Group of doctoral students talking at a table


The diverse theoretical and methodological training of Crown Family School’s faculty make the program uniquely positioned to support a wide array of student interests. Current doctoral students study topics such as child welfare, urban education, health care, youth violence, structural racism and oppressive practices in human service provision, poverty and inequality, urban politics, gender violence, racism and racial disproportionality in the carceral state, low-paid employment, and substance use and abuse. They research public policies, human service organizations, and social programs affecting diverse populations in the United States and globally: immigrants and refugees, racial/ ethnic and sexual minorities, low-income workers, parents, children and adolescents, and individuals with health and mental health challenges and special needs. In their individualized area of study, Crown Family School doctoral students work closely with faculty members to investigate the determinants and consequences of social problems; to study systems and processes of marginalization; to analyze institutional, community, and policy responses to human need; and to develop and evaluate practice methods and interventions at micro, meso, and macro levels. Many Crown Family School faculty members have deep ties to community agencies locally and internationally as well as local, state, and national governments, granting students access and opportunities to conduct engaged scholarship with real world impact.

The Doctoral Program is flexibly structured so that students can pursue a curriculum matched to their individual interests. It is at the forefront of schools of social work that emphasize the role of social science theory and rigorous empirical methods in guiding the investigation of social problems and interventions. Students in the program are encouraged to design a course of study that harnesses the strengths of the Crown Family School and the wider university. In consultation with a faculty advisor, each student develops a program of study that includes two years of coursework, a qualifying examination, a publishable pre-dissertation research project, and a dissertation thesis. Doctoral students also have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty in their research and to serve as teaching assistants or instructors.

Students in the program are encouraged to design a course of study that harnesses the strengths of Crown Family School and the wider University. Students take Crown Family School courses that explore the theoretical underpinnings of social work and social welfare scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and levels of analysis. Students also take courses across the university in such departments as Anthropology, Economics, History, Human Development, Political Science, Public Health Sciences, and Sociology, and in the professional schools of Business, Law, Medicine, and Public Policy. The Traveling Scholar Program enables doctoral-level students to take advantage of educational opportunities at other Big Ten Academic Alliance universities ( without change in registration or increase in tuition.

Crown Family School's Doctoral Program enjoys full access to a rich network of scholars, libraries, institutes, and centers that only a research university such as the University of Chicago can offer. Many of our students work with scholars at Chapin Hall, the Center for Health Administration Studies, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, the Consortium on School Research, and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, to name a few.

The Doctoral Program at Crown Family School is a PhD program for people who want to have a career in research and teaching. We do not offer a DSW or provide specific clinical training for practitioners beyond the master's level.