Social Work

Simmons University's Doctorate in Social Work (PhD) program is designed for experienced practitioners to develop scientific research skills and to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and populations.

Students sitting in class

The PhD in Social Work integrates advanced practice with cutting-edge research and challenges students to view clinical experiences through a scientific lense. Our faculty are committed to mentoring doctoral students in both research and teaching and work collaboratively to support students during their time in the program.

The PhD program is offered on a full-time and part-time basis, with all coursework offered on Thursdays during the regular academic semesters. Full-time students take three courses each semester and part-time students take two courses each semester. There is an option for a summer course over the first three years of the program. Students are expected to complete the program, including defense of the dissertation, in 4 to 7 years.

A total of 45 credits (15 courses) are required for graduation. No clinical practicum is required. Other requirements include the teaching practicum, research practicum, and the successful completion of the dissertation. In addition, a written and oral comprehensive exam, and the submission of an empirical paper to a peer-reviewed scientific journal is required. The journal article submission demonstrates students' expertise in a substantive area and must be completed before progress into the dissertation seminar. The comprehensive exam and paper submission usually occur before the end of summer between the second and third years of study. The dissertation requirement can be demonstrated through a traditional format or a three-manuscript option. Students, therefore, have the opportunity to graduate with a minimum of four peer-reviewed publications.

Graduation requires a total of 15 courses (45 credits), research and teaching practicums, the successful completion of a comprehensive qualifying written and oral exam, the submission of at least one manuscript for peer review in a scientific journal, and the completion of the dissertation, which may take the form of a traditional dissertation or three-paper dissertation.

PhD Courses

All students are required to take the following courses:

  • Quantitative Scientific Methods
  • Introduction to Statistics, Data Analysis and STATA
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Social and Behavioral Theory
  • Introduction to Multivariate Statistics
  • Critical Analysis of Clinical Practice
  • Qualitative Scientific Methods
  • Integrating Public Policy Issues and Outcomes Into Social Work Research
  • Survey Research Methods
  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Comparative Social Work Macro Practice Models
  • Intervention research
  • Teaching and Learning.
  • Dissertation Proposal Seminar
  • Elective such as Advanced Methods, Logistic Regression, or Secondary Analysis of Data

Supplemental Courses

A total of 45 credits (15 courses) are required for graduation. Students can take elective courses during summers, third year, or while in the dissertation phase.

The PhD program prepares students to become talented and effective educators. They receive formal training in the pedagogy of adult learning — in the classroom and through a teaching practicum — and are offered opportunities to teach with our seasoned professors.

The PhD Program advances student research competencies through required and elective courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods and advanced statistical analysis. Students are required to take five research courses. In addition, students have opportunities to participate in research initiatives through practice and assistantships, internal and external to Simmons University.

Qualified students will take a written and oral exam on curricular content from required coursework. Qualified students also will submit an empirical manuscript to a scientific peer-reviewed journal approved by the faculty. Upon meeting these requirements, the student will move into candidacy, and be eligible to participate in the dissertation seminar.

Successful completion of the dissertation will demonstrate the candidate's ability to join the academy as an independent scholar. Specifically, the candidate will demonstrate empirical and conceptual knowledge, the ability to apply rigorous scientific methodology to a substantive area of study, and the capacity to articulate the applied relevance of the findings to the field. The doctoral candidate has the option to complete a traditional dissertation or three-paper dissertation.

Ready to take the next step? We'll guide you through the requirements and deadlines — and get you started on your way.

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Offered As
  • Doctorate
School/Department
  • School of Social Work
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Social Work at Simmons University

Our progressive, hands-on curriculum integrates education and practice with social justice values, multicultural perspectives and a strong emphasis on field education.

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