Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Ph.D. in Social Work
At the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS), we have been shaping the field of social work since 1916.  Our Ph.D. program prepares social work scholars, researchers and educators to become leaders in today's challenging world.  Our integrated curriculum focuses on social work practice and policy development, and empowers our graduates to change societies for the better.


  • 48 credit hours (excluding comprehensive examinations and dissertation)

Students in our Ph.D. program focus on social work practice or policy development, and pursue a concentration in a specific areas, such as gerontology, children and family services, and health or mental health.

From our campus at Lincoln Center, the unparalled diversity of the New York metropolitan area also offers students incredible opportunities to collaborate with faculty in research, training and educational projects.

Close collaboration with faculty is, in fact, a hallmark of our program.  Recently, the Council on Social Work Education praised the "esprit de corps of the faculty and the interaction of the faculty and students" at GSS.  The doctoral faculty consists of skilled educators and researchers in substantive areas, including gerontology, HIV/AIDS, urban health and mental health, addictions, child welfare, the needs of ethnic minorities, international social work, and human rights and social justice.

Ph.D. students at Fordham are also members of an exciting academic community.  They enjoy a rich selection of conferences and colloquia throughout the University.  And they can enhance their expertise by taking electives at Fordham's other prestigious graduate schools.

Learn more on our Ph.D. Program Description page and find out how to apply to our program.


Prospective students considering a Ph.D. in social work should take a look at our Program Description and contact Meredith Hanson, D.S.W., director of the Ph.D. in Social Work program, at or (212) 636-6627 to discuss their educational aspirations and our curriculum. 




In the field of social work, the master’s of social work (M.S.W.) is the terminal degree necessary to be licensed and to practice.

Some years ago, people interested in advanced clinical degrees went for a doctorate in social work (D.S.W.).

But in the last two decades—as the number of social work schools has increased around the country—a new track is flourishing: the social work doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.).

At the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS), some would say the social work Ph.D. program is synonymous with Meredith Hanson, D.S.W. (pictured above), professor of social work andthe program’s director. Since Hanson landed at Fordham some 15 years ago, he and his faculty colleagues have created the selective program, which currently enrolls 79 students and graduates five to six students each year.

Over the years, Hanson and his colleagues have designed and built the Ph.D. curriculum, which focuses on doing qualitative and quantitative research on social work practices and policies, from a social justice and human rights perspective.

“Social work is one of the growth areas in academia right now, in contrast to some humanities,” said Hanson, co-editor of Strength and Diversity in Social Work with Groups: Think Groups (Routledge, 2009). “We have more openings each year for social work faculty than we have Ph.D. graduates across the country."

Read the rest of the article in Inside Fordham. >>

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