PhD Program Plan of Study

Stages of Study

Doctoral study is divided into three stages. The first stage generally covers work leading to the Master of Social Work. Persons admitted without the Master of Social Work must enroll full-time and complete all requirements for the Master of Social Work degree before beginning doctoral coursework.

Students who already hold the MSW are granted 32 credits toward the PhD and start at the second stage of doctoral work. Requirements include 24 credits of social work doctoral coursework and 18 hours of elective coursework. Successful passing of the written qualifying examinations and the approval of a dissertation proposal complete this stage.

The third stage of doctoral work involves the design, completion and final defense of the dissertation during which the student earns at least 22 SocW 599 Thesis Research credits. Completion of at least 96 total course credits is required for graduation.

Full-Time and Part-Time Study

A full-time student enrolls for a minimum of 12 semester hours per semester and completes coursework in two years. Summer registration is not required. The option of beginning the program on a part-time basis is available to holders of the Master of Social Work. Initially, a part-time student may take less than 12 hours of credit per term, usually 6 per term and completes coursework in three years. There are no special course offerings in the College of Social Work for PhD students in the summer session.

Selection of Courses

The program is interdisciplinary and has a strong research emphasis. Anthropology, economics, education, sociology, psychology, women’s studies, public health, urban planning, law, industrial and labor relations, political science and business management are among the areas that often are of particular interest to students pursuing advanced education in social work. Students may take courses at both campuses of the University of Illinois system-Chicago and Urbana-Champaign.

The PhD program also participates in the Chicago Metropolitan Exchange, a collaboration between Northwestern University, University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Jane Addams College of Social Work offers a number of required core doctoral courses. Beyond these courses, faculty advisers will help students to select specific courses inside and outside of the college in order to provide a unified plan of study based on the substantive interests and career goals of the students.

PhD course descriptions are on the Current PhD Students page.

Apply to the PhD Program