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Hey all! I contacted UChicago SSA's admissions team to ask for a general timeline and they're currently going through first round of interviews. Second round will be towards the end of January and the

Greetings all, Current Social Welfare PhD student here. Joined the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice in Fall 2020, so I’m now in the very first semester of my do

Yes! I've been accepted to the PhD program at the University of Denver for Fall 2021. They had a very early application deadline this year. I'll be moving from Philly to Denver next summer with my par

Hello! I'm for social work PhD programs, finishing a joint MBA/MSW and applied to 8 schools, so now we're just waiting to see! I don't have much social work experience and want to study something that most people study in a different subject, so finding potential advisors has been a struggle, but I'm hoping that strong parts of my application (GRE and GPA for sure, hopefully SOP and recs) can make up for me potentially needing to argue why I think an advisor's expertise applies to my work. Outside of work in grad school, I don't have any social work research experience, so I'm hoping that what I'm doing now makes up for it!

I am curious to see how this turns out, but am generally a stress-ball, so who knows!

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On 11/10/2020 at 4:00 PM, AlexSW said:

Yes! I've been accepted to the PhD program at the University of Denver for Fall 2021. They had a very early application deadline this year. I'll be moving from Philly to Denver next summer with my partner!

Wow congrats!I got an interviewthis week and anxious. May I ask you some advice? what kindof questions will they ask? Thank you!

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13 minutes ago, Sephora said:

Wow congrats!I got an interviewthis week and anxious. May I ask you some advice? what kindof questions will they ask? Thank you!

Thank you! The interview was quite brief, but the faculty were very down-to-earth and fun to talk with. They wanted to hear how a social justice orientation would be applicable to my proposed area of research. Be prepared to talk about how a PhD will be crucial for your career goals. Just be yourself! Best of luck to you!

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Greetings all,

Current Social Welfare PhD student here. Joined the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice in Fall 2020, so I’m now in the very first semester of my doctoral studies.

During last year’s app cycle, I remember all too vividly the constant anxiety of waiting for status updates, interview invitations, etc. I checked the gradcafe forum every. single. day, looking for any news to help me piece together realistic university response timeframes and better understand my chances for admission. If you are now going through the same kinds of things: You are definitely, absolutely not alone. 
 

Anyway, I’m coming back to this thread now, when I’m on the other side of the whole PhD app process, to (hopefully) provide some useful info for applicants currently in the mix, and for folks who might be considering the doctoral track but who haven’t yet applied. 
 

Some background: I applied to 4 doctoral programs (UPenn; VCU; U of Maryland; UNC Chapel Hill) for Fall 2020 admission. I was accepted w full funding to Penn and U of Maryland, and ultimately chose Penn, as I’ve mentioned. (For anyone interested: I had a 3.67 / 4.0    undergrad / graduate gpa; 154 quant, 170 verbal, 5.5 writing scores for the GRE;  one “publication” [first-author poster presentation @ SSWR 2020 conference];  and several years of clinical & macro social work experience, mostly in child welfare. I applied to PhD programs shortly before I earned my MSW, so although I had plenty of work experience in general, I did not have the 2 years post-MSW experience some places want you to show.) 
 

In no particular order, here are a few things I wish I’d known about, or better understood, as I navigated the PhD application, interview, and selection processes. 

 

(a) Your faculty match matters above all else, usually - even more than your publications, grades, test scores, etc. As long as those other elements aren’t abysmally low, you’ll be fine... but the faculty match is key. When you reach out to prospective faculty mentors & express your interest in the university/program, you’re giving yourself a massive advantage. Having an advocate to support your application makes all the difference - especially given the low doctoral program admission rates most applicants face today.  Gaining a faculty ally at any university can seem like a pretty daunting challenge, for sure. I’ve found, though, that many faculty members are delighted when a prospective PhD student cold-emails them out of the blue — IF the message is well-crafted, that is. Avoid sending boilerplate nondescript “express my interest in the program at [name] for the upcoming academic year” messages. Those are quickly forgotten and may even be somewhat detrimental for your application. Instead, just be sure to personalize your message even a little bit. This does not need to be overly lengthy or complex — in fact, brevity is usually very much appreciated. But tie in your research interests to those of the potential faculty mentor. Mention a specific journal article or project of theirs and briefly explain how you hope to learn from & engage in that kind of work.  

(B) Most, if not all, Social Work / Social Welfare doctoral programs will have a PhD Program Coordinator. This person is your lifeline if anything goes wrong with your app, if you need to check on the status of a certain letter of rec, etc. Establish contact with this person & schedule a brief consultation call, even though you (probably at this point) already know all the basic program details. This is well worth your time because you’ll be creating another point of familiarity within that program’s horizon. The more people who know your name the better. Also, and superimportantly, the PhD prog. coord. who knows your name, has exchanged emails w you & spoken to you over the phone, etc., is much more likely to help you w technical snags and cut you some slack if needed. 
 

(C) Regarding your chances of program admission: a lot of this depends not so much on your personal/academic achievements, your test scores, or your publications & research experience — but rather depends quite a lot on program-specific factors that are completely beyond your control. For example, you’ve identified and possibly already established relationships with potential faculty mentors at each school to which you’ve applied (or plan to apply). And that’s certainly a prerequisite for success—it shows that you’re serious about doctoral work, that you’re committed to the application process, & that you take initiative. But even if those faculty members actively support your application, you’ll still be at the mercy of academia’s internal clocks and scorecards. Your particular faculty match needs to have availability (& willingness, of course) to take on a new doctoral student, and it needs to be their “turn.” At most schools there is a rotating timetable for faculty-student mentoring assignments such that faculty members do not take on new PhD students in rapid succession (I.e., one after another, with a seamless transition from one student’s dissertation defense in May to a new student entering their first doctoral semester in August the same year. 

(D) If you’re wondering about app status timelines & interviews: I submitted most of my apps by 1/15/20, and I received replies by late March/early April. The two acceptances & two rejections I received were communicated directly: I didn’t ever receive any interview invitations. Each of my two offers included a stipend (25k vs 30.5k), health insurance, and a research assistantship. 

Anyway—my apologies for rambling. I hope this was at least somewhat useful for some of you guys. There’s a lot more to consider (personal statement, letters of rec, CV structure, etc) and there’s a lot more I’d like to say, but time runs short. If you want to connect individually, I’m happy to arrange that. (PhD students were very generous with their time when I was a prospective student, and I’d really like to pay that forward—so please feel free to ask / reply to this post.)

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23 hours ago, JohnnyBlue said:

Greetings all,

Current Social Welfare PhD student here. Joined the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice in Fall 2020, so I’m now in the very first semester of my doctoral studies.

During last year’s app cycle, I remember all too vividly the constant anxiety of waiting for status updates, interview invitations, etc. I checked the gradcafe forum every. single. day, looking for any news to help me piece together realistic university response timeframes and better understand my chances for admission. If you are now going through the same kinds of things: You are definitely, absolutely not alone. 
 

Anyway, I’m coming back to this thread now, when I’m on the other side of the whole PhD app process, to (hopefully) provide some useful info for applicants currently in the mix, and for folks who might be considering the doctoral track but who haven’t yet applied. 
 

Some background: I applied to 4 doctoral programs (UPenn; VCU; U of Maryland; UNC Chapel Hill) for Fall 2020 admission. I was accepted w full funding to Penn and U of Maryland, and ultimately chose Penn, as I’ve mentioned. (For anyone interested: I had a 3.67 / 4.0    undergrad / graduate gpa; 154 quant, 170 verbal, 5.5 writing scores for the GRE;  one “publication” [first-author poster presentation @ SSWR 2020 conference];  and several years of clinical & macro social work experience, mostly in child welfare. I applied to PhD programs shortly before I earned my MSW, so although I had plenty of work experience in general, I did not have the 2 years post-MSW experience some places want you to show.) 
 

In no particular order, here are a few things I wish I’d known about, or better understood, as I navigated the PhD application, interview, and selection processes. 

 

(a) Your faculty match matters above all else, usually - even more than your publications, grades, test scores, etc. As long as those other elements aren’t abysmally low, you’ll be fine... but the faculty match is key. When you reach out to prospective faculty mentors & express your interest in the university/program, you’re giving yourself a massive advantage. Having an advocate to support your application makes all the difference - especially given the low doctoral program admission rates most applicants face today.  Gaining a faculty ally at any university can seem like a pretty daunting challenge, for sure. I’ve found, though, that many faculty members are delighted when a prospective PhD student cold-emails them out of the blue — IF the message is well-crafted, that is. Avoid sending boilerplate nondescript “express my interest in the program at [name] for the upcoming academic year” messages. Those are quickly forgotten and may even be somewhat detrimental for your application. Instead, just be sure to personalize your message even a little bit. This does not need to be overly lengthy or complex — in fact, brevity is usually very much appreciated. But tie in your research interests to those of the potential faculty mentor. Mention a specific journal article or project of theirs and briefly explain how you hope to learn from & engage in that kind of work.  

(B) Most, if not all, Social Work / Social Welfare doctoral programs will have a PhD Program Coordinator. This person is your lifeline if anything goes wrong with your app, if you need to check on the status of a certain letter of rec, etc. Establish contact with this person & schedule a brief consultation call, even though you (probably at this point) already know all the basic program details. This is well worth your time because you’ll be creating another point of familiarity within that program’s horizon. The more people who know your name the better. Also, and superimportantly, the PhD prog. coord. who knows your name, has exchanged emails w you & spoken to you over the phone, etc., is much more likely to help you w technical snags and cut you some slack if needed. 
 

(C) Regarding your chances of program admission: a lot of this depends not so much on your personal/academic achievements, your test scores, or your publications & research experience — but rather depends quite a lot on program-specific factors that are completely beyond your control. For example, you’ve identified and possibly already established relationships with potential faculty mentors at each school to which you’ve applied (or plan to apply). And that’s certainly a prerequisite for success—it shows that you’re serious about doctoral work, that you’re committed to the application process, & that you take initiative. But even if those faculty members actively support your application, you’ll still be at the mercy of academia’s internal clocks and scorecards. Your particular faculty match needs to have availability (& willingness, of course) to take on a new doctoral student, and it needs to be their “turn.” At most schools there is a rotating timetable for faculty-student mentoring assignments such that faculty members do not take on new PhD students in rapid succession (I.e., one after another, with a seamless transition from one student’s dissertation defense in May to a new student entering their first doctoral semester in August the same year. 

(D) If you’re wondering about app status timelines & interviews: I submitted most of my apps by 1/15/20, and I received replies by late March/early April. The two acceptances & two rejections I received were communicated directly: I didn’t ever receive any interview invitations. Each of my two offers included a stipend (25k vs 30.5k), health insurance, and a research assistantship. 

Anyway—my apologies for rambling. I hope this was at least somewhat useful for some of you guys. There’s a lot more to consider (personal statement, letters of rec, CV structure, etc) and there’s a lot more I’d like to say, but time runs short. If you want to connect individually, I’m happy to arrange that. (PhD students were very generous with their time when I was a prospective student, and I’d really like to pay that forward—so please feel free to ask / reply to this post.)

this was so helpful thank you

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Hi everyone,

Hope you're staying sane. I just finished applications and submitting last minute documents. Now comes the waiting period...😭

Bless you all and good luck!

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Anybody else still coping with the fact that you spent a significant amount of time on doctoral applications and have to wait up till January or February to hear back from schools?  I'm not good at waiting...the suspense!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/19/2020 at 8:22 AM, JohnnyBlue said:

Greetings all,

Current Social Welfare PhD student here. Joined the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice in Fall 2020, so I’m now in the very first semester of my doctoral studies.

During last year’s app cycle, I remember all too vividly the constant anxiety of waiting for status updates, interview invitations, etc. I checked the gradcafe forum every. single. day, looking for any news to help me piece together realistic university response timeframes and better understand my chances for admission. If you are now going through the same kinds of things: You are definitely, absolutely not alone. 
 

Anyway, I’m coming back to this thread now, when I’m on the other side of the whole PhD app process, to (hopefully) provide some useful info for applicants currently in the mix, and for folks who might be considering the doctoral track but who haven’t yet applied. 
 

Some background: I applied to 4 doctoral programs (UPenn; VCU; U of Maryland; UNC Chapel Hill) for Fall 2020 admission. I was accepted w full funding to Penn and U of Maryland, and ultimately chose Penn, as I’ve mentioned. (For anyone interested: I had a 3.67 / 4.0    undergrad / graduate gpa; 154 quant, 170 verbal, 5.5 writing scores for the GRE;  one “publication” [first-author poster presentation @ SSWR 2020 conference];  and several years of clinical & macro social work experience, mostly in child welfare. I applied to PhD programs shortly before I earned my MSW, so although I had plenty of work experience in general, I did not have the 2 years post-MSW experience some places want you to show.) 
 

In no particular order, here are a few things I wish I’d known about, or better understood, as I navigated the PhD application, interview, and selection processes. 

 

(a) Your faculty match matters above all else, usually - even more than your publications, grades, test scores, etc. As long as those other elements aren’t abysmally low, you’ll be fine... but the faculty match is key. When you reach out to prospective faculty mentors & express your interest in the university/program, you’re giving yourself a massive advantage. Having an advocate to support your application makes all the difference - especially given the low doctoral program admission rates most applicants face today.  Gaining a faculty ally at any university can seem like a pretty daunting challenge, for sure. I’ve found, though, that many faculty members are delighted when a prospective PhD student cold-emails them out of the blue — IF the message is well-crafted, that is. Avoid sending boilerplate nondescript “express my interest in the program at [name] for the upcoming academic year” messages. Those are quickly forgotten and may even be somewhat detrimental for your application. Instead, just be sure to personalize your message even a little bit. This does not need to be overly lengthy or complex — in fact, brevity is usually very much appreciated. But tie in your research interests to those of the potential faculty mentor. Mention a specific journal article or project of theirs and briefly explain how you hope to learn from & engage in that kind of work.  

(B) Most, if not all, Social Work / Social Welfare doctoral programs will have a PhD Program Coordinator. This person is your lifeline if anything goes wrong with your app, if you need to check on the status of a certain letter of rec, etc. Establish contact with this person & schedule a brief consultation call, even though you (probably at this point) already know all the basic program details. This is well worth your time because you’ll be creating another point of familiarity within that program’s horizon. The more people who know your name the better. Also, and superimportantly, the PhD prog. coord. who knows your name, has exchanged emails w you & spoken to you over the phone, etc., is much more likely to help you w technical snags and cut you some slack if needed. 
 

(C) Regarding your chances of program admission: a lot of this depends not so much on your personal/academic achievements, your test scores, or your publications & research experience — but rather depends quite a lot on program-specific factors that are completely beyond your control. For example, you’ve identified and possibly already established relationships with potential faculty mentors at each school to which you’ve applied (or plan to apply). And that’s certainly a prerequisite for success—it shows that you’re serious about doctoral work, that you’re committed to the application process, & that you take initiative. But even if those faculty members actively support your application, you’ll still be at the mercy of academia’s internal clocks and scorecards. Your particular faculty match needs to have availability (& willingness, of course) to take on a new doctoral student, and it needs to be their “turn.” At most schools there is a rotating timetable for faculty-student mentoring assignments such that faculty members do not take on new PhD students in rapid succession (I.e., one after another, with a seamless transition from one student’s dissertation defense in May to a new student entering their first doctoral semester in August the same year. 

(D) If you’re wondering about app status timelines & interviews: I submitted most of my apps by 1/15/20, and I received replies by late March/early April. The two acceptances & two rejections I received were communicated directly: I didn’t ever receive any interview invitations. Each of my two offers included a stipend (25k vs 30.5k), health insurance, and a research assistantship. 

Anyway—my apologies for rambling. I hope this was at least somewhat useful for some of you guys. There’s a lot more to consider (personal statement, letters of rec, CV structure, etc) and there’s a lot more I’d like to say, but time runs short. If you want to connect individually, I’m happy to arrange that. (PhD students were very generous with their time when I was a prospective student, and I’d really like to pay that forward—so please feel free to ask / reply to this post.)

Thanks for sharing. Also a 2020 fall fellow here. Happy to share experiences or answer any questions. 

Briefly, I applied for 3 different schools and was admitted by all of them with full funding (UW/UCLA/Columbia). 

My only suggestion is to find the advisor who fits your research interest and can provide you research platforms and opportunities. 

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On 12/14/2020 at 8:29 PM, wodislah142 said:

Thanks for sharing. Also a 2020 fall fellow here. Happy to share experiences or answer any questions. 

Briefly, I applied for 3 different schools and was admitted by all of them with full funding (UW/UCLA/Columbia). 

My only suggestion is to find the advisor who fits your research interest and can provide you research platforms and opportunities. 

Would you mind sharing your stats?

 

What kind of questions should we expect during the interview?

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8 hours ago, selamat123 said:

Hey everyone!

Did anyone apply to UChicago SSA? There's no interview process which is quite odd in my opinion, but just wanted to post and see if anyone else received any correspondence from them?

Hi! I applied and have not heard anything apart from the automated email after submitting. Have you?

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On 11/10/2020 at 3:00 PM, AlexSW said:

Yes! I've been accepted to the PhD program at the University of Denver for Fall 2021. They had a very early application deadline this year. I'll be moving from Philly to Denver next summer with my partner!

Congratulations on this acceptance to Denver!!!  This is such exciting news! 

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Hello all! Similar to mister Johnnyblue, I went through this last year and just completed the first semester in my PhD program. I would be happy to offer any support or advice to anyone who needs it in this stressful COVID time! For those curious, quick stats: 3.4 undergrad GPA, 4.0 MSW GPA, 156 V, 146 Q, 5.5 AW. Had 2 small publications second author at the time of application and some awards. I didn't have the beeeeeeeest stats (have always been an anxious test taker and had a rough time in undergrad) but I feel like the school I am now attending was a really good fit. As Johnny mentioned, fit with faculty is of supreme importance. There were quite a few faculty doing work in my speciality area and that really helped my application. I applied to University at Buffalo and Case Western. I am now at UB and was rejected from Case after my interview (with 28k stipend). If I could be of any help to anyone please reach out! 

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On 1/2/2021 at 12:01 PM, Clabarr55 said:

Hello all! Similar to mister Johnnyblue, I went through this last year and just completed the first semester in my PhD program. I would be happy to offer any support or advice to anyone who needs it in this stressful COVID time! For those curious, quick stats: 3.4 undergrad GPA, 4.0 MSW GPA, 156 V, 146 Q, 5.5 AW. Had 2 small publications second author at the time of application and some awards. I didn't have the beeeeeeeest stats (have always been an anxious test taker and had a rough time in undergrad) but I feel like the school I am now attending was a really good fit. As Johnny mentioned, fit with faculty is of supreme importance. There were quite a few faculty doing work in my speciality area and that really helped my application. I applied to University at Buffalo and Case Western. I am now at UB and was rejected from Case after my interview (with 28k stipend). If I could be of any help to anyone please reach out! 

Did University of Buffalo require an interview?

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Hey all! I contacted UChicago SSA's admissions team to ask for a general timeline and they're currently going through first round of interviews. Second round will be towards the end of January and the hope is to send out offers mid February-late February. I hope that helps for all applying there!

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