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Admission Requirements

In keeping with its long-standing traditions and policies, the University of Chicago considers students, employees, applicants for admission or employment, and those seeking access to University programs on the basis of individual merit. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes as required by law (including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972). For additional information regarding the University of Chicago’s Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct, please see:

The University official responsible for coordinating compliance with this Notice of Nondiscrimination is Bridget Collier, Associate Provost and Director of the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs. Ms. Collier also serves as the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Affirmative Action Officer, and Section 504/ADA Coordinator. You may contact Ms. Collier by emailing, by calling 773.702.5671, or by writing to Bridget Collier, Office of the Provost, The University of Chicago, 5801 S. Ellis Ave., Suite 427, Chicago, IL 60637. 

The information in these Announcements is correct as of September 1, 2017. It is subject to change.

Academic Requirements for Admission

Master of Arts

The academic requirement for admission is a bachelor’s degree with a liberal arts background. It is expected that the quality of the undergraduate record will be strong enough to ensure the candidate’s ability to do work for credit at the graduate level. Ordinarily, applicants with less than a 2.8 undergraduate grade point average on a 4-point scale will not be considered without a period of successful post-bachelor’s social work employment. The Graduate Record Examination is not required; however, an applicant with a low undergraduate grade point average may wish to submit GRE General Test scores as a possible means of strengthening the application.

Neither the content nor the major subject of the undergraduate program is rigidly prescribed. The Master’s Program is built upon the assumption that students enter with a strong liberal arts education and a well-rounded knowledge of the social sciences obtained through study of some of the following subjects: economics, political science, sociology, history, cultural anthropology, and psychology. Because social welfare programs, private as well as public, operate within and are affected by governmental structure and economic institutions, it is especially desirable for students to have had at least an introductory course in U.S. government or history and in economics.

Although a statistics course is not formally required for admission to the Master’s Degree Program, incoming students should be aware that it is definitely to their advantage to have at least an introductory statistics course before entering the program. Such a course would provide valuable preparation for SSA’s required research courses. At the beginning of the academic year, all incoming students are required to take a research exam. A student’s score on the exam will determine the level of the first-year research course.

Enrollment in the School is limited each year, and applicants are advised that the committee on admissions selects only those applicants who, in its judgment, appear best qualified and capable of using the resources that the School provides. The committee considers all evidence that may indicate academic and professional promise. Crucial factors in the admission decision include: special distinction in undergraduate work, volunteer or work experience in the field of social welfare, letters of recommendation, the candidate's written statement, and outstanding achievements.

Transfer Students

The transfer student who has completed a first-year program and a field placement (480 hours) in another accredited school of social work within the past three years is generally eligible to enter the School in the Autumn quarter and complete degree requirements in three quarters by following a regular second-year program, if the program in the other school covered the content of the first year program at SSA. Transfer applicants must apply online for admission (documents include candidate’s statement, three letters of recommendation, comprehensive résumé, transcripts, and application fee). Transfer students must include with their application an addendum explaining their reason for transferring to the SSA program from their current social work program. For transfer students and applicants to the 15-Month Accelerated Program, one reference letter must be from a current or recent practice professor or field instructor who can evaluate the applicant's performance in field placement or submit a final field evaluation. The application deadline for all transfer students is January 15.

Returning Students

Individuals wishing to return to the School after being out of residence must reapply for admission. Returning students and candidates who have applied previously must submit the following:

  • Candidate Statement: Returning master’s degree students, applicants who were admitted within the last three years but did not matriculate, or applicants who reapply will need to submit a new application online. They should also prepare another candidate statement for the admissions committee, updating the previous statement and describing interim social work education, experience, or activities.
  • Letters of Recommendation: The student will need to submit two additional letters of recommendation.
  • Transcripts: Transcripts should be ordered and submitted online to document any subsequent courses taken elsewhere.
  • Fee: The student will not be charged another application fee.

Students absent from the program for five or more years will be required to repeat all coursework and internships.

Doctoral Students

An applicant for admission to the Doctoral Program must have demonstrated potential to contribute to scholarship in the field of social work and social welfare. Judgments on applicants are based on academic records at undergraduate and graduate levels, prior research and professional experience, writing samples demonstrating analytic ability, and other evidence of superior achievement and interest in pursuing an academic appointment.

With the exception of applicants seeking admission to the combined PhD/AM Program, applicants to the PhD Program must have completed a master’s degree in social work or a related field prior to beginning advanced study. Applicants without a master's degree can apply to our combined PhD/AM Program. Applicants who wish upon graduation to seek faculty positions in schools of social work are advised that the Council on Social Work Education requires a master’s degree in social work in order to teach practice courses.

Students from Other Countries

Some adaptations in admission requirements are made for students from other countries as follows:

  • The student from another country is expected to have a baccalaureate-level degree or its equivalent and to have completed social work training in the home country and/or to have had work experience in a social service agency before applying for admission to the Master’s Program. Exceptions are occasionally made when the individual is currently completing undergraduate education in this country.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take an English language proficiency examination. The minimum required score for the TOEFL is 104 overall (IBT) with a sub-score of 26 in each category. The minimum required score for the IELTS is 7 overall, with sub-scores of 7 in each category. Check the TOEFL and IELTS sites for more information about the test. The results of the test will be sent to the University by the Testing Service. Applications will not be given final consideration until the results of the test have been received. The University of Chicago Institutional Code for TOEFL is 1832; the department code for SSA is 95.
  • The English language requirement may be waived if the applicant is a native of or studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Students who studied in English in other countries (e.g., India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore) are not exempt from the English language requirement.


All inquiries about admission or about the progress of a particular application should be addressed directly to:

Sarah Hyde
Admissions Counselor
The School of Social Service Administration
The University of Chicago
969 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

Application Dates and Deadlines

Students enter all programs in the Autumn quarter. The exception is the 15-Month Accelerated student who starts classes in the Spring quarter. Applications should be filed as early as possible to allow time for review. Only complete applications with transcripts and reference letters will be reviewed. Applications will be accepted and processed beginning Autumn quarter of the year preceding anticipated admission. Applications for admission to all Master's and Doctoral Programs are open and online on September 1.

Deadlines for the Master’s Program are December 1 for an early admission decision by February 15, and January 15 for an admission decision by March 15; the final application deadline for the Master’s Program is April 1.* It is strongly recommended that applicants meet one of the two earlier deadlines.

For the AB/AM Program, the application deadline is December 1 for an early admission decision by February 15, and January 15 for an admission decision by March 15; the final application deadline for the AB/AM Master’s Program is April 1 of your third year in the University of Chicago College. It is strongly recommended that applicants meet one of the two earlier deadlines.

The application deadline for the Doctoral Program is December 15 for an admission decision by mid-March.

The deadline for the Accelerated Program is October 15 for an admission decision by December 15.

*Note that April 1 is past the priority deadline for applying for federal financial aid.

Steps in the Admission Process

  • The online application is available at Returning master's degree students, or applicants who reapply, will need to submit a new application.
  • Candidate Statement. Applicants for the Master’s Degree Program submit a statement addressing a social problem of importance to them and how a direct practice or policy intervention might provide a way to engage it, as well as their personal specific short- and long-term goals and how a social work education at SSA provides a way for them to achieve those goals.
  • EEP applicants should further discuss how they will accommodate the additional demands of course and field responsibilities with their full-time employment.
  • Applicants re-applying to the Master’s Degree Program should prepare a supplemental statement to the admissions committee updating the previous statement and describing interim social work education, experience, or activities.
  • Doctoral degree applicants submit a statement describing study plans, career objectives, and reasons for applying to the School. Doctoral applicants are also required to submit an academic writing sample of no more than 25 pages. Instructions for writing these statements are provided in the online application.
  • Transcripts. Transcripts are required from every institution where an applicant has taken three or more courses—unless these courses and grades appear on the home institution transcript; this includes courses taken Pass/Fail. Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts only if they are accompanied by institutional grading and credit system information, which are most commonly found on the reverse side of paper transcripts. If your institution does not provide digitized transcripts, applicants may upload scanned paper transcripts to the online application. Please make sure to include the reverse side with the grading and credit system information. Alternatively, applicants may send paper transcripts to 969 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637. If college work is incomplete at the time of application, a final transcript must be sent when final grades and degree conferral have been recorded.
  • Returning students and candidates who have applied previously should order transcripts of any subsequent courses taken elsewhere.
  • Application fee. Applicants pay the $75 fee online at the time they submit the online application. This fee is not refundable.
  • References. Three letters of reference are required, two of which should address your academic ability. References should be qualified to discuss your aptitude for both graduate study and social work. No more than four letters of recommendation may be submitted. Applicants who have graduated within the last five years are encouraged to submit at least two academic references. Professional and academic references are strongly encouraged. Applicants who are or who have recently been employed should include at least one reference from an employment supervisor.
  • GRE scores. GRE scores are not required for application to the Master’s Degree Program but are required for application to the Doctoral Program. Applicants to the Doctoral Program are required to submit current (within five years) scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Official scores should be sent from the Educational Testing Service directly to the University; self-reported scores will not be accepted. The GRE school code is 1832, and the department code is 5001.
  • Financial aid. SSA offers full and partial tuition scholarships. Applicants applying for financial aid from the University must answer all financial aid questions on the online application. Applicants who are applying for student loans must file both a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at, and also the University’s Application for Loans and Federal Assistance at
  • Admission decision. There is an April 1 deadline for filing an application to the Master’s Program, and December 15 for the Doctoral Program. In the Master’s Degree Program, admissions decisions are made at three points in the application cycle. Admission decisions for the Accelerated Program will be made by December 15. Admission decisions for the Doctoral Program will be made by March 1.
  • Admission deposit. Applicants who are admitted to the School must confirm their acceptance by submitting both an acceptance form and a $250 non-refundable deposit to reserve their place in the School. This sum is credited toward Autumn quarter tuition.

Special Procedures for International Applicants

International applicants, whether attending a U.S. undergraduate institution or a college or university in their own country, follow regular application procedures as outlined above, except for the following:

  • Application fee. All applicants are required to pay an application fee of $75 in U.S. currency, by bank draft or postal money order. Personal checks are acceptable only if written on a U.S. bank. This fee is an official requirement for admission, and international governments will approve the release of funds for this purpose.
  • Transcripts. Academic credentials, including courses taken, grades received, and degrees granted, should be sent directly to the School with the application. If this is not possible, copies in the applicant’s possession may be acceptable if they have been certified by the proper school authorities. Applicants may not validate their own documents. The class or division of the degree must be stated if this is the customary method of reporting the quality of academic work. If the Admissions office is unable to complete a degree verification based on the documentation submitted, the Admissions office reserves the right to require a credential evaluation by an approved outside agency.
  • Financial plan. International applicants, once admitted, must submit a financial statement, itemizing sources of funds for maintenance and transportation, and must provide documented proof (certification by a bank or subsidizing agency or agent) of resources sufficient for their support during the two years. It is estimated that educational and living expenses, exclusive of travel to and from the student’s home country, will be approximately $73,866 for one year of study. International applicants to the Master’s Program will receive only nominal University gift aid. International applicants to the Doctoral Program are eligible for full University funding identical to their U.S. peers.
  • Interview. International applicants may be asked to complete a Skype interview as part of the application requirements. The Admissions office will contact the individual applicant to determine whether a Skype interview is required or not.
  • Applicants who need financial assistance are advised to explore possibilities in their home country and from U.S. government sources. Information about the latter may often be obtained from a U.S. consulate or information service office. The Institute of International Education also provides information about scholarship opportunities at
  • Note to graduates of the University of Puerto Rico: Because the language of instruction is not English, graduates of the University of Puerto Rico will be required to take an English examination.