During the first 2 years in the program students work to develop the knowledge and skills that will enable them to advance to the standing of candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare. In the second year, students move toward this goal by selecting a Supervisory Committee, engaging in advanced work on the the program of study (POS), which includes advanced coursework and preparing for the General Examination.

 Selection of Supervisory Committee

In preparing for the General Examination, a student works under the guidance of a Supervisory Committee composed of at least four faculty persons, three of whom must be members of the Graduate School Faculty. The chair and at least one other member of the committee must also be members of the Social Welfare Faculty. One member, the Graduate School Representative (GSR), must be external to the Social Work Faculty and is recruited by the Supervisory Committee Chair and student. The Chair and GSR must have Graduate School status of authorization to chair committees.

During the first year, students should become acquainted with those Social Welfare Faculty members whose work is related to their training goals so that appropriate committee members can be identified. Students discuss the selection of a chair and other members with first-year advisors and other faculty. The first-year spring seminar focuses on preparation for the first-year comprehensive examinations and selection of a Supervisory Chair. Usually, the chair is identified and approached first. Once the Chair has agreed to serve, the student confers with the Chair about other potential committee members.

If the Supervisory Committee is not formed officially by the end of the second year (summer included), the student and Chair must submit a petition to the PhD Director providing an explanation of the circumstances of the delay and a timeline for formation. If this memo is not provided, or if the proposed timeline is not met, the PhD Steering Committee will review the student's progress in the program, and the student may be placed on academic probation. (Being on probation prevents a student from being offered TA/RA appointments because of insufficient progress.)

When all members have been chosen and have agreed to serve, the student submits the Supervisory Committee to the Program Director. This is done by filling out the Supervisory Committee form (Request to Establish Supervisory Committee).

The decision regarding acceptance of the Supervisory Committee membership rests with the Social Welfare Faculty and is authorized by the Director as the Social Welfare Faculty representative. On occasion, the request will be taken to the broader PhD Steering Committee for input.


Operation of Supervisory Committee

The committee members oversee the student’s research, development, and writing of the Qualifying Scholarly Paper. Soon after the selection of the Supervisory Committee, the chair should convene the committee. Typically this first meeting with the student involves a review of the student's program to that point and a discussion of the content for the Qualifying Paper. The committee develops agreements regarding the structure and format of the Qualifying Paper, potential journals to which it could be submitted, and expectations for the paper presentation, which serves as the Oral General Examination. A timeline for completion of all parts of the General Examination should be created. This discussion is facilitated if the student has submitted a curriculum vitae and a statement outlining the student's overall training goals in advance of the meeting. Ways in which required social science and advanced research courses are related to the student's program of study should be part of this discussion. Faculty may also find it useful to agree at this time on some rough division of labor regarding the formulation and evaluation of the Qualifying Paper.

Students are expected to confer with each member of the committee regarding the development and writing of the Qualifying Paper. These consultations may take the form of formal reading courses (600s) or simply ongoing discussions, although input on student written drafts of the paper is strongly encouraged. In some instances students may wish to take or audit classes taught by one or more of the instructors who serve on the committee or others whose content area is relevant.

After completion of all components of the General Examination, the student and chair of the Supervisory Committee review the composition of the committee to determine whether any changes are indicated to provide appropriate supervision for the dissertation. Committee changes based on changing availability (e.g., a faculty member going on leave) or shifts between exam and dissertation topics are not uncommon. Changes in the composition of the committee are made by submitting a formal request to the Director of the Doctoral Program; this request includes a clearly detailed rationale for the change and signature of the Chair and the student (Change of Committee) request form of School website [Revised 8/2009]).

The next step is Supervisory Committee approval of the Dissertation Prospectus. At this point the student identifies at least three members of Supervisory Committee (excluding the GSR) who will compose the Dissertation Reading Committee. This is the group that provides primary mentorship during the dissertation research and writing and that approves the final Dissertation

Go to Program of Study Guidelines