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Degree and Course Requirements

Degree Requirements

The minimum requirement for the degree is 64 hours of coursework and research beyond the master’s degree. Students with graduate degrees in related disciplines may be required to successfully complete additional course work. Decisions regarding additional coursework will be made at the time of admission.

PhD students conduct research and analyze policies on issues of importance to society, and will be prepared for university-level teaching and for social work research upon graduation. The School works closely with PhD graduates in pursuing job opportunities.

Complete information on all degree requirements for our graduate programs is listed on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Programs of Study website.

Emphasis on research as well as the theoretical foundations and knowledge base of social work are reflected in the generalist courses:

  1.     Theories and issues in social policy and social policy analysis
  2.     Theories and issues in social work practice
  3.     Research and statistical competency
  4.     Area of specialization, including dissertation research
  5.     Issues and competency in college teaching

Course Descriptions

PhD students are required to take the following seven courses within the School of Social Work, which are specifically designed for doctoral students:

Doctoral seminar on social work education and the pedagogy of college teaching. Topics include history of social work education, competencies for social work education, course development, principles of active learning, use of diverse instructional methods for teaching and assessing learning, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. The course has a required practicum component where students receive structured mentoring in some aspect of teaching in a social work class.

Presents theories for social work interventions with individuals, families, groups, and communities and organizations; critically analyzes different theoretical frameworks for such interventions; and examines the conceptual links between theory, process, outcome, and evaluations.

This course is intended for students in the Ph.D. program in Social Work. This seminar focuses on policy research, implementation, and evaluation. Students apply policy analysis skills developed in SOCW 584 by conducting a policy research project on a policy issue of their choice. In addition to the policy research project, seminars include discussions of theoretical and empirical issues related to policy implementation and evaluation. Discussions will address both program administration issues and intergovernmental relations.

Provides a doctoral level overview of contemporary qualitative research with an emphasis on applications. Through readings, discussions, and assignments students will be introduced to: the history and philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research; research designs, methods and analysis used in qualitative research; criteria for rigor in qualitative research; the application of qualitative research to addressing contemporary social issues; technical and professional issues including the use of computer programs in qualitative research and grant writing. Students will begin to elaborate their own research interests through critical reading, discussion and various applied and written assignments.

Provides a doctoral level overview of quantitative designs and conceptual issues in social work research. It presents a framework for structuring the statistical analysis and systematic evaluation of the efficacy and effectiveness of social interventions in achieving desired outcomes for diverse populations. Although the purpose is not to emphasize statistical training, the course will reinforce the learning of basic concepts, mathematical foundations, and assumptions underlying advanced applications of statistical description and causal inference.

This course is designed to enhance skills of doctoral students in social work through research collaboration with a faculty member.

This two-semester sequence is designed to provide students with a supervised, “hands-on” research experience with a faculty member. The student’s project may involve student- or faculty-initiated research (e.g., work on a new or ongoing project such as funded research). The primary objective of the research practicum is to strengthen students’ ability to synthesize different phases and components of social work research. The key, therefore, is for students to be involved in as many aspects of the research project as possible (e.g., articulation of research questions, literature review, selection of sampling techniques, formulation of design strategies, development of instruments and other methods of data collection, data analysis, interpretation of results, and research report writing).

Specific objectives for the individual research project will reflect the individualized nature of student research interests, knowledge, and skills. In conjunction with their supervising faculty member, students are expected to develop a learning contract for the project with the faculty member with whom they are working.

The contract should include:

  1. The research objectives and competencies to be acquired or strengthened by the student.
  2. The research problem being examined.
  3. The general methodological procedures to be employed.
  4. The specific research tasks/activities to be engaged in by the student over the course of two semesters with an appropriate timeline.
  5. The research training to be provided by the faculty supervisor.

Ideally, a publishable paper, co-authored by the student and faculty supervisor, will emerge from the research practicum. At a minimum, the student is expected to submit a formal written summary integrating the substantive, methodological, and data analytic components of the practicum at the end of each semester of the practicum. The faculty supervisor evaluates the student’s performance based upon the completion of the tasks specified in the contract, the student’s attainment of targeted knowledge and skills, and the quality of the final research report. If the student initiates a project involving human subjects for the purposes of a research practicum, written permission must be received from any agency or individuals/clients that will be involved in the research. The student is responsible for getting University approval for using human subjects prior to making any contacts with individuals/clients for the purposes of research.

Visit the Institutional Review Board website  for all human subjects requests and issues. All forms, contact phone numbers, and committee deadlines are also available on this website. Copies of permission letters, along with Human Subject forms, must be filed with the PhD Program Office.

Credit/No Credit

Credit/No Credit

Required courses cannot be taken for “Credit/No Credit,” (i.e. pass/fail). Students may use the credit/no credit option for electives.

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