Interdisciplinary PhD in Sociology & Social Work

The School of Social Work now offers a PhD in Social Work. The Interdisciplinary PhD in Sociology & Social Work is no longer admitting students.

Central to the Interdisciplinary PhD in Sociology & Social Work’s mission is promoting research and scholarship that link social science theory and advanced research methods with the pressing social problems of concern to social work. Core theory material addresses classical and contemporary sociological theories, the organizational dynamics of the social work profession, and perspectives on US social policy and programs.

Doctoral students choose specializations in social work and sociology to organize their advanced training. Social work specializations focus on either social policy research or clinical research, and may address the wide range of social work areas of inquiry, such as poverty, child welfare, health services, and aging. Social science specializations include, for example, urban studies, family sociology, race and ethnic studies, and sociology of religion.

Curriculum and Course Requirements

Students must meet all Graduate School of Arts & Sciences PhD requirements. Full-time residence for all three semesters’ coursework is recommended.

A minimum of 12 courses (48 credit hours) is required for the post–master’s PhD, as indicated below.

Core Program

All students must complete two courses in sociological theory—GRS SO 701 Advanced Sociological Theory (Classical) and GRS SO 708 Contemporary Sociological Theory—and two courses in social work theory—SSW WP 901 Sociology of the Social Work Profession and SSW WP 903 Perspectives on Social Welfare Policy. All students must complete three courses in research methods/statistics—GRS SO 702 Proseminar in Research Methods, SSW SR 906 Qualitative Research Methods, and CAS MA 684 Multivariate Analysis.


Specialized study is encouraged in two fields, with one to be an established area of concentration in sociology and the other to be a related area in social work. Students often complete two courses (8 credit hours) in their sociology specialization and three courses (12 credit hours) in their social work specialization. Sociology concentrations may be selected from the recommended PhD courses found in the PhD in Sociology portion of this Bulletin. Social work specializations may be selected from social welfare policy or from clinical research, and substantive foci may include aging, child and family welfare, and substance abuse, among others.

Qualifying Examinations and Critical Essay

There is a written examination requirement in social work theory. A critical essay is also required. The essay is to be an assessment and synthesis of the student’s two specialized subfields within sociology and social work. Upon completion of the essay, the candidate must pass an oral examination in the indicated specializations.

Residency Requirement

See General Requirements for the PhD.


Program approval of the dissertation proposal is obtained through a prospectus consultation examination. Two or more members of the affiliated program faculty supervise the candidate during preparation of the dissertation. This written document is to be a scholarly contribution to knowledge, presented clearly, precisely, and in good literary style. Candidates are encouraged to publish selected parts of their dissertation in professional journals and the entire dissertation as a book.

Final Oral Examination

Candidates, upon completion of the dissertation, present themselves for a final oral examination before a committee of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The examination is based primarily on the dissertation and related issues in the field of concentration.