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How to Apply: PhD Program

Follow the steps on this page to prepare and submit your application for the PhD program at the KU School of Social Welfare.

Request PhD Program Information

Ready to pursue your doctoral degree in social work at KU? Request a PhD program guide.

Step 1: Review PhD Admissions Requirements

KU School of Social Welfare PhD Admissions Requirements

  • Master's degree in social work is preferred. Applicants with master’s degrees related to social work and affiliation with social work activities and values are considered.
  • Graduate grade-point average of 3.5 or higher is required.
  • Undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 or higher is preferred.

We admit a new PhD cohort every other year. The deadline for the next cohort application was Jan. 5, 2024, for a fall 2024 start date. The application is now closed.

Step 2: Gather and Prepare Supporting Documents

Online Application

The online application gives you the ability to submit all supporting documents in one form and save in progress. New applicants will be required to create an account.

You will be asked for the items listed below, which will be required to complete the application.

Student-issued transcripts >> from all previously attended schools regardless of degree status.

  • Master's degree in social work is preferred. Applicants with master’s degrees related to social work and affiliation with social work activities and values are considered. Graduate grade-point average of 3.5 or higher is required. Undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 or higher preferred.

If you are a current or former KU student, you don’t need to provide official transcripts.

Current and former KU students are not required to request and purchase official KU transcripts, or to provide official KU transcripts or copies of KU transcripts to apply for admission to KU graduate programs. If KU students earned a degree from another institution, they will need to upload copies of those transcripts with their application. 

Current KU students:

  • Please upload a copy of your KU academic summary, available from Enroll & Pay, 


    your KU Advising Report, available from the “My Progress” section of the myKU portal, to your application. Please do not upload your KU degree progress report.

Former KU students: 

  • Follow the above instructions for current KU students. If you are unable to access your KU academic summary or Advising Report, please request a KU Advising Report from the department or program to which you are applying, and ask that they upload it to your submitted application.  

If you have never attended KU, your application must include official transcripts from each college attended.

For processing purposes, you may attach scanned versions of official transcripts to your application. If you are admitted to a program and accept the admission offer, you will be required to submit an official, final transcript that shows your degree has been conferred. Transcripts must be submitted to Graduate Admissions in one of three ways:

  • Via mail

    Transcripts must be sent directly from your institution, in a sealed envelope, to:

    Graduate Admissions

    University of Kansas

    KU Visitor Center

    1502 Iowa Street

    Lawrence, KS 66045

  • Electronically (Preferred Method)

    If your institution offers a secure electronic transcript delivery service, you may have transcripts sent to graduateadm@ku.edu.

  • Via Certifile

    Transcripts may also be certified through our application provider, using a service called Certifile. Log in to your KU application portal and submit a Certifile verification request. Once the process is complete, Graduate Admissions will receive the documentation automatically. Note: Certifile charges a one-time $125 fee to create an account.

For more guidance on transcripts from non-U.S. institutions, see our International applicants page.

Current resume/curriculum vitae

  • Two years of social work or related practice; two years of post-master’s professional social work experience preferred.

When submitting your resume, be sure to save as a "WORD" (windows compatible) or as a PDF document. Please double-check your formatting after saving it in WORD or PDF, and before uploading the document.

The goal of the School of Social Welfare PhD program is to prepare students to become leaders nationally and internationally in advancing social work practice through research and scholarship. The narrative statement asks applicants to answer questions that address how their own personal and/or professional experiences inform their work as a scholar.

In 1,250 words or less, please address the following:

  • Discuss your vision and development as a scholar, including any research experiences you have had to date.
  • In considering your own vision as a scholar and the School's guiding principle and values, describe one or two areas of scholarly inquiry that you would like to explore in a doctoral program. Discuss why these scholarly topics are important to the field and how addressing them would advance health, well-being, and justice for all people through anti-oppressive social work practice and/or social policy.
  • Describe why you chose the University of Kansas. If there are KU faculty members or research projects in which you have special interest, please mention them in your description.

Completion of basic statistics course within the past two years with a grade of B or higher. Applicant must include a written statement showing how this requirement has been met, how it will be met before entering the program, or indicate that they plan to apply for a waiver of this requirement based on extensive research experience.

Contact information for three references

Three online recommendation references >> with additional letters. The most persuasive letters speak to your research experience and/aptitude and critical thinking/intellectual ability. Former professors are often best able to provide this kind of information, although others in your professional life may also be able to speak to these qualities.

A personal interview by telephone or email contacts with the chair of the program is recommended but not required before submitting application.

Non-native English speakers are required to meet certain levels of English proficiency to gain admission to KU graduate programs. Common ways to demonstrate proficiency include previous degrees and test scores.

Learn more on the Graduate Admissions English Proficiency Requirements webpage.

For more information regarding International Students Services, visit the Office of International Student & Scholar Services website.

Step 3: Finalize Your Application

To complete the application you must submit the online application and pay the fee.

PhD Application Fees

Domestic: $65

International: $85

NOTE: The application fee is non-refundable and non-transferrable.

At the point of application all Social Welfare students must agree to the:

Applications are not reviewed until all materials are received. Applications are reviewed by the Ph.D. Admissions Committee in February, and notifications to students are sent in early March. Late applications are considered only on a space-available basis through May 1.

If you want to check the status of your application, you may do so on your Check Application Status page.

Once a decision has been made on your application, you will receive an email from Graduate Studies to check your electronic decision letter and, if an offer is made, an email from the School of Social Welfare.

All decision notifications are sent via email in the spring; this is the official notification of a decision. To ensure your privacy, we are unable to provide admission decisions by telephone. Your decision letter will be found on your Check Application Status page.

Check Your Application Status

All applications are reviewed by the School upon receipt. Once a decision has been made on your application, you will receive an email.


Study Social Work at KU

KU's School of Social Welfare offers social work degree programs at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels: BSW, MSW, DSW and PhD. Learn more.