Admission Requirements and Financial Assistance


HDFS PhD Admissions Requirements

Applications for admission are processed online by the School of Graduate Studies.  The School of Graduate Studies forwards completed applications to the department for review.  Please contact for questions specific to the application process.
  • Completed Graduate School application.  Visit graduate school admissions to start the application process.
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 for last 90 quarter credit hours or 60 semester credit hours.
  • Statement of purpose/letter of intent.  It is recommended that applicants address the following:
    • Fit with department emphases, content areas, and areas of faculty expertise
    • Educational and occupational goals
    • Short and/or long term goals following graduation
  • THREE letters of reference, 2 from former professors.
  • Academic writing sample of at least five double-spaced pages in length.  Examples may include a class paper, literature review, undergraduate or master's thesis, or an in-progress or published scholarly manuscript.
  • Curriculum Vita/Resume: Include your employment history, education, degrees, honors and leadership, professional organizations, awards, research (posters and publications out and in progress), research and work skills, hobbies, and interests.
  • Official transcripts of all work completed at accredited institutions.
  • Students for whom English is a second language must demonstrate English proficiency on the TOEFL exam.
  • Application fee.
  • In addition to these requirements, the applicant's undergraduate education should include at least one research methods and one statistics course.  We recommend that these courses are in the social sciences and at the upper-division level.

Additional PhD Admissions Requirements for MFT Concentration

  • Graduation with a Master’s Degree in MFT or equivalent mental health field
  • MFT Specfic Clinical and Applied Expertise Essay:
    • Your essay should be 4-5 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font. Use headers. 
    • Please include your current address, email, and telephone number at the beginning or end of your essay.
    • Describe your clinical interest areas and expertise. What presenting issues/problems are you most drawn to and what specific populations do you prefer working with? How have you developed expertise and knowledge in these areas (trainings/education, conferences/workshops, publications, etc.)?
    • How do the above expertise and interest areas tie in with your research (basic and applied)? Where do you see your research going over the next few years?
    • What attracts you to applying for the PhD program at Utah State University? What are your career goals over the next ten years?
    • Name one or two faculty members that you want to work with, specifically how you see their experience/interest area helping you to reach your research and academic goals.
Applications must be completed and received by December 15th of each year for matriculation in the fall.

Financial Assistance

Incoming (and continuing) PhD students are supported through research and teaching assistantships.

Individuals admitted into the graduate program (including presently enrolled graduate students) interested in being considered for teaching and/or research assistantships must complete and return the form emailed by the Graduate Program Coordinator in the prior semester.


Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA) are available for PhD students who wish to perform teaching or research services for the department, in return for salary. The HDFS department commits to supporting PhD students, in good standing, .50 time (20 hours a week) during their program of study (four years for post MS doctoral students; five years for post-BS doctoral students). After their first year, PhD students are strongly encouraged to seek out research assistantship opportunities that match their interests in order to facilitate their training and development.

Fellowships and Scholarships

Fellowships and scholarships from both the department and college are also available for well-qualified doctoral-level students. Fellowships are financial awards and recognition that require no service from the recipient. Domestic students are encouraged to establish residency within the first 12 consecutive months in Utah, as they may be eligible for additional scholarships if they are in-state residents.

Typically these scholarships range in awards of several hundred to several thousand dollars and are given on an annual basis.

Tuition Awards

Doctoral students who are employed on a .50 assistantship are eligible for tuition awards as long as minimum criteria are met. Tuition awards cover the in-state portion of a student’s tuition for the credit hours required by the doctoral program. Tuition awards also cover the nonresident portion of a student’s tuition for the first 12 months. After 12 months, a student must become a Utah resident, or be subject to pay the nonresident portion of their tuition.