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Joint MSW/PhD

The joint MSW/PhD program is intended for those interested in PhD study who have a masters degree in a related field but who have not earned an MSW.


The program allows completion of both degrees in a slightly expedited time frame than currently required to earn each degree separately. This is accomplished by allowing joint program students to take up to three courses (12 hours) currently countable toward a PhD degree in meeting their MSW requirements, which would correspondingly reduce the number of courses needed for subsequent PhD completion.

See outline for information on course structuring, including a comparison between current course requirements for both degrees and the course requirements under the joint degree program.

New PhD students are accepted into the joint degree program at the time of entrance into the School of Social Work. Only those students planning on completing both the MSW and PhD are admitted into the program. Both degrees (MSW and PhD) are awarded upon completion of the joint program.

Application Information

Degree Requirements

Students applying to this program need to complete an additional MSW Personal Statement indicating why they are interested in applying.  This statement must be uploaded to the Graduate College Application in the “additional program questions” area, even though the Graduate College application indicates that they only require copies of transcripts to be uploaded to their application.

In order for your application to be complete all official transcripts should be mailed to:
School of Social Work  |  1010 W. Nevada  |  Urbana, IL 61801

Additional Statement for Graduate College Application

The Admissions Committee needs to understand as fully as possible the various circumstances in your experiences and education that have particular relevance for your plan for social work education and employment. In order to do that, you will need to provide a personal statement that addresses the questions below.


1. Download these questions and address them in a Word document. The completed Personal Statement should be 4-6 pages in length (double-spaced). You may use headers.

2. The completed Personal Statement must be uploaded to the Graduate College Application under the “program specific questions” section.*

3. This statement will be evaluated by the content as well as quality of writing.

A. Interest in Social Work

1. If you have worked in another profession or field, or if your undergraduate degree is from another discipline, explain why you are choosing social work education at this time.

2. What experiences have contributed to your interest in social work?

3. What area of social work interests you?

4. Discuss your career goals and indicate which personal, vocational, volunteer, or educational experiences have influenced your choice.

5. What do you expect to gain from a professional education?

B. Life Experiences Related to Social Work

1. What are important values in your life? How will these values assist or hinder your work with underrepresented/ vulnerable populations?

2. Discuss your experiences with cultures, groups, or individuals different than your own and share what you learned from these experiences.

3. Describe an experience in which you exercised leadership, responsibility, and/or judgment, and discuss what you learned from that experience.

4. Why do you think you would be a good social worker?

C. Support

Graduate education is an investment of time and resources. Please discuss in detail the support you plan to utilize (social, financial, familial) that will help you succeed in graduate school.

*The MSW Personal Statement should be used for the Graduate College Application Statement. You do not need to do a separate statement for the Graduate College Application.


School of Social Work Student Affairs Office

Cheryl Street

Director of Graduate Enrollment Management, Graduate Recruiter and Advisor

headshot of Cheryl Street
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