Application Process

Step 1: Review admission criteria»

Step 2: Complete the DSW online application»

(The application for 2020 will be open September 1, 2019 - January 15, 2020)

  • Create an account. You will be asked to create a USER NAME and PASSWORD for the online application, which will allow you to save your progress and return to complete the application at any time before the application deadline. Select that you are interested in a GRADUATE degree from the SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK, then select the DSW program.
  • Once you create an account, complete your profile by completing the Enrollment Questions, your Personal Information, and your Contact Information.

The 2020 online application includes the following:

  • Academic History of each undergraduate and graduate institution attended. Please add ALL institutions from which you received credit, even if you did not receive a degree and even if the credit appears on your degree-granting institution’s transcript. See Step 3 for details about requesting transcripts from each institution.
    • Note: If you do not list an institution and it appears on another transcript, the graduate admissions office will add this institution to your application checklist as a required transcript. Your file will not be considered complete until ALL transcripts have been received. Exception: Transcripts for advanced placement courses and study abroad transfer credits are not required.
  • Employment information. The application will ask for your current or most recent employer.  You can only enter one employer, but your entire employment history will be reviewed using your resume or CV.
  • Upload a current resume or curriculum vita (CV) that documents education, professional licenses (include state), teaching experience (indicate full-time or part-time), professional experience (indicate full-time or part-time), professional publications and presentations, and service/volunteer experience. Your resume should clearly detail your 2+ years post-MSW social work practice experience. You will be asked to upload this as a PDF (preferred) or Word document.
  • Request three letters of recommendation: You will email your recommenders directly through the online application.
    • Please note: The DSW recommendation process has TWO parts.
      1. Recommenders will be asked to prepare a written statement of recommendation to upload into the application portal as a PDF (preferred) or Word file. This recommendation letter should address the applicant's potential for success in an online doctoral program focused on education as practice. Areas to consider:
        • the applicant's commitment, capability, and suitability for teaching in social work, including ethical standards and commitment to social justice
        • ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds and abilities
        • work performance and workload management abilities
        • capacity for contributing to social work knowledge through writing and scholarship
      2. Recommenders will be asked to assess the applicant on a number of criteria and to provide their contact information.
    • After you enter each recommender's name and email address into the online application, click the "Save & Send Email to Recommender" box to send the recommendation request.
  • Essay section - Personal statement: Prepare a written response that addresses each of the following: (Complete personal statement should be no longer than 6 double-spaced pages)
    • What circumstances and experiences motivate you to seek a Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) in education as practice, with its teaching, scholar practitioner and leadership roles, at this point in your career?
    • Describe your vision of leadership in social work education and indicate how you see yourself implementing this vision as an educational leader.
    • Identify and reflect on your strengths and limitations relative to successfully completing an online and doctoral program; include dimensions such as your ability to be a self-directed learner, writing experience and ability, and things you have done to develop your academic skills.
  • Essay section - Writing sample: To demonstrate your academic writing skills and provide evidence of your ability to think critically and analytically, please provide the following: write a paper on a topic of interest to you in social work; you may wish to consider a topic you are interested in as a focus for your banded dissertation or that relates to social work education. The writing sample should be 3-5 pages in length and formatted in APA Style, including a title page and reference section (not included in the 3-5 page limit). Examples include: essay, brief literature review, conceptual paper, or a section of a longer paper. If your writing sample is from a longer paper, it must be from the past year and you must provide a brief (2-3 sentence) introductory statement to provide context for the Reviewer.
  • International applicants must submit credential evaluations and acceptable test scores for proof of English proficiency, as detailed on the DSW Application Checklist - International Students»
  • If there are questions about your application, an interview may be requested
  • You will be prompted to pay the $50 application fee when your online application is complete and ready to be submitted. 
    • Note: If you have applied to the DSW program in the past and paid the application fee at that time, you are eligible to receive an application fee waiver code.  If you have not received this code for 2020, please contact the DSW program at

Step 3: Request transcripts from all institutions from which you received credit.*

  • Transcripts should be sent to:

University of St. Thomas
Graduate Records - Admissions
1000 LaSalle Ave., Box 5
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2005

  • If the institution provides the option to have the transcript emailed directly to the University of St. Thomas as a PDF, it can be sent to:

* Exception: Transcripts for advanced placement courses and study abroad transfer credits are not required

Step 4: All completed applications will be reviewed by the DSW faculty admissions committee after the application deadline. 

  • All letters of recommendation and transcripts must be received before your application will be reviewed. 
  • Admission decisions will be communicated by the end of March

Questions about the process?  Check out our FAQ page or Contact us