Social Work, PhD

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work

school office: 1010 W. Nevada St., Urbana, IL 61801

director of graduate studies: Associate Dean Min Zahn


phone: (217) 244-5246

school website:

school faculty: School of Social Work Faculty

overview of grad college admissions & requirements:

The Ph.D. program is typically a 64 graduate hour program for students who enter with an MSW or other master's degree. The program is interdisciplinary and has a strong research emphasis. The Ph.D. program is organized around five curricular components: (1) seminars in social welfare policy, social work practice theories, and teaching; (2) research methodology and statistics; (3) an interdisciplinary area of study; (4) a qualifying exam; and (5) the dissertation. While the curriculum focuses on issues of relevance to social work and social welfare policy, students select courses not just in the School of Social Work but also from the full range of graduate courses offered, for example: educational psychology, human and community development, sociology, labor and industrial relations, psychology and anthropology. Candidates prepare for teaching, research, policy analysis, and leadership in social services.

Graduate Degree Programs in Social Work

Social Work, MSW (on campus, online & blended (online/face-to-face)

concentration required:

Advanced Clinical Practice

Leadership & Social Change

Social Work, PhD


MSW program applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in the United States or from a recognized institution of higher learning abroad;
  2. a grade point average of 3.0 (A = 4.0) or greater for the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate work;
  3. 20 hours of completed coursework in a liberal arts core consisting of social and behavioral sciences, the humanities, and biological sciences
  4. evidence of personal attributes that are suitable for the profession of social work;
  5. a score of 103 or above on the TOEFL test;
  6. provision of a written supplementary statement.

Advanced Standing MSW applicants who meet all above requirements who have earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from a CSWE-accredited program in the past seven years are considered for admission into the Advanced Standing MSW program. This is a three semester/44 hour program that may be completed in 12 months by most students. Students with a concentration in school social work participate in a one semester internship during their second Fall semester for a 3 semester/44 hour program completed in 16 months.

Ph.D. program applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. a master degree in social work or in related disciplines;
  2. a GRE score within the last 5 years;
  3. demonstrating a potential for research and other scholarly work;  
  4. aptitude for leadership in the field of social work

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work

SOCW 579Social Work Practice Theories4
SOCW 585National Social Welfare Policy4
SOCW 593Applied Qualitative Research4
SOCW 595Quantitative Research Designs4
SOCW 575Social Work Teaching Seminar4
SOCW 594Individual Research (2 semesters of enrollment required)8
Focus Area (2-3 courses outside of Social Work)12
3 courses in statistics and research methodology, 2-3 from outside of Social Work12
SOCW 599Dissertation Research12
Total Hours 64

Other Requirements1

Other requirements may overlap
Masters Degree Required for Admission to PhD? Yes
Qualifying Exam Required: Yes
Preliminary Exam Required: Yes
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required: Yes
Dissertation Deposit Required: Yes
Minimum GPA: 3.0