Three doctoral students

Requirements & Timeline

Degree Requirements

Students attend the Doctoral Program full-time. They are required to take a minimum of fifteen courses: one on the history of the social work profession, five on statistics and research methods offered at Crown Family School and across the University, and nine additional substantive courses, at least three of which are in other departments or professional schools at the University of Chicago. It is expected that these three courses be in a single discipline or substantive area.

Students are expected to complete a pre-dissertation research project during their first two years of study. This project should be an empirical report, a critical analysis of the literature, or a theoretical piece, written while a doctoral student and submitted for publication in a journal or book.

Students must pass a qualifying examination that assesses their understanding of the historical foundations of social work as well as their understanding of core literatures in two of eight conceptual domains informing their area of scholarship. The examination process includes a take-home, open-book examination completed during a one-week period at the end of the summer following the second year.

Each student will complete three mentored teaching experiences such as teaching assistantships, instructors, and teaching apprenticeships.

Finally, students are required to successfully complete a dissertation project. As the culmination of the Doctoral Program, the dissertation thesis reflects the student's ability to use theoretical knowledge and analytic tools to advance knowledge in a particular area of concern to social work and social welfare scholarship.


Because the time needed to complete the dissertation varies widely, the time required for completion of the PhD program also varies. In general, students take from four to five years to complete all requirements. The following outlines a suggested plan for progress in the program.


First Year

Second Year

Third Year

Fourth Year and Beyond

Coursework Courses to meet degree requirements Courses to meet degree requirements Complete coursework by beginning of year  
Qualifying Exam     Complete qualifying exam by beginning of year  
Dissertation Pre-dissertation research Pre-dissertation research Dissertation proposal Dissertation data collection, analysis, writing, and defense
Assistantships Research assistantship Research assistantship Teaching assistantship Teaching assistantship