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?
Online information session
Monday, December 16
7–8 p.m. Central Standard Time

Applications for fall 2020 admission to our PhD program are due on January 3, 2020, and this is the last information session before then. This information session will include an overview of the PhD program, but will focus on the application process and what the admissions committee hopes to see in an application. RSVP 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.

See frequently asked questions about the PhD Program.

Program Materials
and Information

PhD Resource Hub
PhD Written Exam Bibliography (PDF)