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Application Support Documentation Procedures & Requirements

Each application must include the following support documents:

  1. Letters of Reference
  2. Transcripts of Academic Records (from every academic institution attended). 
  3. Curriculum Vitae (CV) 
  4. Personal Statement 
  5. Documentation of Research Ability & Potential (Select One Option)
  6. Writing Sample (Optional) 

NOTE:  The following Items should be submitted in electronic form only (PDF is preferred) by saving them to GradApp: unofficial transcripts, CV, Personal Statement, Research Statement, and optional Writing Samples.

1. Letters of Reference

PhD applicants are required to submit three references. Academic references are strongly recommended, including a former course instructor, supervisor, or colleague who has a research degree (such as a PhD or equivalent) who can provide valuable insights into your research experience and potential.
When completing your application on GradApp, you will be asked to provide contact information for each of your referees, including a valid institutional/organizational email address, if available.  Email addresses from generic email providers (e.g., Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail) are not accepted by this system.

Note – A valid institution or organization email address is necessary for a referee to upload their letter. Email addresses that are shared, anonymous, generic or not linked to an institution, organization or business are not acceptable (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo!).  We strongly suggest you choose a referee who has a valid institution or organization email address. If an individual does not have a valid email address, look at designating a different referee. If (despite your best effort) absolutely no alternative referee with a valid institution or organization email address is possible, you can enter a non-institution or non-organization email address in the online admissions application (it’s not necessary to contact us). Be aware this may delay review of your application as we must verify the authenticity of reference letters received in this manner. For every referee, enter a telephone number where they can be reached for our verification purposes.

Once you confirm your application, the system will send an email to each of your referees, who have a valid email address, inviting them to submit the completed form directly to the application database using a secure interface.  The email will include reference instructions and the reference form.

A copy of the reference form is also available: PhD Program Application Reference Form 2024.

To ensure a smooth application process, it is important to contact your referees well ahead of the application deadline. Please confirm their contact information and ensure they are both willing and available to provide a reference by the specified date.

2. Transcripts of Academic Records

  • GradApp facilitates the online submission of your academic record(s).  Detailed instructions are provided within the system.
  • You are required to upload one electronic transcript from each post-secondary institution you have attended (colleges, including CEGEP, and universities).
  • Electronic transcripts must be up to date and include the “legend” which is usually printed on the back of the paper transcript.  Please ensure that the file is complete and readable before submitting.  More details are available on the SGS online system.

NOTE – If you are offered admission to the PhD Program, you will be required be required to submit all academic official transcripts as a condition of admission<.Transcripts are considered official if received directly from the academic institution.

3. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A detailed CV in which you outline your education, employment, professional activities, research experience, presentations at professional and/or scholarly conferences and publications (please specify if professional and/or academic).

For guidelines on how to create a CV visit the UTSC Academic Advising & Career Centre site.

4.Personal Statement

All applicants to the PhD Program must submit a personal statement in electronic form (PDF is preferred) through GradApp, the School of Graduate Studies online admissions website.

Your Personal Statement should cover the following components:

  1. State specific area(s) of research that interest you and why they need to be researched.
  2. Describe how your personal background and life experiences contribute to your research interests and to your decision to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Toronto.
  3. Discuss your interest in and preparation for PhD studies in social work.
  4. Outline your career plans and discuss how doctoral education is relevant to your professional goals and your area of research interest within the social work profession.
  5. Discuss why you think the PhD program at the University of Toronto is a good fit for you given your interests and plans. Please ensure your Personal Statement is no longer than 5 pages typed, doubled-spaced with 1-inch margins.

5. Documentation of Research Ability and Potential (Select Option 1 OR Option 2)

Applicants are required to submit documentation of their research ability and potential through submitting either:

  • Option 1: A Research Statement OR
  • Option 2: The Graduate Record Exam – General Test Score.

Option 1 – Research Statement Instructions

A Research Statement is one of the documents applicants can submit to highlight their research abilities and potential. Applicants who do not submit a research statement are required to submit a GRE – General Test Score.

Please submit your Research Statement in electronic form (PDF is preferred) through GradApp.

The research statement should include the following components:

  1. Statement of Significance: Clearly state an issue or topic that would benefit from further research, emphasizing its relevance and significance in the field.
  2. Focus and Research Questions: Outline the specific focus of your proposed study and present concise and well-defined research questions that will guide your investigation.
  3. Literature Review: Demonstrate your understanding of the current state of knowledge, related empirical literature, and research gaps that your study aims to address.
  4. Theoretical Framework: Present a well-grounded theoretical framework that will guide your research.
  5. Methods Strategy: Describe your proposed research design, including details on the recruitment strategy, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.
  6. Anticipated Findings: Discuss the expected nature of your findings and how they contribute to social work knowledge and inform policy/practice in the field.
  7. Bibliography: Provide a list of references cited within your statement, adhering to appropriate citation and referencing guidelines.

This document should be written in a scholarly fashion with adequate reference to the relevant research and theoretical literature within your area of study.

Please ensure your statement is no longer than5 pages (excluding references) typed, doubled-spaced with 1-inch margins; 12-point Times New Roman font preferred. 

Option 2: Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test Score:

Documentation requirements for Option 2 include:

  1. Online Unofficial submission:  Please upload an unofficial copy of your GRE General Test Score from the Document Status web page that is accessible after you have confirmed payment of your application.
  2. Electronic/Official submission: Please submit your GRE General Test Score to the University of Toronto. The ETS institution code for the University of Toronto is 0982. We will only accept official scores sent directly from the ETS.

Note – Your GRE scores are valid for five years from the date you took the test. For more information on the GRE Tests, please visit the GRE website. We do not require a minimum score for GRE General Test. However, this test serves as an important assessment tool for admission.

6. Writing Sample (Optional)

A writing sample is an optional support document. You may submit a maximum of two writing samples (for example: peer-reviewed journal articles, conference presentations, or agency/government reports), if applicable.

If you elect to submit a writing sample, please submit your writing sample in electronic format (PDF is preferred) through GradApp.