School of Social WorkDoctor of Philosophy Program
Social work doctoral education prepares people for leadership roles in social work research, social work education, social policy and planning, and administration. The goal of the doctoral program of the School of Social Work is to provide students with advanced research and policy analysis skills based on a foundation of social science theory and social welfare. The doctoral program is committed to the school's mission to address human worth and dignity, social justice, and social equity for diverse populations. Program graduates will be able to conduct research that addresses social work and social welfare and policy problems and to disseminate knowledge to researchers, social work educators, social work practitioners, and policy makers.
The University of Pittsburgh has one of the oldest social work doctoral programs in the United States, awarding its first DSW degrees in 1949. In 1963, the program's degree was changed to a PhD. Information regarding the Doctor of Philosophy Program is available online atwww.socialwork.pitt.edu/academic-programs/phd/.
In addition to the description of the PhD in Social Work given below, doctoral students should consult the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Degrees in the General Academic Regulations section of this document.
- Ms. Theresa Fabrizio
- Office of Admissions
- School of Social Work
- Room 2104 Cathedral of Learning
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications should be received no later than December 31 of each year. Admission to the program is on a full-time basis for the Fall Term only. The doctoral program is strongly committed to a policy of equal educational opportunity for people of all races, creeds, and ethnic origins.
Program Transfer Credits
Students who have earned doctoral-level credits at the University of Pittsburgh or at another accredited institution within seven years preceding entry to the doctoral program may be eligible for advanced standing. Advanced standing consists of awarding academic credit toward the degree for post-master's work completed when such work is evaluated as entirely comparable. Official transcripts certifying graduate course work completed in a degree-granting graduate program should be submitted at the time of application. The maximum number of credits that can be transferred and accepted for advanced standing is 12.
See Allowable Credits in the General Academic Regulations section of this bulletin for more details on requirements for transfer credits.
Financial Support for Doctoral Students
Doctoral students are supported in years one and two by research-based graduate student assistantships (GSAs), and in years three and four by teaching assistantships (TAs). Exceptional students with teaching experience and two years post –MSW experience may apply for our teaching fellowships (TFs). Both GSAs and TAs/TFs provide tuition remission and stipends for the fall, spring, and summer terms. There is a 20-hour-per-week work requirement.
Typically the student receives their GSA or TA support for four years as long as the student is making satisfactory progress toward the degree. If a fifth year is required, it usually is supported by adjunct teaching. Students also are encouraged to apply for predoctoral research traineeships and other awards.
Doctoral Curriculum Objectives
The program curriculum strongly emphasizes social problem areas, as well as coordinating themes in theory, research methodology, and social policy courses. The overall goal is to integrate the acquisition of basic advanced knowledge, methods of empirical testing, and application to real-world situations. Course materials draw heavily on several priority areas of social work concern, including aging, mental health, income maintenance, child welfare, women’s issues, child and family policy, and health services, and social justice. diversity issues.
By the time students have completed the program, they should have acquired the following:
- Knowledge of relevant social science theory
- Advanced skills in research methodology and statistics
- Advanced knowledge of social welfare policy (historical and contemporary) and policy analysis
- Knowledge of relevant fields of practice, theoretical and policy perspectives, and research findings
- Exposure to an interdisciplinary frame of reference through mechanisms provided internally by the doctoral program and externally through access to other disciplines and professions in the wider University
Although entering students are not required to have completed course work or other experience relevant to computer literacy, possessing basic computer skills will be an asset to students beginning the program.
During the first two academic years in the program, full-time students are primarily involved in taking the required courses in the four essential areas of study: social welfare, social science theory, research methods, and social policy. Students take courses in the fall and spring terms of their first and second years; summer courses are necessary if a student is enrolled in one of our joint degree programs or desires a nine-credit schedule for the fall and spring terms.
Courses are taken in the fall and spring terms during the student's first and second years; summer courses are needed if a student desires a nine-credit schedule for fall and spring terms and/or is enrolled in one of the joint degree programs (no more than 12 credits are recommended for the student's first semester in the program). Learn more about our curriculum.
Students take a comprehensive examination after completion of all required and elective courses. The Comprehensive examination is taken in the summer of the second year. For students in the MSW/PhD program, the comprehensive examination is taken in the summer of the 3rd year.
The doctoral dissertation involves:
- Dissertation Research: begins after passing the comprehensive examination
- Defense of a Dissertation Overview: occurs after a committee review of the dissertation overview and includes an introduction to the problem, a literature review, and a detailed methodology (admission to PhD candidacy)
- Final Dissertation Defense: occurs at least one year following admission to candidacy
Grades in Course Work
It is required that students will maintain an average grade point average of 3.00 or better in all course work. If a student receives a grade lower than B- in a required course, the course will have to be repeated. Whether the courses are required or elected, more than one grade of C+ or lower will be the basis for a formal Academic Review.
Program Flexibility and Individualization
An individual student's program should reflect the student's developing professional expertise, career goals, and personal interest. This program, therefore, maintains as much flexibility and individualization as possible.
This individualization is built upon the core curriculum through planning for elective course work and enrichment experiences, including teaching and research assistantships. The PhD program provides a set of structured and integrated core courses that can be applied to each students' area of specialization. This core curriculum is supplemented by six elective courses that allow students to obtain more depth in their specialization areas. Faculty advisors work closely with students in planning their course work and progress through the doctoral program.
A minimum of three years of full-time study is required for doctoral program completion. The curriculum is distributed between a nine-course core curriculum and elective courses followed by the comprehensive examination and doctoral dissertation.
Core Doctoral Curriculum
During the first two academic years in the program, students are primarily involved in taking the required courses in the four essential areas of study: social welfare, social science theory, research methods and statistics, and social policy. These core courses are provided by the doctoral program. A brief description of each area of study follows with a listing of credits awarded and terms offered. All 1st year students are required to take the non-credit Doctoral Seminar. More information on each doctoral course is available in the Student Handbook.
Required (Core) Courses
Research Methods (17 total credits)
SWRES 3020 (3credits) Research Methods 1
SWRES 3029 (3 credits) Inferential/Bivariate Statistics
SWRES 3021 (4 credits) Multivariate Statistics
SWRES 3022 (1 credit) Capstone Research Seminar I
SWRES 3023 (3 credits) Capstone Research Seminar II
SWRES 3066 (3 credits) Seminar in Social Work Education
Doctoral Seminar (0 Credits)
Theory (6 total credits)
SWGEN 3044 (3 credits) Social Science Theory I
SWGEN 3053 (3 credits) Social Science Theory II
Policy (6 total credits)
SWWEL3030 (3 credits) Social Welfare History
SWWEL 3037 (3 credits) Social Policy Evaluation
Elective Courses (21 credits)
In addition to the above core course requirements, the student selects seven elective courses to pursue more specialized interests. All electives must be at least 2 credit graduate level courses with a credit total = 21 credits. Elective options available in the program, including the Joint Public Health Master's/Social Work PhD option and the graduate certificate in women studies offer particular advantages but tend to restrict the number of electives open to students. Although some doctoral elective courses are offered within Social Work, students are encouraged to take relevant course work in other schools and departments of the University. Many social welfare-related fields are open: sociology, economics, women's studies, political science, law, urban affairs, public health, and others. The student can choose his or her courses from all graduate programs in the University. The students may take no more than two MSW courses for elective credit. All electives must be approved by the student's advisor as contributing to the student's area of specialization.
Interdisciplinary Components of Doctoral Curriculum
In addition to the core doctoral courses, the student has seven elective course selections to pursue more specialized interests. Certain options available in the program, especially the Joint Public Health Master's/Social Work PhD option and the graduate certificate in women's studies, offer particular advantages but tend to restrict the number of electives open to students. Students are encouraged to take graduate-level course work in other schools and departments of the University insofar as this is feasible within their program requirements. Many social welfare-related fields are open: sociology, economics, women's studies, social psychology, political science, law, urban affairs, public health, and others. The student can choose his or her courses from all graduate programs in the University. The student may take no more than two MSW courses as electives.