Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in our Ph.D. program! The information on this web site will give you a detailed description of the program. My purpose here is to provide you with some answers to the questions most frequently asked by prospective applicants. If you have additional questions or if there is anything about the program you would like to discuss, please feel free to call me at work (518) 442-5349.

Nancy Claiborne,
Director, Doctoral Program


What will the Ph.D. enable me to do?
How "strong" is the program?
How long is the program?
What are your students like?
What about tuition and financial assistance?
How much of the program can be completed part-time?
How competitive are admissions?


l. What will the Ph.D. enable me to do?
The program is primarily designed to prepare students for careers in teaching and research in social welfare, social work, and related fields. Currently graduates of doctoral programs like ours are much in demand to fill faculty positions at schools and departments of social work. This favorable job market promises to continue for many years to come. Enhancing your skills or credentials as a direct service or clinical practitioner is not a major aim of the program. The Master's of Social Work (M.S.W.) is still the basic credential for such practitioners in social work. However, the doctoral program does provide opportunities for students to augment their knowledge of the theoretical and empirical foundations of practice and to increase their practice skills through internships in selected settings.

2. How "strong" is the program?
This question is usually posed less directly than the phrasing above suggests! Of course, we think it is among the best, but what evidence do we have? As a relatively young program (started in the mid-eighties) it has not had the chance to develop the kind of reputation enjoyed by some of the older programs in the country. However, one standard indicator of the strength of a school, especially in respect to doctoral education, is the publication record of its faculty. Recent studies have consistently ranked Albany among the top five schools in the country on measures of faculty productivity in research and scholarship.

3. How long is the program?
It can be completed within three years although most students will take longer because of their wish (or need) to remain employed while completing their academic requirements and the dissertation.

4. What are your students like?
The students you will get to know best will be those in your own class. About twelve are admitted each year (which is also roughly the size of the proseminar). We have a diverse student body. Some of our students come to our program with impressive records of professional accomplishment in practice and education in social work or related fields. Some are still completing their M.S.W.'s. Although most of our students are from New York and New England, we do have students from different parts of the country and from abroad.

5. What about tuition and financial assistance?
Doctoral students who enter our Joint MSW/PhD Program are limited to a total of four years of State-funded support. Doctoral students who enter our doctoral program with a master’s degree may be eligible to be appointed for a total of three years. If a student has been advanced to candidacy by the end of this funding eligibility and has been consistently funded by our department, s/he may also be eligible for an additional year of funding to support the writing of the dissertation, contingent upon the availability of University funding.

Note: A student must apply for an assistantship at the same time s/he applies for admission.

6. How competitive are admissions?
In recent years we have admitted somewhat less than half of those applying.