Jun 21, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work Major, PhD

The focus of social work education at the doctoral level is to foster the development of an attitude of scientific inquiry, knowledge of the scientific method, ability to extend the knowledge base of social work practice, and effective participation in leadership roles in social work education, research, and practice.

  • Upon completion of the Ph.D. program, students will be able to:
    • Demonstrate expert knowledge in a focused substantive area relevant to social work.
    • Conduct independent and original scientific research that advances knowledge in a substantive area.
    • Communicate scientific findings in an effective way to a range of audiences (from lay persons to other scientists).
    • Secure funding for a substantive research agenda.
    • Teach students the knowledge, skills, and values they need to be proficient social workers in a substantive area.

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

The courses are available only in Knoxville. Students and their committees can develop a plan for completing their research in Nashville based on the availability of dissertation resources.

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • The PhD program is designed for students who have completed a master’s degree in an accredited school of social work and have post-master’s social work/social welfare experience.
  • Applicants who do not meet these requirements, but believe they have equivalent credentials should contact the director of PhD program for further information regarding admissions criteria.
  • Submit online application to the Graduate Admissions Office.

Academic Standards

  • Typically, the 34 credit hours of foundation curriculum and 9 credit hours of elective course work are completed during the first two years of study.
  • Dissertation research usually begins in the third year and is continued in the fourth year of study.
  • While it is generally expected that the course work will be completed on a full-time basis, dissertation research can be completed on a planned part-time basis.

Credit Hours Required

67 graduate credit hours beyond the master’s degree

Required Courses

  • Completion of foundation course work (34 credit hours). The foundation curriculum consists of course work in research methodology and statistics, critical thinking, grant writing, and pedagogy. The courses are:
  • SOWK 600  (24 credit hours)

Additional Course Requirements

  • Completion of 9 credit hours of advanced graduate electives in advanced research methods, advanced statistics or the student’s substantive research area.

Non-Course Requirements

  • All doctoral students are required to pass a comprehensive examination that consists of a scholarly paper, dissertation proposal, and professional presentation.
    • The examination is administered by members of the comprehensive exam committee and is designed for the student to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the major and cognate areas and the dissertation topic.
    • In case of failure, the student may request a retake.
    • The result of the second examination is final.
  • Completion and defense of the dissertation.