Admissions Criteria and Application Process
Admission to the PhD program at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is based on the following criteria:
- A master's degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or another field related to social work.
- Academic promise, as evidenced by above average achievement in undergraduate and professional education.
- Professional competence as demonstrated through substantial experience in responsible social work, internships or other positions either during or subsequent to the master's program.
- Personal qualities compatible with performance in social work and indicating a potential for leadership in the field: skill in relationships, flexibility and openness to new ideas, maturity, identification with the profession of social work and commitment to furthering the development of the profession.
- Satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
- Satisfactory performance on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for all international students prior to the date of application.
- Submission of all application materials as outlined in the application process.
Applying to the PhD Program
All application materials must be received by the university by December 1 to be considered priority applications.
Completed applications will be accepted UNTIL January 1, but will be considered late and may not be reviewed for admission for the next fall. LATE application materials must still be submitted to the university online with the application fee in order for the late application to be considered.
The following application materials must be submitted to the USC Office of Graduate Admission using the online application system which allows you to upload documents and track your application status:
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The Statement of Purpose must be submitted as part of the online Graduate Admission Application. Guided by the Statement of Purpose Instructions, you must address seven specific reasons why you want to enroll in our PhD program. The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Doctoral Committee uses this to help determine which applicants will make the greatest contribution to knowledge-building in the profession.
Please submit your résumé through the Graduate Admission Application.
The USC Office of Graduate Admission requires academic records from all colleges and universities you have attended. Complete the College/University Transcript Cover Page and send it to the registrar's office at each institution you have attended. International applicants must submit one official, original-language copy of academic records with certified English translation from each institution attended. Please upload all unofficial transcripts to the USC Office of Graduate Admission, using the online application system which allows you to upload documents and track your application status. We will use the unofficial transcripts until the USC Office of Graduate Admission receives the official sealed transcripts sent directly from the institution(s).
You are required to submit four letters of recommendation. Preferably, one recommendation letter should originate from your current supervisor or superior, and three from academic instructors and/or professionals who can evaluate your academic aptitude and personal attributes for doctoral studies. You MUST use the online recommendation system through the Graduate Admission Application. We ask that you write to the individuals you plan to list as references and attach the Reference Letter Guide to address specific questions we would like evaluated in the written letter. Please DO NOT have the recommender(s) send hard copy letters directly to the school or the USC Office of Graduate Admission.
GRADUATE RECORD EXAMINATION (GRE) SCORES
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for admission to our doctoral program. No exceptions will be granted. Applicants are urged to take the GRE general test by November. If taken any later than December, your scores may not reach us in time to be considered for admission for the next fall. If you have taken the GRE general test within the last five years and are satisfied with your scores, you can have your scores sent to us by Educational Testing Service (ETS). If your GRE scores are more than five years old, you will need to retake the test in order for your application to be considered complete and eligible for review. Only official GRE scores sent directly to the USC Office of Graduate Admission from ETS will be accepted. Please make sure to indicate the university code number 4852 and the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work department code 5001. This will expedite the processing of your application. Learn more about the GRE.
TEST OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE (TOEFL) SCORES
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for all international applicants to be considered for admission to our doctoral program. TOEFL scores taken within the last two years are acceptable. Exceptions to waive the TOEFL test will ONLY be granted for international applicants whose native language is English or if the applicant has received both bachelor's and master's degrees from a U.S. college or university. Only official TOEFL scores sent directly from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the USC Office of Graduate Admission will be accepted. Please make sure to indicate the university code number 4852 and the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work department code 95. Learn more about the TOEFL.
DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS
International applicants must submit documented evidence of financial support as described in the Graduate Admission Application.
PhD INFORMATION FORM
This information sheet provides the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work with additional information pertinent to the PhD application and must be submitted through the Graduate Admission Application.
CAREER PLANS AND GOALS
Please submit a one-page summary about what your career plans and goals are after you receive your PhD degree in social work through the Graduate Admission Application.
SCHOLARLY WRITING SAMPLE
Please submit a sample of your best scholarly writing, such as a paper submitted to a journal, term paper, grant paper or research, not exceed 20 pages, through the Graduate Admission Application.
International applicants should visit the International Applications section of the USC Office of Graduate Admission for additional information on applying to USC. International applicants with specific questions about the student visa process should visit askUSC.
Official notification of your admission status will come from both the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the USC Office of Graduate Admission. Please respond promptly to requests for information from both offices in order to complete the application process. Applicants are solely responsible for the timely completion of their materials. Only completed materials will be submitted to the Doctoral Committee for review.