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University of Pittsburgh    
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Dec 05, 2023
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Doctorate in Social Work Program

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We are committed to training the next generation of scholars in social work, whose research will inform policy and practice addressing society’s most pressing problems. 

Doctoral education in Social Work prepares students for leadership roles in social work research, social work education, social policy, planning, and administration. We provide students with advanced academic training that will allow them to contribute to the knowledge base of our profession. 

Our faculty includes nationally recognized leaders in every area of social work practice and research, and we take a hands-on, supportive approach to doctoral education. 

The doctoral program is open to applicants who have demonstrated intellectual capacity, critical thinking skills, and potential for research and scholarship.

Why Pitt?

  • Nationally recognized leaders in every area of social work practice and research
  • Supportive, hands-on approach to doctoral education
  • Opportunities to collaborate through three world-class centers that address race and social problems, behavioral health practice in community settings, and child welfare
  • Four years of funding and health insurance

The University of Pittsburgh’s social work doctoral program is among the oldest and most-respected in the United States. Our full time program is highly competitive, and we accept 6-8 students each year. Students are fully funded with tuition and stipend support for four years of study. Tuition support includes health insurance, and our wonderful Social Work Library is part of Pitt’s world-class University Library System.

The doctoral program is open to applicants who have demonstrated intellectual capacity, critical thinking skills, and potential for research and scholarship.

Please visit our PhD Admissions webpage for admissions-related information.

In addition to the description of the PhD in Social Work given below, doctoral students should consult the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Degrees in the General Academic Regulations section of this document.

Admission to Doctoral Program

Persons seeking admission to the PhD Program must demonstrate the potential for doctoral studies. All applicants to the Doctoral Program in Social Work must provide the following:

  • Completion of the PhD Application.
  • Official copies of all official undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
  • GREs taken within the last five years.(Use code 2927).
  • A general statement of the applicant’s academic and professional experience, including future career goals. This statement should relate past and current experience to the applicant’s future educational and career objectives.
  • A short analysis of a social policy issue.
  • Three letters of reference from professors and persons who have known the applicant in a professional capacity. Do not include personal references.
  • $50 application fee. 

Apply to the School of Social Work PhD Program

Application components should be sent to:

University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
Office of Admissions
2101 Cathedral of Learning
4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


The doctoral program is strongly committed to a policy of equal educational opportunity for people of all races, creeds and ethnic origins.

Contact Information

Ms. Jessalynn Oliver
Office of Admissions
School of Social Work
Room 2101 Cathedral of Learning

Admission to the program is for the fall term only and the deadline for the application is December 15. To apply to the program, please access our online application. Log into your online application frequently to monitor your progress.

Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

In addition, the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Social Work is one of a few schools to offer doctoral students the option to simultaneously obtain a certificate in Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and a PhD in social work.

This certificate is based on a strong interdisciplinary program focusing on new scholarship concerning women and gender. The University of Pittsburgh Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program provides opportunities for students to explore the historical development, cultural variations, and changing representations of gender and sexuality as they organize identities, interactions, and institutions and intersect in complex ways with sex, race, class, ethnicity, ability, age, religion, and nation.

Program Transfer Credits

Students who have earned doctoral-level credits at the University of Pittsburgh or at another accredited institution within seven years preceding entry to the doctoral program may be eligible for advanced standing. Advanced standing consists of awarding academic credit toward the degree for post-master’s work completed when such work is evaluated as entirely comparable. Official transcripts certifying graduate course work completed in a degree-granting graduate program should be submitted at the time of application. The maximum number of credits that can be transferred and accepted for advanced standing is 12.

See Allowable Credits in the General Academic Regulations section of this bulletin for more details on requirements for transfer credits.

Financial Support for Doctoral Students

Doctoral students are supported in years 1 and 2 by research-based graduate student assistantships (GSAs) and in years 3 and 4 by teaching assistantships (TAs). Exceptional students with post-master’s teaching experience and who have defended their overviews may apply for our teaching fellowships (TFs). Both GSAs and TA/TFs provide tuition remission and stipends for the fall, spring and summer terms. There is a 20-hour-per-week work requirement for both GSR and TA appointments.

Students receive GSA or TA support for four years as long as they are making satisfactory progress toward their doctoral degrees. If a fifth year is required, it is usually supported by adjunct teaching. Students are also encouraged to apply for pre-doctoral research traineeships and other awards.

In addition to the above, we offer some support for conference travel after the first year.

Doctoral Curriculum Objectives

The program curriculum strongly emphasizes social problem areas, as well as coordinating themes in theory, research methodology, and social policy courses. The overall goal is to integrate the acquisition of basic advanced knowledge, methods of empirical testing, and application to real-world situations. Course materials draw heavily on several priority areas of social work concern, including aging, mental health, income maintenance, child welfare, women’s issues, child and family policy, and health services, and social justice. diversity issues.

By the time students have completed the program, they should have acquired the following:

  1. Knowledge of relevant social science theory
  2. Advanced skills in research methodology and statistics
  3. Advanced knowledge of social welfare policy (historical and contemporary) and policy analysis
  4. Knowledge of relevant fields of practice, theoretical and policy perspectives, and research findings
  5. Exposure to an interdisciplinary frame of reference through mechanisms provided internally by the doctoral program and externally through access to other disciplines and professions in the wider University

Although entering students are not required to have completed course work or other experience relevant to computer literacy, possessing basic computer skills will be an asset to students beginning the program.



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