Social Work (Ph.D.)

Social Work (Ph.D.) | Graduate

Earn your Ph.D. in Social Work from a top 16–ranked school of social work. We prepare students to transform systems and policies, drive structural change, and empower individuals, families, and communities to meet their needs and interact with resource systems while deepening scholarly inquiry about the experiences of underserved groups globally.

Ranked 16th in the nation by U.S. News, Howard’s Ph.D. program in Social Work is firmly rooted in a strengths-based perspective, global awareness, and social justice framework. Since its founding, the School of Social Work has been strengthening communities in Washington, D.C., through partnerships with agencies like the District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency, Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Central Union Mission, D.C. Public Schools, and our own Howard University Hospital. Our Ph.D. program provides a solid foundation in contemporary social work theory and community-engaged research design, deepening scholarly inquiry into the structural, sociocultural, historical, and behavioral factors that inform the individual, family, and community contexts of social issues. Our program aims to develop social work researchers, college and university faculty, policy and legislative analysts, practitioners, educators, and senior-level administrators highly skilled in designing and evaluating evidence-based policy, direct practice assessment, and interventions, while communicating their impacts. You'll benefit from a highly personalized learning environment and the close mentorship of faculty who are leading social work practitioners and scholars with research interests in child and family serving systems, positive youth development, trauma-informed care, social determinants of health, mental health, and anti-poverty policy. With Howard’s premier location at the center of policymaking in Washington, D.C., you'll have access to a network of top-ranked and nationally recognized policy think tanks, research institutes, non-profits, clinical settings, and child and family-serving agencies. 

Program Snapshot

      ❱  48 credit hours 

      ❱  Full-time

      ❱  On-campus format

      ❱  Degree: Ph.D.

Application Deadlines

Spring 2024 entry: 

      ❱  No spring entry

Fall 2024 entry: 

      ❱  Dec. 1, 2023 (early deadline)

      ❱  Jan. 15, 2024 (final deadline)

Applicants should submit their applications as early as possible for earlier consideration of departmental funding opportunities. Applicants have until the final deadline to apply. However, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the admissions cycle. 

Transfer credits accepted (reviewed by committee)


Dr. Sandra Crewe

Director of Graduate Studies (Interim) & Department Chair

Sharon Fletcher

Program Coordinator

Program Details

  • Degree Classification: Graduate
  • Related Degrees: Ph.D.

Admission Requirements

Application for Admission 

  • Online GradCAS application
  • Statement of purpose/ Statement of academic interest (3-5 pages double-spaced)
  • Critical writing sample (i.e., published paper, thesis, or research paper)
  • GRE scores not required
  • Official transcripts sent to GradCAS
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from an accredited university (at least a 3.0 GPA) or the international equivalent
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (2 years of post-MSW social work experience preferred)
  • Autobiographical statement (500-750 words)

GRE Required?

  • No

GRE Preferred Minimums

  • GRE Verbal Reasoning: N/A
  • GRE Quantitative Reasoning: N/A
  • GRE Analytical Writing: N/A

GPA Required Minimums

  • Overall GPA minimum: 3.0
  • Undergrad GPA minimum: 3.0

Reference Requirements

Evaluator type accepted:

  • Professor (Required)
  • Supervisor/Manager (Required)

Evaluator type not accepted:

  • Clergy
  • Friend
  • Family Member
  • Coworker
  • Other

Personal Statement Guidance

Statement of purpose/statement of academic interest should highlight why you wish to pursue a career in social work and address the following:

  • Your philosophy and your understanding of the social welfare/social work profession
  • Your personal, professional, and educational goals as well as your research interests 
  • Any life experience with social work research and practice (you may highlight interest in a specific group or population)
  • How will obtaining your Ph.D. in Social Work enhance you in your current position and/or future career or better prepare you to serve people as a professional social worker, researcher, or instructor?