Ph.D. Curriculum

The requirements to obtain a Ph.D. in Social Welfare include a minimum of 51 credits of coursework, completion of a preliminary examination, and completion of a dissertation. Students entering the Ph.D. program with an MSW typically follow a standard plan of study, which is shown below at-a-glance.


For students entering without an MSW, we offer the choice of obtaining the MSW while completing the Ph.D., through our Joint MSW/Ph.D. Option, OR following the Ph.D.-only option, for those who do not wish to obtain the MSW. Both of these choices have additional course requirements.


Doctoral Program At-A-Glance

For Students Entering with an MSW


Year 1

Fall Semester Credits Spring semester Credits
SW 949 Qualitative Methods 3 SW 948 Quantitative Methods 3
SW 950 Social Policy Seminar 3 SW 951 Applied Theory Seminar 3
SW 946 Faculty Research Seminar 1 SW 947 Student Research Seminar I 1
Stats I

SW 952 Application of Research Methods3
    Stats II 3
Total Credits 10 Total Credits 13


Year 2

Fall Semester Credits Spring semester Credits
SW 950 or SW 951 3 SW 952 Research Methods 3
Social Science Theory 3 Substantive Course Elective 3
SW 949 Qualitative Methods or Elective3
Statistics/Methods Elective
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective 3 SW 947 Student Research Seminar II
Total Credits 12 Total Credits 10


Years 3 & 4 - Preparation for preliminary examination and dissertation research. It is important to be aware that this is a suggested sequence; course offerings may vary from year to year.


Time In Program

Coursework typically spans four semesters of full-time study for students who have an MSW. The curriculum emphasizes substantive, theoretical, methodological, and statistical coursework. A variety of social welfare seminars are offered within the department. Students from several departments are invited to join these seminars creating a rich interdisciplinary training environment.


The third and fourth year of the program are dedicated to the preparation and completion of the preliminary examination and dissertation research.


The preliminary examination consists of both a written and oral component. After passing the preliminary exam, the student is formally admitted to Ph.D. candidacy. The student then writes a dissertation under the supervision of his or her faculty advisor and dissertation committee.


The amount of time to complete the program is increased for those students entering without an MSW. These students have two options:


  • The Joint MSW/Ph.D. Option, for students who wish to obtain an MSW.
  • The Ph.D. only route, for students who do not want to obtain the MSW. These students are required to take two MSW generalist courses, and complete a two credit 8-week internship in a field area. View the suggested Plan of Study for this option.


Course Descriptions

View descriptions of the required Ph.D. courses offered by the School of Social Work. Syllabi are also available for the current and past terms.


Last edited by karnaky on Monday, October 17, 2016 | Printer Friendly Version