social-work

Ph.D. Degree Tracks1

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a master's degree in social work and follow the program's standard course sequencing should be able to complete their degree in four to five years. Students who enter the program without a master's degree must plan on an additional one to two years to complete the program and must select from among the following:

  • Track I: MSW/Ph.D. program for students without a bachelor's degree in social work (students complete the equivalent of the two-year master's program while in the doctoral program)
  • Track II: MSW/Ph.D. program for students with a bachelor's degree in social work (students complete the equivalent of the one-year master's program advanced generalist specialization in an area of focus; requires that students have a BSW from a CSWE accredited school of social work)
  • Track III: Program for students who do not have a social work degree and who do not want an MSW (requires that students complete MSW generalist foundation courses and a 2-credit internship)

The doctoral program has four special features: an emphasis is given to interdisciplinary research and training that seeks to promote optimal functioning in individuals or families across the life course; it stresses that social welfare problems are best understood in individual, family, community, economic, and cultural context; it conceptualizes research as a catalyst for social action and change; and it emphasizes methodological and statistical training and their applications to studying social problems and processes.

The first two years of the curriculum emphasize methodological, statistical, theoretical and substantive coursework. A variety of social welfare seminars are offered within the school. Students from several departments are invited to join these seminars creating a rich interdisciplinary training environment. Two foundation social welfare research methods seminars cover the fundamentals of research design and implementation relevant to the design and conduct of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. Application of research methods seminars provide practical experience and application of research knowledge and skills (e.g., proposal writing and data analysis). The social policy and applied theory seminars address specific substantive issues (e.g., poverty, child welfare, family policy), as well as core policy analytics and models of the application of social theory to social problems, respectively. The social welfare faculty research seminar (SOC WORK 946 Faculty Research Seminar, fall semester); and two student research seminars (SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar, spring semesters) provide opportunity for professional socialization to the field and development of research interests.

The curriculum is designed to require students to take some courses in departments throughout the campus, based on their individualized learning needs. Students take substantive and research courses focusing on topics related to their specialization. A wide selection of courses in world-renowned social and behavioral science departments is available. Students select an approved social science theory course; two statistics courses (C&E SOC/​SOC  361 Statistics for Sociologists IISOC 362 Statistics for Sociologists III or ED PSYCH 760 Statistical Methods Applied to Education IED PSYCH 761 Statistical Methods Applied to Education II ); two substantive elective courses; two statistics/methodology elective courses. Years three and four (or five) are dedicated to the preparation and completion of preliminary examinations and dissertation research.

About the School of Social Work

The School of Social Work at UW–Madison is consistently ranked among the best schools of social work in the country. Faculty prepare social work professionals at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Through the preparation of social work practitioners, scholars and educators, faculty and students explore and seek to understand the nature of social problems, their impact on vulnerable populations, and ways to critically analyze and promote the achievement of a just, equitable, healthy, and productive society.

Social work faculty are noted for their scholarly work in developing a conceptual understanding of social work practice and policy, and in producing research in important social problem areas. For example, faculty took a leadership role in the development of the generalist model of practice now used by most social work programs. Faculty members have made valuable research contributions in the fields of aging, child welfare, developmental disabilities, and family and intergenerational caregiving, as well as in educational attainment and life-course decision-making, end-of-life care for older adults and palliative care, health disparities, homelessness, poverty, social policy, welfare reform, and child support. Drawing on strong faculty, excellent students, and the resources of a world-renowned university in a community rich with social and human service programs, there is much to offer prospective students: individualized, faculty-taught field education for master's students, nationally renowned faculty with a strong interdisciplinary focus, and hands-on research training in a highly individualized program of study for doctoral students.

The school offers unique opportunities for students to receive state-of-the-art professional training through its field education program. Student practice opportunities range from experiences in institutional and community-based settings to working with families and other significant care-givers, with individuals and groups, and in policy and service delivery issues.

Mission. The mission of the School of Social Work is to enhance human well-being and promote social and economic justice for people who are disadvantaged to achieve an equitable, healthy, and productive society. The school aims to:

  • Create, advance, strengthen, and integrate interdisciplinary knowledge for students and the profession through research, scholarship, and practice.
  • Educate students to become highly skilled, culturally competent and ethical practitioners who will provide leadership for the profession of social work within the state of Wisconsin and nationally.
  • Promote change at levels ranging from the individual client to national, including empowering communities and populations that are disadvantaged and developing humane service delivery systems.
  • Create and disseminate knowledge regarding the prevention and amelioration of social problems.

The School of Social Work is one of five professional schools in the College of Letters & Science. As part of the college, the school maintains relationships with the other social studies and professional schools within the university system through interchange of faculty and students and through joint research and publication endeavors.

Online applications are available through the Graduate School Electronic Application. Admission to the Ph.D. program requires an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester credits. Applicants are required to have completed a statistics course; 30 semester credits of social science courses and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores taken within five years of application date; if appropriate, english proficiency exam (TOEFL) scores, taken within two years of application date. Applicants must also submit a statement of reasons for graduate study, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a writing sample, and a resume or CV.

Ph.D. program details are fully described on the School of Social Work website.

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

Prospective students should see the program website for funding information.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement All degree coursework must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (http://my.wisc.edu/CourseGuideRedirect/BrowseByTitle).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary/oral examination after they have cleared their record of all Incomplete and Progress grades (other than research and thesis). Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements Doctoral Social Welfare students are not required to complete a minor.

Required COURSES

For Students Entering with an MSW

Fall Semester 1
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
SOC WORK 946 Faculty Research Seminar1
Statistics I3
Spring Semester 1
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar (Topic: Quantitative Methods)3
SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar (Topic: Applied Theory Seminar)3
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar (Topic: Application of Research Methods)3
Statistics II3
Fall Semester 2
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Social Science Theory course3
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar (Topic: Qualitative Methods)3
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective3
Spring Semester 2
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar (Topic: Research Methods)3
Susbstantive Course Elective3
Statistics/Methods Elective3
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
Total Credits45

MSW/Ph.D. in Social Welfare for Students Without a BSW

Fall Semester 1
Statistics I3
SOC WORK 605 The Field of Social Work2
SOC WORK 711 Human Behavior and the Environment2
SOC WORK 946 Faculty Research Seminar1
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 1
Statistics II3
Social Science Theory3
SOC WORK 640 Social Work with Ethnic and Racial Groups2
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Fall Semester 2
SOC WORK 400 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar I4
SOC WORK 441 Generalist Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups3
SOC WORK 442 Generalist Practice with Communities and Organizations2
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
Spring Semester 2
SOC WORK 401 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar II4
SOC WORK 712 Psychopathology for Social Work Practice in Mental Health3
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar3
SOC WORK 840 Advanced Macro Practice2
Fall Semester 3
SOC WORK 800 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar III 15
Advanced Practice Course 2
MSW Course Elective 1
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 4
SOC WORK 801 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar IV5
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 23
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective3
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective3
Total Credits79

MSW/Ph.D. in Social Welfare for Students With a BSW

Fall Semester 1
Statistics I3
SOC WORK 946 Faculty Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Social Science Theory3
Spring Semester 1
Statistics II3
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
SOC WORK 712 Psychopathology for Social Work Practice in Mental Health 13
Fall Semester 2
SOC WORK 800 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar III5
Advanced Practice Course 22
MSW Course Elective 22
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 2
SOC WORK 801 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar IV5
SOC WORK 840 Advanced Macro Practice 22
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar3
Fall Semester 3
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective3
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective3
Spring Semester 3
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 33
Total Credits64

Ph.D.-only

Fall Semester 1
Statistics I3
SOC WORK 605 The Field of Social Work2
SOC WORK 711 Human Behavior and the Environment2
SOC WORK 946 Faculty Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 1
Statistics II3
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar3
Fall Semester 2
Social Science Theory3
SOC WORK 675 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare 12
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 2
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 23
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective3
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective3
Total Credits51

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Program-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Doctoral students may apply credits obtained in other graduate programs toward the Ph.D. program minimum degree requirement and minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement.  Graduate credits from other institutions may not be used to fulfill the minimum graduate residence credit requirement.  Coursework earned 10 or more years prior to admission to the Ph.D program may not be used to satisfy degree credit minimums.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Doctoral students cannot use credits obtained as undergraduate students toward the Ph.D. program requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, doctoral students may apply up to 15 credits numbered 300 and above obtained as UW–Madison University Special students toward the Ph.D. program minimum graduate residence credit requirement and the minimum graduate degree credit requirement.  That coursework may not be applied to the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement unless taken at the 700 level or above.  Coursework earned 10 or more years prior to admission to the Ph.D program may not be used to satisfy degree credit minimums.

ProbatioN

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

Time Constraints

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may by require to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Other

A Joint MSW/Ph.D. option is available for students without an MSW. Students with another master's degree may choose the Joint or Ph.D. only option.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

1. Demonstrate understanding of knowledge of social welfare problems, theories, policies, and programs.

2. Conceptualize and analyze approaches to improving social welfare problems, theories, policies, and programs.

3. Apply advanced quantitative and/or qualitative methodology for social welfare scholarship.

4. Develop knowledge and skills to teach and/or present in professional contexts social welfare-related material.

5. Demonstrate professional and ethical conduct.

6. Create research, scholarship, or programing that enhances social welfare.

7. Develop and demonstrate ethical and professional skills necessary for a career as a social welfare scholar.

8. Teach courses in a program or school of social work.

9. Translate research findings into policy and program practice.

Faculty: Professors Magnuson (program chair), Berger, Cancian, Greenberg, Kramer, Mailick, Meyer, Robert (school director), Schroepfer, Slack; Associate Professors Curtis,  Moses; Assistant Professors Bishop-Fitzpatrick, Charles, Gerassi, Ros Pilarz, Xiong