Ph.D. Program in Social Work

Since 1937, the Boston University School of Social Work has educated social workers to develop the requisite skills and knowledge to further social and economic justice in vulnerable populations in local and global environments. Recently, restructured to strengthen our commitment to interdisciplinary research and practice, the PhD in Social Work program is able to utilize the rich resources available within a major research university.

The PhD Program in Social Work at Boston University aims to prepare the next generation of social work and social welfare scholars and leaders to address the complex social challenges of the century. Building upon the School’s robust commitment to social justice and empowerment 21st of historically marginalized and vulnerable populations, the PhD program provides rigorous training in the theory, research methods, and values of the social work profession necessary to solve urgent human and societal problems. Graduates are exceptionally well-trained in multiple methods and interdisciplinary linkages to other social and behavioral sciences. Through a curriculum that encompasses research, clinical and policy practice knowledge, and preparation for excellence in teaching, the program offers a rich educational foundation for future social work leaders in the academy, as well as the practice and policy arenas.


The faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work are global leaders in scholarship, research, teaching excellence, and innovative clinical and community practice. Our interdisciplinary faculty are uniquely suited and highly committed to support the training and development of new scholars who wish to excel in interdisciplinary and multi-methods research.

In 2007 (the most recent year for which data are available), BUSSW was ranked 6th faculty productivity among schools of social work with doctoral programs (Chronicle of Higher Education). In 2012, BUSSW was rated in the top 8% of social work graduate programs, according to U.S. News & World Report’s edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.”

SSW faculty research also spans diverse, applied methodologies and substantive areas, consistent with national trends in the field. Faculty research strengths as evidenced by recent grants are in behavioral health and health-related research (mental health, trauma, addictions, HIV, obesity, youth mentoring, disability, and intervention research), children and youth, military populations, and aging.


Graduates of the PhD program are prepared to become leading scholars, teachers, and policy-makers in the social work field.


Admission is open to those who hold a Master of Social Work degree, or who hold a master’s degree from an allied discipline or profession and who have professional experience related to the values and social justice mission of the social work profession. The following application materials are required:

  1. Application
  2. Transcripts
  3. Results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
  4. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if applicable
  5. Three letters of recommendation
  6. Statement of purpose, identifying research experience and interests
  7. Professional writing sample
  8. Curriculum Vitae

Applications are due by January 15, 2015 for the 2015/2016 academic year.

Early application is encouraged.

The PhD Program application for fall 2015 will be available in September.

Apply online

Please note: This program begins in September of each year. The application deadline is January 15 for the following fall semester.

Additional information about our program and graduate studies at Boston University can be found in the academic bulletin.

For more information about the program or to arrange a visit to campus, please contact:

Program Coordinator

Doctoral Program Director
Ellen R. DeVoe, Ph.D.

We look forward to hearing from you!