PhD Program Application Information

All applications for graduate study at the University of Kentucky must be submitted on-line. We are now part of the Hobsons ApplyYourself Application Network, a system used by over 700 colleges and universities that provides an opportunity to submit all Graduate School and program requirements in one application including letters of recommendation.

The first step in the process is to set up a new account and establish a username and password. Do not lose this information; you will need it if you wish to return to continue an unfinished application or later to review your completed application.

Application Materials


You will be asked to upload copies of transcripts from all higher education institutions attended and, in the case of domestic students, to self-report cumulative GPAs for each institution. If you are offered admission and decide to enroll, you will then be required to submit official transcripts to the Graduate School.

Letters of Recommendation

The PhD Program at the University of Kentucky requires applicants to provide three letters of reference that address their potential for success in a research-oriented doctoral program and aptitude for research and teaching.  Recommendations from individuals who have supervised your research and scholarly work (e.g., research project supervisors, thesis advisors, professors) tend to be the most useful to the admissions committee and should comprise the majority of the letters.

Please exclude personal, pastoral and relative references.  If you graduated within the past 5 years, you must provide at least one academic reference.

As part of the online application you will be asked to supply email contact information for your three references. Once your application has been submitted, the system will contact each person identified and their recommendations will be submitted electronically directly to us. You can check back into your application at any time to see who has submitted a recommendation.

Personal Statement (uploaded electronic document)

Your statement should be no more than 5 pages, double-spaced, and should address the following prompts:

  • Describe your motivation for pursuing a PhD in social work
  • Articulate what specifically attracts you to the University of Kentucky social work PhD program
  • Identify your career goals and how a PhD in social work would help you achieve those goals
  • Describe the primary areas of research that you would like to explore during your doctoral training and articulate the significance of these lines of inquiry to social work
  • Describe any other factors that should be considered in the evaluation of your application

Additional Documentation

A current resume or CV is required.

Writing Sample

Applicants to the PhD program must submit a recent, single-authored scholar writing sample.  The sample should provide evidence of writing ability, creative and critical thinking, and potential for independent research. The submission should be a “clean” copy (i.e., free of editorial markings).

The following are examples of appropriate submissions of scholarly writing:

  • Published article or book chapter
  • Master’s thesis
  • Unpublished research report or white paper
  • Term paper written in an upper-level graduate course
  • Grant application

Application Fee (must be paid before you can submit your application)

Admissions Timeline

The Fall 2024 application is closed, please check back soon for the Fall 2025 application deadline.

Financial Assistance

We are steadfastly committed to funding our PhD students. Funding availability varies from year to year and fully funded positions are contingent upon available monies.

Funded positions for PhD students most often comprise of Teaching Assistantships (TA) or Research Assistantships (RA) that include a stipend, tuition reimbursement and health insurance. Funded teaching and research assistantships are available on a competitive basis.

College-wide scholarships are also another funding option for PhD students.

Fellowships are non-service awards made to students to assist in the pursuit of an advanced degree. This award includes a monthly stipend and typically covers tuition costs. Fellowships are awarded by The Graduate School on a university-wide competitive basis. The Director of Graduate Studies (Dr. Kalea Benner) is responsible for nominating students for these awards to the graduate school. However, a few fellowships are open by self-nomination. Consult the Graduate School’s website for more information. There are numerous opportunities for social work PhD students to receive fellowships, scholarships, and grants from outside sources.

The University of Kentucky Graduate Student Congress also has travel and research awards for graduate students.

If you wish to apply for a teaching or research assistantship, please write a cover letter of application. If there is one faculty member you’d especially like to work with, mention that in the letter.

For Further Information

If you are considering applying, please call and talk with the Program Director. The director is happy to talk with potential applicants and to answer all questions.


Dr. Natalie Pope

The Decision Process

Once you submit all of your application materials to the Graduate School online, the Program Director will forward your application to the College’s Doctoral Committee who will make a decision based on objective criteria (e.g., GPA, recommendations, etc.). Those who are favorably reviewed and are also requesting funding support may be asked to participate in an interview via Zoom. Generally, we like to complete all of our interviews before the end of April.