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Ph.D. in Social Work

The goal of the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare doctoral program is to prepare students to become leaders nationally and internationally in advancing social work practice and policy through research, teaching, and scholarship. Our students graduate from the program with the critical knowledge and skills they need to become innovative stewards of the discipline who generate and disseminate knowledge as researchers, scholars and educators.

Our Ph.D. Faculty

Our doctoral faculty have national reputations in their fields, with expertise in aging, child welfare, child mental health, adult mental health, corrections, juvenile justice, spirituality, diversity, and poverty. Our grants for research and training in these areas exceed $6 million annually.

The KU School of Social Welfare Ph. D. faculty has consistently been ranked highly in published program comparisons based on criteria strongly related to our doctoral program faculty and students. For example, a study reported in the Journal of Social Work Education in fall 2012 ranked our faculty in the top 15 nationally in terms of publications in six major social work journals.

Current Ph.D. in social work students report that faculty accessibility and interest in doctoral students is very high. In a survey of our recent graduates, a high percentage reported great satisfaction with the preparation they received in the KU School of Social Welfare doctoral program. They particularly commented on the quality of the faculty-student mentoring relationship.

"KU is a place where a student can do independent thinking within an environment where faculty and students see one another as part of a community," said a recent doctoral graduate.

"The mentoring relationship between a GRA and faculty mentor provides a forum through which doctoral students can learn about many aspects of academic life. I am currently working with Ph.D. student Margaret Lloyd. In this case, by working with Margaret on research projects, I am able to teach her about the content and process of research, and show her about the daily realities of applied research. She has been able to take the content of her courses and watch it 'come to life' in the work that we do together. It's been wonderful!” Jody Brook, assistant professor, KU School of Social Welfare. Read more about this faculty-student mentoring relationship.

Our Students

Students who make the best fit for our Ph.D. in social work program have professional aspirations that match our overall goal. Our students come from diverse backgrounds, interests, parts of the country and regions of the world including Japan, Costa Rica, Korea, Ethiopia, and China. At any one time, there are about 30 to 40 students at various stages of the program, and class sizes are usually in the 6 to 10 range. An active student organization provides peer mentoring and support, and students are well represented on curriculum committees. Students are encouraged to publish articles and present papers at national and international conferences. In 2015, 18 peer-reviewed journal articles, authored or co-authored by 10 different Ph.D. students, were accepted for publication, and in 2014, 19 peer-reviewed journal articles, authored or co-authored by 12 different Ph.D. students, were accepted for publication. In addition, 27 different national and international conference presentations and posters were presented in 2015 and 20 in 2014. See full list of 2015 publications (pdf). See full list of 2014 publications (pdf). Most of our graduates have taken academic faculty positions or leadership positions as researchers. To learn more view the School of Social Welfare doctoral program profile (pdf).


Laurie Ramirez
Graduate Student Services Coordinator

Becky Hofer
Director of Graduate Admissions

Margaret Severson
PhD Program Director

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