Graduate Bulletin

Spring 2018

The Ph.D. Program in Social Welfare

The primary purpose of the Ph.D. program is to produce scholars who can use systematic methods to develop through research, and disseminate through teaching and writing, knowledge concerning social welfare problems and policies.

Drawing upon the social, behavioral and health sciences as well as social work knowledge and experience, the graduates of this program will have the skills to expand the base of tested knowledge that can guide the profession of social work in its efforts to address major social problems.

A second purpose is to develop leaders and educators who can effectively contribute to contemporary social work practice as defined in this school’s mission statement, which can be found at:

The core of this program is education for scholarly research leading to careers as teachers, researchers, and policy analysts with a focus on the content areas of health, mental health, and substance abuse. The strength of such a program lies in its location within the Health Sciences Center. This is a natural setting in which to bring together the basic sciences and theoretical disciplines in applied policy/program analysis and thereby contribute to research in the social dimensions of health and mental health.

Program Structure and Content
The structure of this program consists of 12 required classroom courses (36 credits) as follows:

Statistics I and II

Research Methods I and II

Qualitative Research

Social Welfare Policy Analysis I and II

Social Welfare Administration

Knowledge Building in Social Work: The Philosophy of Applied Social Research

Social Science Theory for Social Welfare

Seminar and Teaching Practicum in Social Work Education

Dissertation Seminar I and II

Also required are three electives (9 credits), a research practicum of 10 hours per week for two semesters under mentorship (6 credits), a comprehensive exam and the production and defense of a scholarly dissertation. Fifty four credits are required for graduation. In the first three years, students take three courses each semester. The full-time program is designed to be completed in a minimum of four years.

Once all coursework and the comprehensive exam have been completed successfully, students select a preliminary dissertation chair and committee and develop an approved dissertation proposal. The student is then advanced to candidacy and begins dissertation research. The fourth year is spent on completion of the dissertation and defense.

The Part-Time Option
Students who are approved for the part-time option take a minimum of six credits each semester until the 54 credit sequence has been completed. However, in order to meet residence requirements, they must take nine credits in each of two consecutive semesters during the program. Part-time students take their comprehensive exam at the end of the semester when 36 credits of required course work are completed (usually the second semester of the third year). Once all coursework and the comprehensive exam are completed successfully, part-time students select a dissertation chair and committee. In the fourth year, they develop an approved dissertation proposal. They are then advanced to candidacy. Dissertation research begins in the fifth year.