PhD Program in Social Welfare

Program Overview

The doctoral program in social welfare strives to develop scholars, leaders, and social work educators who will advance knowledge about social work, social welfare policy, and intervention strategies from a behavioral and social science perspective to improve the quality of life of individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations. The program has a strong reputation of academic excellence.

Students have a wide selection of courses in world-renowned social and behavioral science departments such as sociology, economics, educational psychology, human development and family studies, the La Follette School of Public Affairs, psychology, women’s studies, population health sciences, and nursing.

The PhD program provides an interdisciplinary plan of study in basic and applied social research. In their programs doctoral students build and integrate knowledge in:

  1. a substantive or social problem area (e.g., child welfare, aging, developmental disabilities, end-of-life care, health, mental health, poverty);
  2. social science theory (e.g., theories of the life course, economic theory, psychopathology, organizational theory, stress process theories);
  3. research designs and statistical methodologies (e.g., program evaluation, policy analysis, longitudinal analysis).
Doctoral Minor

Doctoral students outside the school are invited to consider the minor in social welfare. The 9-credit minor requires three doctoral-level courses from the School of Social Work. One must be a Social Policy Seminar (SW950), one must be an Applied Theory Seminar (SW951), and the third can be a 3-credit social work doctoral course of the student's choosing (which could be another SW950 or SW951 seminar).

Why Choose a Social Welfare PhD at UW-Madison?

The UW-Madison School of Social Work is known for its: