Application Information: Social Work PhD

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

The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis admits one PhD cohort each year for the fall semester. The application deadline is December 1. Admission decisions are announced in February and March.

Applicants must have a master’s degree in social work or a related discipline and all applications must be submitted through our online application system. We will consider your file complete once your application is submitted and all application requirements have been received.

Application Requirements:

  • $50 Application Fee
  • Academic Transcripts
    (an unofficial transcript from all post-secondary institutions attended is required for review)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose and Objectives
  • Writing Sample

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is NOT required and will not be considered.

Demonstration of English Language Proficiency

International applicants whose native language is not English must provide proof of language proficiency through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test.

Test scores are valid for two years. Applicants must meet minimum score requirements and submit official score reports electronically to the Brown School.

  • TOEFL iBT: minimum composite score of 90 required; score of 100 preferred.  Applicants must request that ETS release official TOEFL iBT test results to Washington University in St. Louis school code 6929.
  • IELTS: minimum overall band score of 6.5 required; score of 7.0 preferred.  Applicants must provide a Test Report Form (TRF) number in the application and request that IELTS release official test results to Washington University in St. Louis Graduate Programs.
  • DUOLINGO: Minimum score of 115 required; score of 125 preferred. Applicants must request that Duolingo share certified test results with Washington University in St. Louis – Brown School (Graduate Program).

EXEMPTIONS: International students meeting any of the following criteria are exempt from the English proficiency requirement:

  • Applicant is a citizen of Australia, Cameroon, Commonwealth Caribbean nations, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Zambia, or Zimbabwe.
  • Applicant has completed three or more years of study in an English-medium academic program at a university in any of the above countries, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, or the United States.

International applicants not meeting any of the above criteria for exemption must provide test scores.

Official Transcripts

Unofficial electronic or scanned student-issued copies of transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended should be provided for application review. Record your academic history and upload your unofficial transcripts to the relevant section of the online application. Students admitted to the program must provide final official transcripts from the institution(s) that conferred their undergraduate and graduate degrees upon accepting their offer of admission.

If your educational documentation is not in English, you must also provide a certified word-for-word English translation. We will also accept foreign credential evaluation reports from a NACES® member organization such as World Education Services (WES), Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE), or Foundation for International Services (FIS).

Application Fee Waviers

The $50 application fee is payable online by credit card. An application fee waiver is automatically granted to applicants meeting any of the following criteria, as demonstrated in the application:

  • Current Washington University student
  • Active duty, reservist, or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Person of American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) descent
  • Member of a national volunteer service corps organization (e.g., AmeriCorps, City Year, Peace Corps)
  • Participant in an academic pipeline to post-baccalaureate outreach program or scholars organization (e.g., Fulbright, Gates Millennium Scholars, McNair Scholars)

The Brown School will consider application fee waivers for financial hardship or other extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis upon request.

Questions? Please contact us at