The PhD program is a full-time course of study.  Coursework is completed in four semesters. A minimum of 16 courses (64 credits) is required for completion of this program.

Core Social Work Knowledge (16 credits)

SSW WP 901 Social Justice, Ethics and the Social Work Profession
SSW KC 902 Proseminar in Social Work
SSW WP 903 Perspectives on Social Welfare Policy
SSW KC 905 Contemporary Social Problems: Capstone
SSW KC 910 Dissertation Seminar

Core Mixed Methods (12 credits)

GRS SO 702      Sociological Methods

Quantitative Methods 1 and 2
CAS MA 614     Statistical Methods II


CAS MA 684     Applied Multiple Regression and Multivariate Analysis
SPH BS 723       Introduction to Statistical Computing

Qualitative Methods 1 and 2
SSW SR 906      Qualitative Research Methods
SSW SR 907      Qualitative Data Analysis


Advanced Research Methods-Electives (8 credit hours)

Students will take 2 courses in advanced research methods relevant to individual the conduct of research in an area of specialization.


Specialization (12 credits)

Students will take 3 courses (12 credits) in their chosen area of specialization. Four credits of the specialization must be taken in a theory course.  The specialization is developed by the student in collaboration with his or her faculty advisor and approved by the doctoral program director.


Teaching Excellence Core (8 credits; to be taken concurrently)

SSW 908         Teaching Seminar
SSW 909         Teaching Practicum


Elective Courses

Elective courses are selected from offerings in the School of Social Work, the Graduate School of Arts &Sciences, and other schools at Boston University (e.g., School of Public Health, School of Education). Students may also take courses at other universities in the Boston area (Boston College, Brandeis University, Tufts University).


Other Requirements

After completing coursework, students must pass a qualifying examination, develop a dissertation proposal, engage in dissertation research, and complete and defend their dissertation.


Plan of Study for Full-Time Doctoral Study

Fall   Spring
Year Stipend hours Courses  Courses
1 As allowed
  • Quantitative Methods 1
  • Sociological Methods  (GRS  SO 702)
  • Perspectives on SW Policy  (SSW WP 903)
  • Social Justice, Ethics and the Social Work
  • (SSW WP 901)
  • Proseminar (SSW KC 902)


  • Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Qualitative Research (SSW SR 906)
  • Interdisciplinary Specialization Elective Course 1
  • Interdisciplinary Specialization Elective Course 2


2 RA 20 hours 


  • Qualitative Data Analysis (SSW 907)
  • Advanced  Research Methods Elective Course 1
  • Teaching Seminar (SSW 908)
  • Teaching Practicum  (SSW 909)


  • Social Work Perspectives on Contemporary Social Problems (SSW 905)
  • Interdisciplinary Specialization Elective Course 3
  • Advanced Research Methods Elective Course 2
  • Dissertation Proposal Seminar (SSW 901\910)


 Qualifying Exam: Summer after completion of coursework  (No later than one semester post-coursework) 
 Years 3-5: Teaching Requirements: 1 traditional classroom course; 1 on-line course (minimum) 
3 RA/TA up to 20 hours
  • Dissertation Prospectus/Defense
  • Proposal Submission to funding agency if applicable
  • Independent Research
4 RA/TA up to 20 hours
  • Independent Research/Teaching
5 RA/TA up to 20 hours
  • Independent Research/Teaching and Dissertation Defense
  • Job search