We ensure the same level of support to all incoming students, and our admissions decisions are based in part on the number of students for whom we can ensure support during their first 4 years in the program. We work with students to seek sources of funding both within the University and from outside sources. The support typically involves teaching or research assistantships or fellowships for the 9-month regular school year and includes tuition waiver and health benefits in addition to a salary (one-half time; 20 hours per week). We also help students pursue individual training and dissertation fellowships and grants, and special awards for later years in the program. Because the PhD program is a full-time program for the first 4 years, students are not generally permitted to accept employment or other funding support that puts their FTE at greater than 50% during the 9-month academic year.
The nature of our program and curriculum structure requires full-time, in-residence status; thus we have no part-time program. The course work in the first year is intensive and prescribed. After the first year, students select a number of interdisciplinary courses from across campus.
Students entering the PhD program must have successfully completed an undergraduate level statistics course within the last 5 years. It is not necessary to have already met this prerequisite to apply to the program. The prerequisite can be satisfied any time prior to entering the University.
We offer excellent student resources such as access to cutting edge quantitative and qualitative methods training, preparation for teaching and related faculty roles, student travel to professional conferences, a high level of faculty research activity, scholars engaged in cross-cultural research, and excellent computer access and consultation.
Although the required master's degree does not have to be an MSW (many of our students' master's degrees are in other related areas), a thorough understanding of the social welfare field and the needs and priorities of the profession are essential. Even so, it should be noted that the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requires that faculty who teach required practice courses in accredited programs have an MSW degree and 2 years of practice experience (see CSWE EPAS 3.2.2). Thus, obtaining an MSW and this experience can be valuable for those who ultimately seek academic positions following graduation.
Doctoral programs in social work in the USA often prefer that incoming students have practice experience. This is partly related to a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requirement that those teaching certain MSW practice courses have an MSW degree and 2 years of practice experience (see CSWE EPAS 3.3.1). Although we do not make this a requirement for entrance into our program, it is a plus. We want our incoming students to have some degree of field experience, whether as a practicing social worker, related professional, volunteer, or through training as a student, pre- or postmaster's. We look for applicants who have a grasp of the theory and practice aspects of the social work profession and of the main issues and questions that social work researchers need to address.
Our program emphasizes knowledge building through training in research, scholarship, and teaching. Although some research roles provide an opportunity to build practice experience, our program is not designed to teach advanced practice skills and is not appropriate for persons seeking advanced clinical training.
Successful applicants usually have had at least some research experience and involvement in publications. This, the scholarly and professional statement, and academic letters of reference, demonstrate that the applicant understands and enjoys the process of doing research, and has potential for contributing to social welfare research.
There are no formal concentrations although our school faculty members tend to be grouped into broad areas of research interests. We do look very carefully at the degree of match between applicants' interests and our faculty members' interests and areas of active work
We promote a strong focus on teaching preparation and professional development through coursework, practica, and assistantships involving School and University-wide resources for teaching enhancement. The University Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides both faculty members and graduate students with a wide array of resources for teaching training and development.
The program can be completed in 4 to 5 years of full-time enrollment. The median is 5 years. However, length to degree varies considerably among graduates: of 105 students who graduated from 1995 to now, 62% finished within 5 years.
Our graduates generally fare well in the employment market, with the majority going to university posts and many of the remaining entering a wide variety of research or administrative positions in government and private sector social welfare agencies. Our graduates are on the faculties of top schools of social work nationwide. (See our alumni page.)