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PhD Application Instructions

Submitted by 21232f297a57a5a... on Tue, 10/22/2013 - 2:36pm

The online application system is closed for Fall 2017 admission
It will re-open on Monday, October 2, 2017 for the Fall 2018 admission cycle

Thank you for your interest in the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work program at the University of Calgary.

January 31, 2017 (11:59 pm) is the deadline to apply to the PhD program in Calgary. Your complete application must be received by the deadline. Neither you nor your referees will be able to modify electronic application material or upload supporting documents after the deadline. All documents submitted become the property of the University of Calgary and will not be copied for or returned to you, nor will copies be sent to any other institution.

Overview of the PhD Application Process

  1. Access the online application
  2. Enter referee information
  3. Pay the application fee
  4. Request official transcripts
  5. Provide documentation of English Language Proficiency (ELP), if applicable
  6. Upload resume
  7. Upload study plan and thesis proposal

Read and follow these instructions carefully to ensure your application is submitted successfully. The PhD admission committee requires documents that are complete, thorough, and professionally presented.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Apply early! Do not wait until the application deadline. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit the online application, including the names and email addresses of their referees, well in advance of the application deadline. Once you submit the online application and pay the application fee, within 1-2 business days, you will receive an automatically generated email with information about your application. Supporting documents (resume, study plan, and thesis proposal) can only be uploaded to the online application system after receipt of this email. Similarly, system generated emails to referees will only be sent once the online application and application fee is submitted.

Use the PhD Application Checklist to ensure that your application is complete.

Access the online application

Complete and submit the online application form at:

The screenshot below shows the home page of the online application:

To access the application, you need a University of Calgary eID. Your eID includes a name and a password and will be your personalized, unique identification for access to various electronic processes at the University of Calgary.

If you have previously applied or attended the University of Calgary, use your already-assigned eID and select the first link. If you do not remember your eID you must recover your account at or call the IT Help Desk for assistance at (403) 220-5555 or 1 (888) 342-3802 during regular office hours. If you are new to the University of Calgary, create an eID by selecting the second highlighted link above or go to the following link:

Please record your eID (name and password) in a safe place as it will be important throughout your association with the University of Calgary. You will need your eID every time you access your online application form.

Your application will be assigned a reference number that you should also make note of. When you review your application prior to submitting it, the reference number is in the first paragraph under “Admission Information."

Double check all information before you submit your application. You will not be able to make any changes after submission of your application.

To view the status of your application, sign onto the myUofC portal at using the eID selected when you first submitted your Application for Admission. Select 'Student Centre'. Under the admissions tab, near the bottom of the screen, you will see the status of your application. Applicants must regularly check their 'To Do List’, located in the top right of your 'Student Centre', for any outstanding supporting documents and outstanding application fee.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Enter referee information

All applicants must submit three references, one of which must be from an academic referee (e.g., professor, practicum instructor, program supervisor). 

Applicants who are unable to submit an academic reference are advised to submit a third professional reference and provide rationale in the Program Specific Questions. Circumstances under which it might not be possible to find an academic reference include if you have been out of school for a long period of time or you are an international student and cannot contact previous instructors.

Selecting a referee

An appropriate reference is one written by an individual who can provide an assessment of the applicant's background and capabilities with respect to the PhD program, or who can speak to the applicant's ability to complete a doctoral program. A reference from a non-academic source must come from a person who has had direct supervisory experience of the applicant. Letters from friends, family members, colleagues, and people currently registered in a graduate degree program are not acceptable nor are general reference letters that are not written in support of the person's application to the particular graduate program. It is important that you choose a referee who can describe your strengths and weaknesses in four general areas: academic background and training; research ability and record; communication and language ability; and reliability and personal aptitude; and provide their overall recommendation regarding your suitability for doctoral studies. In addition, ask your referees to read your research proposal and comment on it in their reference submission.

Note: An applicant currently registered in a graduate degree program, or who has recently completed a graduate degree program, must submit one letter of reference from his/her program supervisor as the academic reference. 

Please discuss reference provision with your potential referees prior to submitting your online application. Make sure they are willing to act as referees in support of your application and are comfortable with the online process for submitting their reference. All referees must submit their references by January 31, 2017We recommend that you approach referees well in advance to ensure they can meet this deadline.


You will be asked to enter the following information for three referees: name; job title; phone number; and professional email address in the online application. When entering the email address for your referees, it is imperative that you enter the referees' email addresses CORRECTLY. If the email addresses are entered incorrectly, your referees will not receive the email with the reference submission instructions.

Upon submission of the application and fee payment, an email will be automatically sent to each of the referees. The email will contain instructions for accessing and completing the online reference form. Your referees will be asked to reflect on your academic ability and qualifications relative to the PhD program. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Pay the application fee

Applicants are required to submit a non-refundable application fee with each application. The application fee is:

  • CAD $125 for Canadian citizens and permanent residents, or
  • CAD $145 for International students (those who will attend on a Study Permit), or
  • CAD $180 for re-admission to complete a program you withdrew from.

You can pay your application fee electronically by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) as part of the online application. Alternatively, you can pay the application fee by mailing a money order or micro encoded cheque, made payable to the University of Calgary. Record your application reference number (described in the Online Application section) on your money order or cheque and mail it to:

Faculty of Graduate Studies
MacKimmie Library Tower, Room 213
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 1N4

Note: Your application will not be processed until the application fee has been paid/received.

The deadline does not refer to the post-marked date; payment needs to arrive at the appropriate place by the deadline, January 31, 2017.

Request official transcripts

Submit one official set of transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended in paper form, and the degree certificates from those institutions that do not indicate the awarding of degrees on the transcripts, by the application deadline, January 31, 2017.

Applicants must arrange to have one set of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, regardless of the number of courses taken and the amount of time spent there, sent directly to the Calgary office of the Faculty of Social Work at the address below. Official transcripts are transcripts sent directly from the issuing institution to the receiving institution. Transcripts received from the applicant must remain in a sealed envelope with a stamp or seal across the envelope, indicating the transcripts have not been tampered with in any way.

Applicants are not required to submit transcripts documenting coursework completed at the University of Calgary, although they need to indicate this in the "Academic history" section in the online application.

Transcripts in a language other than English

If the original transcripts (and the degree certificates from those institutions that do not indicate the awarding of degrees on the transcripts) are in a language other than English, you must have one official set in the original language delivered to the address provided below. A second official sealed set must be provided to a certified translator. The translator must provide a word-for-word translation of the transcript and notarize the translation. These documents must be put in a sealed envelope by the translator. The translator should then forward that sealed envelope of the original transcript and the notarized translation to the address provided below.

Transcripts (and, if applicable, notarized translations and degree certificates) should be sent or delivered to:

Faculty of Social Work - Graduate Admissions
University of Calgary
PF 3256, 2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 1N4

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Request and submit your English Language Proficiency (ELP) test scores

The Faculty of Social Work operates in accordance with the Faculty of Graduate Studies policy regarding English Language Proficiency (see FGS calendar A.1 Admissions Qualification).

To support student success in our programs, we require the following:

  • TOEFL exam completion with minimum score of at least 580 (paper-based test) or 97 (internet-based test).
  • IELTS exam completion with a minimum score of 7.0.
  • MELAB exam completion with a minimum score of 83.
  • Completion of Level 3 of the International Foundations Program (IFP) at the University of Calgary. Students must achieve a minimum grade of “B” in Academic Writing and Grammar and a minimum grade of "C" in both Reading Comprehension and Proficiency and Listening Comprehension and Oral Fluency.

ELP test results must be sent directly to the Calgary Office of the Faculty of Social Work, from the issuing party to the address noted below by the application deadline, January 31, 2017. Test results submitted by students will be accepted only if they remain in envelopes sealed and signed by the issuing party. The deadline does not refer to the post-marked date; documents need to arrive at the appropriate place by the deadline.

ELP test results should be sent or delivered to:

Faculty of Social Work - Graduate Admissions
University of Calgary
PF 3256, 2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 1N4

The graduate program may waive the English proficiency requirement in certain circumstances, such as the possession of a baccalaureate degree or its academic equivalent from a recognized institution in which the language of instruction is English. For more information, please click here or contact Student Services at

A request to waive the English Language Proficiency requirement must be submitted in writing in either word or pdf format to  by January 31, 2017 with the subject line "ELP Waiver Request". In your statement, please provide a rationale for why you should be exempt from taking one of the ELP tests. The statement should also contain your legal name (as it appears in the application) and UCID number. Your UCID number will be emailed to you by the Faculty of Graduate Studies after you have submitted your application to the University of Calgary.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Submit your resume

For detailed instructions on uploading your resume, please click here.

Hard copy resumes will NOT be accepted.

Resume Format

Your resume should fully describe your work experience (paid and volunteer). Please use three sections to describe your previous experience: one for employment experience in or related to the social services, one for employment experiences not related to the social services, and one for non-paid or volunteer experiences. 

Your resume should also detail your educational history. Include places and dates of all institutions attended and credentials achieved, as well as any educational awards, distinctions, publications, and presentations.

Social Services Experience

The Faculty of Social Work defines social services experience, either paid employment or volunteer work, as organized activities, interventions, or some other elements that reflect policies and programs responding to recognized social problems/needs or to improve the well being of those at risk (Adapted from the Encyclopedia of Social Work).

Examples include paid and/or volunteer experience in a recognized government, non-profit, or social service agency.  It is expected that MSW applicants will have had experience at a higher level of responsibility. Examples of relevant social service experience:

  • Group home/residential worker
  • Crisis line volunteer
  • Camp counsellor with children and youth
  • Teacher's assistant
  • Hospital volunteer
  • Research assistant in human services research
  • Overseas social development experience
  • Child welfare worker (protection, guardianship, policy analyst)
  • Counsellor in a non-profit agency
  • Case manager in hospital and/or health and/or mental health setting
  • Social planning in a municipal setting
  • Teacher

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.  Applicants can make a case for special considerations of particular life, volunteer, or work experience if they can indicate connections to social work.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Upload your study plan and thesis proposal

For detailed instructions on uploading your study plan, please click here.

Hard copy study plans will NOT be accepted.

All applicants are required to upload a study plan of approximately 5 pages, double-spaced (not including title page and bibliography). The study plan must be written in an academic format (APA or other) and include references. Within the plan:

  • Introduce yourself. 
  • Specify and briefly discuss a substantive area of interest (e.g., family violence, addictions, mindfulness). 
  • Discuss how your educational goals and career expectations relate to your area of interest (include both personal and academic rationales). 

The study plan will be evaluated for clarity, content and writing ability.

Upload your Thesis Proposal

For detailed instructions on uploading your thesis proposal, please click here.

Hard copy thesis proposals will NOT be accepted.

In addition to the study plan, applicants must also upload a thesis proposal. The proposal must be written in an academic format (APA or other) and cannot exceed five double-spaced pages (not including title page and bibliography). Please describe the research problem you hope to investigate and the research methodology or methodologies (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, participatory action research, arts-based) you are considering.

Upload a Sample Written Work

Upload a sample written work e.g., a published or unpublished scholarly paper or professional report.  

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Upcoming Events: FSW Calgary

Date & Time:
May 2, 2017 - May 4, 2017

Three-day development event May 2-4 features keynote on building connections by Werklund prof Michele Jacobsen