PhD Admissions

Berkeley Social Welfare develops doctoral scholars who challenge conventional wisdom and make significant contributions to the field of social welfare and the profession of social work through excellent research, teaching, and service.

Our doctoral graduates are prepared to tackle the most difficult social problems we face, contributing to new knowledge in areas as wide-ranging as poverty, severe mental health, racial and ethnic inequalities, and health. They form a cadre of researchers who are developing new ideas about service systems that can help children, families, and communities to develop and thrive. With over 300 graduates of our doctoral program, our School produces top-notch professors and researchers for some of the best social work schools and policy centers throughout the country and around the globe.

Application Deadline for Fall 2024 Admission

We are not currently accepting applications for admission to Fall 2024.

PhD Admission Pause for 2025-2026 Academic Year 

Thank you for your interest in applying for the doctoral program at Berkeley Social Welfare. We are pausing doctoral admissions, including our Combined MSW/PhD program, for entry to the 2025-2026 academic year. 

Over the next several months, our faculty are re-envisioning our doctoral program to reflect changes to the academic landscape, funding opportunities, and feedback from our current doctoral students. We are confident our updated curriculum will equip our doctoral students to shape the future of social work research, and will reflect Berkeley Social Welfare’s multilevel, community-engaged, anti-oppressive, and evidence-informed approach to social work.

We look forward to receiving your application for admission to our Fall 2026 cohort!


Please contact Alexia Pimentel, Director of Student Services, PhD Advisor, and Combined MSW/PhD Advisor at

PhD Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Social Welfare PhD Program, all applicants must:

  • Satisfy the minimum requirements for admission to graduate study at Berkeley.
  • Have obtained a master's degree by the time of matriculation into the doctoral program. There is no requirement for the master's degree to be in a specific field.
  • Demonstrate evidence of intellectual and other qualifications essential to successful performance in the doctoral program, including examples of scholarly written work.

International Applicants

For international applicants from a country or political entity where English is not the official language, a satisfactory score on the TOEFL exam or other acceptable equivalent evidence of English language proficiency to do graduate work is required.

Applicants to the Combined MSW/PhD Program

Applicants to the Combined MSW/PhD Program do not need to hold a graduate degree, but must meet all other requirements for admission to doctoral study, AND must also meet all Admission Eligibility Requirements for the MSW Program.