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Program Overview – Ph.D.

The goals and objectives of the Social Welfare Ph.D. program reflect the School’s concerns with urban social problems, social and economic equity and well-being, public safety, cultural diversity, and the empowerment of individuals, families, organizations, and communities to effect change. The program seeks to prepare students to make significant contributions to both education and research in the social sciences. Four areas of specialization that reflect both faculty expertise and issues of importance to the University’s urban mission are emphasized. These are:

  • Applied Gerontology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Family and Child Welfare
  • Health and Behavioral Health

In consultation with their advisors, doctoral students will be expected to identify one of these four areas as the overall focus of their studies. For more information, click the Areas of Specialization link to the left.

Successful applicants must be prepared to enroll as full-time students; the program does not offer an option for part-time study. The expected time to completion of degree requirements is four to five years.

To enable students to enroll full-time, a variety of financial assistance is available, including fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. Most fellowships and assistantships include full tuition remission. Further information is available in the Financial Aid link to the left.

Objectives of the curriculum within each of the above areas of specialization include:

  • To provide opportunities for advanced scholarship and research, including partnerships with the wider community;
  • To prepare scholars who demonstrate knowledge, skills, values, and ethics of the disciplines of criminal justice and social work and who are able to serve as future leaders in social work academic and research settings;
  • To prepare scholars competent in the development and advancement of knowledge in these disciplines, with particular emphasis on preventive interventions as broadly defined.

Outcomes and competencies expected of doctoral graduates, regardless of specialization, include:

  • Knowledge of theories underlying intervention approaches used in the student's discipline;
  • Ability to critically analyze theories and knowledge development related to specific content area;
  • Understanding of how knowledge currently is and has historically been developed, disseminated, and applied in each discipline and in relation to specific content areas;
  • Familiarity with relevant policies, their rationale, and their implications for practice;
  • Capacity to design and conduct intervention research appropriate to the student's area of interest, including the capacity to participate effectively in knowledge-building and in applying that knowledge to the development of effective interventions, programs or policies;
  • Capacity to develop, utilize, and disseminate quantitative, qualitative, mixed, epidemiological, and instrumentation research methods and statistical analysis with relevance to discipline-specific research;
  • To further the knowledge base of the discipline by conducting research that addresses questions of direct practical relevance and questions involving broad theoretical issues, etiological and epidemiological concerns, and large-scale social policy;
  • Knowledge, values, ethics, and skills essential to teaching and the preparation of future professionals, in addition to those relating to research, scholarship, and leadership in the discipline.