Decision Process

The PhD admissions committee will review applications based on the following criteria:
  1. Demonstrated academic achievement, writing ability, and research aptitude commensurate with the demands of doctoral study.
  2. Motivation for doctoral education, research, and taking a leadership role.
  3. An understanding of and commitment to the importance of research for the field of social work, including the ability to define and pursue one’s research interests within the context of the profession.
  4. Career goals that would be facilitated by a PhD, and how these goals fit with the PhD program in Social Work at Michigan State University.
  5. Substantive research topic area that is a fit with at least one current faculty member in the School of Social Work.
  6. Experience in the field of social work including research, policy, and practice.
  7. Academic preparation in complementary knowledge areas.
  8. Recommendations by references.


An applicant who is not accepted can re-apply the following year. Application materials must be updated and re-submitted.


Some applicants might be asked to have a telephone, Zoom/Skype, or in-person interview with the PhD program director or a member of the admissions committee to clarify responses on the application.

Once you have reviewed the application criteria and requirements, questions regarding the PhD program can be directed to Joanne Riebschleger, PhD program director.

If you have any difficulty related to the process of submitting your application or supporting materials online, please contact the Graduate Office by email or call (517) 355-7519.

All admissions materials are the property of the School of Social Work. Admissions materials will not be returned nor will copies be made for the applicant.