PhD Degree Requirements & Curriculum

PhD Classroom

PhD Degree Requirements

The doctoral program requires an enrollment of a minimum of 64 credit hours*, as follows:

  • 37 credit hours of required coursework
  • 9 credit hours of electives
  • An integrative paper
  • A comprehensive examination process
  • A dissertation

*Effective fall 2024.

The curriculum is designed to provide standard core content for all students and also to give flexibility for students to develop particular expertise in chosen areas of inquiry and research methods.

Required social work doctoral courses provide a common base of knowledge and skills. Electives, the Integrative Paper, and the dissertation allow greater focus and specialization. The cumulative effect of coursework and the Integrative Paper should be to create a clear area of specialization or emphasis. The dissertation involves detailed scholarly investigation within this area. Students are not required to use the same or similar topic and methodology developed in the Integrative Paper for the dissertation. However, doing so is the most efficient way to proceed through the program. The total number of credit hours students complete for the degree is variable based on students' individual experiences.


The PhD program requires a minimum of 64 credit hours. Visit the KU Academic Catalog for a 4-year PhD Degree Plan.

PhD Program Director

PhD Application Timeline

We admit a new social work PhD cohort every other year. Applications for the fall 2024 cohort closed in January 2024. The application for the fall 2026 cohort will open in October 2025.

Request Information

Ready to pursue your doctoral degree in social work at KU? Request a PhD program guide.