The Doctoral Program

Female grad student at conference table - LGOur 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.

Program Highlights

  • Specializations in social work practice and social policy

  • Areas of concentration in gerontology, children and families, and mental health

  • Collaboration with faculty and our centers and institutes

  • Opportunities to teach in the M.S.W. program

  • 48 credit hours (excluding comprehensive examinations and dissertation)

  • Full-time and part-time study options

  • Based at Fordham's Lincoln Center campus in midtown Manhattan

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 unparalleled 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.

An Unlikely Doctorate Grows at Fordham

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, some would say the social work Ph.D. program is synonymous with Meredith Hanson, D.S.W., professor of social work and the 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."


For greater detail about the program, download the Ph.D. Student Manual. Prospective students considering a Ph.D. in social work should fill out the GSS Ph.D. Inquiry Form, or contact Meredith Hanson, D.S.W., director of the Ph.D. in Social Work program, at  or 212-636-6627.