The Doctoral Program Curriculum

UK’s Ph.D. in Social Work program is designed to prepare its graduates to be faculty members in social work programs across the country and internationally. There is a strong emphasis on students acquiring the research competencies needed to conduct research and publish their scholarship. At the same time, students learn how to become top-notch educators through teaching assistantships, teaching practica, and a course in teaching. Graduates also find that the doctoral program prepares them to be program evaluators, administrators, policy analysts, and researchers. All of the core curriculum courses are taught on Fridays. Students design their individualized courses with the assistance of their advisor or the Director of the Doctoral Program. Course descriptions can be found at

The Curriculum

The curriculum consists of three components:

A. The Core Curriculum (29 credit hours)

All of the following courses in this section are required:

  • SW 781 Theory Development in the Social Work Profession
  • SW 782 Advanced Analysis of Social Welfare Problems
  • SW 783 Human Behavior & Change Theories in Social Work Practice
  • SW 772 Introduction to Qualitative Methods
  • SW 770 Social Work Research I
  • SW 771 Social Work Research II
  • SW 795 Social Work Statistics I (or the equivalent: EPE 557/558)
  • SW 773 Social Work Statistics II (or the equivalent: EPE 660)
  • SW 785 Professional Seminar in Social Work (1 hr in each of 2 semesters)
  • SW 790 Seminar in Teaching and Learning


B. The Individualized Plan of Study (15 credit hours)

Students must complete 6 hours of practica – either 3 hrs each of SW 786 (Doctoral Research) and SW 787 (Doctoral Teaching) or 6 hours in one of the areas (e.g., teaching two different courses = 6 hours, SW 787). Additionally, students select 3 relevant elective courses from the University or design independent studies to make up the balance of 9 hours. The expectation is that students should develop a manuscript suitable for publication for each independent study.

SW 786 Doctoral Research Practicum = 3 credit hours
SW 787 Doctoral Teaching Practicum = 3 credit hours
Electives/Independent Study Combinations = 9 credit hours

C. The Dissertation

All students must write a dissertation and register for a minimum of 4 hours of SW 767 (two hours each semester until the dissertation is finished).