An individual student's program should reflect the student's developing professional expertise, career goals, and personal interests. This program, therefore, maintains as much flexibility and individualization as possible.

This individualization is built upon the core curriculum, elective course work and enrichment experiences, including teaching and research assistantships. The PhD program provides a set of structured and integrated core courses that can be applied to each student's area of specialization. This core curriculum is supplemented by a predetermined set of elective courses which allow students to obtain more depth in their specialization areas. Faculty advisers work closely with students in planning their course work and progress through the doctoral program.

A minimum of four years of full-time study is required for doctoral program completion. The curriculum is distributed between 35 non-elective core credits and 15 elective credits followed by the comprehensive examination and doctoral dissertation.


The doctoral program requires 10 core courses, one policy elective, plus a minimum of five electives, which may be 2-, 3- or 4-credit courses. During their first year, all students are required to take the Doctoral Seminar (0 credits). Students will spend two years meeting their course requirements. Full-time status is defined as nine or more credit hours per semester. Fifty (50) credit hours must be completed before students are permitted to take the comprehensive examination

Here's an approximate timetable of the general flow of full-time students through the program:


Courses are taken in the fall and spring terms during the student's first and second years; summer courses are needed if a student desires a nine-credit schedule for fall and spring terms and/or is enrolled in one of the joint degree programs (no more than 12 credits are recommended for the student's first semester in the program). Learn more about our curriculum.

Comprehensive Examination

Students take a comprehensive examination after completion of all required and elective courses. The Comprehensive examination is taken in the summer of the second year. For students in the MSW/PhD program, the comprehensive examination is taken in the summer of the 3rd year.

Doctoral Dissertation Procedures

The doctoral dissertation involves:

  • After passing the comprehensive examination, submission and approval of a brief dissertation plan is shared with potential dissertation members.
  • Defense of a dissertation overview: After the Dissertation Chairperson and committee reviews and approves of dissertation overview, composed of the chapters of the dissertation inclusive of an introduction to the problem, literature review, and research design and methods, students are admitted to candidacy
  • At least one year following admission to candidacy, and with approval of the chair, the final dissertation defense is held  

Ph.D. Courses


Research Methods (20 total credits)

SWRES 3020 (3credits) Research Methods 1
SWRES 3029 (3 credits) Inferential/Bivariate Statistics
SWRES 3021 (4 credits) Multivariate Statistics
SWRES 3022 (1 credit) Capstone Research Seminar I
SWRES 3023 (3 credits) Capstone Research Seminar II
SWRES 3066 (3 credits) Seminar in Social Work Education
Doctoral Seminar (0 Credits)

Theory (6 total credits)

SWGEN 3044 (3 credits) Social Science Theory I
SWGEN 3053 (3 credits) Social Science Theory II

Policy (6 total credits)

SWWEL3030 (3 credits) Social Welfare History
SWWEL 3037 (3 credits) Social Policy Evaluation


Outside of SW advanced methods course, “required elective” (3 credits)

Outside of SW advanced data analysis/statistics course, “required elective” (3 credits)

Inside or Outside of SW advanced Policy Course, “required elective”  (3 credits)


Electives (15 total credits)

SWRES 3045 (3 credits) Qualitative Research
SWRES 3024 (3 credits) Directed Study in Research
SWGEN 3025 (1-3 credits) Directed Study
Multicultural Groups in Context: A Research Perspective (3crs)
Child and Family Policy (meets 2nd level policy requirement for doctoral program) (3 credits)