Social Work PhD Program Details

 Degree Requirements

    ❱   Required coursework
    ❱   Qualifying or comprehensive examination
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Dissertation 
    ❱   Final oral examination/Dissertation defense

Research Specializations   

    ❱   Family and Community
    ❱   Health and Mental Health
    ❱   International Development
    ❱   Approved specialty area designed by student

Research Areas & Interests 

Faculty Research Areas


  • Aging
  • Diversity/cultural competence
  • Family and child welfare
  • Children and youth development
  • Healthcare and health equity
  • Housing and community development
  • International/global social work
  • Mental health
  • Organizational management
  • Research design
  • Social policy

Faculty Research Interests

A sampling of research interests 

  • Children and youth with disabilities
  • Children of immigrant families and social adjustment
  • Impact of child maltreatment on pregnancy outcomes
  • Adolescents’ attitudes and beliefs on trauma and implications for mental health service use
  • Juvenile justice system reform
  • Strengths-based integrative family treatment for at-risk youth
  • School-family-community partnerships
  • Understanding correlates of stigma and coping strategies among women living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Anti-poverty policies and programs
  • Social determinants of health and health equity
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Risk and resilience factors associated with secondary traumatic stress among social workers in and out of military settings
  • Co-cultural consensus building and advocacy
  • Intergenerational strategies on individual and community development
  • Examining e-health utilization among African Americans
  • The intersection of religion and mental well-being
  • The mental health of displaced populations
  • Culturally competent policy, practice, and research
  • Cultural and spiritual competence
  • Faith-based social services

Program of Study*


SWPH 603  Proseminar: The Individual

SWPH 407  History & Philosophy of Social Welfare

SWPH 500  Overview of Research Methodology

SWPH 604  Proseminar: Small Groups

SWPH 501  Quantitative Methodology

SWPH 605  Proseminar: Communities & Organizations

SWPH 503  Applied Methodology

SWPH 606  Proseminar: Social Work Education

SWPH 506  Research Design


A sampling of special interest courses

SWPS 217  Criminal Justice I

SWPS 218  Criminal Justice II

SWPS 219  Social Gerontology I 

SWPS 220  Social Gerontology II

SWPS 418  Family and Child Welfare Services I

SWPS 419  Family and Child Welfare Services II

SWPS 424  Social Work in Mental Health Settings I

SWPS 426  Social Work in Mental Health Settings II

SWPS 427  Social Work in Health Care Settings I

SWPS 428  Social Work in Health Care Settings II

SWPS 300  Social Work with Displaced Populations I 

SWPS 401  Social Work with Displaced Populations II


A sampling of elective courses

SWPH 378  Black Family Theory

SWPH 504  Family Theory and Research

SWPH 706  Social Policy and Mental Health

SWPH 708  Contemporary Mental Health Issues

SWPS 324  Program Development and Entrepreneurship

SWPS 313  Systems Analysis

SWDS 301  Women, Power, and Change

SWPS 305  Social Work Supervision

SWPS 315  Substance Use and Abuse

SWPS 328  Environmental Justice and Community Health

SWPS 330  Contemporary Issues in Domestic Violence 

SWPS 340  International Social Development 

SWDS 314  Group Therapy

SWPS 420  Social Work Services for Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families

SWDS 321  Psychopharmacology for Social Work Practice 

SWRS 308  Integrative Research Seminar: Human Behavior & the Social Environment

SWHB 310  Human Sexuality

SWHB 330  Race, Class, and Gender

SWPH 700  Independent Study I

SWPH 701  Independent Study II

SWPH 702 Independent Study III


SWPH 807 (1 CR)

SWPH 808 (2 CR)

Note: Only one dissertation course can be taken per semester.

*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying or comprehensive examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students may be eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards, which provide tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year. Additionally, graduate research or teaching assistantships may be available at the department level. Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information.