social-work
Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.*
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Online applications are available through the Graduate School Electronic Application. Admission to the Social Welfare PhD 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. Details about what is expected in the writing sample and statement, information about acceptable letters of recommendation, and other specific details can be found on the PhD Application page of the School of Social Work website.

PhD program details are fully described on the PhD Program in Social Welfare page on the School of Social Work website.

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 restrictions 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 100% of the coursework required for the PhD Program in Social Welfare must be taken at the UW-Madison and either have the graduate attribute, or have approval from the PhD Program Chair. Coursework earned more than 5 years prior to admission to the PhD program may not be used to satisfy degree credit minimums. 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 Students must pass all courses with a grade of B or better. A student must retake any required course in which a lower grade than B is received, except for the statistics sequence where a grade of BC or C may be offset by a grade of A or AB in another statistics course.
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students are required to complete 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 n/a
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements Doctoral Social Welfare students are not required to complete a minor.

Required COURSES

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. 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 (typically 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.

For Students Entering with an MSW

Fall Semester 1
Statistics I3
SOC WORK 946 Faculty Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 948 Proseminar
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 1
Statistics II3
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
Social Science Theory or Elective 13
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research
Fall Semester 2
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective 13
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 13
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 949 Proseminar
SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 2
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 13
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 13
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 23
or SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research
Total Credits42

MSW/PhD 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
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 949 Proseminar
Spring Semester 1
Statistics II3
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 33
SOC WORK 710 Diversity, Oppression and Social Justice in Social Work2
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research3
or SOC WORK 952 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
or SOC WORK 948 Proseminar
Spring Semester 2
SOC WORK 401 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar II4
SOC WORK 612 Psychopathology in Generalist Social Work Practice 42
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research
SOC WORK 840 Advanced Macro Practice 12
Fall Semester 3
SOC WORK 800 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar III 15
MSW Advanced Practice Course (i.e., SOC WORK 741, 821, 835, or 873) 2
MSW Advanced Practice Elective 12
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 948 Proseminar
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 3
SOC WORK 801 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar IV5
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 23
or SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 33
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 33
Total Credits79

MSW/PhD in Social Welfare for Students With a BSW

Fall Semester 1
Statistics I3
SOC WORK 946 Faculty Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 948 Proseminar
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Social ScienceTheory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 43
Spring Semester 1
Statistics II3
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 43
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 43
SOC WORK 612 Psychopathology in Generalist Social Work Practice 12
Fall Semester 2
SOC WORK 800 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar III5
MSW Advanced Practice Course (i.e., SOC WORK 741, 821, 835, or 873)2
MSW Advanced Practice Elective 22
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 948 Proseminar
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 Practice2
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 33
or SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 43
Fall Semester 3
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 43
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective 43
Spring Semester 3
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 43
Total Credits63

PhD-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
or SOC WORK 948 Proseminar
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 1
Statistics II3
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Social Science Theory, Statistics/Methods, or Substantive Course Elective 33
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 23
or SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research
Fall Semester 2
Social Science Theory 33
SOC WORK 675 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare (Social Work Internship) 12
SOC WORK 949 Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 948 Proseminar
SOC WORK 950 PhD Proseminar3
or SOC WORK 951 PhD Proseminar
Spring Semester 2
SOC WORK 947 Student Research Seminar1
SOC WORK 948 Proseminar (or Elective)3
SOC WORK 952 PhD Proseminar 23
or SOC WORK/​ED PSYCH  945 Evaluation Research
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective 33
Statistics/Methods or Substantive Course Elective 33
Total Credits51

 Statistics/Methods, Theory,  or Substantive Course Electives

CNSR SCI 930 Seminar in Family Economic Policy3
COUN PSY 960 Research Methods in Counseling Psychology, II3
CSCS 501 Special Topics3
CSCS 801 Special Topics in Civil Society and Community Research3
CURRIC/​COUN PSY/​ED POL/​ED PSYCH/​ELPA/​RP & SE  789 Qualitative Research Methods in Education: Field Methods II3
ED PSYCH/​COUN PSY/​RP & SE  737 Seminar in History and Systems of Psychology3
ED PSYCH 760 Statistical Methods Applied to Education I3
ED PSYCH 761 Statistical Methods Applied to Education II3
ED PSYCH 762 Introduction to the Design of Educational Experiments3
ED PSYCH 763 Regression Models in Education3
ED PSYCH 771 Test Construction3
ED PSYCH 845 Psychopharmacological Treatments for Children and Adolescents3
ED PSYCH 946 Advanced Assessment and Intervention Techniques3
ED PSYCH 960 Structural Equation Modeling3
ED PSYCH 963 Design & Analysis of Quasi-Experiments for Causal Inference3
ED PSYCH/​ELPA  964 Hierarchical Linear Modeling3
ELPA/​ED POL/​PUB AFFR  765 Issues in Educational Policy Analysis3
ELPA/​ED PSYCH  827 Surveys and Other Quantitative Data Collection Strategies3
ELPA 940 Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership3
GEN&WS/​C&E SOC/​SOC  904 Sociological Perspectives on Gender3
GEN&WS/​POLI SCI  933 Feminist Political Theory3
HDFS 766 Current Topics in Human Development and Family Studies3
HDFS 818 Attachment Theory and Relationships Across the Lifespan3
HDFS 865 Family Theory I (Survey)3
HDFS 869 Advanced Seminar in Family Stress and Coping3
HDFS/​ED PSYCH/​NURSING/​SOC WORK  880 Prevention Science3
HIST SCI/​MED HIST  919 Graduate Studies in Medical History3
INTER-HE 793 Research Methods3
NURSING 818 Patient-centered Research3
NURSING 772 Leadership and Organizational Decision-Making in Health Care3
POP HLTH/​B M I  651 Advanced Regression Methods for Population Health3
POP HLTH 709 Translational and Outcomes Research in Health and Health Care3
POP HLTH 795 Principles of Population Health Sciences3
POP HLTH 796 Introduction to Health Services Research3
POP HLTH/​SOC  797 Introduction to Epidemiology3
PUB AFFR 819 Advanced Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI  871 Public Program Evaluation3
PUB AFFR 880 Microeconomic Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR 888 Comparative and National Social Policy3
PUB AFFR 974 Topics in Public Affairs3
RP & SE 560 Psychosocial Aspects of Chronic Illness and Disability3
SOC/​C&E SOC  361 Statistics for Sociologists II3
SOC 362 Statistics for Sociologists III3
SOC 351 Introduction to Survey Methods for Social Research3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC/​URB R PL  617 Community Development3
SOC 751 Survey Methods for Social Research3
SOC 752 Measurement and Questionnaires for Survey Research3
SOC 901 Seminar: Topics in Current Sociology3
SOC 952 Seminar-Mathematical and Statistical Applications in Sociology3
SOC/​ED POL  955 Seminar-Qualitative Methodology3
SOC/​C&E SOC  971 Seminar-Topics in Demography and Ecology3
URB R PL 844 Housing and Public Policy3
COUN PSY/​ED PSYCH/​HDFS  726 Ethnic and Racial Diversity in Social Development3
NURSING 715 Evaluation of Health Informatics Solutions3

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.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

No coursework from other institutions may be applied toward the minimum graduate coursework requirement, the minimum graduate degree credit requirement, or the minimum PhD program requirement except in rare circumstances that require approval from the PhD Program Chair. Coursework earned more than 5 years prior to admission to the PhD program may not be used to satisfy degree credit minimums.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Doctoral students may apply up to 6 credits with the graduate attribute, obtained as UW-Madison undergraduate students, toward the PhD program statistics or methods requirements, with approval from the PhD Program Chair.  Coursework earned more than 5 years prior to admission to the PhD program may not be used to satisfy degree credit minimums.

UW–Madison University Special

Doctoral students may petition to apply up to 12 credits with the graduate attribute, obtained as a UW–Madison University Special student or as a UW-Madison graduate student in another graduate program, toward the PhD program minimum degree requirement  and the minimum graduate degree credit requirement.  Courses without the graduate attribute, taken as a UW-Madison University Special student or a UW-Madison graduate student in another graduate program, must be approved by the PhD Program Chair. Coursework earned more than 5 years prior to admission to the PhD 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. 

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 required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.

Other

A Joint MSW/PhD option is available for students without an MSW. Students with another master's degree may choose the Joint or PhD 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 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 social welfare-related material in professional contexts .
  5. Demonstrate professional and ethical conduct.
  6. Create research, scholarship, or programing that enhances social welfare.

Professors: Lawrence M. Berger, MSW, Ph.D.; Marah H. Curtis, MSW, Ph.D.; Katherine Magnuson, Ph.D.; Daniel R. Meyer, MSW, Ph.D.; Stephanie A. Robert, MSW, Ph.D. (School director); Tracy Schroepfer, MSW, Ph.D., Kristen Slack, A.M., Ph.D.

Associate Professors: Tally Moses, MSW, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors: Lauren Bishop, Ph.D.; Pajarita Charles, MPA, MSW, Ph.D.; Lara Gerassi, MSW, Ph.D.; Jooyoung Kong, MSW, Ph.D.; Jessica Pac, Ph.D.; Alejandra Ros Pilarz, Ph.D.;  Tawandra Rowell-Cunsolo, Ph.D.; Tova Walsh, MSW, Ph.D.; Yang Sao Xiong, Ph.D.