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Combined Masters and PhD in Social Welfare

The Combined Masters in Social Welfare/Doctorate in Social Welfare Program (MSW/PhD) is designed for applicants who wish to pursue a continuous program of study leading to the master’s and doctoral degrees and who have a strong interest in and an exceptional capacity for research and scholarly work.

In addition to the requirements for the PhD, combined program students complete a modified curriculum plan and the field placements within one of the MSW program concentrations. The program requires a minimum of four years of full-time course work and at least one additional year to complete the dissertation.

Combined MSW/PhD students can pursue course and field work in one of five concentrations:

  • Direct Practice in Aging Services

  • Direct Practice in Child and Family Services

  • Direct Practice in Community Mental Health Services

  • Direct Practice in Health Services

  • Management and Planning

Applicants must choose their concentration at the time of application. Combined MSW/PhD students are not eligible for the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program.  To see how the curriculum varies between concentrations, please see the MSW Curriculum At-a-Glance. Keep in mind that course substitutions are made in the MSW curriculum for Combined MSW/PhD students in order to reduce redundancy of material as they segue into the doctoral portion of the program. For more detailed information about the MSW program, please review the Academics and Field Education sections of this website.

Applicants must also list their first and second choice faculty mentor preferences and explain their choices. For more detailed information about Berkeley Social Welfare faculty, please visit the Faculty webpages.


Online Application 

Evaluation of Applicants

Application Checklist

Admissions Notification


Online Application

Applicants to the MSW program must complete an online application through the UC Berkeley Graduate Division Admission website. The application is available now.

All applications are due by Thursday, December 3rd, 11:59 pm PST. The online application will log out automatically at 12:00am PST on Friday, December 4th. Late applications will not be accepted.

All application materials, including transcripts, written statements, letters of recommendation and resume must be uploaded as PDFs into the online application by the application deadline. Paper copies will not be accepted.


Application Checklist


Evaluation of Applicant

Applicants are evaluated on academic preparation, appropriateness for MSW program and direct practice experience.

  1. Academic Preparation: Factors include grade-point average (GPA); sufficient undergraduate training for graduate study in social welfare; GRE/TOEFL scores; and writing skills.
  2. Appropriateness for MSW/PHD Program: Factors include applicant’s career goals, appropriate fit with program goals and level of literacy. Leadership skills and potential also may be considered in the context of career and program goals.
  3. Personal Qualifications: Both the quality and duration of direct social work practice experience are considered. The minimum experience requirement for admission eligibility is the equivalent of one full year of paid or volunteer employment related to social welfare or human services. For applicants to the Management and Planning (MAP) concentration, the recommended minimum experience requirement is two years. Research experience  as shown through the “Publications and Presentations” section of the online application as well as the resume/curriculum vitae is also evaluated. Analytical ability is assessed through the analytical essay question.


Admissions Notifications

All applicants will be notified of decisions between early February and mid-March. Timing of notifications will vary between concentrations.

Types of notifications:

Admitted to Combined MSW/PhD program. On average 1-3 applicants are admitted into the Combined MSW/PhD program. These students are assessed for an individualized financial support package.

Deferred to MSW program only. Applicants to the Combined MSW/PhD program may note on their online application if they wish to be considered for the MSW program only in the case that they are no longer considered for the Combined MSW/PhD program. Strong applicants will be considered within the concentration pools for the MSW admission process. Those applicants who are deferred should review the notification guidelines of the MSW program.

Denied admission. We receive many more qualified applicants than space available each year. Unfortunately, we must deny admission to many candidates who would likely be very successful a graduate program. We encourage applicants to explore multiple graduate school options. For those who are denied admission, we offer the opportunity for reapplying in subsequent years.