Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Ph.D. Program Description
Our Ph.D. program offers an integrated curriculum that focuses on social work practice and policy development in fields such as gerontology, children and family services, health and mental health.


  • Specializations in social work practice and social policy
  • Concentration in gerontology, children and families, and mental health
  • 48 credit hours (excluding comprehensive examinations and dissertation)
  • New students begin in the fall semester


The Ph.D. in Social Work program consists of two major components.  48 credits of coursework and a dissertation.  Full-time students can complete all coursework in two academic years.  Part-time students complete their courses in three to four academic years.

After completing their coursework, students take comprehensive written and oral exams, then prepare their dissertation proposals and research.

Ph.D. candidates are expected to complete their dissertation within three years of passing the exams.


When you apply for admission, you must choose whether you will specialize in social policy or social work practice.

Each specialization consists of three courses.  All Ph.D. students are required to take the first course in each specialization:


In addition to the specialization, you must also identify a substantive field for your concentration, such as gerontology, mental health, or children and family services.

By specializing and focusing their studies, studetns in our program pursue an integrated scholarly plan that leads to a meaningful area of expertise.


Our primary goal is to educate social work scholars and researchers.  Therefore, the curriculum also includes:

  • two required courses in social statistics,
  • four required courses in research methods that cover quantitative and qualitative research methods, and
  • a course on the philosophy of science
All Ph.D. students must also take at least one semester of an advanced research practicum.  During the practicum they will assist a faculty member in an ongoing research project.

Students can take additional research methods and statistics courses at other Fordham University schools if they wish.


A major responsibility of all social work doctoral programs is to prepare graduates who will assume academic positions and educate the next generation of social workers.  Our Ph.D. program offers a course on social work education.

All students are expected to take a one-semester teaching practicum in which they assist a faculty member in designing, developing and delivering a graduate-level social work course.  Students who have the interest and expertise can teach in the Graduate School of Social Service's M.S.W. and B.S.W. programs.


Rounding out the coursework are elective courses and independent study.  These classes give Ph.D. students the chance to individualize their education and develop greater knowledge in specific areas.

To enhance their expertise, students can also take electives at other Fordham University schools, such as psychology courses at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, classes at the School of Law to gain insight into the legal system's impact on social services, or courses in the field of nonprofit management at the Graduate School of Business Adminstration.


Students are awarded a Ph.D. when they complete these degree requirements:

  • Students must maintain a B average in coursework with no more than three credit hours below a B.
  • Once all coursework is completed, students must pass written and oral comprehensive exams.
  • Students must defend a dissertation.  Dissertations must demonstrate the Ph.D. candidate's ability to plan, design and conduct independent research that contributes to the social work knowledge base and is worthy of publication.


Find out how to apply to our program on our Admission Requirements page.


For greater detail about the degree program, download the Ph.D. program's Student Manual (PDF).


Prospective students considering a Ph.D. in social work should 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.



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