Students In Research

Students have the opportunity to be highly-involved in research at the KU School of Social Welfare. Find more resources about students in research below.

BSW Research Courses

  • SW 540 Fundamentals of Social

    An examination of the basic concepts and principles of scientific inquiry as applied to the social work profession's quest for and utilization of knowledge. Positivistic and naturalistic methods of inquiry are covered. Other content includes conceptualization, operat

  • SW 541 Social Work Research Seminar

    Focus is on applying material learned in SW 540 to the critique of empirical work in the social work arena and to the development of a proposal for a practice-based research project. Emphasis on assessing relevance of research to special populations. Content on the interpret

MSW Research Courses

  • Social Work Research (SW 740)

    Course offers students the opportunity to become informed consumers of social-work-relevant research and to develop skill in evaluating the effectiveness of their own work with clients and the effectiveness of the programs in which they work.

Upcoming Student-Focused Research Events

MSW Research Scholars




The Opportunity: to work closely, one-on-one with a faculty member or researcher to learn about the research process and to enhance critical thinking about social problems and their solutions.


Eligibility Criteria: Current MSW student in good standing (priority will be given to students in the advanced year of the program, though all are invited to apply)


What the Student will be doing:

  • Work closely with a faculty member on their research for 22 weeks (11 weeks each semester). The commitment is for an average of (8) hours per week. You will not be expected to work over major university holidays or during exam weeks.
  • You will be exposed to many phases of the research and publication process. Various faculty members are at different points in their research, so what you will be doing may differ from what your classmate may be doing.
  • Some possible tasks: literature reviews, interviewing research subjects according to a protocol, helping construct surveys, coding qualitative data, helping write sections of an article based on the research, and many other possibilities.


What the Faculty member will be doing:

  • Introducing you to the exciting world of research
  • Showing you how research can make a difference for the profession of social work and in our communities
  • Teaching you to think critically about social problems and social solutions and about research data
  • Depending on the research phase, teaching you how to go about structuring a proposal or an article or a research report. In some cases, depending on the level of your contribution, you may be a secondary author on a publication or work with your faculty mentor to prepare and (hopefully) deliver a paper at a major conference


Application Process:

Applications open each August with work between October to May.

  • Complete application form and all application materials no later than August 29th.  Applications submitted after this date will not be accepted
  • Be sure to include your first and second research area of interest
  • Your research area of interest will be matched to the researchers who have agreed to work with MSW students on their research
  • Those students for whom there is a match will have an interview with the prospective faculty/ research mentor
  • Final decisions will be made by the Office of the Dean in consultation with potential mentors



2022-23 Research Opportunities

PI: Dr. Becci Akin


Kansas Strong is a public-private-university collaborative that includes the Kansas Department for Children and Families; Kansas Family Advisory Network, Parent Partners, Kansas Youth Advisory Council, Kansas Court Improvement Program, Office of Judicial Administration, Kansas Supreme Court Task Force on Permanency Planning, Children’s Alliance, the state’s network of private providers of family preservation and foster care - Cornerstones of Care, DCCCA, KVC Kansas, Saint Francis Ministries, and TFI; and, the University of Kansas. Kansas Strong aims to establish a collaborative and effective initiative that develops, implements, and evaluates strategies that will improve safety, permanency, and well‐being outcomes, by enhancing agency and court/legal practices and reducing systemic barriers. Remote work options may be available in some instances.

The individual selected for this project will have an opportunity to select a research focus among several different strategies. These include:

• Assist with evaluating a coaching program delivered to supervisors in child welfare agencies.

• Assist with evaluating a resilience intervention delivered to administrators, supervisors, and direct service workers in child welfare agencies.

• Assist with developing, administering, and collecting data from a new fidelity assessment tool for a parent/youth facilitation intervention.

• Assist with evaluating an adoption tracking tool, including survey data, case record data, and/or courtroom observation data.

• Assist with analyzing and summarizing data from statewide surveys of child welfare administrators, supervisors, direct service workers, and other constituents.

PI: Dr. Juliana Carlson


Dr. Juliana Carlson’s research focuses on organizational interventions to prevent gender-based violence (e.g., domestic violence, sexual violence). She has two research projects options where a MSW student could roll up their sleeves and get hands on research experience. The first research project is the Prevention is Possible survey, a multi-year study to understand KU undergraduates’ sexual assault prevention attitudes and behaviors. This survey is part of a collaborative project with KU’s Sexual Assault Prevention & Education Center (SAPEC) and funded by the Kansas Department of Health and Education. The second research project is a Children’s Bureau funded evaluation an adult and child survivor-centered approach to serve child-welfare involved families experiencing domestic violence. The data collection from this 6-year federal project is complete so there are many opportunities for learning about the dissemination end of research. In addition to the publication of findings in journals, Dr. Carlson is interested in developing more accessible translation avenues such as podcasts, infographics, and Instagram. Remote work options may be available in some instances.

If you like the sound of these projects, check out the possible student tasks (one student will be selected and will chose one of the two options mentioned above):

• Assist in conducting literature review searches

• Draft literature review/s to be used in research publications *depending on how extensive the work, work may lead to authorship credit on a publication

• Contribute in processing new survey and qualitative data, including working in partnership with SAPEC team for the Prevention is Possible survey

• Craft accessible translational dissemination of research findings

PI: Dr. Carrie Wendel-Hummell


The Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options is conducting a federally funded study investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Medicaid funded Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) in Kansas. Older adults and individuals with disability prefer to receive long term care at home, but home-based care is less regulated than institutional care and not always guided by a clear chain of command. Did the KanCare system adequately meet the needs of HCBS clients, workers, and caregivers during the pandemic?  What were threats to safety and care quality, and how did home care clients and their workers mitigate these risks? The end goal of this research is to identify practice and policy needs for an improved HCBS system response to future pandemics or similar emergencies.    Qualitative interview and quantitative survey data is currently being collected from HCBS consumers, workers, caregivers, and providers in Kansas. CRADO is collaborating with researchers from the Department of Sociology and St. Lukes Hospital on this project, as well as community partners. More information about the study can be found at Remote work options may be available in some instances.

Depending on the MSW Research Scholar’s interest and fit, the student may assist with facilitating community engagement, qualitative coding of interview data, data cleaning of quantitative survey data,  analysis, and disseminating results to academic and public audiences.

Dr. Claire Willey-Sthapit


Dr. Claire Willey-Sthapit is a new Assistant Professor with the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. Her research project for this year focuses on systematically reviewing research on group and community strategies to address domestic and gender-based violence. As this research largely stems from personal, professional, and research experiences in Nepal, Dr. Willey-Sthapit will bring a transnational perspective to this work, to learn from research studies across borders. This opportunity may be of particular interest to those who wish to learn more about group and community strategies to address gender-based violence, transnational social work, and/or research, especially qualitative methods.

The MSW scholar would:

• Support analysis of qualitative research articles for a qualitative meta-synthesis examining group intervention and prevention strategies

• Conduct some limited literature searches as needed

• Analyze qualitative and quantitative articles for theoretical and/or systematic reviews on the same topic

• Write on one or more paper, including potential for authorship depending on student interest and involvement in this

• Involvement in other avenues for dissemination of findings

At A Glance

  • $2,000 award to be applied to spring tuition

  • Work an average of 8 hours per week, 11 weeks per semester

  • Work directly with practicing academic researchers

Apply for the 2022-23 Academic Year

  • Application Period: 8/19/22 - 8/29/22

  • Work will begin: October 2022

Learn More & Apply Here

Student Research Poem

Impact. Impact gained. Impact given. Impact is everything. 
Through all occurrences impact appears. Impact is felt. Impact is learned. 
Learned I can change the world
for those near and far
Learned as I found empowered perspective
looking through different lenses
Learned how much I need to know,
and weight of my responsibility
Learned how my research
can connect queer community
Learned how to free myself
through other's liberation
-spring 2021 SW541 class