Faculty and students having a discussion outside of the UAlbany Downtown Campus.

Doctor of Philosophy in
Social Work

Program of Study


In the PhD Social Work program you can tailor courses and other requirements to your own research, policy, and practice interests. In required courses, you will gain knowledge of social welfare and practice theory and develop skills necessary for a successful academic or research-oriented career. Electives, independent studies, and optional internships in teaching, practice, and research, enable you to deepen your individual interests and areas of expertise.

You can complete the required 36-credit hours of coursework for the social welfare PhD in two years of full-time study, followed by a comprehensive essay and dissertation. You have up to eight years to complete all degree requirements. Many students remain employed while they complete their coursework and dissertation part-time.


Required Courses

  • Social Work Practice Theory
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Social Welfare Research I and II
  • Statistics and Data Analysis I and II
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Advanced Data Analysis
  • Advanced Methodology
  • Preparation for Scholarly Writing in Social Work
  • Social Work Teaching and Pedagogy
  • Independent Study or Elective

Additional Requirements

  • Foreign language or computer programming language proficiency, fulfilled by completing Statistics and Data Analysis I and II
  • Comprehensive essay
  • Written dissertation


If you enter the program without a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, you must take two master’s-level courses (Micro Practice in Social Work I; Social Welfare Policy and Services) before you take the doctoral level courses in social work practice theory and social welfare policy. The two MSW courses do not count toward PhD credit requirements.

Or you may be interested in completing the MSW degree through our combined MSW/PhD program.

If you enter the program with an MSW, you must take two graduate courses outside of the School of Social Welfare in subjects that support your academic interests.

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information, contact Eunju Lee at [email protected].

Graduate Student Funding

As a full-time student in the doctoral program, you may be eligible for a competitive graduate research assistantship that provides an $18,000 annual stipend and tuition waiver for three years. A fourth year of funding is possible if you have advanced to candidacy by the end of your third year.

Other sources of funding are available at the University to offset a portion of doctoral student expenses for full- and part-time students. These include the UAlbany Graduate Student Organization, UAlbany Benevolent Association, and Initiatives for Women.    

Several scholarships at the School of Social Welfare are open to doctoral students, along with a small grant program for students attending conferences.

A student studying on a laptop in the UAlbany azalea garden.



Three students studying in a Downtown Campus courtyard

Special Research Opportunities

As a PhD student at the School of Social Welfare at UAlbany, you have many opportunities to join research projects designed to have positive impact on people, service systems, and policies. You develop your skills alongside faculty members who are conducting nationally significant studies on the most pressing social issues of the 21st Century.

At UAlbany, you can be involved with interdisciplinary projects underway at numerous research centers in the School of Social Welfare and across the University, including:



"UAlbany’s PhD program in social welfare allowed me to pursue research projects in my areas of interest, engage in teaching, and better understand the values and challenges of social work education. It provided me with an atmosphere of learning in which I developed valuable relationships and broadened my practice, research, and teaching skills."

- Tricia Weldon, 2013 PhD in Social Welfare

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  • Students will analyze and compare practice theories and evidence in support of them at multiple levels of practice.
  • Students will display broad knowledge of the development of US social policy, analyze current and proposed policies, and evaluate alternative policies.
  • Students will apply critical thinking to compare perspectives from social work and other disciplines, including national and international contexts and perspectives.
  • Students will competently utilize research methods and statistics Students will read, synthesize, critique and write about research on a substantive topic
  • Students will conduct specialized research using application of theory, research, and data analysis methods
  • Prepare graduates to contribute to the field of social work/social welfare through knowledge-building, education or both


Admissions Requirements


Departmental Assistantship Consideration

Fall: January 31 at 11:59pm
Spring: Not Available
Summer: Not Available

No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

Fall: January 31 at 11:59pm
Spring: Not Available
Summer: Not Available

Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
    The personal statement should address three areas:  (1) educational background and professional experience; (2) substantive areas of interest for research, evaluation, and/or teaching; and (3) professional goals, including how a doctorate in social welfare supports achievement of these goals. This statement should be no more than 4 double-spaced typed pages with 1 inch margins and a font of 12.
  • CV/Resume

Note: GREs are not required.