15.4 DOCTOR OF
PHILOSOPHY IN SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM
PhD Program Director:
Professor Brenda Smith, Office: 207 Little Hall
Graduate School Admission Requirements. The Graduate School determines
eligibility for regular or conditional admission, primarily on the
basis of standardized test scores and previous academic record.
Successful applicants must meet the minimum admission requirements
of the Graduate School, which follow.
a grade point average (GPA) of
at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (overall) or a GPA of at least 3.0
for the last 60 hours of the previous degree program, or 3.0 for
a completed graduate degree program.
an acceptable score on an
appropriate entrance examination as set by the department or
An applicant may be considered for
conditional admission if he or she has a GPA of 2.5 overall and an
acceptable score on the appropriate admission examination, or a GPA
of 3.0 and less than the minimum score on the admission examination.
Additional information is in the
section of this catalog.
PhD Program Admission Requirements. Once the application is complete,
it is sent to the PhD program office in the School of Social Work
for evaluation. Listed below are the requirements for unconditional admission to the social work
a minimum composite score of
1000 on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test
verbal and quantitative sections. In addition, the faculty will
consider the score on the analytical writing section of the GRE
together with the essay submitted to the School of Social Work
as part of the application to the PhD program. Applicants from
non-English-speaking countries must submit evidence of English
language proficiency by means of a Test of English as a Foreign
Language (TOEFL) score of at least 550, or 79 on the
internet-based TOEFL, or a score of at least 6.5 on the
International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
letters from three references,
one of whom must be an experienced social worker with firsthand
knowledge of the applicant's capability and one of whom must be
a former university instructor who has personal knowledge of the
applicant's intellectual and scholarly abilities. If the
applicant has earned the MSW degree, at least one letter must
be from a former instructor in the applicant's MSW program.
a statement of purpose
indicating the reasons the applicant wishes to pursue a doctoral
degree in social work and indicating the applicantís research
evidence of scholarly ability, supported by evidence the applicant supplies
(e.g., a paper published in a journal or presented at a
conference or workshop, a design of a service program or a
research proposal, and/or a course syllabus written by the
An Admissions Committee composed of
members of the PhD Program Committee reviews application materials
and a recommendation is made to the Graduate School, which formally
notifies the applicant of the admission decision. Applicants seeking
admission to the program who do not meet the above requirements are
considered on an individual basis. If an applicant desires such
consideration, he or she should file all application materials as
directed above. In addition to the materials required of all
students, he or she should file, along with the School of Social
Work application form, a petition for exemption from one or more
requirements. The petition should state the requirement from which
exemption is sought and should provide information supporting the
petition. After the file is complete and referred to the PhD
program by the Graduate School, the applicant may be invited to
schedule an interview with the program chair or other member of the
admissions committee, in order to assess individually the
applicant's qualifications for doctoral studies in social work. A
summary of this interview and the petition for an exception will be
made available to the Admissions Committee for consideration prior
to its decision regarding an admissions recommendation.
If seeking exemption from the requirements, the applicant should be
aware that he or she may be required to register for courses other
than the standard curriculum, including courses at the MSW level.
The amount and type of such work may be decided by the Admissions
Committee before admission and/or by the applicant's academic
advisor after admission.
Additional Program Admission
In addition to the above program
admission requirements, it is recommended that the applicant also possess the
a master's degree in social
work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work
Education (CSWE) at the time of graduation.
a minimum of two years of
full-time employment (or its equivalent) in social work after
earning the master's degree.
Many schools of social work require
the MSW degree and at least two years of post-MSW practice
experience for admission to the doctoral program in social work. In
this program, they are highly recommended but not required. There
are advantages to having the MSW and practice experience prior to
matriculation in a PhD program. Students may be able to transfer
up to 12 hours of MSW coursework into the PhD program, subject
to Graduate School policies on transfer of credit. In addition,
students with the MSW and practice experience will have more
context in which to interpret the content of social work core
courses. Finally, the BSW or MSW and practice experience will
permit the applicant, under current CSWE accreditation
standards, to engage in the full range of teaching and advising
assignments at accredited schools of social work. Thus, the
applicant will have a competitive advantage in the job market over
someone who does not have the BSW or MSW and post-MSW
Applicants admitted without the MSW must earn an MSW prior to
receiving their Ph.D. It is the responsibility of such students to
work with their academic advisor through this process.
CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT IN THE MSW
AND PhD DEGREES PROGRAMS.
The University of Alabama School of Social Work offers an MSW/PhD
concurrent program for individuals who hold, or are candidates for,
bachelorís degrees who have strong interest in research careers in
social work. These individuals may be admitted simultaneously to the
MSW and PhD programs and work on both degrees concurrently. Those
admitted to the concurrent program will complete all current
requirements for the PhD degree. Specific required PhD coursework
will be applied to specific MSW degree requirements, reducing the
number of semester hours required for the MSW and PhD degrees by 18
hours. The MSW degree will be awarded when all requirements for the
MSW completed, and the student will continue to work on the PhD
Successful applicants must meet the minimum admission requirements
of the Graduate School and The School of Social Work MSW and PhD
Inquiries concerning the program or application may be made to the
following address: The University of Alabama School of Social Work,
Doctoral Program, Box 870314, Tuscaloosa, AL
PhD Degree Requirements
Plan of Study
must be submitted to the Graduate School by the time the student
completes 30 hours of UA credits and/or transfer credits for the doctorate.
In the Social Work PhD Program, 53 hours of regular course work are
required, not counting the statistics requirement. Typically,
students who have completed the MSW will take 41 hours of course
work and be given credit for up to 12 hours for the MSW degree. This
total of 53 hours does not include the work to satisfy the
statistical proficiency requirement or the studentís dissertation
hours. Specific requirements of the doctor of philosophy in social
work degree program are as follows:
Thirty-one semester hours of core social work courses,
including a one-credit seminar, five courses in substantive
areas and six courses in research methodology (credit for prior
graduate work may be granted, based on the student's own
particular program of study and research; consult the program
chairperson for details).
Twelve semester hours in a
minor field taken from one or more areas outside the School.
A statistical research
competency demonstrated by successful completion of a research
sequence of courses chosen from the educational research course
sequence BER 540, BER 545, and BER 546; the political science
course sequence PSC 522 and PSC 621; the College of Community
Health Sciences course sequence CHS 525 and CHS 526. Alternatives may be approved.
A dissertation showing the
student's ability to conduct independent research that adds to
the knowledge of the profession (includes a minimum of 24 hours
of dissertation credit).
Completion of all courses with
a grade point average of 3.0 ("B") or better.
These requirements are minimum standards. Additional work may be
required, depending on the student's preparation and career
interests. Doctoral study must be completed within seven years.
Residency Requirements. The
minimum period in which the PhD degree can be earned is three
academic years of full-time graduate study (or the equivalent in a
set of shorter segments). Both the fall and spring semesters of
either the second or third academic year of study must be spent in
continuous residence as a full-time student (as an alternative, the
full-time residence may be completed by full-time enrollment during
a summer session, including both summer terms, preceded or followed
by a regular semester). Full-time residence study is defined as an
academic load of 9 semester hours or more during a period when the
student's principal activity is academic work.
to Candidacy. A department-approved
to Candidacy for the Doctoral Degree
is submitted to the Graduate School as soon as possible after
passing the comprehensive (preliminary) examination.
Additional information on Plan
of Study, Residency, Admission to Candidacy, and all other degree
is in the
Degree Requirements section of this catalog.
PhD Program. The purpose of this program is to prepare
persons who hold the master's degree in social work, or a related
discipline or profession, for scholarly roles by advancing their
knowledge and increasing their skills in theory-building, research
methods, and the critical evaluation of social work policies and
The doctoral program builds on a base of professional knowledge and
practice in social work. It provides all students with advanced
knowledge of research, social policy, and practice. In addition to a
grounding in research methods, the program offers students the
opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of a selected
area of concentration and, through the dissertation, contribute to
knowledge development in that area. To supplement this concentration
area, students select a minor area in a single academic
discipline or develop a comprehensive interdisciplinary minor. As
soon as they enter the program, students are assigned to a PhD
faculty advisor for program planning and guidance.
The program is notable among social work doctoral programs for the
range and depth of its research foundation courses and electives.
Exceptional opportunities are available for students interested in
research in mental health, aging, and child welfare. There are
opportunities for overseas experience as well as for collaboration
with the Center for Mental Health and Aging, the Institute for Rural
Health Research, the Institute for Social Science Research, the
Program for Rural Services and Research, and the Youth Services
Institute, with other colleges and departments of the University;
and with various units of The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Time Limit. All doctoral
degree requirements must be completed in the 7 years (21 consecutive
fall, spring and summer semesters) after admission.
Obtaining Information. Inquiries about the program and
requests for application materials should be made to: The University
School of Social Work, PhD Program Office, Box 870314,
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0314; telephone (205) 348-9785; fax (205)
Financial Aid. Some financial aid is available from the
School of Social Work, including graduate assistantships and the Ben
Avis Orcutt and Leslie J. Shellhase endowed scholarships, which are
administered by the PhD program. For information on financial aid
from other sources, visit the
Financial aid commonly takes the form of graduate teaching or
research assistantships, special grants or fellowships, student
loans, work-study, and/or part-time employment in a local social