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Application Instructions, Materials, Criteria and Decisions

Applicants are preferred to hold a Master of Social Work (MSW). Applicants without an MSW should possess relevant social work-related experience.  Applicants who are selected to be finalists will be invited to participate in an online interview.

Offered on the Indianapolis campus #

Admission to the Indiana University School of Social Work (IUSSW) is competitive. Applications should be submitted during the open application period from March 1 to December 1.

Apply to the School of Social Work today!

Explore the PhD Program

Interested applicants who have earned an MSW can take up to 3 PhD courses as a Graduate.
Apply to the Exploring Program

Application Instructions #

Complete the University Graduate Office application form and pay the $70 non-refundable application fee.

  • Choose the following from the Add Program tab for PhD:
    • Using the Filters
      • Open School, select IU School of Social Work
      • Open Degree, select Doctorate
    • Using the search field “Search for a Program or Organization”
      • Type “Social Work”
    • Select the Indianapolis program “PhD Social Work”
  • Standardized tests are required for international applicants only

  1. Select the term you’re applying for in the drop-down menu. Then click “Apply Now.”
  2. You will be directed to the Indiana University Graduate CAS portal where you will either need to login or create an account.
  3. Once you’re logged in, you will search ‘social work’ in the search bar in the middle of the page and then click the plus sign (+) next to ‘Graduate Non-Degree Social Work’ under the appropriate campus.
  4. Then click “My Application” at the top left of the screen and go through the steps of filling out your Personal Information, Academic History, Supporting Information, and Program Materials and then click submit.
  5. Once you have submitted the application, you will be able to log back into the portal from the same website, in order to check the status of your application by clicking “Check Status” at the top right of the screen.

Application Materials #

It is important that you provide complete and accurate information when applying to the School. The School reserves the right to withdraw an application and/or revoke an offer of admission if you do not provide this information in a timely manner.

In addition to answering the questions on the form, provide the following information/documentation within the relevant sections:

A professional resume is required.

A personal statement (about 750 words) outlining the applicant’s reasons and preparation for seeking a PhD in social work.

The writing sample is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your writing skill to the admissions committee. Ideally, your writing sample should be double-spaced, 11 or 12-point font, and include in-text citations, a title page, and a reference page. American Psychological Association (APA) format is preferred. Typically, applicants submit a paper from their masters’ coursework. Other acceptable documents include a thesis, grant proposal, or publication. If you submit a co-authored document, please indicate your contribution to the paper.

Please submit one current academic transcript from each college/university you have attended. This includes transcripts from study abroad, from institutions where you were enrolled for academic credit as a non-degree student, and/or for credits that you transferred to another college/university. Transcripts must show all completed and/or in-progress coursework. Scanned student copies or unofficial transcripts are accepted. However, self-reported or advising transcripts are not accepted.

Please note that if you attended Indiana University, you do not need to submit your Indiana University transcripts.

Submitted transcripts must include:

  • your name
  • the institution’s name
  • your dates of attendance
  • the grades you received for each completed course in all of the terms you attended

Degree information, including the degree received and the date of its receipt (if applicable) must be on the transcript. If degree information is on a separate degree document (i.e., a diploma), please create one PDF that includes both the transcript and the degree document. Please do this, as applicable, for each college/university for which you are submitting a transcript.

Include a copy of the transcript key or interpretation guide. This information appears either on the back of the transcript or in a separate document. If your transcript(s) is not in English, please provide a certified English translation.

Before uploading the documents to the relevant section of the online application form, mark out your social security number and birth date so they cannot be read.

The School reserves the right to revoke an offer of admission if any discrepancies are found on your transcripts and/or if transcripts are not provided to the School in a timely manner.

If the only option is to postal mail the transcript, please have transcripts sent to:

IU School of Social Work PhD Program
Education/Social Work Building, ES 4138,
902 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN

Identify three professional references who are willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. Make sure you include the correct email address for each referee in your application form. Once you submit your application form, an email will be sent to each referee that includes a link to an electronic Web form. Referees can upload a letter of recommendation to the form or enter text directly within the form.

Criteria & Decisions #

Admissions decisions to the PhD program are primarily based on a review of your previous undergraduate and graduate work, your experience in human services (paid, volunteer, research, and internship), and the references and written documentation you provide. You must meet the following criteria:

  1. Undergraduate and master’s transcripts. Graduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is preferred.
  2. Critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate effectively in writing, as reflected in the personal statement and scholarly writing sample.
  3. Evidence of personal qualities considered important for social work practice.
  4. For international applicants, a minimum TOEFL score of 79 is required. The TOEFL is waived for applicants who earned a degree in the U.S
  5. It is the policy of the School of Social Work that no student or applicant who has been convicted of sex offenses against children shall be eligible for admission or continuation into the BSW, MSW or Ph.D. programs.
  6. GRE scores are optional.

Once you submit your application, you will receive a number of emails regarding the application process:

  • The first email includes a copy of your application.
  • The second email notifies you of your application progress.
  • As part of the application process, you must provide three professional references. Once your references provide the necessary information requested by the School, you will receive an email that confirms your application is ready for committee review.

Upon admission, international applicants must provide official documents such as diplomas, transcripts, TOEFL scores, and mark sheets if they have not already done so.

Once the committee review is complete, you will receive an email with a decision of admission. To accept an offer of admission, you must complete an intent form within a given time frame. Failure to meet this deadline may be cause for cancellation of admission. The offer of admission provides specific details about the intent form.

Financial Assistance:  #

University Fellowships ($22,500, plus $1,000 travel allowance, full tuition, and health insurance); IU Presidents’ Diversity Fellowship (multi-year fellowship including stipend, full tuition, health insurance and travel funds), and Graduate Research Assistantships ($18,900 stipend plus tuition, remission and health insurance).