PhD in Social Work Degree Requirements

The curriculum is oriented towards a multidisciplinary understanding of complex issues and problems, and emphasizes the varieties of translational research methods. Forty-eight (48) semester credit hours (SCH) are required for the Ph.D. degree: 39 hours in coursework and 9 hours in Dissertation Research.

The Qualifying Paper Examination

Students are required to pass the qualifying paper examination after all required doctoral coursework is successfully completed.

Proposal and Dissertation

After a student has successfully passed  the qualifying paper examination and has demonstrated readiness to pursue independent research, s/he is responsible for organizing a Dissertation Committee, developing a dissertation proposal, and completing the dissertation.

The dissertation proposal must provide a comprehensive overview of the proposed dissertation research study. The focus of the dissertation must fall within the area of social welfare. Dissertation research is organized around one or more testable hypotheses or may be exploratory in nature. The proposed dissertation must also be feasible in terms of the candidate's qualifications to complete the study, the data available, the resources required for the study, and a reasonable timeline for completion.

Students are required to follow all UH timelines and policies. All dissertations must be completed within five (5) years of passing the qualifying paper examination or students will be required to redo the qualifying paper. Students must finish their dissertation within 10 years of the date of their first enrollment in the Doctoral Program. It is recommended that students successfully complete their proposal defense no later than the fifth (5th) semester following their qualifying paper examination. This provides five semesters to complete the entire dissertation before the UH five-year deadline.

The Dissertation Chairperson is the student's major advisor in formulating the dissertation proposal, conducting ongoing research, and preparing the final dissertation. The proposal must be successfully defended prior to registration for the Dissertation credit course.


The Ph.D. Program Academic Advisor and Director provide academic and faculty advisment, respectively, for students until a Dissertation Chairperson is chosen. Students are urged to consult with a wide range of faculty members on matters related to substantive areas of their course of study.