PhD Program Application Information

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.

Jan 15, 2020 – application deadline for admission of potential doctoral students who want to seek funding for their program deadline for PhD-specific CoSW scholarship (Beaven-Eidetik Doctoral Research Fellowship), the application can be found here:

Feb 24, 2020 – deadline for applicants interested in a full-time TA/ RA/ GA position for AY 20-21. Please know that these assistantships are for 20 hours a week of work and include a stipend, tuition reimbursement, and health insurance. To guarantee your application will be in review for funding, you must submit by this date. In addition to your application to the program, you must submit a letter of interest for an assistantship. Include any information regarding financial need, relevant experience, and learning goals.

April 1, 2020 – Final application deadline – no funding requested

The first step in the process is to set up a new account and establish a user name 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.

Access the Graduate School Application here:

In order to complete the application you will need to gather several pieces of information including the following:

1. Transcripts:

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.

2. Letters of Recommendation:

The PhD Program at the University of Kentucky requires applicants to provide three references. These references must be obtained from individuals in the following categories:

  • Faculty
  • Work Supervisor/Current or Former Employer

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. You can review recommender requirements via the following link:

3. Personal Statement Autobiography (uploaded electronic document)

Your autobiography should be approximately four pages in length, double-spaced, and the following topics must be addressed within the narrative:

  • Motivation for a doctoral degree in social work
  • Career goals
  • Research interests
  • Characteristics, circumstances, or challenges that could serve to enhance or limit your capacity to pursue graduate level education in the field of social work?

4. A current resume or CV showing your work and volunteer experience (uploaded electronic document)

5. GRE Scores (last 5 years) must be sent from the Educational Testing Service

6. Writing Sample (uploaded electronic document)

Each applicant to the doctoral program is requested to provide a sample of original written work. In order to meet this requirement, you should write a 3-4 page (double spaced) paper in response to the question posed below and submit it with your application materials.

In addition to the writing sample, you may supply other written products to be considered which may be one of the following:

  • A paper presented or proposed for a conference, workshop, or training presentation.
  • A paper proposed, submitted, or accepted for publication in an academic journal.
  • A working paper or literature review on a topic that you have explored since graduating.


The trend of the social work profession in the past thirty years has been to concentrate on clinical helping – individual counseling, family therapy, and group work rather than macro level helping. In this respect it is argued that social workers tend to serve people who have already been damaged by the effects of social problems, rather than working toward the eradication of the causes and conditions of social decay itself. In this sense social work is reactive rather than proactive. Do you believe this assessment is correct? Why or why not? If you believe it is true, comment on the implications of this trend for the practice of social work today. If you do not believe it is true, comment on the role of clinical helping in relation to social problems and social conditions.

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

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. To view current faculty, please click here.

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., GRE scores, GPA, recommendations, etc.). Those who are favorably reviewed are invited to campus for a personal interview. Skype interviews and conference calls are used when applicants live far away. Generally, we like to complete all of our interviews before the end of April. January admission may be possible in exceptional circumstances.