Application Materials

Below you will find more information about the required materials which will support your application for admission to the PhD program in Social Work.

Application Requirements Checklist

The following required materials are submitted online with your completed application.

Note: All applicants must have either an MSW or a related master’s degree in order to apply to this program.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement essay of 3-5 pages, double-spaced should discuss why you have chosen to pursue the PhD in Social Work at Boston University. Specifically, you should address the following questions:

  • Why have you chosen to pursue a doctoral degree in social work?
  • What are your career objectives? How would a doctoral degree in social work integrate your professional and academic experiences and allow you to accomplish your professional goals?
  • Why do you feel the PhD program in Social Work at Boston University is a good fit for you? What aspects interest you?
  • Explain any experience you have with research and grants funding. Have you identified faculty whose research interests you?

Writing Sample

Our application for admission to the PhD program also requires a writing sample. The work you choose to submit must be your own original writing. If you have research experience, submitting an example of relevant work is preferred. If not, writing samples can also include a degree thesis paper, capstone project, an article, book chapter, or coauthored paper with your original work as a contributing author.

CV or Résumé

Your curriculum vitae (CV)/résumé is an opportunity to highlight your work experiences, including professional practice, academic accomplishments, and volunteer positions. Don’t forget to tell us about research, teaching, publications, presentations, and honors or awards you have received!


Three letters of recommendation are submitted in support of your application. Letters should be written by professional, academic, and research mentors who know you well and can speak thoughtfully to your interests and potential for an academic or research career in social work.

Applicants provide email addresses for their recommenders under “Recommendations” in the “Program Materials” section of the online application. When entered, an email request is automatically sent to the recommender with information on how to submit an evaluation and letter of support.


For the online application, the PhD program requests copies of academic transcripts. Applicants admitted to the program will be asked to submit official transcripts to demonstrate degree conferral.

Upload PDF copies of your transcripts in the “Academic History” section.

Currently in a degree program? Applicants currently in degree programs are asked to submit a copy of the transcript as it appears “in progress” (i.e. showing current enrollment). If uncertain, speak with your registrar.

Study Abroad

For applicants who participated in study abroad programs, a separate transcript is not required as long as the course name, number of credits, and grade appear on the transcript of your home institution.

Foreign Transcripts

For applicants submitting foreign transcripts, translation and an evaluation is required. Please review the requirements for foreign transcripts.

Standardized Test Scores Are No Longer Required

Applicants to the PhD Program in Social Work are no longer required to submit official test results of either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

Go to the PhD Application