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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who can apply?

    Applicants must hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree from an accredited degree program. While our curriculum and research focuses on the social sciences, we are an interdisciplinary program and welcome applicants with backgrounds in all academic disciplines to apply. U.S. and International applicants are welcome.

  • Are students who enter the program directly after completing their undergraduate studies at a disadvantage?

    Students entering with a Master’s degree &/or practical experience in the field(s) do have an advantage but recent graduates are able to and do succeed. Success in the program is dependent on each student’s own motivation, the time they have to devote to their studies and individual work ethics.

  • How do I apply?

    You must apply online at: Your materials are loaded into a system that will allow us to evaluate your application.

  • When are applications accepted, and when are admissions decisions made?

    Applications are accepted from early September until March 1st of the year you are seeking admission. You will be notified about admissions decisions in March.

  • What are the admissions requirements?

    We look at each prospective student holistically when making decisions about admissions. Test scores and GPA are considered, along with performance in each applicant’s undergraduate and graduate coursework. We carefully consider each applicant’s professional, research, and community service experience, as well as their career goals and recommendations from professionals familiar with their academic work and/or professional experience.

  • Which documents should I submit to apply?

    Applicants should submit the following documents with their application:

    • Resume or CV
    • Unofficial Transcripts (Official transcripts are required upon acceptance.) Current or past Clemson students do not need to submit a transcript from Clemson University.
    • Official GRE scores (ETS code – 5111)
    • Three letters of recommendation from professionals familiar with the applicant's academic work and/or professional experience
    • A 500-word personal statement about the applicant’s career aspirations.
    • A writing sample that demonstrates the applicant’s writing proficiency (e.g., a course paper from the past or a recent substantial writing effort, such as a grant proposal).
    • Students for whom English is not their first language are also required to submit TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores.
  • What does a strong candidate look like?

    Successful applicants may have very different academic backgrounds and professional and volunteer experiences. Strong candidates typically have solid GPAs (typically 3.0 or higher), GRE scores, and TOFEL/IELTS scores; a history of professional experience and/or community service; a basic understanding of and interest in statistics and quantitative analysis; and research experience.

  • Is the GRE required for application? Are there minimum GRE scores required for admission?

    The GRE is required, but it may be waived in special circumstances (such as when it is not offered within several hundred miles of an applicant’s home). Applicants who submit GRE scores will be more competitive than those who do not. Only the GRE general test is required. There is no need to take the specialized tests. The graduate admissions committee considers an applicant’s total package of materials when considering admissions. Thus, there are no minimum GRE scores necessary for admission. Historically, the trend has been that the higher the scores are, the better chances the applicant has of admission, but low or high scores are not dispositive and constitute only one factor in the admission consideration.

  • What are the steps for the application process?

    Step 1:Compile the documents below:

    • Resume or CV
    • Unofficial Transcripts (Official transcripts are required upon acceptance.) Current or past Clemson students do not need to submit a transcript from Clemson University.
    • Official GRE scores
    • Three letters of recommendation from professionals familiar with the applicant's academic and/or professional experience
    • A 500-word personal statement about the applicant’s career aspirations as they relate to this graduate program.
    • A writing sample that demonstrates the applicant’s writing proficiency (e.g., a course paper from the past or a recent substantial writing effort, such as a grant proposal).
    • Students for whom English is not their first language are also required to submit TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores.

    Step 2: Submit the documents online at:

  • Is an interview required for applicants to the Ph.D. program? <

    No interview is required.

  • Can I take classes as a certificate student and then begin the doctoral program at a later time? If that is possible, do I need to apply to the graduate school (as a post-baccalaureate student)?

    Students can take classes before being accepted into the doctoral program. However, certificate students are limited to taking a maximum of 12 credit hours, and acceptance as a certificate student does not guarantee acceptance into the Ph.D. program. A student who is not currently enrolled in a graduate program at Clemson will need to apply as a Certificate or Non-Degree Student, with a Non-Degree application & fee. On the application, the student should select the Specialty Area: International Family and Community Studies. Our faculty will review the application, and applicants will be notified by the Graduate School if the application has been approved or denied. Students will be able to enroll in courses once admitted. If a certificate student wants to later pursue the Ph.D. degree, he or she will be required to submit the Degree-Seeking application and pay another application fee.

  • If am a graduate student at Clemson who is pursuing a different degree, can I take classes in your program?

    Students who are already pursuing a graduate degree at Clemson may register for classes in our program without having to be admitted to our program, but they may need permission of individual instructors.

  • How much does this doctoral program cost?

    Program costs are the same for both the campus-based and blended formats and are dependent on the number of courses taken. Our curriculum and degree requirements can be found here. Tuition and fees are determined by the Board of Trustees each year and can be found on Graduate School's page. Our program is Tier 5. A tuition increase should be assumed each year.

  • What financial support is available?

    For Ph.D. students who reside in the Upstate SC area, we may be able to offer funding in the form of research or teaching assistantships, which carry a work requirement, offer a stipend, and offer a tuition waiver. Such funding is limited, however, and is offered as available and on a competitive basis. Information on University Fellowships & Awards can be found at this link: Information on student employment opportunities can be found at:

  • What coursework is required to complete the doctoral program?

    The curriculum requirements and electives are found here.

  • Can classes be taken outside of the department to fulfill program requirements and to meet individual interest and reach individual goals?

    Students should work with the Graduate Studies Coordinator and/or their Dissertation/Advisory Chair to develop a Plan-of-Study that will meet the requirements of the program and assist them in reaching their individual goals.

  • When do classes start?

    Classes for entering graduate students begin with the fall semester (in mid-August). Exact dates can be found by looking at Clemson's Academic Calendar.

  • Is there an onsite orientation for entering doctoral students?

    All students are expected to participate in an orientation/annual meeting in Clemson, SC in mid-August prior to the start of classes. Students residing abroad can participate online if attending in person creates a financial hardship.

  • How long will it take me to complete the doctoral program?

    The doctoral program can ordinarily be completed in three years by students who enter with a master’s degree and in four years by students without prior graduate education. This projected timeline is based on students pursuing the degree on a full-time basis. The timeline is also affected by an individual student’s level of preparation, job demands, and personal responsibilities.

  • Can the doctoral program and certificate program be completed on a part-time basis?

    Yes, many of our students work part-time or full-time and complete the programs by taking one, two or three courses a semester, depending on their personal situations. Clemson University has a Continuous Enrollment Policy, which requires students to be enrolled for fall and spring semesters unless an approved leave of absence is in place.

  • Are students with families and careers well supported throughout the process?

    Many of our students have families and established careers. Students are encouraged to work closely with the IFCS Graduate Studies Coordinator to develop a plan-of-study that will allow them to complete the program in a timely manner and maintain healthy home and work lives.

  • Department faculty and staff offer extensive support to students in our doctoral program. During the first 1-2 years of the program (until you have completed your coursework), you will receive one-on-one guidance from the IFCS Graduate Studies Coordinator. When you are about to finish your coursework, you will select a Dissertation/Advisory Committee (DC) Chair. This individual is a member of the program faculty who will assist you in selecting the other members of your Dissertation/Advisory Committee. The majority of your committee must come from full-time, tenure-track faculty at Clemson. Persons not employed by Clemson University may serve if they have been appointed to an adjunct faculty status. You will work closely with your DC Chair on your master’s equivalent research project (if applicable), comprehensive exams, and dissertation. Your committee members will also provide support and guidance throughout the balance of your program, and will meet with you in person, through conference calls, Skype or web conferencing tools, as needed.

  • Are courses available during the summer?

    Yes. Several courses, not offered during the fall or spring semesters, are offered during the summer.

  • Is the program offered online?

    The program is offered in a blended format, allowing campus-based students to attend in person and students outside of the Clemson area to connect via the Internet. We currently use Adobe Connect. Courses are offered in real time (Eastern Standard Time), and all students are expected to attend in person or virtually and to fully participate in class lectures, discussions and presentations.

  • What time of day are classes offered?

    Class times are based on Eastern Standard Time and usually meet once a week either from 9:00 a.m. to noon or from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Occasionally a class may be offered later in the day, but that is rare due to the difficulties it might create for our overseas students.

  • How often do classes meet?

    In the fall and spring semesters, classes typically meet once per week. Summer courses usually meet twice per week.

  • What are the residency requirements for international students?

    International students may pursue the degree from their home countries or as full-time students at Clemson. If pursuing the degree while living in your home country, you need not apply for residency. For those international students who will be relocating to Clemson, the Office of Global Engagement's International Services provides support for all international students and faculty and is responsible for policies and regulations related to immigration. For detailed and current information visit and for information about the arrival process once you’ve be accepted please visit:

  • What kinds of careers are graduates from this program pursuing?

    The program can prepare graduates for several different career tracks. Our students become scholars in interdisciplinary institutes or in academic departments on child and family studies, social policy studies, and international studies. Students also become researchers, planners or administrators in domestic or international governmental or non-governmental agencies concerned with children, families and/or communities.

  • Who do I contact if I have additional questions about the program or admission?

    For additional information, please email the Graduate Studies Coordinator at: