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College of Social Work


Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly selective; only a limited number of applicants are admitted for each fall semester. We seek applicants who embrace our mission to advance social change and improve individual lives and communities in South Carolina and beyond.

Admission Criteria

The admissions committee considers the individual strengths of each applicant. All applicants are admitted in the spring to begin full-time study in the fall.

Admission to the Ph.D. program is based on the following criteria:

  • Master of Social Work degree from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (or comparable degree from an international university). On a case-by-case basis, the committee will consider other master’s degrees in lieu of an MSW.
  • Grade point average of 3.5 or above for graduate studies
  • Evidence of scholarly potential as indicated by three letters of reference
  • Graduate Record Examination (general) scores or Miller Analogies Test scores
  • Writing sample
  • Detailed personal statement that addresses:
    • Your career goals and how earning a Ph.D. will help you achieve your career goals.
    • Why you want to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work.
    • What, if any, experience you have conducting research/evaluation (e.g., with a faculty member, for employment).
    • Your major research interests or focus.
    • The personal and professional experiences that have influenced your research interests or focus.
    • How, if at all, your research interest/focus fits with the research interests of one or more of our faculty (please specify which faculty).

International students must also submit the following:

  • Financial resource requirement (mandated by U.S. government regulations)
  • Application for immigration
  • If English is not your primary language, satisfactory score on TOEFL or IELTS

To assist international applicants with their applications, advisers from International Student Services provide guidance regarding cultural and immigration matters, such as obtaining and renewing visas.

How to Apply

The Graduate School at the University of South Carolina coordinates online applications to our doctoral programs. Graduate admission requires an online application and supporting materials. Review the requirements before you apply.


The application deadline is Jan. 15. However, The Graduate School recommends that applicants set aside enough time — usually about two to three weeks — to complete the application process. Although The Graduate School typically processes submitted materials in one to two business days, it can take much longer for issuing parties to gather and submit your supporting documents. You should not send any supporting materials, including transcripts, until after you have submitted a completed application.

Check your application status

Get a real-time view of the activity taking place with your application, including your admissions decision. Log in to see whether your recommendations, scores, transcripts and other supporting documents have been received.

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