PhD Degree Requirements
The PhD 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.
During the first two academic years in the program, full-time students are primarily involved in taking the required courses in the four essential areas of study: social welfare, social science theory, research methods, and social policy. Students take courses in the fall and spring terms of their first and second years; summer courses are necessary if a student is enrolled in one of our joint degree programs or desires a nine-credit schedule for the fall and spring terms.
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.
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.
The doctoral dissertation involves:
- Dissertation Research: begins after passing the comprehensive examination
- Defense of a Dissertation Overview: occurs after a committee review of the dissertation overview and includes an introduction to the problem, a literature review, and a detailed methodology (admission to PhD candidacy)
- Final Dissertation Defense: occurs at least one year following admission to candidacy
Grades in Course Work
It is required that students will maintain an average grade point average of 3.00 or better in all course work. If a student receives a grade lower than B- in a required course, the course will have to be repeated. Whether the courses are required or elected, more than one grade of C+ or lower will be the basis for a formal Academic Review.
Program Flexibility and Individualization
An individual student’s program should reflect the student’s developing professional expertise, career goals, and personal interest. This program, therefore, maintains as much flexibility and individualization as possible.
This individualization is built upon the core curriculum through planning for 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 students’ area of specialization. This core curriculum is supplemented by six elective courses that allow students to obtain more depth in their specialization areas. Faculty advisors work closely with students in planning their course work and progress through the doctoral program.
A minimum of three years of full-time study is required for doctoral program completion. The curriculum is distributed between a nine-course core curriculum and elective courses followed by the comprehensive examination and doctoral dissertation.
Core Doctoral Curriculum
During the first two academic years in the program, students are primarily involved in taking the required courses in the four essential areas of study: social welfare, social science theory, research methods and statistics, and social policy. These core courses are provided by the doctoral program. A brief description of each area of study follows with a listing of credits awarded and terms offered. All 1st year students are required to take the non-credit Doctoral Seminar. More information on each doctoral course is available in the Student Handbook.