Doctoral students are engaged in extensive academic and professional training through a focused offering of courses and a mentored research practicum. Our program requirements and curriculum content below contain additional information.
To be eligible for the doctoral degree, students must satisfy the following criteria, in succession:
- Coursework: The doctoral curriculum consists of 48 credits, including nine (9) core social work courses, a combination of courses (15 credits) in either advanced methodological courses or substantive areas of expertise, and two courses on preparing for entry into a career in academia. Students normally take 9–12 credits in the fall and spring semesters over two to three years. Required doctoral courses are offered every other year and are taken within the Silver School of Social Work.
- Qualifying Exam: Following the completion of the core courses, students may begin working on the qualifying exam. Students must successfully submit and pass the qualifying exam prior to defending a dissertation proposal.
- Candidacy: Upon successful defense of a dissertation proposal, students will enter the candidacy phase. Students must successfully defend a dissertation proposal within one year of completing the qualifying exam. Students should complete their dissertation no later than seven years after initial enrollment in the program.
Candidates for the PhD degree in social work must maintain continuous enrollment.
Note: The doctoral program does not prepare students for advanced practice in clinical social work or for licensure for social work practice in New York State. Students licensed as an LMSW or LCSW by the New York State Education Department may practice according to the guidelines of their particular license. Unlicensed students may not provide professional services in New York State unless otherwise authorized by state law.
PhD Curriculum and Requirements
Core courses are designed to ground students in social work as a discipline and profession. The core courses are also designed to ensure basic doctoral level competency in research methods and statistics. Students will begin their mentored research practicum in this phase. The nine (9) courses that compromise the common core are:
Philosophy of Science and Knowledge Development
Seminar on Social Policy History and Analysis
Social Science Theories and Social Work
Social and Behavioral Intervention Research
Statistics I: Introductory Statistics
Statistical Methods II: Generalized Linear Models
Conducting Research with Diverse Populations
Electives should help to advance students toward their dissertation; they should select courses that will add to their knowledge in substantive areas related to what will likely be their dissertation topic, or in methodological areas that are likely to be needed for their dissertation. Elective courses compromise fifteen (15) credits.
Social Work Electives
- Grant Writing I and II
Students complete courses in their chosen methodological specialization track. Such tracks could be: advanced qualitative and data analytic methods, advanced quantitative and statistical methods, a combination of both methods, or mixed-methods. These courses provide additional training in research methods and advanced statistical analysis.
Students will select one substantive area of expertise in which to specialize, in line with the Silver School’s strategic vision and the expertise and strengths of the school’s faculty. Students must take courses in their chosen area of expertise.
Doctoral students will complete two courses (a total of six credits) focused on developing competencies for entry and success in academia and social welfare leadership.
Teaching Social Work
Dissertation Proseminar: Career Preparation
The research practicum is focused training designed to develop knowledge and applied skills for a successful career as an independent researcher and scholar. Students will work in collaboration with their assigned mentors on a clearly defined research project. Each student should have the opportunity to engage in the following types of tasks: research planning; study design; study implementation; data collection; data analysis; interpretation of findings; and dissemination of the results through publication in peer reviewed journals. See our Sample Mentor/Mentee Agreement Packet.
Each semester, doctoral students will be registered and receive a formal Pass/Fail grade for the research practicum.
This seminar is required for all first-year PhD students. It is designed with three primary purposes. The first is to provide the nuts-and-bolts in navigating the school and the University in the first year of study. The second is to expose students to the research expertise and scholarly career of the faculty (in an informal manner). The third is to provide students with an opportunity to sharpen their research interests by developing a brief research statement. The overarching goals of this seminar are to immerse students in a learning environment with motivation, to get to know different trajectories in becoming an independent scholar, and to have growing confidence in their own research interests. This seminar thus provides students with the scholarly-related competencies and skills for successfully earning the PhD degree and becoming a promising young scholar.
The qualifying exam will entail a choice between a systematic review or a comprehensive literature review of a given topic of interest. All students must pass a qualifying exam, which serves as an examination of what students have learned to date in the program and a determination of whether they are ready to engage in independent research. Successful completion of the qualifying exam also demonstrates that a student is able to adhere to accepted norms of scholarship and produce written work of publishable quality.
In creating a dissertation proposal, students will choose a topic or research question to study, and will form a dissertation committee based on their research area interest and faculty area of expertise. Students will submit their written proposal to the dissertation committee and arrange for an oral defense.
The student, in consultation with their dissertation committee, will determine the appropriate structure and form of the dissertation. All dissertations will be evaluated on the quality and clarity of the conception, writing, presentation, evidence of scholarship and systematic inquiry, originality, and significance to the field of social work. Students will submit a written dissertation and also have an oral defense of their dissertation, which is open to the public.