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Applying to Online Graduate Programs

For questions about the application process, please contact Dr. Ashlie Lester at

For more detailed information about admissions for international students, please visit the International Center’s website.

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Online Application Deadlines

Our online degree programs have rolling admission, so we accept and review applications year-round. Completed applications should be submitted at least 6 weeks prior to the beginning of the term you plan to begin coursework. This allows the department and the Office of Graduate Studies time to process your application.

To apply: Complete the electronic application through the MU Office of Graduate Studies application system. In order to complete your application you will need:

  • Application for graduate admission
  • Application fee
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts of all college credit
  • A statement of purpose (personal statement)
  • Official TOEFL examination scores (International students only)

HDFS uses a paperless application system, so please scan and upload all documents to the Graduate Studies online application system.

In general, statements should be about 2-4 pages in length, should demonstrate your fit within the department, and answer the following questions:

  • What do you want to study at graduate school?
  • Why do you want to study it?
  • What experience(s) do you have in your field?
  • What do you plan to do with your degree once you have it?
  • What faculty member(s) do you wish to work with? (on-campus students only; it is also a good idea to contact specific faculty of interest directly)

In addition, it is important to note that these statements do serve as your writing example for graduate faculty to review. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your writing skills as well as your passion.

Recommendations are submitted through the Graduate Studies online application. Once you create an account and begin the application, you will be prompted to submit contact information for your letter writers. Specifically, you will enter the names and e-mail addresses of your letter writers into the system and an e-mail form will automatically be sent to them. The e-mail also contains instructions for how to upload his or her recommendation letter. Make sure that you have an updated e-mail address for each letter writer and enter it carefully in the application system.

  • Applicant completes the Graduate Studies online application (including all documents listed above).
  • After all application materials have been received, the application is prepared for review by an HDFS faculty committee.
  • The application is reviewed and a decision is made about admission to the HDFS graduate program. This process typically takes 1-3 weeks to complete. In the summer, decisions are sometimes delayed due to faculty availability.
  • HDFS sends a decision letter to the student and notifies the Office of Graduate Studies.
  • The Office of Graduate Studies reviews the applicant’s official transcripts and other academic information and makes a final decision about admission. This process takes several weeks to complete.
  • If the applicant is approved by the Office of Graduate Studies, he or she becomes an MU student and is free to enroll in courses for the upcoming semester.

*There can be some down time in this process where you are waiting to hear back from us. You may check the status of your application by logging back into the Graduate Studies online application and reading the information on your applicant dashboard (see below).

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A representative for the department checks the application system each day and compiles applications for review as soon as they are complete. For on-campus students, applications are reviewed by the faculty all at once after the deadline has passed. For online students, applications are reviewed by faculty committees as soon as they are complete.

You can check the status of your application by logging into the Graduate Studies online application website and reading the information on your applicant dashboard (the home page after you log in). There you can find information about whether:

  • Transcripts and test scores have been received.
  • Letters of recommendation have been received (and who sent them).
  • Your application fee has been paid.
  • The application is complete and pending a decision by the department.
  • The application has been accepted by the Office of Graduate Studies.