Application Instructions | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
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Application Information

Our doctoral program provides the nation and the world with some of the profession’s best scholars, teachers and researchers and, as such, is highly competitive. We review all applications holistically, assessing an individual’s overall preparation for rigorous doctoral study.

All of our applicants must meet the admissions requirements of the Brown School PhD Program.

The application deadline is December 1. Most admission decisions are announced on a case-by-case basis in February and March.

We accept applications via SOPHAS ( only. All applications receive faculty reviews to assess potential fit for the program. Admission decisions occur in early spring. Admitted applicants must accept or decline our offer by April 15. 

Application requirements include:

  • A clear personal statement demonstrating interest in research and scholarship
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Master's degree in relevant discipline
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty and colleagues
  • CV
  • Writing sample from your master’s program or professional portfolio
  • GRE scores (NOTE: Due to COVID-19, the GRE is currently optional.)
  • In some cases, TOEFL scores are needed

While the Brown School does not assess application fees, there is a cost for SOPHAS.

The Brown School is not able to directly provide application fee waivers for the SOPHAS application. We encourage applicants to review the SOPHAS Fee Assistance Program to determine their eligibility for a financial- or service-based fee waiver. See SOPHAS Fees and Fee Waivers page for more details.

We look forward to engaging with you during this process! Reach out to us at with any questions or concerns you may have.

Testing Information


The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is typically required for all applicants to our doctoral programs, but due to COVID-19, the GRE is not collected or reviewed as part of admission decisions for the PHS program. If you decide to include your GRE scores, all GRE scores-related information will be redacted from the application before it goes under review.

Applicants should supply test results for all sections, verbal, quantitative and analytical. We will consider the higher set of scores for an applicant who sits for the examination more than once. GRE test scores for exams taken within the last five years will be accepted.

Applicants are strongly advised to sit for the examination no later than November 1 to allow sufficient time for their scores to reach us by the December 1 program deadline. Applications with missing GRE scores cannot be reviewed.

For more information on the GRE, visit The SOPHAS GRE code for Washington University in St. Louis is 3867.


Preferred minimum scores:

  • TOEFL: 100 iBT (600 pbt; 250 cbt)
  • IELTS: 7.0 overall band score
  • Duolingo English test: 115 required

International applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency by providing an official score report from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS). Test scores are valid for two years. 

Please self-report your test scores in the relevant section of the SOPHAS application. Official scores must be verified by the testing agency before your application can be considered complete.

Official TOEFL Scores can be electronically sent to SOPHAS and attached to your application. Visit to request that scores be sent to SOPHAS in Massachusetts, code #5688.

Additional instructions are available on the SOPHAS website.

Language Proficiency Exemptions

Applicants who meet the following criteria are exempt from the English language proficiency requirement:

  • International applicants whose native language is English. Native language is defined as the language one grew up speaking in one’s family, community and nation. We will grant a waiver to citizens of the following countries: Australia, Cameroon, Commonwealth Caribbean nations, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
  • International applicants who have studied in full-time undergraduate status for three years or more in an English-medium academic program. Programs must take place in one of the countries listed above, or in Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa or the United States.

Note: Students who have studied in English in countries not listed above are not exempt from the English language proficiency requirement.

Transcripts from Outside the U.S.

SOPHAS allows applicants to request foreign transcript evaluation from World Education Services (WES). The electronic WES ICAP course-by-course evaluation can be requested directly through the SOPHAS application.

If an applicant is unable to obtain a WES evaluation, they may seek an alternative foreign credential evaluation report from another National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) member organization such as Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) or Foundation for International Services (FIS). The alternative evaluation can be uploaded to the SOPHAS application by the applicant as a supplemental document.

Visit the foreign transcripts page on the SOPHAS website for additional information. Applicants should request foreign credential evaluation as early as possible. Services can take several weeks to process transcripts once received.

Still have questions? Feel free to email us at

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