Dec 04, 2022  
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin 
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work, PhD

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The purpose of the PhD in social work is to prepare students to be “stewards of the discipline” (Walker et al., 2008 as cited in GADE, 2013). Students’ areas of scholarship should stem from the mission and purpose of the profession: “to enhance human well-being and help meet the needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty” (NASW Code of Ethics, 2017). Through course work, as well as the Preliminary and Qualifying Examinations, and dissertation development, students develop the capacity for scholarly inquiry and action that are the foundations for creative, independent, and meaningful scholarship. The PhD in social work also offers coursework and mentored teaching experience to develop and strengthen students’ skills as social work educators.   

The UK CoSW PhD program is designed so that students will attain knowledge and skills associated with: 

  • A social problem that is addressed in the dissertation 

  • Theories that underlie interventions and approaches to the social problem 

  • Empirical research methodology, statistics, and other analytic techniques 

  • Effective approaches to teaching and mentoring future social workers. 

  • Expertise in a particular interest area 

  • Creating publishable research and making scholarly contributions to the profession 


Admission Requirements

  • a master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by or judged to be equivalent by CSWE (applicants with other master’s degrees can also be considered) 

  • at least two years’ post-master’s full-time, paid experience in social work is preferred  

  • an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and a graduate GPA of 3.5 

  • official transcripts from each college/university attended 

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores  

  • three letters of reference that address their potential for success in a research-oriented doctoral program and aptitude for research and teaching.  Recommendations from individuals who have supervised your research and scholarly work (e.g., research project supervisors, thesis advisors, professors) tend to be the most useful to the admissions committee and should comprise the majority of the letters.

  • a writing sample or publication  

  • a personal statement that describes career and research interests, motivation for pursuing a PhD, what attracts the applicant to the PhD program at UK, and any other factors that should be considered in the evaluation of the application.


Degree Requirements  

The minimum requirements for the PhD include: 

  • Core Curriculum - 29 credit hours  

  • The pedagogical mission of the PhD core curriculum is to help students understand, apply, and implement the most up-to-date and effective analytic tools available from the human, behavioral, and social sciences to meet the challenges facing the doctoral level researcher, teacher, and practitioner. The sequencing of the course work moves the student from foundational principles and analytic skills necessary for scientific research, to the application of specific research design and statistical methods necessary for design and implementation of specific projects. Three courses focus on theory development, five on the mastery of research and statistical approaches, one on the theory and methodology of teaching; and two professional seminars introduce the students to the professional development, research, and service related activities of social work scholars and faculty. 

  • Individualized Plan of Study - 15 credit hours  

  • 9 credit hours - Individualized Study (elective courses selected in consult with advisor; these can be taken outside the CoSW) 

  • 6 credit hours - Research/Teaching Practica (SW 786  / SW 787  ; students typically do one of each) 

  • Preliminary exam - Systematic Literature Review 

  • Dissertation Research Residency - (at least) 4 credit hours of SW 767    

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