Social Work, PhD

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This doctoral program provides an individualized curriculum to nurture and build your curiosity and creativity in pursuit of your intellectual passions. It offers an interdisciplinary curriculum with core doctoral courses that are small and taught by School of Social Work faculty. You can select courses throughout ASU to customize your course of study.

The purpose of the PhD program in social work is to train future social work scholars, social work professionals engaged in research, teaching and service.

Supplementary to the coursework, this doctoral program offers students opportunities to be actively involved in both research and teaching. Students benefit from the close mentorship of the committed faculty and regular partnerships with many internal research centers and offices. Students also receive valuable opportunities to develop a teaching portfolio, positioning them to succeed in academic careers.

Graduates are prepared to enter careers in applied research that enhance human well-being, particularly among oppressed and vulnerable populations, and to educate the next generation of social workers.

At A Glance

Social Work, PhD

Plan of study

The Plan of study is the required curriculum to complete this graduate level program.

View Plan of Study

Application deadline

Applications are accepted up to January 15th preceding the fall semester to which the applicant is seeking admission.

Degree requirements

Required Social Work Courses (12 credit hours)

Research Methods and Statistics (12 credit hours)

Directed Electives (9 credit hours)

Theory (3 credit hours)

Research (12 credit hours)
SWG 792 Research (12)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
SWG 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
When approved by the student's supervisory committee and the Graduate College, this program allows 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for this degree. The doctoral program requires students to take a minimum of 36 course credit hours beyond the MSW in addition to the required 24 credit hours of research and dissertation; 84 credit hours are required beyond the bachelor's degree. Students may need to take additional coursework to achieve the competency requirements set by the program or set by their graduate supervisory committees.

Students develop their plan of study in consultation with the graduate supervisory committee. Required social work courses must be 700 level and approved by the doctoral program committee. Students should see the academic unit for approved course lists and other requirements for research methods and statistics courses, electives, and theory coursework.

Once the 36 minimum course credit hours are completed, students are required to register for 12 hours of SWG 792 Research before the defense of the prospectus and 12 hours of SWG 799 Dissertation after the prospectus defense. Students must be registered for at least one credit hour during the semester (including summer) when they do their dissertation proposal defense. At least one of the dissertation hours must be taken in the semester the student expects to defend his or her dissertation.

Admission requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in social work or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work
  3. curriculum vitae or resume
  4. GRE scores
  5. personal statement
  6. three letters of reference
  7. required writing sample: social problem essay
  8. optional writing sample
  9. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

Admission to the doctoral program in the School of Social Work is based on the following criteria:

  • an MSW from an accredited school of social work, preferably with two or more years of post-degree employment in human services
  • experience in social work teaching or research and other scholarly activities
  • experience with diverse populations
  • goodness-of-fit with program goals
  • good professional standing
  • undergraduate and graduate GPA
  • quality and extensiveness of social work experience
  • research potential and creativity as demonstrated in requested essays and references
  • scores of the GRE, with emphasis on verbal and analytic scores

Though an MSW is preferred, exceptions may be made for students with a BSW from an accredited school of social work and a master's degree in a related field and for students from countries without accreditation.

Guidelines for writing the statement can be found at https://socialwork.asu.edu/content/application-and-admission under PhD Application and Admission Information.

Applicants have the option of submitting a sample of their written work. Examples include a referred journal article, a class paper and a professional report such as one might write in an agency setting. The writing sample should illustrate the applicant's ability to succeed in the doctoral program. Guidelines for writing the statement can be found at https://socialwork.asu.edu/content/application-and-admission.

All required admission materials are submitted directly to Graduate Admission Services at https://admission.asu.edu/graduate. Students should contact the School of Social Work at 602-496-0800 with any questions about the application process.

Students should see the program website for application deadlines.

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