2016 PhD commencement graduates, left to right, include Ian Jantz, Linda Campos-Moreira, Melinda Baldwin, Krista Thomas, Qiana Cryer, Anjali Fulambarker, and Quenette Walton
JACSW faculty members attend the 2016 PhD alumni and Doctoral student reception.

PhD Program in Social Work

The mission of the Jane Addams College of Social Work is to educate professional social workers, develop knowledge, and provide leadership in the development and implementation of policies and services on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, racial and ethnic minorities, and other at-risk urban populations. Consistent with this mission and Jane Addams’ Hull House tradition, the PhD Program in Social Work attempts to respond to the urgent demand for more effective human services, the need for changes in social policy and the growth in social work education at all levels.

The program is designed to support the development of scholars of social and economic justice, providing students with the knowledge and skills for advancing social work treatment theory and research and for development and direction of social welfare programs. It provides for two broad research tracks: social planning, policy and administration, and social work practice scholarship within which a more specialized area of individualized study is selected.

The first cohort of students enrolled in 1973 and more than 120 persons have been awarded doctoral degrees since then. Most graduates of the program either teach in colleges and universities or hold positions as agency executives. Smaller numbers are working in research positions, with a very few in direct practice. Students are prepared for leadership in one or more of the following careers:

• Teaching in colleges or universities
• Conducting and directing research
• Administrating large-scale social welfare programs
• Analyzing and advising on social policy

Program Options

Full-time and Part-time Study

A full-time student enrolls for a minimum of 12 semester hours per term. However, an optimal full-time load is considered to be 14 hours per term, in order to complete the program within 3 years.

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. Part-time students will be expected to start their programs of study with the core courses especially designed for the Doctoral Program in Social Work. There are no special course offerings in the College of Social Work for PhD students in the summer session.

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Additional Information for Prospective Students


For further information on the PhD program, contact us by emailor call:

Chang-ming Hsieh, Director of PhD in Social Work Program 
Jane Addams College of Social Work (MC 309) 
University of Illinois at Chicago 
1040 West Harrison Street 
Chicago, Illinois 60607-7134
Email: jcswphd@uic.edu
Phone: (312) 996-4928
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Additional Information for Current Students


More information for current students is available here.

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Testimonials


Current Student Testimonials

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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.

Apply to the PhD Program 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: Models of Social Work Scholarship & Knowledge Development I – 3 credit hours
SocW 509: Models of Social Work Scholarship & Knowledge Development II – 3 credit hours
SocW 578: Qualtiative Methods in Social Work Research – 3 credit hours
SocW 590: Analysis of Social Work Practice Approaches – 3 credit hours
SocW 591: Social Welfare Policy Analysis and Development – 3 credit hours
SocW 593: Quantitative Methods in Social Work Research (or equivalent) – 3 credit hours
SocW 594: Dissertation Proseminar in Social Work – 3 credit hours
SocW 597 Proseminar in Advanced Statistics – 3 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, 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.

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.

Cost of Attending

Graduate Tuition and Fees 

The PhD program assesses the University established tuition and fees for full-time study (12 or more credit hours) and part-time study (less than 12 credit hours)

Click on the following link to see the tuition and fees per semester:

UIC Graduate tuition and fees

Funding your Education

Embarking on the journey towards a doctoral degree is obviously a major decision and has associated costs.  There are a number of ways to fund your education including the following:

  1. University-based Fellowships.  These are the most competitive and most generous awards that include four years of funding of approximately $22,000 per year plus a tuition waiver.  To be eligible for consideration for one of these awards PhD Program applications must be submitted by December 15.
  2. JACSW-based Research Assistantships (RA).  These awards come from the College of Social Work and provide a stipend as well as a tuition waiver.  The amount of the stipend depends on the extent of the RA appointment (25% time or 50% time).  The RA is assigned to assist a faculty member with his/her research for either 10 or 20 hours per week depending on the size of the appointment (25% = 10 hours; 50% = 20 hours).  These students are hired and funded by the College, but then assigned to work with a faculty member.
  3. Faculty-grant-based Research Assistantships.  The terms of these appointment are identical to what is described above but the source of the funding is the faculty member’s research grant and the student is hired and supervised by the faculty member with the grant.
  4. Teaching Assistantships:  These assistantships are available to students who have passed the Qualifying Examinations. Subject to the needs of the MSW program, doctoral students are eligible to be considered to teach in the program. These opportunities are very popular with doctoral students because it enables them to add teaching experience to their academic portfolio–an important asset when on the job market.
  5. Tuition Waivers:  The Graduate College has some full- and part-time tuition waivers for PhD students.  These cover most of the cost of tuition (some fees are still the responsibility of the student) and carry no service requirement of the student. These waivers are assigned by the Director of the PhD Program.
  6. External funding:  Some PhD students secure external funding from various foundations and/or organizations.  Some students who are working may receive financial support from their employer.  These sources vary widely.

More information about funding opportunities for graduate students is available on the UIC Graduate College website.

General information about student financial aid including how to apply for student loans can be found at the UIC Student Financial Aid Office.

+ How to Apply

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.

Apply to the PhD Program 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

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: Models of Social Work Scholarship & Knowledge Development I – 3 credit hours
SocW 509: Models of Social Work Scholarship & Knowledge Development II – 3 credit hours
SocW 578: Qualtiative Methods in Social Work Research – 3 credit hours
SocW 590: Analysis of Social Work Practice Approaches – 3 credit hours
SocW 591: Social Welfare Policy Analysis and Development – 3 credit hours
SocW 593: Quantitative Methods in Social Work Research (or equivalent) – 3 credit hours
SocW 594: Dissertation Proseminar in Social Work – 3 credit hours
SocW 597 Proseminar in Advanced Statistics – 3 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, 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.

+ Plan of Study

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.

+ Cost of Attending

Cost of Attending

Graduate Tuition and Fees 

The PhD program assesses the University established tuition and fees for full-time study (12 or more credit hours) and part-time study (less than 12 credit hours)

Click on the following link to see the tuition and fees per semester:

UIC Graduate tuition and fees

+ Funding your Education

Funding your Education

Embarking on the journey towards a doctoral degree is obviously a major decision and has associated costs.  There are a number of ways to fund your education including the following:

  1. University-based Fellowships.  These are the most competitive and most generous awards that include four years of funding of approximately $22,000 per year plus a tuition waiver.  To be eligible for consideration for one of these awards PhD Program applications must be submitted by December 15.
  2. JACSW-based Research Assistantships (RA).  These awards come from the College of Social Work and provide a stipend as well as a tuition waiver.  The amount of the stipend depends on the extent of the RA appointment (25% time or 50% time).  The RA is assigned to assist a faculty member with his/her research for either 10 or 20 hours per week depending on the size of the appointment (25% = 10 hours; 50% = 20 hours).  These students are hired and funded by the College, but then assigned to work with a faculty member.
  3. Faculty-grant-based Research Assistantships.  The terms of these appointment are identical to what is described above but the source of the funding is the faculty member’s research grant and the student is hired and supervised by the faculty member with the grant.
  4. Teaching Assistantships:  These assistantships are available to students who have passed the Qualifying Examinations. Subject to the needs of the MSW program, doctoral students are eligible to be considered to teach in the program. These opportunities are very popular with doctoral students because it enables them to add teaching experience to their academic portfolio–an important asset when on the job market.
  5. Tuition Waivers:  The Graduate College has some full- and part-time tuition waivers for PhD students.  These cover most of the cost of tuition (some fees are still the responsibility of the student) and carry no service requirement of the student. These waivers are assigned by the Director of the PhD Program.
  6. External funding:  Some PhD students secure external funding from various foundations and/or organizations.  Some students who are working may receive financial support from their employer.  These sources vary widely.

More information about funding opportunities for graduate students is available on the UIC Graduate College website.

General information about student financial aid including how to apply for student loans can be found at the UIC Student Financial Aid Office.

Application Timeline

  • September 1

    UIC Online Graduate Application for the PhD program is available

  • December 15

    PhD Program Preferred/Early Decision Application Deadline

  • February 15

    PhD Program Application Final Deadline

Upcoming Events

Why Choose Jane Addams College of Social Work?

Is the PhD Program for you?

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