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PhD Application Process

How to Apply to the Berkeley Social Welfare PhD Program

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.

Admissions Adivising for Prospective PhD Applicants

Because of the highly individualized complexity of doctoral study, we invite potential applicants considering our PhD or Combined MSW/PhD programs to meet one-on-one with an admissions advisor. To schedule an appointment, please e-mail the Graduate Admissions Advisor, Sara McCarthy at saramc@berkeley.edu.

Prospective applicants are also strongly encouraged to reach out to potential faculty mentors and advisers who may be a match with their research interests prior to submitting an application. To connect with faculty please see our Faculty Profiles.

Application Deadline for Fall 2019 Admission

The next cycle, for entry in Fall 2019, will open in early September 2018. All applications for Fall 2019 admission must be completed and submitted online by December 3, 2018.

Required Application Materials

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

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

Read below for more information and instructions for each of these required items.

​UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission

All applicants to 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/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.

Application Fee

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.

For information from Graduate Admissions regarding eligibility for an application fee waiver, please see 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 the Social Welfare PhD Program, you may choose from the following doctoral faculty advisers for applications due December 3, 2018:

Adrian Aguilera
Jill Duerr Berrick
Yu-Ling Chang
Julian Chun-Chung Chow
Jeffrey L. Edleson
Neil Gilbert
Anu Manchikanti Gómez

Erin M. Kerrison
Kurt Organista
Steven P. Segal
Valerie Shapiro
Jennifer L. Skeem
Paul Sterzing
Susan Stone

Transcripts

Transcripts for ALL college-level coursework undertaken must be uploaded as PDF files directly into the online application. Unofficial copies are acceptable for the graduate admissions application, but they MUST include:

  • the legible, full name of the applicant and
  • the legible, full name of the issuing academic institution.

Official copies of transcripts will be requested by the Graduate Division for all applicants who are admitted.

Letters of Recommendation

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation are required. 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.

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.

Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose must be uploaded as a PDF file to your online application for admission.

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. The suggested page length for your Statement of Purpose is 3-5 double-spaced pages.

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

  1. 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. 2. Preparation:
    Describe the research experiences that contribute to your motivations and readiness for the Berkeley Social Welfare doctoral program.
  3. 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. 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?

Personal History Statement

Your Personal History Statement must be uploaded as a PDF file to your online application for admission.

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. The suggested page length for your Personal History Statement is 1-2 double-spaced pages.

Your Personal History Statement should describe how your personal background and experiences have informed your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Your personal statement should 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. Your personal statement is also the place to highlight your understanding of or experiences with a non-traditional educational background, or groups historically under-represented in higher education. Direct reviewers’ attention to the evidence in your admissions application of your promise for higher education.

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.

Curriculum Vita/Résumé

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 are required to take the GRE Revised General Test. We do not require any GRE Subject Exams.

For Fall 2019 admission, acceptable GRE scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2013 and November 19, 2018. 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 3, 2018.

TOEFL Scores

International applicants from countries in which the official language is not English and who do not meet the TOEFL exemption qualifications& must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

For Fall 2019 admission, acceptable TOEFL scores are from tests taken between December 1, 2016 and November 19, 2018. TOEFL tests taken after November 19, 2018, will not be valid for admission into the 2018-19 academic year. For the TOEFL, a minimum score of 90 is required.

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 3, 2018.

Re-Applicants

Re-applicants are required to re-submit all elements of the application.

However, you may not need to submit all three letters of recommendation again. At a minimum, one new recommendation letter must be submitted. If you applied for the Fall 2015 admission cycle or later, we may be able to additionally upload your previous letters of recommendation into your current application. In order to utilize this service, we must receive your request in writing by email to swadm@berkeley.edu by November 1, 2018.

Please include your full name as it appeared on your previous application. If your letters are available, we will then upload your previous letters of recommendation to your online application. If we are unable to retrieve your letters, you will be notified in time to request the letters again from your recommender. Requests are handled in the order they are received. If you do not make this request by the November 1 deadline, you will be expected to send in all 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.

How to Contact Berkeley Social Welfare Admissions
By email: swadm@berkeley.edu | By phone: (510) 642-9042

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