Social Welfare Program Leading to the Doctor of Philosophy

The program of doctoral studies prepares students primarily for careers in teaching and research. It educates students in the theory and practice of social welfare. Graduates of the program gain advanced skills in research methods and the ability to analyze social policy and develop practice theory. The program requires 36 credits of study beyond a master's degree. The doctoral program offers students the opportunity to study with an outstanding faculty who are ranked as one of the most productive faculties in social work in the U.S.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to meeting the general University requirements students should have a master's degree from either a school of social work or a closely related discipline or profession. At least two year of professional experience is advisable but not required.

Program of Study and Research (36 credits minimum beyond a master's degree)

1. Doctoral Proseminar Courses - select all (12 credits):

  • Ssw 823 Social Welfare Practice Theory (3)
  • Ssw 826 Social Welfare Policy (3)
  • Ssw 862 Social Welfare Research (3)
  • Ssw 863 Applications of Advanced Methods in Social Welfare Research (3)


2. Statistics Courses - select all (6 credits):


  • Ssw 679 Statistics and Data Analysis I with Lab (3)
  • Ssw 687 Statistics and Data Analysis II with Lab (3)
3. One advanced research course (a third research course) approved by the student’s advisor (3 credits). This third research course must be on a specific research topic or methodology that is not covered or not covered in depth in Ssw 862, Social Welfare Research, and Ssw 863, Applications of Advanced Methods in Social Welfare Research.


4. One additional course in data analysis beyond the two-semester statistics requirement which may be met by taking an advanced data analysis course offered by other departments or the School of Social Welfare (3 credits). This third data analysis course must be in advanced data analysis covering topics not covered in the required statistics course sequence or covering those topics in greater depth. Examples of appropriate courses include those on regression, structural equation modeling, and non-parametric statistics as well as those addressing data analysis techniques for qualitative methods such as narrative analysis, ethnography, case studies, and focus groups. This course must be approved by the student’s advisor.

5. Core Courses - select all (9 credits):


  • Ssw 831 Social Work Teaching and Pedagogy (3)
  • Ssw 865 Qualitative Social Work Research (3)
  • Ssw 866 Preparation for Scholarly Writing in Social Work (3)


6. Elective Course - 3 credits


A dissertation based on independent research is required. The dissertation should constitute a significant piece of work which makes a contribution to the theory or practice of social welfare.

Language or Computer Proficiency

Each student is required to show research proficiency in one of two ways. The first option a student may choose is to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. This may be demonstrated by successfully completing one of the University's standardized language proficiency examinations. The second option for fulfilling this requirement is to demonstrate proficiency in the use of a widely distributed and utilized social science statistical software package; e.g., SPSS or BMDP, as measured by satisfactorily completing an approved computer course or passing a performance or oral examination on computer skills.

Doctoral Comprehensive Essay
The Doctoral Comprehensive Essay is intended to measure the student’s mastery of the following subjects: 1) Social Policy; 2) Research; and 3) Social Work Practice (micro and/or macro). These three subject areas are defined generally by the content of the required proseminars. The Doctoral Comprehensive Essay also provides a vehicle to examine the student’s mastery of a specialized subject matter. It, therefore, is a demonstration of the student’s knowledge and the ability for scholarly work and proceeding in the program. The Doctoral Comprehensive Essay also serves to further the student’s development of a dissertation topic.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to candidacy requires that, in addition to the general University requirements, students have met the following requirements:

  • Satisfactory record in course-work;
  • Satisfactory completion of the Language or Computer Proficiency requirement;
  • Satisfactory completion of the Doctoral Comprehensive Essay

Once admitted to candidacy, students need to take only 1 dissertation credit per semester to maintain continuous registration. This credit, Ssw 899, entitles a student to the status of a full-time student and loan deferment. It is not mandatory that you enroll in Ssw 899 if you are in candidacy (i.e., you are welcome to take other relevant courses [the minimum requirement is 3 credits]). However, you will not be considered a full-time student unless you are taking Ssw 899.