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School of Social Work

Ph.D. in Social Work - How to Apply

Applications are evaluated based on potential for independent research and knowledge development in social work. While preference is given to applicants with post-master’s work experience, there is not a set amount or type of experience required, and all applicants’ previous experiences and career goals are considered.

Applications are made online through the Graduate School and the Apply Yourself tool. Be sure to save your PIN number and password so you can return to work on your application over time. Graduate student financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships are handled through a separate application process.
The deadline for Fall 2018 admission is January 6, 2018..

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Required materials

Before you begin the online application, please gather the following materials:

  • Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended (including the University of Minnesota). Please see the Graduate School's transcript instruction page for information on submitting transcripts with your application.
    • Applicants must have a master’s degree in social work, social welfare, or a related field, preferably from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Applicants may be enrolled in a master’s program when they apply for the Ph.D. program, but the program must be completed before they begin doctoral studies. Master’s degrees in related disciplines are considered, but students may be required to complete some M.S.W. coursework as a condition for enrollment.
  • Test scores - All applicants must submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores taken in the last 5 years.
    • If you are an international student and English is not your native language, submit official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores.
    • The Graduate School has more information about GRE tests and scores, and TOEFL tests and scores.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) - List relevant educational and employment history, including job titles, agency names, and dates of employment. Also list publications, presentations, teaching or research experience, and any honors or awards.
  • Personal Statement - Consist of two sections, to be answered in one document.
    1. Research interests. Discuss the specific social work and social welfare problems or questions you are interested in researching, and how such research might contribute to knowledge in the field of social work/social welfare. The admissions committee welcomes a broad variety of research problems or questions, including those geared to helping the profession better meet the needs of a diverse society. Also describe your past or present research training or experience, and how you see research as part of your future career goals, and feel free to discuss other aspects of your research interests that you would like the committee to know about. If there is a particular faculty member with whom you wish to study, please give that person's name and explain why you want to study with that person.
    2. Career goals. Address your overall career goals, and how doctoral study and work relates to them, including how teaching and research fit with stated goals.
  • Writing Sample - Samples of scholarly writing that provide evidence of your ability to effectively conceptualize and communicate complex ideas, demonstrating appropriate clarity, organization, and use of grammar and style.
    • Scholarly writing samples may include: sole-authored publications, manuscripts, presentations prepared for academic conferences, and course papers. Informal examples of writing, such as newspaper articles or Power Point presentations, are not acceptable writing samples.
    • If co-authored papers are submitted, please attach a statement specifically describing your contributions to the work.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation - Three letters of recommendation are required from references who are able to comment on your potential for research and scholarly activity, as well as the quality of your professional practice. At least one letter, if not two, should be from a current or former professor.
    • Recommenders are asked to use the following special instructions when completing their letter: “Please comment on the applicant’s most outstanding academic and professional characteristics and those in greatest need of development, applicant’s demonstration of creativity in work and independence in thinking, demonstrated written and oral communication skills, ability to work with and/or lead others, ability and sensitivity to work with diverse populations, ability to contribute to the knowledge base of social work through original research, and any other factors reviewers should consider.”
    • We prefer that recommenders submit their letters online through the Apply Yourself system, but they may also be sent via mail. Letters should be accompanied by a completed Applicant Recommendation Form provided by the applicant (available in the “Downloadable Forms” section of the application), and mailed to Ph.D. Admissions Office, 105 Peters Hall, 1404 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108.

Online steps to completion

Start or continue your application on the Graduate School's website by clicking "Apply Now/Resume Application" and logging in with your PIN and password. Answer all required sections of the application:

  • Term of Entry: Fall 2018. (The Ph.D. program in social work does not admit students for spring or summer entry.)
  • Proposed Major: Social Work Ph.D.
  • Educational Background: upload all official transcripts.
  • Self-reported Test Information: upload GRE scores and (if required) TOEFL scores.
  • Applicant Statements: SKIP THIS SECTION OF THE APPLICATION
  • Program Supplementary Information: You should upload the following materials to this page of the application:
    • Writing Sample
    • CV
    • Personal Statement (both sections) use the "Upload #1" section
  • Letters of recommendation: Upload the letters of recommendation in the "Important Links" section of the application
  • Application fee: $75 ($95 for international applicants), which must be paid online with a credit card.

Once you have submitted your application, you will not be able to make changes or upload additional materials. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.