Ph.D. FAQ

Is a master’s degree in social work required for admission?

Applicants must hold a master’s degree in social work or a closely related discipline. Individuals who plan to pursue an academic career in social work are advised that the Council on Social Work Education requires faculty who teach practice courses to hold an M.S.W. and to have completed at least two years of post-M.S.W. or post-B.S.W. professional practice experience.

What if I am not sure if a Ph.D. is what I really want?

Students who wish to explore doctoral education or test their capacity for Ph.D. level work may enroll in courses as a non-matriculated student. If admitted to the program, up to six credits taken under this status can be applied toward the degree.

Can the program be taken on a part-time basis?

We do not offer a part-time Ph.D. program option. You may take a portion of coursework part-time, but the 39 required course credits must be completed by enrolling full-time in each of two consecutive semesters (fall/spring or spring/fall).

Is financial support available?

Full-time students who remain in good academic standing receive financial assistance in the form of a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA). The GRA includes full tuition remission and a stipend in each of their first four years of study. The doctoral program director and faculty advisers assist students in identifying sources of support for subsequent years, including support for dissertation research.

Can I transfer credits from another program?

Up to six credit hours may be transferred for courses completed in a Ph.D. program if they were not applied toward another degree and if they meet the content requirements of our curriculum. Requests to transfer more than six credits will be reviewed by the Ph.D. Program director.

How do students gain knowledge and skills for teaching in the doctoral program?

Upon completing required coursework, students enroll in a 3-credit Social Work teaching practicum. Students select and work directly with a full-time faculty member in a mentored classroom teaching experience. Approximately 10 hours per week are devoted to the practicum, which also includes a bi-monthly seminar. Successful completion of the teaching practicum qualifies students to teach in the MSW and/or BSW programs independently.

What is the deadline for admissions?

Applications are accepted until January 15. International applicants should submit their application materials one month before the deadline to ensure that all application materials are received by the deadline.

Can I complete any of the program online?

The curriculum is fully on-site.

When should I take the GRE?

The Graduate Record Examination (General Test including verbal, quantitative and analytic sections) is required and must be reported directly to VCU by ETS. The program does not set a minimum score for acceptance. Applicants are strongly advised to take the examination by December to ensure that scores are received by January 15. For more information on the GRE, visit gre.org. The institution code for Virginia Commonwealth University is 5570.

How do I strengthen my application?

Make sure your personal statement is clear, concise, free of typos and grammatical errors, and addresses all areas listed in the personal statement instructions. Ask for references from people who are knowledgeable of your academic qualifications and who understand what is expected in doctoral education. Present your best written publication or scholarly paper. Prepare for the GRE. There are lots of free study materials online. Take a prep course or hire a tutor if you are able.