Ph.D. Program

Our curriculum prepares students to use diverse research methodologies in a range of settings to advance social work practice and education.

Students complete a total of 55 graduate credits.  Eleven core courses provide students with competency in advanced research methods, social science theories, social welfare history, policy analysis, and theories of teaching and learning.  Students also complete two electives and 15 credits of dissertation research.  The program is open only to full-time students.

Learn more about Ph.D. Admissions

Program Requirements

Plan of Study

A sequence of required courses is illustrated below. The sequence will vary depending on your year of enrollment. Students complete 20 credits in their first year and 18 credits during the second year, including 6 credits of electives. Students will also take one course in the Fall of their third year.

Following completion of coursework and defense of the dissertation proposal, students must complete a minimum of 15 credits of dissertation research as they engage in their independent dissertation research.

View course descriptions in the Graduate Course Catalog.

Year One


  • SSW 6410: Research I: Research Design and Knowledge Generation – 3 credits
  • SSW 6412: Research III: Multivariate Statistics I – 4 credits
  • SSW 6445: Social and Behavioral Science: The Knowledge Base for Practice with Large Target Systems (Macro Practice) – 3 credits


  • SSW 6413: Research IV: Multivariate Statistics II – 4 credits
  • SSW 6415: Topics in Advanced Social Work Research - 3 credits
  • SSW 6425: Social Welfare Policy Seminar - 3 credits

Year Two


  • SSW 6411: Research II: Survey Research Methods – 3 credits
  • SSW 6420: Critical Analysis of Historical and Philosophical Themes of the Profession – 3 credits
  • Elective – 3 credits


  • SSW 6414: Research V: Qualitative Research Methods – 3 credits
  • SSW 6435: Social and Behavioral Science: The Knowledge Base for Micro Social Work Practice with Smaller Target Systems (Individuals, Families, Groups) – 3 credits
  • Elective - 3 credits

Year Three


  • SSW 6460: Teaching and Learning in Social Work Education: Roles and Contexts - 3 credits

Program Requirements and Timeline

By the end of the first year of study:

  • Indication by student of preferred major advisor

By the end of the second year of study:

  • Formation of Advisory Committee

Before completing no more than 12 credits of coursework toward your degree:

  • Submission of Plan of Study

No later than four years after beginning doctoral study and at least eight months prior to completion of all degree requirements:

  • Passing of General Examination

At least six months prior to degree completion:

  • Submission of Dissertation Proposal to Advisory Committee

No later than eight years after beginning doctoral study:

  • Passing of Dissertation Defense

Teaching Opportunities

Opportunities to teach in the MSW and BSW program are an integral aspect of our doctoral program. Combined with a dedicated course on the theory and practice of teaching, doctoral students gain practical experience as they train to become the next generation of social work educators.

Mentored Research

Our doctoral students gain valuable research experience working directly with faculty members as Graduate Assistants and through faculty-funded research. Working collaboratively with faculty, students acquire applied research skills to become independent researchers and develop the capacity for original scholarship. Through these experiences, doctoral students often have opportunities to co-author articles and make scholarly presentations with faculty at professional conferences.