PhD Program Requirements

Admission Requirements

The program is open to students who have obtained a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and have demonstrated leadership and scholarly potential. A limited number of persons with advanced degrees in other human service professions or in related social sciences are also considered for admission. Persons admitted without the MSW degree are required to complete all requirements for the master’s degree before beginning doctoral courses.

The Apply to the PhD Program page outlines admission and other program requirements. An admissions committee of social work faculty oversees the admissions process, reviews applications, and recommends students for admission to the program. A minimum average of 3.00 GPA (A=4.00) for the final 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study and for all graduate work is required for consideration. Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination are also required. Applicants are expected to have had coursework in both basic social research and statistical methods within the seven years prior to application.

Program Requirements

The total number of credits required for graduation is 96. Students receive 32 hours of credit toward that total for the MSW and, thereafter, at least 64 additional credits are required for graduation. These additional credits include required courses within Jane Addams College, successful completion of a qualifying examination, required coursework outside the college, elective coursework and dissertation credits.

Required coursework within Jane Addams College includes:
SocW 508: Research Methods in Social Work I – 3 credit hours
SocW 509: Research Methods in Social Work II – 3 credit hours
SocW 566: Doctoral Independent Study – 1-5 credit hours
SocW 578: Qualitative Research Methods – 3 credit hours
SocW 590: Analysis of Social Work Treatment Models – 3 credit hours
SocW 591: Social Welfare Policy Analysis and Development – 3 credit hours
SocW 593: Social Statistics & Data Analysis – 3 credit hours
SocW 594: Dissertation Proseminar in Social Work – 3 credit hours
SocW 595: Seminar in Social Work Education – 3 credit hours
SocW 596: Proseminar on Selected Topics and Issues in Social Work – 2-4 credit hours
SocW 597: Applied Linear & Generalized Linear Regression Models – 3 credit hours
SocW 599: PhD Thesis Research – 0-16 credit hours

Required elective coursework:
Students must complete courses totaling at least 18 hours of graduate level credit. At least 3 must be in research methods and at least 9 must be in a single substantive area that is supportive of planned dissertation work. A statement describing the identified focus of study, signed by the adviser, must be placed in the student’s file prior to the proposal hearing.

Qualifying Examination:
Students demonstrate basic knowledge and competence to pursue their dissertation research by successfully passing qualifying examinations. All students take a research examination and select a second examination in either social policy or social work practice. The examinations are administered as a take-home format during the summer. Students take the examinations once they have completed SocW 508, 509, 578, 590, 591, 593, and 597. Students may not register for SocW 594 if they have not passed the qualifying examinations. More information about the examinations is provided in the Doctoral Student Handbook.

Dissertation research hours:
Students who are working on their proposals or dissertations will enroll in SocW 599 (dissertation research). Students must register for at least 22 hours of dissertation research credit prior to graduation. Following completion of all credit requirements and the proposal hearing, students may petition to register for zero hours through the doctoral office. The petition, which must also be approved by the graduate college, must be submitted prior to the beginning of the term in which zero hours registration is desired

Doctoral Program Typical Timeline

The doctoral program usually involves a minimum of three years of study. The major emphasis in each year is summarized below and presented in detail in the sections that follow:

Year 1

  • Complete required social work courses except SocW 594 Dissertation Proseminar (full-time students)
  • Complete Qualifying Examinations in summer before 2nd year coursework (full-time students)
  • Complete 12 credit hours of required social work courses (part-time students)

Year 2

  • Complete coursework (full-time students)
  • Complete 12 credit hours of coursework (part-time students)
  • Complete Qualifying Examinations in summer before 3rd year coursework (part-time students)

Year 3-4

  • Proposal hearing and dissertation research (full-time students)
  • Complete coursework and proposal hearing (part-time students)

Year 5-6

  • Completion of research and dissertation defense (all students)

Year 7 (if necessary)

  • Completion of research and dissertation defense (all students)

More information is available on the Current PhD Students page.

Apply to the PhD Program