Degree Requirements

The PhD program requires a minimum of 45 units beyond the master's degree (exclusive of SOWK 794 Doctoral Dissertation units) and successful completion of written and oral qualifying exams and the doctoral dissertation. Students must complete all required coursework by the end of the second year in their doctoral studies.

Individualized Course of Study

Students prepare an Individualized Course Study Plan (ISP) with their faculty mentor in the spring of the first year that is approved by the doctoral committee. It details classes and tutorials that each student will take during the second year of the program.


All doctoral students must teach for two semesters before they graduate. Requirements may be fulfilled by co-teaching, teaching as an assistant or solo teaching. Before beginning these experiences, students must take a teaching course approved by the doctoral committee. International students must meet the English proficiency standards set forth by the American Language Institute and participate, if necessary, in specialized training offered through the Center for Excellence in Teaching.

Qualifying Examination

As a prerequisite to candidacy for the PhD degree, students must pass a qualifying examination in their research area, which comprises a written paper of publishable quality and includes an oral defense. To become eligible to take the exam, students must complete all core courses, at least six units of SOWK 790 tutorials and at least 32 units of course work in the doctoral program, with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. After passing the qualifying exam, students will be advanced to candidacy.


Before proceeding with the dissertation, students must establish a dissertation committee approved by the Graduate School and submit a dissertation proposal for approval. Students submit their completed dissertation to their dissertation committee and orally defend it.