Degree Requirements

Basic Requirements

A minimum of 20 credit units (CUs) are required by the University for the PhD degree. Of this number, a minimum of four (4) CUs of pre-program credits will be granted to applicants with an appropriate master’s degree in social work or a related profession or allied discipline.

Students not possessing the MSW degree, but with a comparable master’s level professional degree or a master’s degree in a related social or behavioral science discipline, may choose to complete the MSW while completing the PhD.

Students must pass written preliminary examinations in research methods and statistics, social welfare history and policy, and social theory after completing the first six (6) required core courses (typically at the end of the first year). If the exam is not offered in a given year (e.g., when the cohort is small), it will be offered the following year with the subsequent incoming class. Failing these exams will automatically expel students from the program. There will be a chance for one make-up exam before such expulsions are final.

All required and elective coursework must be completed before a student defends his or her dissertation proposal. Successful defense of the dissertation proposal (also known as the candidacy exam) admits the student to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

All students in the program are responsible for the successful completion of the “core” and the “advanced” components (as listed below) of the curriculum in Social Welfare. In addition, students are expected to conduct research (e.g., participate in research collaborations with faculty) throughout their time in the program.

Core Component (8 CUs)

The core curriculum consists of:

  • One course in the history and philosophy of social welfare (SW 803);
  • Two courses in research methods (SW 852 and SW 855);
  • Two courses in advanced statistics (for example, SOC 535 and SOC 536);
  • One course in the economics of social welfare (SW 968);
  • One course in advanced social theory (SW 811); and
  • One course in policy analysis (SW 861).

Advanced Component (8 CUs)

The advanced curriculum consists of:

  • An advanced research methods elective course (in addition to SWRK 852 and SWRK 855). (Students are encouraged to take more than one such course);
  • One course in behavioral theory (PUBH 504);
  • A half-credit proseminar (SWRK 901) which is taken every semester until the student successfully defends his/her dissertation proposal; and
  • A minimum of five (5) elective courses.

At least four (4) of the elective courses in the advanced curriculum must be taken in departments and units of the University other than the School of Social Policy & Practice. Students are encouraged to use electives to develop content and methodological expertise in their area of research. These courses must relate to the substantive content that students select for their individualized program of study, and must be listed by the University as at or above the 500 level. In some cases, students are allowed to take graduate-level courses at other universities. The student’s advisor will guide the student in the selection of elective courses.

Time Limitations

Full-time students are admitted to candidacy upon successful defense of their dissertation proposal, commonly during the fourth academic year of study. Students accepted on a part-time basis typically are admitted to candidacy by the end of the fifth academic year (that is, five years after entering the program).

Five years is the maximum time allowed for a student to advance to candidacy. If a student has not advanced to candidacy within five years of matriculation, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.

Beginning in the 2009-2010 academic year, the University allows up to 10 years for students to complete the PhD; the maximum allowable time for completing the PhD is 10 years after matriculation. Students who have not completed all requirements (including the dissertation) for the PhD within 10 years may not be current with knowledge and research in the field. Students who exceed 10 years of study may petition the graduate group to return as a student for a maximum of 1 year in order to achieve recertification and defend the dissertation. Recertification criteria will be designated by the Graduate Group in Social Welfare and must be approved by the University’s Graduate Council of the Faculties.

The time limits described above apply to full- and part-time students.

Time Extensions

Students may apply to the Director of the doctoral program, through their academic advisor or their dissertation committee chairperson, for an extension of time to complete the program or of any part of the program. In considering applications for an extension, the Director will give consideration only to written requests received from the student with an accompanying recommendation from the student’s advisor or dissertation committee chair. Such requests should set forth: (1) the circumstances that have prevented completion of program requirements within the prescribed time limits; and (2) a realistic plan for the completion of all remaining requirements and any additional work that may be required.

Beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year, such an extension is limited to one (1) calendar year. In granting an extension, the Director of the Doctoral Program may prescribe additional required work to ensure that the student’s educational program is consistent with the content and level required of candidates for the PhD degree.