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University of Pittsburgh    
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
    
 
  Apr 15, 2021
 
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Social Work, PhD


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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.

Doctoral Requirements


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.

Curriculum

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

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.

Required (Core) Courses


Elective Courses (21 credits)


In addition to the above core course requirements, the student selects seven elective courses to pursue more specialized interests. All electives must be at least 2 credit graduate level courses with a credit total = 21 credits. Elective options available in the program, including the Joint Public Health Master’s/Social Work PhD option and the graduate certificate in women studies offer particular advantages but tend to restrict the number of electives open to students. Although some doctoral elective courses are offered within Social Work, students are encouraged to take relevant course work in other schools and departments of the University. Many social welfare-related fields are open: sociology, economics, women’s studies, political science, law, urban affairs, public health, and others. The student can choose his or her courses from all graduate programs in the University. The students may take no more than two MSW courses for elective credit. All electives must be approved by the student’s advisor as contributing to the student’s area of specialization.

Interdisciplinary Components of Doctoral Curriculum


In addition to the core doctoral courses, the student has seven elective course selections to pursue more specialized interests. Certain options available in the program, especially the Joint Public Health Master’s/Social Work PhD option and the graduate certificate in women’s studies, offer particular advantages but tend to restrict the number of electives open to students. Students are encouraged to take graduate-level course work in other schools and departments of the University insofar as this is feasible within their program requirements. Many social welfare-related fields are open: sociology, economics, women’s studies, social psychology, political science, law, urban affairs, public health, and others. The student can choose his or her courses from all graduate programs in the University. The student may take no more than two MSW courses as electives.

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