The Right Balance of Theory and Research Practice
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.
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.
- SSW 6410: Research I: Research Design and Knowledge Generation – 3 credits
- SSW 6420: Critical Analysis of Historical and Philosophical Themes of the Profession – 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
- SSW 6411: Research II: Survey Research Methods – 3 credits
- SSW 6414: Research V: Qualitative Research Methods – 3 credits
- SSW 6436: Comparative Social Work Practice Models (Micro Practice) – 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
- Elective – 3 credits
- SSW 6413: Research IV: Multivariate Statistics II – 3 credits
- SSW 6446: Comparative Social Work Practice Models (Macro Practice) – 3 credits
- Elective – 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 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 6435. Social and Behavioral Science: The Knowledge Base for Social Work Practice with Smaller Target Systems
This course helps students evaluate the theoretical and empirical frameworks about human behavior and the social environment upon which contemporary best practices are built. Theories and frameworks examined include cognitive, behavioral/social learning, psychodynamic, family systems and other related concepts.
SSW 6436. Comparative Social Work Practice Models
This course explores the major social casework and group work practice models from historical, theoretical and empirical perspectives. Selected social work models are examined within their social, political and ideological contexts 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
This course explores substantive knowledge from social science disciplines that inform social work macro practice with large systems and fields of macro practice (community organization, administration and policy practice). Students will gain an understanding of the development and application of major social science theoretical models relevant to macro practice and with the empirical evidence that supports these theories.
SSW 6446. Comparative Social Work Practice Models
This course 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. Course content will include a conceptual history of macro practice within social work, including the unique role of macro practice methods in carrying out the mission of the social work profession. Attention is given to how different social, economic, and political theories have influenced macro practice. Particular emphasis is placed on the impact of macro practice on historically marginalized and oppressed groups and in addressing social problems.
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.