SSW PhD student group

Application and Admission

Admission Requirements and Considerations

An MSW from an accredited social work program, or its international equivalent, is generally required for entry into the Social Work Ph.D. program. However, exceptions may be made for students with a BSW from an accredited social work program and a master's degree in a related field. While some students prefer to have two or more years of post-MSW employment experience in human services for expanded career options in academia, this is not imperative nor a program requirement.

The Ph.D. program committee reviews all applicant materials. Individuals are evaluated for goodness-of-fit and recommended for acceptance based on: (1) future career interests; (2) research potential and creativity as demonstrated in requested essays and letters of recommendation; (3) experience in social work teaching or research and other scholarly activities; and (4) background and experience including quality and extent of social work experience with diverse populations. Indicators of academic aptitude are also considered, including graduate and undergraduate GPAs and graduate record examination (GRE) scores. For the GRE, scores should typically be at least 144 in quantitative reasoning and 153 in verbal reasoning.

Application Materials

The Ph.D. program committee considers applications in January for admission at the start of the subsequent Fall semester. Ph.D. program applicants should submit their applications electronically to the Arizona State University Graduate College by January 15th. Applications received after January 15th may be considered based upon space available.

To be considered for admission, your file must be complete. You will be asked to provide the following materials during the application process: 

  • Online Graduate Education application
  • Names and email addresses of 3 to 5 references who can speak to your ability to succeed in the Ph.D. program (References are contacted by ASU to submit letters of recommendation. Please allow sufficient time for references to respond prior to the deadline.)
  • Personal statement
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • Five-page essay on a social problem of your choice
  • Writing sample, such as a refereed journal article, class paper, or professional report (optional)
  • GRE test scores taken within 5 years of application date
  • One official transcript from each institution attended (if ASU graduate, there is no need to submit a transcript)
  • Graduate College application fee
  • Proof of measles vaccination
  • For international students only, appropriate visas, documentation of a multi-year financial package, and a copy of your TOEFL scores are required. The minimum TOEFL requirement is 550 (PBT), 213 (CBT), or 80 (iBT). For more information, please visit the Graduate College’s international admissions page.

Applicants will be notified via e-mail once a complete Ph.D. application packet has been received. Any questions about the status of an application should be directed to the School of Social Work’s Office of Academic Services at (602) 496-0800 or

The School of Social Work welcomes inquiries from students exploring our Ph.D. program. We are pleased to arrange personalized meetings with prospective applicants, either by phone or in-person, as well as organize individualized tours of our school and broader downtown Phoenix campus. Please contact Dr. David Hodge, Ph.D. Program Coordinator, for scheduling or with any questions you might have related to the program or application process.