of research questions and projects you intend to pursue if admitted. Statements that are specific about a particular project are stronger than those that indicate only a general interest in broad topics. We find that students who have already thought carefully about what a good dissertation project might be are more ready for a Ph.D. program—especially in an interdisciplinary field like Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies—than those students who, while accomplished at the undergraduate level, have only a very general idea of what they are interested in academically. It is important to remember that WGSS wants to admit students whose projects we are able to support either by our own scholarly strengths and interests or by those of other faculty at Stony Brook. A good Statement of Purpose might run to about 3 pages, double-spaced. There is no strict requirement, but this is a reasonable length for most statements.


  • Show that you want to come to Stony Brook in particular, rather than graduate school in general. Some research into Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty and associated programs and faculty at Stony Brook will show us that you have thought about how we are a good fit for your research interests.
  • Keep it academic. Do not use the limited space of a Statement of Purpose for personal or autobiographical details.
  • We are more interested in what you plan to do in the Ph.D. program than in a narrative of what you have already done in the past. Only draw on your past education in order to show how well-prepared you are to do the project you propose.  

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

Ask for letters from those who know you well, who have worked with you, and who can speak to your potential for success in a PhD program in WGSS. Thus most of your recommenders should be faculty, as faculty can best assess the skills necessary for successful graduate work.

What kind of writing sample should I submit?

The writing sample is a 15-20 page scholarly paper that demonstrates originality of ideas, familiarity with the conventions of academic research, and writing proficiency. Ideally, the writing sample should closely align with the research interests you describe in your statement of purpose, but if you do not have a writing sample that closely reflects those interests, it is perfectly acceptable to send us an example of your best academic work. Obviously a paper on topics related to questions of gender and sexuality is most relevant for an application to a graduate program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


  • Don’t over think the writing sample. Send us your best work but do try to observe page length.
  • Multimedia are acceptable as a supplement but we also need a writing sample.
  • These materials must be uploaded to your online application. We are not accepting hard copies.

Do I need an MA to apply for the PhD in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies?

No- you are not required to have a Masters degree or WGSS background prior to starting the program. We have admitted applicants without Masters degrees and from a variety of academic backgrounds. However, we find that students who have Masters degrees in WGSS or a related discipline, are often better prepared for Ph.D. level work in the field.

What about funding?

We typically offer four years of funding (a tuition waiver and stipend) to all students accepted into the PhD program. We are not able to offer such funding to our MA students, but these students have applied for and received campus employment in the past. For stipend rates please see the graduate school website.

Who has to take the IBT (internet TOEFL exam)?

Students who are not native or primary speakers of English must submit scores from the iBT. Native or primary speakers of English have been raised or educated in an English-speaking environment. Native or primary speakers may speak a language other than English at home but speak English exclusively outside the home in social and/or educational contexts. For more information, please consult the Graduate School's     FAQs .

When does the department decide? 

We send out admissions letters after the file review is complete. Offer letters are generally sent out in February.

What if it's April, and I haven't received my letter yet?

If you have not heard anything by April, please email the ATC of WGSS, Jackie Donnelly at with your full name, and the degree you applied for. She will look into it and get back to you.

Can I call for my decision?

Results are only given in writing. There is only one person processing all of these letters, so please refrain from calling to find out about the status of your letter.

For questions not answered in the FAQs, feel free to contact our Graduate Program Director, Liz Montegary at