Thank you for your interest in the PhD program in Demography at the University of Pennsylvania! Demography has a long and distinguished tradition at the University of Pennsylvania, and many leading scholars in the field have close connections to the Demography Program at Penn. By joining the Graduate Group of Demography, you are part of a network of scholars that has importantly influenced the study of population over several decades. The Graduate Group in Demography (GGD) at the University of Pennsylvania is one of three programs in the United States to grant a specialized graduate degree in demography, as opposed to degrees in sociology and economics with a special emphasis in population studies. The GGD is housed in the Population Studies Center (PSC), and has faculty members with backgrounds in sociology, economics, demography, nursing, and medicine. Penn is unique in having professors who teach and conduct research within virtually all substantive areas of population. During your studies you will thus find an unusually rich and stimulating environment that supports your training, intellectual development and dissertation research. Our program is supported by a very strong commitment of the University of Pennsylvania to training and research in Demography, the generous support of our Program through training and research grants provided by the National Institutes of Health (NICHD and NIA), and the assistance provided to our students and faculty by many other organizations and foundations. Our goal is to train researchers in the field of Demography and to see you as active and successful members of the demographic research community. We look forward to assisting you in the near future.

Fall 2024 Admissions

The application system will open on October 1, 2023. The Fall 2024 Application deadline is December 15, 2023. Prospective students should apply using the electronic application via the Online Application website. Applications are accepted only for Fall semester matriculation.

Admissions information and the graduate handbook can be found on the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences website.

Recommendation letters (three minimum, five maximum) can be addressed to the Chair of the Graduate Group in Demography.

Graduate Record Exams (GRE's) are optional. Applicants whose native language is not English and have not completed a degree at an English-speaking university are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Scores are valid for two years. You can see the range of test scores for students accepted and matriculated, as well as other statistics related to the GGD program.

The Graduate Group in Demography application requires a writing sample and personal statement.

The writing sample should reflect the research you are interested in pursuing in our program. A previous paper where you are the lead author (not a secondary author) works well. The admissions committee will read this sample cognizant of where you are in your career stage.

The personal statement, please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

There are no set length requirements/limits for the writing sample and the personal statement, but the most efficient personal statements tend to be about 2 pages, and writing samples 10-15 pages.

A Bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement. While an interest in demography is essential, you do not need a background in demography, sociology, or economics. Students admitted to the Graduate Group in Demography have had the following BA or MA degrees: demography, sociology, economics, statistics, public/global health, public/social policy, political science, and others.

Financial Support

Virtually all students matriculating in the Graduate Group in Demography receive support for their tuition as well as a stipend for living expenses. The Admissions Committee awards a limited number of fellowships from various sources, including competitive University fellowships and training grants from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. Fontaine Fellowships support the academic development of PhD students, and are awarded to students whose background, research and experience demonstrate both the interest and capacity to enhance a broadly diverse and inclusive learning community. Research assistantships associated with externally funded faculty research projects and teaching assistantships may also be available. These financial resources are allocated primarily on the basis of merit, so all applicants are advised to check the appropriate financial support box on the application form. Because these financial resources are comparatively scarce, it is also highly advisable for prospective students to seek financial support from outside sources: for example, U.S. students should consider applying to the National Science Foundation; foreign students should consider the Fulbright Commission (with offices in most countries), as well as other sources of national support.


If you have any questions about the PhD application, feel free to contact the GGD Coordinator, Dawn Ryan, at, or the GGD Chair, Michel Guillot, at