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The curriculum we offer reflects the powerful role research plays in relation to applied social work practice and knowledge building. The course of study consists of 51 graduate credits. Ten core courses (30 credits) provide students with competency in advanced research methods and social science theories. The remaining courses include two electives (6 credits) and dissertation research (15 credits). The program is open only to full-time students.
For information on PhD Admissions
Program Requirements & Funding
Plan of Study
A sequence of required courses is illustrated below. The sequence will vary depending on your year of enrollment. Students complete 18 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.
- SSW 6410: Research I: Research Design and Knowledge Generation – 3 credits
- SSW 6412: Research III: Multivariate Statistics I – 3 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 – 3 credits
- SSW 6415: Topics in Advanced Social Work Research - 3 credits
- SSW 6425: Social Welfare Policy Seminar - 3 credits
- 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
- 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
Preparation of the Dissertation
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.
PhD Funding Opportunities
For Incoming Students:
For Current Students:
The PhD Program also offers Graduate Assistantships (GAs). These are designed to ensure that doctoral students receive an educational experience that provides opportunities for both faculty supervised research activities and teaching. Priority for GAs is given to students in their first three years in the program. Graduate Assistantships include tuition waiver, health insurance, and a stipend.
External Funding Opportunities
University of Connecticut Graduate School
NASW Foundation National Scholarship and Fellowship Programs
Geriatric Social Work Initiative
Disability Determination Small Grant Program
NSF: SBE Dissertation Awards (Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences)
NIJ: Graduate Research Fellowship Program in Social & Behavioral Sciences
Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation Doctoral Dissertation Grant Program
The core curriculum, taken prior to your dissertation research, provides a foundation on which to build your personal analytical skills and research capabilities. Students are required to take the following courses, all offered at the Hartford campus
SSW 6410. Research I: Research Design and Knowledge Generation
This course will focus on the logic and methods of scientific inquiry in the social sciences, with specific emphasis on issues relevant to social work research and practice. Students will explore the philosophical assumptions, historical and cultural contexts, and ethical dilemmas that drive and inform the selection, structure and application of alternative research designs. Experimental, quasi-experimental and non-experimental design options will be considered. Inductive and deductive processes, hypothesis testing, probability and sampling, and analytic procedures appropriate to the different design options will be examined. Attention to using research to promote human rights and social justice will be explored.
SSW 6411. Research II: Survey Research Methods
This course builds upon the foundation laid by the beginning research design course, particularly by looking at the ways that survey design and survey data collection support the development of quasi-experimental research designs. The course provides the skills necessary to conduct self-administered surveys to meet the goals of social work practice and research. The course focuses on surveys as tools for assessing needs, monitoring program activities, measuring outcomes, and assessing attitudes.
SSW 6412. Research III: Multivariate Statistics I
This course builds upon an introductory level of statistical knowledge and focuses on the selection and application of appropriate statistical procedures to answer research questions or test hypotheses in social work research, and involves the 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.
SSW 6413. Research IV: Multivariate Statistics II
Building upon SSW 6412, this course also emphasizes the selection and application of appropriate statistical procedures to answer research questions or test hypotheses in social work research. The course focuses on data reduction methods and analyses of discrete or categorical data and involves the use of available statistical packages.
SSW 6414. Research V: Qualitative Research Methods
This course explores the philosophical underpinnings, history, techniques and relevance to social work research of qualitative inquiry traditions such as phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, historical analysis and case study methods. The course will focus on the use of qualitative methods as a means of expanding the knowledge base of the profession. As such the course will emphasize techniques, standards of assessing the quality and trustworthiness of varied approaches, as well as ethical issues.
SSW 6415. Topics in Advanced Social Work Research
This course provides advanced content on variable topics in social work research. It offers advanced conceptual understanding of skills used in complex research design, measurement, and or/analysis. Topics may include mixed methods research, advanced translational research, advanced quantitative analysis, advanced qualitative analysis, or other specialized research methods critical to the field of social work.
SSW 6420. Critical Analysis of Historical and Philosophical Themes of the Profession
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 to addressing social problems. 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 6425. Social Welfare Policy Seminar
This course focuses on the concepts, methods, and practices of analysis of social welfare policies designed to address social problems in the United States. Students are expected to apply social science research training and critical thinking skills to study the ideological and socioeconomic contextual backgrounds of social problems, social policies, and policy analyses and evaluate various alternatives to problem definitions, policy strategies, and types of policy analysis. The seminar aims to help students develop advanced skills in analyzing and critiquing social welfare policies and programs, making recommendations for change, and effectively communicating the results of their work.
SSW 6435. Social and Behavioral Science: The Knowledge Base for Social Work Practice with Smaller Target Systems
This course helps students understand the theoretical and empirical frameworks about human behavior and the social environment upon which contemporary best practices are built. The theories and frameworks examined include cognitive, behavioral/social learning, psychodynamic, family systems and other related concepts. This course will also explore 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.
SSW 6445. Social and Behavioral Science: The Knowledge Base for Practice with Large Target Systems
This course provides substantive knowledge from social science disciplines that inform macro practice with large systems and fields of macro practice (community organization, administration and policy practice). It is expected that students demonstrate competence in understanding the development and application of major social science theoretical models relevant to macro practice and with the empirical evidence that supports these theories. Ethical implications for social work of knowledge developed by disciplines with different value bases are considered. This course also explores the evolution and development of macro practice in the United States with an emphasis on the use of methods of community organization and policy practice in social work. These distinct methods, as well as different practice models associated with them, will be considered in the context of the social work profession and practice
SSW 6460. Teaching and Learning in Social Work Education: Roles and Contexts
This three-credit course, offered in the fall semester, following completion of the comprehensive exams, is designed to prepare students for the multiple roles of social work educators. The course explores historical and contemporary pedagogical theories, approaches and strategies within a social justice framework. Students will have opportunities to observe master teachers, develop guest lectures, and/or provide faculty liaison to the field. Students will develop teaching philosophy statements for their job search portfolios.
You will use elective credits to meet the requirement for six credits of advanced work in a related or supporting area appropriate to your plan of study. These courses must be advanced work outside the major field of study. You are expected to take elective courses in other relevant UConn schools or departments, including Allied Health, Business, Economics, Family Studies, History, Political Science, Psychology, Education, Sociology, Law and Medicine. Courses are selected on the basis of their contribution to a unifying theme in your scholarship.