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.

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, mental health, violence prevention, health disparities, social welfare policy, international social work, work with immigrants and refugees, and other social work related research areas.
  • Generous funding for PhD students. The majority of our students receive a four-year funding package that covers tuition, health insurance, and a stipend. Many students also secure dissertation fellowships, and we help students secure assistantships for funding for their fifth year.
  • Teaching and professional development. Gain skills in teaching and curriculum development. 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.

Fall 2020 online information sessions

To learn more about our PhD program and the admissions process, please RSVP for an information session.

Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Time: 7:30–8:30 p.m. CDT
Place: Online via Zoom
RSVP here

Date: Monday, August 31, 2020
Time: 12:30–1:30 p.m. CDT
Place: Online via Zoom
RSVP here

Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Time: 7:30–8:30 p.m. CDT
Place: Online via Zoom
RSVP here

How to apply

Visit our application information page for details about admission deadlines, a list of required application materials, and what we're looking for in our applicants.

Program Information

PhD Resource Hub