Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work
The PhD in Social Work Studies, requiring 72 credit hours of study, is designed to offer rigorous methodological and interdisciplinary training for social workers and related professionals.
This degree provides a strong foundation for an academic career or as a social work research scientist in practice or policy settings. The program has a strong interdisciplinary and methodological orientation.
Building on the foundations of required course work each student can develop a plan of study that is intended to provide an educational experience that our faculty feels meets the intellectual and professional requirements for PhD-trained students. These concentrations consist mainly of elected coursework and participation in mentored research. Students will also complete a dissertation project corresponding with student goals.
Core Curriculum (18 credit hours): These credit hours are divided between five shared courses and the research area synthesis. In addition, students are required to participate in teaching practicums that lead toward teaching their own course in either SLU's undergraduate or graduate programs in the School of Social Work. Further, there are required professional development workshops that provide students with the opportunity to build their unique professional skills outside of formal coursework or research with their mentor.
Elective Curriculum (42 credit hours): Some of these credits may be for specific required courses and some may be for courses that are tailored for each student to provide them with the knowledge and
skills needed to achieve their research and professional goals. Students can petition to have up to 24 credit-hours of electives counted toward the 72 hour total from an approved Master of Social Work or closely related master's degree.
Dissertation (12 credit hours): The dissertation develops a strong foundation in the interrelated nature of theory, research, and analysis. The objective for the dissertation is to add new knowledge to a specialization area.
The fields of social work, criminal justice and applied behavior analysis within the School of Social Work offers a wide variety of career options for a student pursuing a PhD. Students can work to promote the advancement of their fields in academic settings and the well-being of individuals, communities, non-profits, government agencies or the private sector.
Faculty and Research
Our faculty are internationally recognized as leaders in social work, criminal justice and applied behavior analysis. PhD students have the opportunity to work on projects with faculty members in their research areas. Below are some of the areas in which our faculty have active research agendas:
- School Dropout and Prevention
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- Developmental Outcomes and Child Welfare Policy
- Poverty and Financial Capability
- International Social Work
- Assessment and treatment of problem behavior exhibited
- by individuals with intellectual disabilities
- Assessment and treatment of disordered gambling
- Translational research in behavior analysis
- Sentencing and Punishment Outcomes
- Disparities in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Correctional Treatment of Offenders
- Youth Violence
The School of Social Work offers graduate assistantships for full-time PhD students.
Admission Requirements and Deadlines
This program is designed for individuals who already hold a master's degree in social work or closely related field. All applications are considered on an individual basis with a balanced approach.
We require that each student have a willing faculty mentor as part of the application. Students are therefore encouraged to familiarize themselves with the research of a faculty member and reach out to that faculty member to serve as a mentor. Students are also required to submit results from the GRE. Scores may not be more than 5 years old. Applicants with an existing doctoral-level degree do not need to submit GRE scores.
Additional application requirements:
- An earned master's degree from an accredited college or university (a transcript from this institution is required).
- A résumé or curriculum vitae and a two page, double- spaced statement of purpose that includes research interests, career goals and objectives.
- Three confidential letters of recommendation from professionals qualified to evaluate an applicant's potential for success in the program.
- A writing sample.
All students are required to submit an application, even students currently enrolled in master's programs at SLU. The PhD program only accepts applications for the fall semester. The application deadline is February 15. Admission decisions will be finalized by April 15.
If you'd like more information about SLU's PhD in Social Work, fill out our information request form to contact our office of admission.
Applications are now being accepted for the fall semester. If you're ready to get started, apply now.