Apply to PhD Program

Apply to the PhD Program

The Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW) seeks doctoral students from a variety of personal, educational, and professional backgrounds to join our community. Applicants are supported throughout the application process, with dedicated staff fielding any questions and concerns.

Application Deadline:

December 1




The doctoral program enrolls new students in the fall semester of each academic year. Enrollment is full-time only with a three-year residency requirement. Applications are now closed.

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Application & Deadlines

Electronic applications open in September. Please note that the application system requires you to upload your personal statement, unofficial transcripts from all schools you attended or are currently attending, a writing sample, and resume prior to submission. You may check the status of your application online to be sure all materials have been submitted. You will not be contacted if your application is incomplete.

The application deadline is December 1 and the PhD application portal is now closed. Decisions will be sent electronically to the email listed on your application around the second week of February. The doctoral program will not be able to comment on the status of your application before this time. Please inform the PhD Admissions Office of any changes to your address, phone number, or email address. 

Check Your Application Status

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Include your resume/CV or a chronological list (starting with the most recent) of all relevant employment since high school, including summer jobs and internships you consider significant. Please also include all relevant volunteer or other experience with service-oriented groups. For each job or volunteer experience, please include your title, the number of months and/or years you held the position, and the number of hours worked each week.

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation, which must be submitted electronically. 

  • When you register your recommenders in the application system, they will immediately receive an email with the link to the electronic reference form, so you should contact your references before registering them.
  • At least one of the references must be from one of your past professors. All references should be familiar with your academic and scholarly work.
  • References will have the option to upload a supporting letter in Word or PDF format or type or copy and paste comments into a text box.
  • If you would like your references to receive the electronic form before you have completed the online application, you may go directly to the “Recommendations” button or link of the application and register your references before filling out the rest of the form.
  • You can log back in to your application to check which recommendations have been received and send reminder emails.
  • References should know you well enough to evaluate your potential in the field of social work as a researcher.

Personal Statement

A personal statement must be uploaded before submitting the application form. This should consist of a two- or three-page double-spaced typewritten statement describing:

  • Your reasons for pursuing doctoral education at Boston College at this time; specific academic and work experiences that have prepared you for doctoral education.
  • Your educational objectives while in the doctoral program.
  • The names of Boston College School of Social Work professors with whom you would like to work and why you want to work with them.
  • Why you think you would be a good fit with our program.
  • Your future professional objectives.

Transcripts & Test Scores


You must upload copies of unofficial transcript(s) from all undergraduate and graduate programs, including those that are still in progress or programs from which you did not receive a degree. Please note that if you are accepted, you will be required to submit official sealed copies of transcripts at that time.

GRE Score 

The Boston College School of Social Work will again make the GRE requirement optional for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. Applicants who choose not to submit GRE scores are strongly encouraged to speak about their verbal and quantitative reasoning ability in their personal statement and provide other supporting materials.

Students choosing to submit GRE scores should submit an official score report from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) earned within the last five years. BCSSW School Code is 3219 and BCSSW Department Code is 5199. Please submit your GRE scores at the time of the application deadline of December 1. You must plan to take the GRE prior to November to ensure the test results arrive on time to Boston College. Please refer to the ETS website for information on test dates and return report delays.

ETS Website

Application Fee

The $40 application fee must be paid online by credit card at the time of submission of the application form. You may also mail a check or money order payable to "Boston College" to the address below, but the check must be received before the December 1 deadline. The application fee is not refundable. 

Fee Waiver

If you are a U.S. military veteran or a full-time volunteer with the Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, City Year, or AmeriCorps, you are qualified to receive an application fee waiver. Simply submit a form or letter certifying your dates of service, or submit one of your required recommendation letters on organization letterhead, and then call or email the Admissions office to request the fee waiver. Returned volunteers are also eligible for a fee waiver. If you have paid the fee prior to submitting a request for a fee waiver, the fee is not refundable. Unfortunately, we cannot grant fee waiver requests for other volunteer organizations.

Writing Sample

Submit a piece of writing that shows evidence of ability to think creatively and to write clearly. Published articles, a master's thesis, unpublished papers, or term papers may be submitted as evidence.

International Students

Application Form

Please note that the zip code field does not work if you provide an international address. Please add your zip code or postal code to Address Line 1 or Address Line 2 on the application form. If you do not have a U.S. Social Security Number, DO NOT enter one on the application. You will be assigned an Eagle ID number (Boston College student ID number) to use to identify your other application materials. This Eagle ID number will allow you to access the Application Status website to check the status of your application materials and to submit the online application fee. Please use the same last name or surname on everything you submit to the Boston College School of Social Work.

Evidence of English Proficiency (TOEFL/IELTS)

Students who speak a native language other than English must provide evidence of proficiency. A video essay provided on your application and a minimum score of 100 on the iBT (internet-based test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required. The minimum score for the PhD program is also 100. The BCSSW School Code is 5939 and BCSSW Department Code is 95.

You can obtain application forms and information about testing dates for the TOEFL from many U.S. consulates, USIA Centers, and TOEFL centers overseas by writing to TOEFL Registration CN 6152 Princeton, NJ 08541, USA, or by going to

Please note that we now accept the IELTS test as a substitute for the TOEFL with a score of 7.5 or above. Official score reports should be mailed to the address listed on the application instructions page.

The TOEFL/IELTS is not required if:

You completed a 4-year Bachelors degree (or the equivalent) at an institution where the medium language of instruction is English. The medium language of instruction is indicated on your transcript, or verified in an official letter from the institution.

You completed a 2-year Masters degree at an institution where the medium language of instruction is English. The medium language of instruction is indicated on your transcript, or verified in an official letter from the institution.

Visa Authorization and Finances

All applicants, including international applicants, are considered for the PhD Fellowship. You will be notified of any scholarship award along with your admission decision. Before a certificate of eligibility for the F-1 or J-1 Visa can be issued, a Confidential Declaration and Certification of Finances (DCF) of international applicants must be submitted to certify that you have sufficient funds to cover the rest of your educational and living expenses while attending Boston College. This form will be sent to you by the BCSSW Office of Admissions within a few weeks of receipt of your enrollment response form. Provided this documentation is in order, Boston College will issue a Certificate of Eligibility Form (Form I-20 for an F-1 Student Visa or a Form DS2019 for a J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa) for the student's use in obtaining a Visa.  

Boston College's Office of International Students and Scholars serves over 1,000 international students, faculty, and research scholars from more than 98 countries. The office will advise you regarding your pre- and post-arrival needs and provide valuable orientation and social programs.

Financial Aid

BCSSW doctoral students are fully funded with a doctoral fellowship valued at more than $200,000 over the course of four years This includes: 


Annual living stipend

Health insurance

Conference support

The BC School of Social Work Difference

As an R1-designated research university, Boston College has abundant connections and affiliations that catalyze research partnerships with human service providers (such as health care institutions, community organizations, nonprofits, schools, and government offices) throughout Greater Boston and in Mexico, Venezuela, Rwanda, India, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Nepal.

Our PhD students partner with BCSSW faculty and their doctoral cohorts on myriad shared research interests and research projects. Current faculty members conduct research that promotes maternal and child well-being, reduces mental health disparities, and improves our understanding of how policies and public services impact low-wage workers, refugees, and immigrants. 

The PhD program’s three-year residency requirement fosters a robust student community animated by clubs and talks, professional development doctoral lunches, dissertation boot camps, and specialized training with visiting faculty. In addition, the Doctoral Outreach and Community (DOC) group coordinates social outings for students, community dinners, and more. 

Facts & Figures


Total PhD students across all cohorts


AHANA students 

(African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Native American)


Years to complete the PhD program


Professional development sessions and workshops a year


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