International Applicants

The MSU School of Social Work is proud of our PhD alumni/ae from across the globe. We welcome applicants from other countries and believe that the presence of international students enhances our community. Criteria for admission to the PhD in Social Work Program pertain to all candidates, domestic and international. In addition, however, international applicants must meet English language requirements, special conditions for transcripts of academic work, and financial resources certification. Applicants are responsible for submitting all of the required documentation described in the Admissions Process. The International Applicants section of the Graduate School website is a helpful resource for international student applicants.

English language requirements: The ability to understand, read, write, and speak English is essential for all students in the MSU PhD in Social Work Program. Strong English skills must be acquired prior to the beginning of classes. If your native language is not English, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are described at You must arrange for the scores of all tests taken (including prior tests) to be reported directly to us by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Please arrange to have your exam scores sent by the ETS to the Office of International Admissions, Hannah Administration Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. The Michigan State University code number for the TOEFL exam is 1465.

An international student who is admitted provisionally based on a low TOEFL score(s) will have to be tested by the MSU English Language Center upon their arrival on campus. Based on results from this test, students are required to take classes in English at the Center during their first year of the program. Taking these English classes may delay or disrupt a student’s progression in the PhD program; students in this situation should talk with the PhD program director about this possibility.

Documentation of previous academic training: All applicants who have received their preparatory education outside of the United States must have the equivalent of a US bachelor's degree and a Master of Social Work degree. We may request that your MSW degree be reviewed by CSWE to ensure equivalency with CSWE Accredited MSW programs. Two official copies of all transcripts of any previous schooling must be submitted as official documents from each institution. Official documents must bear the actual (not photocopied) signature of the registrar and the official seal or stamp of the institution. The records must include dates of enrollment, a year-by-year listing of courses pursued with credit or time allotted and the grade obtained in each course, your rank in the total class or group (if determined by the institution), and verification of conferral date and title of degree. Do not send the original of an academic record that cannot be replaced. Records issued only once by institutions may be photocopied or certified as "official" copies by school officials or other legal authorities such as notaries or embassies. All academic records must be submitted in the original language with English translations. The translations (two copies of each) should be certified as accurate and correct by an appropriate public or school official, or sponsoring agency or government.

Financial resources certification: International students must have sufficient funds available to meet all travel, living, and educational expenses for the length of the program. International students are not eligible for US government, State of Michigan, or Michigan State University loans. Consequently, international applicants must explore financial assistance from other sources. International applicants must submit the Affidavit of Support for Graduate International Students along with requested certifications and supporting documentation before a Certificate of Eligibility (US Department of Justice I-20) can be issued. For additional information about being an international student at Michigan State University, please see the Office of International Students and Scholars website.