PhD Core Curriculum


PhD StudentsThe core curriculum, taken prior to your dissertation training, will give you a solid foundation on which to build your personal analytical skills and research capabilities. Students are required to take the following core courses, all offered at the West Hartford campus. The following courses comprise the core curriculum:

SSW 6410. Research I: Research Design and Knowledge Generation

Three credits

This course focuses on the philosophy of science, logic and methods of scientific inquiry in the social sciences. You will explore knowledge building with reference to rational, empirical and cultural processes. Rational processes to be applied to social work research include logic, model building, hypothesis testing, induction and deduction, and appraisal of knowledge claims. Empirical processes to be examined include observation, symbolic representation of data, and data structures. Cultural processes to be examined include the effect of culture on conceptualization, priorities, ethical considerations and resource distribution. Students are expected to develop methodological rigor as well as critical assessment of contemporary research issues that affect social work practice.

SSW 6411. Research II: Survey Research Methods

Three credits

The course builds upon the beginning research design course by looking at the ways that survey design and data collection support the development of quasi-experimental research designs. Based on social exchange theory, the course provides students with the skills required to conduct reliable and valid data through self administered surveys with high response rates. Such data may be used to assess social needs, monitor program activities, measure outcomes or assess attitudes.

SSW 6412. Research III: Multivariate Statistics I

Three credits

This course builds upon an introductory level of statistical knowledge and assumes that you have completed an introductory statistics course, including experiences with data analyses that involves computer interactions (SPSS, SAS, etc.). This course is devoted to developing an understanding of the general linear model (GLM). Once students gain a solid understanding of GLM, students can extend their knowledge to a variety of more complex statistical tests. It focuses on the selection and application of appropriate statistical procedures to answer research questions or test hypotheses in social work research, and involves the extensive use of available statistical packages. While the course emphasizes the understanding of statistical testing, interpretation and written presentation of statistical results, knowledge of the mathematical formulae and assumptions underlying each statistical procedure may be required and are discussed in class. Equivalent courses offered by other UConn schools may be substituted with advisor approval.

SSW 6413. Research IV: Multivariate Statistics II

Three credits

Building upon SSW 6412, Multivariate Statistics I, this course also focuses on the selection and application of appropriate statistical procedures to answer research questions or test hypotheses in social work research. This course focuses on data reduction methods and analyses of discrete or categorical data and involves the extensive use of available statistical packages. While the course emphasizes the understanding of statistical testing, interpretation and written presentation of statistical results, knowledge of the mathematical formulae and assumptions underlying each statistical procedure may be required, and these are discussed in class. Equivalent courses offered by other UConn schools may be substituted with advisor approval.

SSW 6414. Research V: Qualitative Research Methods

Three credits

This course explores the philosophical underpinnings, history, techniques and relevance to social work research of qualitative inquiry traditions such as biography, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography and case study methods. Although many of these techniques are also useful in social work practice, this course will focus on the use of qualitative methods for the purpose of expansion of the knowledge base of the profession. As such the course will emphasize techniques, standards of quality, verification, and other indicators of rigor as well as value on ethical issues. After completing this course students will be able to discribe various approaches, set up research protocols, describe data analysis and quality control techniques and specifiy standards for report writing.

SSW 6420. Critical Analysis of Historical and Philosophical Themes of the Profession

Three credits

This course helps students develop critical and historical understanding of social work knowledge, values and interventions. It reviews social, economic, political and intellectual forces that influence the development of social welfare and professional social work. It examines the roles of conflicting ideologies and commitments in alleviating stress and suffering. The course focuses on knowledge of the development and history of social work in the context of changing social, economic, political and intellectual environments.

SSW 6435. Social and Behavioral Science: The Knowledge Base for Social Work Practice with Smaller Target Systems (Individuals, Families, Groups)

Three credits

This course helps students understand the theoretical and empirical frameworks upon which contemporary best practices are built. The theories and frameworks examined include cognitive, behavioral/social learning, psychodynamic, family systems and other related concepts. Other theories that demonstrate a valid underpinning of effective or promising social work practice may be added.

SSW 6436. Comparative Social Work Practice Models (Micro Practice)

Three credits

Building upon SSW 6435, this course explores the major, past and present, social casework and group work practice models from historical, theoretical and empirical perspectives. Current practice approaches/models from related fields empirically shown to be most effective or promising are examined. Selected social work models are examined within the social, political and ideological contexts of their times as well as with respect to their contributions to the profession’s knowledge base. Each model’s contribution to the profession’s knowledge base and to direct practice methods are investigated and related to students’ conceptual and practice experiences.

SSW 6445. Social and Behavioral Science: The Knowledge Base for Practice with Large Target Systems (Macro Social Work Practice)

Three credits

The purpose of this course is to convey substantive knowledge from social science disciplines that inform macro practice with large systems (community organization, administration and policy practice). Relevant disciplines include economics, political science, sociology (including organizational theory), anthropology and epidemiology. Students are expected to have fundamental knowledge in each of these social sciences (a reading list is provided before the course begins). It is expected that students demonstrate competence in the application of major social science theoretical models relevant to macro practice and with the empirical evidence that supports these theories. Connections between macro and micro practice (social work with small systems) are considered. Ethical implications for social work of knowledge developed by disciplines with different value bases are considered.

SSW 6446. Comparative Social Work Practice Models (Macro Practice)

Three credits

Building upon SSW 6445, this course explores the evolution and current development of macro practice methods including community organization, administration and policy practice in social work. After a brief review of the conceptual history of macro practice social work, the course examines unique roles of macro practice methods in carrying out the mission of the profession. Value issues and ethical dilemmas associated with social advocacy and policy change are examined throughout.