Jul 15, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Social Work, Ph.D.

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences  
Department: School of Social Work 


The School of Social Work offers a full-time interdisciplinary program leading to a Ph.D. in Social Work. The Ph.D. degree program provides a course of study to prepare graduates for academic and research careers, to provide leadership in research and education committed to excellence in social work practice and to provide leadership in the development of program and services for diverse, vulnerable and underserved populations. Unique to this program is the strategic emphasis on topic areas that align with the strengths of the College, USF, and forecasted direction of the profession. These are:

  1. Behavioral Health,
  2. Global Issues,
  3. Health,
  4. Leadership and Business, and
  5. Societal Change and Innovation.

The degree program leads to the preparation of future scholars and educators to advance social justice and vulnerability issues.

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

Admission is typically limited to individuals who hold a Master in Social Work from programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or international equivalents. However, applicants without a Master’s degree in social work, but with a Master’s degree in a related discipline are welcome to apply and will be considered on a case by case basis. The admissions committee may review the degree and request additional material for consideration to the program.

  • A master’s degree GPA of at least 3.50 on a 4.00 scale
  • Two letters of recommendation addressing applicant’s academic and professional capabilities.
  • Applicant’s statement that describes reasons for seeking admission to the Ph.D. in Social Work program, career goals, and research interests.
  • Professional writing sample providing evidence of scholarly abilities, such as journal article, book chapter, technical report, thesis, grant application or other comparable work.
  • The admissions committee may request a personal or telephone interview with an applicant to clarify materials submitted.

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours: 42 post master’s

  • Core – 15 credit hours
  • Courses in Area of Strategic Emphasis – 9 credit hours
  • Graduate Research Methods – 12 credit hours minimum
  • Dissertation – 2 credit hours minimum
  • Additional hours in research or area of emphsis/directed studies or dissertation – 4 credit hours minimum

The Ph.D. degree program requires a minimum of 42 credit hours post MSW/master’s degree. In accordance with university policy requiring a minimum of 72 hours post baccalaureate for a Ph.D., a minimum of 30 credit hours from the MSW/master’s degree can be applied to this degree’s post-baccalaureate’s 72 hour minimum. No credit hours for field work/internship will be counted towards the required credit hours for the Ph.D.

Courses in Area of Strategic Emphasis (9 Credit Hours Minimum)

Students will also take a minimum of three (3) (9 credit hours) graduate courses in their area of strategic emphasis offered in the College or University.

Graduate Research Methods (12 Credit Hours Minimum)

Students will complete three (3) credit hours minimum in Directed Studies.

  • Credit Hours: 1-12 (Students may replace this course with a strategic emphasis area or graduate research methods course with approval of the Ph.D. Director)
  • Research Courses Credit(s): 9*
  •       * Students will also take a minimum of three (3) (9 credit hours) of graduate research methods course offered in the College or the University.

Additional Hours (4 Credit Hours Minimum)

Students should expect to take at least four (4) additional credit hours either in research or area of strategic emphasis, or in directed studies or dissertation hours.

Qualifying Exam

Successful completion of qualifying examinations at the end of coursework helps to prepares the student for Candidacy. Students must successfully pass their School of Social Work dissertation proposal defense in order to be admitted into Doctoral Candidacy.

Dissertation (2 Credit Hours Minimum)

Students will take a minimum of two (2) dissertation credits hours at the time of their dissertation defense.