Ph.D. application guidelines
Applicants to the Ph.D. Program must have an earned master’s degree in social work or a related discipline from an accredited institution. The GRE is not a required component of the application for admission.
Upcoming application deadline
To be considered for admission and financial aid for Fall 2023, applicants should submit all materials by Jan. 10, 2023.
Supporting materials to include with your application
Unofficial transcripts from all postsecondary institutions should be uploaded with your electronic application and will be used for departmental admission review purposes. Official transcripts will be required if you are admitted.
Applicants who have earned degrees in institutions outside of the U.S. must provide an official course-by-course external credential evaluation before the application deadline for your application to be reviewed. This report should be sent sealed and unopened directly to the VCU Office of Admissions.
For foreign nationals whose native language is not English or who have not already earned a master’s degree in an English-dominant country, scores are required for either the Test of English of Foreign Language (TOEFL) (required minimum 100, internet-based) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (required minimum 6.5).
Three letters of reference, including at least two academic references that reflect familiarity with the applicant’s career goals and their fit with the purpose and demands of Ph.D. education. All letters should be submitted via the online application system.
The personal statement describes your career goals and plans and their fit with the doctoral program’s research-focused mission to develop social work scholars and leaders. Please be as specific as possible, and limit statement to five double-spaced pages.
- Discuss your career goals and how a Ph.D. in Social Work would further your ability to achieve those goals.
- Describe how your personal life experiences, academic preparation and practice experience inform your interests and readiness to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Work.
- Assess your motivation and capability to successfully complete the doctoral program.
- In what area(s) of research would you like to engage as a Ph.D. student? What practice or policy implications might you aspire to in your work?
- What aspects of the VCU Ph.D. Program interest you? Why is the program a good fit for your interests?
- Please identify faculty members at the School of Social Work, or at VCU more broadly, especially if your interests are interdisciplinary, who could support your scholarly development.
- Are there any other factors that should be considered in the evaluation of your application?
Please organize your personal statement as a cohesive essay rather than a list of discrete answers to the questions posed.
The writing sample should demonstrate capacity to use scientific literature, including the ability to identify, synthesize and critique salient arguments with proper citation and to present a clear, logical and compelling argument. Applicants must be the sole author of the paper.
Applicants are encouraged to submit a paper they submitted for a master’s degree program if written within the past three to five years. If you do not have such a paper, you may prepare one on a subject that is relevant to social work (five to eight pages, typed, double-spaced).
Please submit an up-to-date resume/curriculum vitae.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, be sure to review additional requirements on the International Admissions graduate student page. International applicants should request their course-by-course external evaluation of foreign transcripts no less than one month before the deadline listed to ensure that all application materials are received by the deadline.
Admissions review process
The School of Social Work faculty assess completed applications and make recommendations about admission. Their evaluations are based on applicants’ demonstrated capacity for critical and creative thinking, ability to synthesize and apply knowledge, clarity of expression, past and potential academic achievement, tenacity and motivation, and fit with the VCU Ph.D. Program.
Applicants who are moved to the second round of reviews are interviewed by a faculty member, either in person or by videoconference.
Nonmatriculated students in Ph.D. courses
The Ph.D. Program occasionally permits nonmatriculated students (those not admitted to the VCU Ph.D. Program) to enroll in a course to help them assess their interest in doctoral education. Satisfactory performance as a nondegree-seeking student does not assure admission as a degree-seeking student.