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PhD Application Process

Dates and Deadlines

Deadlines are firm. You are unable to upload or edit application materials after the deadline.

In Fall 2024, the PhD program will be delivered from Calgary.

Getting started

Gather References

We will invite your referees to complete an online reference form after you submit your application.

Make sure you enter their email address correctly or your referee will not receive the invite.

Learn more about this requirement below >>

Begin Your Application

Create an eID to log in. If you already have an eID, you can begin your online application. 

Once you begin, remember to click 'Save & Continue' often to ensure your application is saved.


Access the UCalgary Online Application

Submit your application

Pay your application fee:

$125 for Canadian or Permanent residents

$145 for International Students


Your application has to contain information for two referees:

  • one from a person who can speak to your academic performance and ability (e.g., graduate program supervisor, professor, practicum instructor), and
  • one needs to be a professional/work reference (must have directly supervised you).

We do not accept letters from friends, family members, colleagues, people who are currently registered in a graduate degree program, or general letters that are not written in support of your application.

  1. Selecting a Referee

    Choose a referee who can describe your strengths and weaknesses in these general areas:

    • academic background and training;
    • research ability and record;
    • communication and language ability; and
    • reliability and personal aptitude; and
    • provide their overall recommendation.

    Ask your referees to read your research proposal and comment on it in their reference submission.

    Currently registered in a graduate degree program or recently graduated? Your program supervisor must submit a reference.

  2. Can only submit one academic reference?

    If you have been out of school for a long time (5+ years) or you are an international student and cannot contact previous instructors, you can submit two professional references. Make sure to provide an explanation in the Program Specific Questions.

You will upload your required documents after you submit your application. How to Upload

Required Documents

Program Specific Supporting Documents

After you submit your online application, you will receive an email with your UCID and instructions on how to access your UCalgary Student Centre, where you will find a 'To Do List' for providing program-specific supporting documents.

Learn more about the these documents below >>

English Language Proficiency (ELP) Test Scores

You need to submit ELP test scores if your primary language is not English. 

Find the mailing address below >>

We follow the Faculty of Graduate Studies policy for English Language Proficiency.

For ELP waiver requests see below >>


You need to upload unofficial transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you've attended (except for the University of Calgary). If those institutions don't indicate the awarded degree on their transcripts, you will need degree certificates as well.

IMPORTANT: Transcript file(s), including English translations and/or degree certificates (if applicable), must be amalgamated into one PDF file per institution, and clearly outline the following: terms, institution grading scale, course weight (units/credits), and grade.

If your application is successful, final official transcripts will be requested with your offer of admission. These must be sent in a sealed envelope directly from your previous post-secondary institution(s). If you have official transcripts in your possession, they need to remain in the original sealed envelope. Do not submit official transcripts in advance of an offer of admission.

Find the mailing address below >>

Document translation

If your original documents are not in English, you must request a second set of documents to be given to a translator for a notarized word-for-word English translation. Submit the translated copy in addition to your official documents.

Find the mailing address below >>

In certain circumstances, such as when you have a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from a recognized institution that teaches in English, the graduate program may waive the English Language Proficiency requirement. Eligible institutions must be listed as providing English language instruction in the World Higher Education Database (WHED).

To waive the English Language Proficiency requirement, you need to submit your request in writing (Word or PDF) by December 15. In your statement provide the reasons why you should be exempt from taking an ELP test. Make the subject line "ELP Waiver Request" and include your name and UCID. You'll also need to provide a letter from your institution indicating the medium of instruction is English.

Program Specific Documents

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Your CV is an important part of your application. Make sure you fully capture your experience (paid and/or volunteer) relevant to social work.

Don’t forget to detail:

  • your educational history
  • professional experience (including teaching)
  • professional and educational awards/distinctions
  • peer and non-peer reviewed publications and
  • presentations

What is relevant social work and human service experience

Program Proposal

Your program proposal is a vital part of your application. Make sure you allow enough time to prepare a well written proposal. The proposal is approximately 10 pages, double-spaced (not including title page and references), and must be written in an academic format (APA or other).

In your program proposal, include a discussion of:

  • your reasons for pursuing doctoral education in social work
  • your educational goals and career expectations
  • your prior research course work and experience
  • a research proposal outlining the research problem you hope to investigate, your guiding theoretical framework and your preliminary ideas regarding methodology, and the potential contributions to social work research, practice, policy, and education (approximately 5 pages, double-spaced)

Your program proposal is evaluated for clarity, content and writing ability.

Writing sample

A sample of written work such as a published or unpublished scholarly paper or a professional report.  

Mailing address

Faculty of Social Work - Graduate Admissions
MacKimmie Tower, Room 301
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4