PhD Admissions Application Instructions

All applicants to doctoral study at Berkeley apply for graduate admission online, through the UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission. A separate application to the School of Social Welfare is not required.

The online application becomes available in early September each year. Berkeley Social Welfare only admits for the fall semester each academic year; no spring or summer admissions are offered.

Application Deadline for Fall 2020 Admission

The next admission cycle, for entry in Fall 2020, will open in early September 2019. All applications for Fall 2020 admission must be completed and submitted online by December 2, 2019 at 8:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Graduate Application Requirements

To be considered complete, applications for admission to the PhD Program and Combined MSW/PhD Program must include all of the following items:

  1. A completed UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission, including payment of application fee and selection of faculty adviser.
  2. Transcripts from ALL college-level course work undertaken.
  3. Three Letters of Recommendation.
  4. A written Statement of Purpose.
  5. A written Personal History Statement.
  6. A sample of scholarly written work.
  7. A current résumé/CV.
  8. A Graduate Record Exam (GRE) electronic score report sent directly to Berkeley.
  9. For international applicants, a TOEFL electronic score report sent directly to Berkeley.

Expand the tabs below for instructions and tips for completing each of these application components.

UC Berkeley Online Graduate Admissions Application

Applicants to all Berkeley Social Welfare graduate programs apply for admission by submitting a single online UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission.

All application supporting materials, including transcripts, written statements and writing samples, letters of recommendation, and résumé/CV, must be uploaded as PDF files directly into the online application by the application deadline. No late or paper copies are accepted, without exception.

Accessing the Online Application

When you log onto the graduate admissions application system for the first time, you will be instructed to create an account in order to begin your online application for graduate admission. The online application system will send you an automated e-mail with instructions for updating your log-in credentials (password) and accessing your individual application.

Technical Difficulties?

If you experience technical difficulty when applying online, please send an email describing the problem to gradadm@berkeley.edu.

Application Updates and Status Checks

After you begin an application, you may save it and continue working on it later, but once you submit your application, you may no longer change your record online. You will still be able to login to check your application, monitor its status, and communicate with your recommenders. For other changes or questions, please email the Social Welfare Admissions Office directly at swadm@berkeley.edu.

Application Fee

You must submit an application fee when you apply. For U.S. citizens or current permanent residents, the application fee is $120. For all others, the fee is $140.

The application fee is paid directly to Berkeley Graduate Admissions, and payment must be submitted online with a major credit card at the time you submit your completed application. The application fee is nonrefundable.

Requesting an Application Fee Waiver.

Faculty Adviser Choice

In your online application you will be required to enter the name(s) of the faculty member(s) you wish to work with and whose research best reflects your interests. You will also be asked to briefly state why you chose these faculty members and why you chose them in your particular rank order. We highly recommend that applicants research and reach out to faculty before submitting an application

For applications to the Social Welfare PhD or Combined MSW/ PHD Programs due December 2, 2019, the following doctoral faculty advisers are available to serve as primary mentors

Transcripts

Transcripts for ALL college-level coursework undertaken must be uploaded as PDF files directly into the "Academic History" section of the online application. Unofficial copies are acceptable for the graduate admissions application, but all submitted transcripts MUST include:

  • the legible, full name of the applicant;
  • the legible, full name of the issuing academic institution; and
  • name of official degree conferred and date of conferral.

All uploaded transcripts should also display in the correct page orientation (i.e. landscape or portrait), and include the transcript legend (the back page in most cases).

Official copies of transcripts will be requested by the Graduate Division for all applicants who are admitted to and matriculate at Berkeley.

Letters of Recommendation

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation are required. For applicants to doctoral study, recommendations from individuals who have supervised your research and scholarly work (e.g., research project supervisors, thesis advisors, professors) tend to be the most useful to our selection process and should comprise the majority, if not all, letters.

Recommendations are submitted directly to your online application by your recommenders, and must be received by the application deadline. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact potential recommenders as early in the application process as possible to ensure letters are received by the deadline.

Your recommenders will receive an email at the email address you provide when you apply and will be asked to follow a link to submit their recommendation. Please use your recommender's institutional or corporate email address. Submissions from anonymous email addresses (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) may be subject to additional review.

You may waive the right to inspect your letters of recommendation on a voluntary basis. To waive access to your letters, complete the waiver section for each Letter of Recommendation.

Tips for Recommendations

  • Choose your recommenders carefully. If any of your potential recommenders are ambivalent about providing a recommendation for you, consider choosing someone else.
  • Contact your potential recommenders and confirm their contact information early in the process of preparing your application. Let them know that they will be receiving an automated invitation from the application system to complete their recommendation and submit a letter online directly to your application file. Be sure to inform them of the application deadline.
  • After submitting your application, check your Application Status page frequently to monitor when your recommendations are received, and communicate with your recommenders as necessary.

Technical Difficulties with Submitting Recommendations?

If a recommender is having trouble submitting their recommendation, please ask them to contact Berkeley Social Welfare Admissions directly by email to swadm@berkeley.edu.

Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose is required from all applicants. You must upload your statement as a single PDF file to the corresponding page in your online application.

Statement of Purpose Prompts

For your Statement of Purpose, please respond to EACH of the following prompts under separate headings:

  1. Motivations and Goals:
    What are your motivations for doctoral study? What would be your goals as a doctoral student at Berkeley Social Welfare?

  2. Preparation:
    Describe the research experiences that contribute to your motivations and readiness for the Berkeley Social Welfare doctoral program.

  3. Research Interests and Intellectual Fit:
    Which specific social problems or research questions might you be interested in studying? Please speak to how you might study them by describing your key unit of analysis (e.g., individuals, organizations) and your intended methodological approaches. Please specify why Berkeley Social Welfare would be a good intellectual fit for your research interests, describing potential faculty mentors in Social Welfare and other departments, as well as campus supports and resources you would leverage.

  4. Future Career Goals:
    What career do you intend to pursue after the doctoral program? How will the doctoral degree contribute to your career goals?

Statement of Purpose Tips

  • Statements should follow general APA Style Guidelines. They should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. Please use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
  • Do not exceed the page limit guideline: 3-5 typed, double-spaced pages.
  • Review the Graduate Division’s essential tips for “Writing the Statement of Purpose.”
  • Proofread your statement for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors before uploading them to your online application.
  • Double-check that you are uploading the correct file to your online application.

Personal History Statement

The Personal History Statement is required from all applicants. You must upload your statement as a single PDF file to the corresponding page in your online application.

Personal History Statement Prompts

Your Personal History Statement should describe how your personal background and experiences have informed your decision to pursue a graduate degree in social welfare:

  • Present a compelling image of you as a person, and your potential for success as a member of the Berkeley Social Welfare graduate academic community.
  • Highlight your understanding of or experiences with a non-traditional educational background, or groups historically under-represented in higher education.
  • Direct readers’ attention to the evidence of your promise for higher education, and address any potential deficiencies in your academic record.

Personal History Statement Tips

  • Your Personal History Statement should not duplicate the Statement of Purpose.
  • Statements should follow general APA Style Guidelines. They should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. Please use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
  • Do not exceed the page limit guideline: 1-2 typed, double-spaced pages.
  • Review the Graduate Division's essential tips for "Writing the Personal Statement."
  • Proofread your statement for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors before uploading them to your online application.
  • Double-check that you are uploading the correct file to your online application.

Sample of Scholarly Written Work

Your sample of scholarly written work must be uploaded as a PDF file to your online application for admission.

For your scholarly writing sample, you may submit published articles, a master’s thesis or portion thereof, papers written for graduate courses, or material written in a professional capacity. The writing sample should give evidence of your ability to think critically and analytically; it should not be purely descriptive.

Résumé/Curriculum Vita

You are required to upload a current CV/résumé to your online application. You may format your CV/résumé however you wish. Please include contact information; educational background; relevant work/volunteer experience; teaching experience; and research experience, publications, and presentations. Previous successful admits typically have had 1-2 years of formal research experience.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Scores

Applicants to the PhD Program or Combined MSW/ PhD Program are required to take the GRE Revised General Test. We do not require any GRE Subject Exams.

For Fall 2020 admission, acceptable GRE scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2014 and November 19, 2019. There is no minimum GRE score required, though previous successful applicants typically score above the 70th percentile in the Verbal section, and above the 50th percentile in the Quantitative section.

All test scores should be sent electronically, directly to UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions (Institution Code: 4833); they do not need to be sent to the School of Social Welfare. All test scores must be received by the application deadline: December 1, 2019.

Evidence of English Language Proficiency (for International Applicants)

International applicants from countries in which the official language is not English, and who do not meet the TOEFL exemption qualifications, must submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This requirement is most commonly satisfied by submitting an official score report for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

For purposes of admission, your most recent TOEFL score must be at least 90 for the Internet-based test (IBT), and 570 for the paper-based format (PBT). Acceptable TOEFL scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2017 and November 15, 2019. TOEFL tests taken after November 15, 2019, will not be accepted for admission into the 2019-20 academic year.

All test scores should be sent electronically, directly to UC Berkeley Graduate Division (Institution Code 4833); they do not need to be sent to the School of Social Welfare. All official test score reports must be received by the application deadline.

Re-applicants to All Programs

Re-applicants to all graduate degree programs are required to re-submit all elements of the application, including a current résumé/CV and new letters of recommendation.

Admissions Decisions and Notification

All applicants to the PhD Program and Combined MSW/PhD Program will be notified of decisions and offers of funding support in early February.

The University of California, Berkeley is a participating institution in the Council of Graduate Schools'(CGS) Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistantships, also known as the “April 15 Resolution.” Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15. For more information please see the CGS April 15 Resolution website.