PhD in Social Policy

Application Requirements

Application Form

In addition to the other supporting credentials, all applicants must complete and submit an application form.

The preferred method is to submit your application electronically. Applicants should have the following information close at hand when completing the application:

  • Names and e-mail addresses of recommenders.
  • Names of undergraduate and graduate institutions and dates of attendance.
  • GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS scores, percentiles and dates taken (if applicable).
  • Personal statement and a curriculum vitae or resumé saved on the computer on which applicant is working.

Application Fee

The Application Fee is US $55.00. This fee is waived for applicants from developing nations and current or returned Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, and other service organization volunteers. For a complete list of the nations for which the application fee is waived, please refer here. Please contact HellerAdmissions@Brandeis.edu if you are unsure if you are required to pay the application fee.

Statement of Purpose

Evaluating applicants for the PhD Program involves an assessment of the applicants’ skills and the program’s ability to serve their interests. Therefore, the key element of the application is the statement of purpose.

The statement of purpose should be focused and succinct, no more than four pages long. Applicants should describe work and educational experiences that have influenced their interests, social concerns, and career goals. The statement should focus on how doctoral study will help them meet their goals and their connection to a substantive area of policy.

Applicants should also indicate if they are interested in being considered for a particular federal training grant or named fellowship (see Financial Aid). Applicants may also include any information they deem relevant to their potential as a graduate student. Upon your admission, faculty and staff will use the statement of purpose to assess your candidacy for various Heller funding and federal training grant opportunities and to assign advisors.

The statement of purpose must be submitted electronically when you complete the application.  Documents should be saved on your computer and uploaded in PDF format. This is preferable for the admissions committee.  If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types will be unreadable. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents. Doing so will delay the processing of your application.

Transcripts

A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or a comparable degree from a foreign academic institution is required.

We must receive transcripts from every university, college, or graduate institution you have attended. Transcripts should show the name of each course and the grade received, as well as the year/term in which it was taken. We encourage you to submit scanned, electronic copies of your transcript with your online application to ensure the quickest review. 

Transcripts must be electronic copies of the official transcript issued by the institution and include one or more of the following features: the registrar signature, the registrar's seal, an institutional watermark, or be printed on official institutional paper. Please do not mail paper-based transcripts to us until you have been offered admission and you have accepted that offer, or we have specifically requested them.

  • International applicants whose transcripts are not in English must have transcripts translated by a certified translation agency, and both the original and translated transcripts must accompany the application. Applicants may not translate their own transcripts.
  • We realize that it can be difficult for international students to obtain more than one official copy of their university transcript. To assist you, we can accept certified true copies of your transcripts. A certified true copy is one which is certified as an exact replica of the original by either school officials or legal authorities such as embassies or a notary public.

If you are unable to upload your transcript, we will also accept mailed transcripts sent by your institution to the Heller School in a sealed envelope. Transcripts sent by mail may take up to 10-15 business days to be matched with your application.

If your college or university does not use a traditional 4.0 grading scale, please provide an explanation of the grading system, including systems of designation for honors and distinction.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants to the program must submit three letters of recommendation. One should be a professional assessment from a supervisor at the institution at which you are employed or were recently employed. The second letter should be an academic assessment from a former professor or advisor. However, you are not required to submit an academic letter if you last attended university ten or more years ago. The third letter can be either professional or academic.

  • We request that letters of recommendation be submitted online directly from the recommender. You will be asked for email addresses of your recommenders as you complete the online application. Your recommenders will each automatically receive an email from us with a personalized link as well as instructions to upload a letter directly into our system online.
  • Please note: It is the responsibility of all applicants to contact their recommenders after beginning the application to ensure that recommenders have adequate time to submit their letters prior to the deadline.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Applicants should submit a professional resume or curriculum vitae outlining all work and educational experiences, including any volunteer activities, detailing particularly those relevant to their proposed field of study; any academic and non-academic honors or prizes awarded; and publications and research projects with which the applicant has been associated.

The resume or CV must be submitted electronically when you complete the application.  Documents should be saved on your computer and uploaded in PDF format. This is preferable for the admissions committee.  If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types will be unreadable. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents. Doing so will delay the processing of your application.

Writing Sample

The ability to communicate effectively is essential for successful completion of the PhD Program. To assist the admissions committee in its assessment, applicants must submit an academic writing sample. The sample will be used to evaluate an applicant’s analytic skills, writing style, and ability to deal with complex material. Writing samples should not be more than 20 pages in length (ideally 10-15 pages). Jointly-authored work, grant proposals, or theses are not acceptable.

Examples of materials that might be submitted include a paper written for a course (within the last two years), a paper published in a professional journal (within the last three years), or a paper specifically prepared for the Heller application.

The writing sample must be submitted electronically when you complete the application.  Documents should be saved on your computer and uploaded in PDF format. This is preferable for the admissions committee.  If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types will be unreadable. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents. Doing so will delay the processing of your application.

Standardized Test Scores

Applicants to the PhD in Social Policy program must submit test results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Test scores will be sent directly by ETS, Educational Testing Service. The GRE code is 3097.

The various admissions committees do not set specific standards for GRE test results. We cannot accept any test score older than five years.

Proof of English Proficiency

International applicants whose native language is not English or who have not completed a degree program in the United States must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language exam (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

We do not set a minimum required score for either test, but rather, our admissions committees take a holistic approach to reviewing applications and considers every part of the application carefully. That being said, the majority of our successful applicants tend to have a score of at least 94 on the TOEFL, or 7.0 on the IELTS.  Learn more about our English Proficiency requirement here.

You may submit a copy of your unofficial test taker score report to hasten the review of your application, but an official report sent directly from ETS or IELTS must be received to finalize any offer of admission.

TOEFL

Official TOEFL scores must be sent directly through ETS to our institution code 3097 at the time that you apply.

IELTS

In order to fulfill your application requirements, you may submit a scanned copy of your official IELTS score report. Admitted students who accept the offer of admission will be expected to send hard copies of official score reports, or bring the report during orientation.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of the Heller Admissions officers at HellerAdmissions@Brandeis.edu. We look forward to working with you.