PhD in Social Work

Established in 1946, our program is one of the oldest in the United States, and develops a mentoring partnership between nationally prominent faculty and students to promote knowledge and skills in theory development and community-based research. The research productivity of our faculty was ranked 20th out of 76 U.S. social work doctoral programs in a recent study

Our graduates include internationally recognized scholars in diverse areas of study. Alumni go on to faculty and academic leadership roles in schools of social work around the world, as well as agency and program directors, and high-level servants in federal, state, and local government agencies.

Interested in a PhD in social work?

We have in-person and online information sessions for the PhD in social work program. Find out what a PhD from our school could mean for your future!

  • In-Person Sessions: Monday, September 23, at 5:30 p.m., and Tuesday, October 22, at 5:30 p.m., Peters Hall
  • Online Sessions: Saturday, October 12, at 10 a.m. (CDT), and Tuesday, November 12, at 4:30 p.m. (CST)

RSVP for an information session here.

Learn about the PhD program in social work at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Scholarship, research, and teaching which contribute to the knowledge base of social work and foster a just, nurturing, inclusive society.

Program highlights

  • Highly productive faculty. Collaborate with our faculty and research and training centers to conduct, write, and publish research in child welfare, aging, adult mental health, violence prevention, and social services development and delivery.
  • Generous funding for PhD students. The majority of our students receive a three-year funding package which covers tuition, health insurance, and a stipend. Many students also secure dissertation fellowships, and we help many students secure assistantships for funding into their fourth and fifth years.
  • Teaching and professional development. Gain skills in teaching and curriculum development; many of our graduates go on to faculty positions in universities and colleges. We provide doctoral colloquia focusing both on current research and professional and career development.
  • Diverse student body. Our graduate students come from Minnesota, across the nation, and from around the world, giving the learning and research experience depth and breadth in lived experiences and perspectives.

Program outline

Students take two years of coursework both inside and outside the School of Social Work, including required courses in research methods, statistics, theory, history, policy and teaching, as well as supporting program courses from across the university. Students typically complete their preliminary examinations and defend their dissertation proposal, and then complete their dissertation in their fourth or fifth year.

Program Materials
and Information

PhD Resource Hub
PhD Written Exam Bibliography (PDF)