PhD Frequently Asked Questions

The majority of the doctoral program’s graduates accept positions conducting research and teaching in universities and research institutions throughout the world. Some graduates choose to work with governmental organizations shaping policies and providing leadership in a managerial or executive capacity.

The MSW program offers a pre-professional degree that prepares individuals to become practitioners and provide direct social work services. In contrast, the PhD program offers the highest level of preparation for research and teaching careers in academic and social welfare institutions worldwide. It should not be confused with a professional practice program. Our doctoral program is designed to produce high-ranking scholars who will make significant contributions to the knowledge base of the profession in social work academia.

The purpose of our program is to produce high-ranking scholars interested in the fields of research, scholarship and teaching. Although opportunities to build practice experience are available through research, our program is not designed for those seeking advanced clinical training.

No. You may apply to the PhD program if you do not have a Master’s degree in Social Work.

However, the large majority of our students have a MSW degree from an accredited school of social work. Applicants who do not have a MSW degree should have experience in human services.  In addition, it is important to understand that CSWE accreditation standards currently require that individuals who want to teach practice courses in a social work program must have a MSW and/or BSW degree and at least two years of post-BSW or MSW practice experience.

On average, students take four years to graduate; however, some student complete the program in three years, and some students complete the program in five years.

On the Final Program of Work form (filed in the semester before you graduate), you must have 48 hours/credits. Be aware that you may only count 9 hours of dissertation in the 48-hour total. All students must be enrolled in the Graduate School for the semester in which they complete all graduate degree requirements and apply for graduation. Students defending their dissertation in their final semester must be enrolled in dissertation course (6699, 6999 or 7399) and receive a passing grade.

Yes. Students generally gain a great deal of teaching experience. Most students will teach during the second and third year of the program. The School of Social Work makes a concerted effort to provide doctoral students with opportunities to teach in our BSW and/or MSW program. Students must have successfully completed a teaching course prior to teaching independently.

The Social Work doctoral program provides full-time incoming doctoral students with a multi-year funding package that should fund much of your graduate career at the University of Texas at Arlington. We combine fellowship awards, stipends for graduate assistants and graduate teaching assistantships and tuition to offer students three years of funding. Students may also apply for other funding from sources within and outside of the university. You may also fill out a FAFSA and apply for federal aid through the Office of Financial Aid.

Each social work doctoral program is unique. However, on rare occasion we will accept a transfer student. Transfer of course credit is assessed by the Program Director on an individual basis. Courses taken for credit toward a master’s degree cannot be transferred. Inquiries should be directed to the PhD Program Director.

All applications and supporting materials must be received by the application deadline of January 15th for admission the following fall term. We admit students only once a year and all applications are considered at the same time. Applications after the deadline may be considered if space becomes available.

International students must submit TOEFL scores. International applicants must submit a score of at least 550 on the paper-based TOEFL, a score of at least 213 on the computer-based TOEFL, a minimum score of 7.0 on the IELTS, or a minimum TOEFL iBT total score of 90 with sectional scores that meet or exceed 23 for the writing section, 23 for the speaking section, 22 for the reading section, and 22 for the listening section to meet this requirement. When you complete the TOEFL your scores will be sent electronically to Graduate Office of Admissions, Records and Registration through TSI.

We suggest the following to increase your chances of being admitted to the doctoral program:

  • Prepare well for the GRE and/or TOEFL tests and leave yourself enough time for a retest if you feel you have not done your very best
  • Contact current and previous universities and colleges about submitting grade transcripts. Sometimes it takes a while for these to be completed
  • Think carefully who you will ask to write letters of recommendation for you. Try to get letters from a current or former professor. It is important for them to know what your career goals are; why you are applying to a doctoral program, and that they can address your intellectual and research aptitude
  • Write a clear, concise personal statement outlining your professional, intellectual, and research interests and career goal. Take to time to prepare this statement, and include an assessment of how your interests align with the interests of the faculty at UTA
  • Present your very best written publication or scholarly paper
  • Close faculty-student mentoring relationships
  • National visibility for students and their research through publications, funding and conference presentations in the United States and abroad
  • Faculty national reputations in a large variety of areas.
  • Opportunities for research within four research centers:
  • Center for Child Welfare (CCW)
  • Center for Advocacy, Nonprofits and Donor Organizations (CAN-DO)
  • Center for Addiction and Recovery Studies (CARS)
  • A curriculum focused on understanding social issues from a global perspective and customized for each student’s specific research area
  • Interdisciplinary research opportunities within the broader university
  • Valuable teaching experience in our BSW AND MSW program
  • Three-year fellowship award package/assistantships

The faculty mentoring relationship is an important component of a student’s progression and success in academia. Students work with a variety of faculty members in graduate research positions. Faculty mentoring prepares students for leadership in research, teaching, the application of knowledge and professional practice, and strengthens the values of excellence, mutual respect, collegiality, honesty and integrity.

Yes, our doctoral curriculum is interdisciplinary with the intent on producing graduates who are capable of original research and passionate about advancing the profession’s knowledge base. The Ph.D. program encourages students to develop expertise in other disciplines, as each student must develop a specialization either in another discipline outside the School of Social Work (such as gerontology, sociology, psychology, preventive medicine, business, political science, or policy, planning and development) or in an area where external courses in different departments or schools bear on a specific social problem (such as homelessness).

Applicants are expected to show capacity for advanced academic work and potential for scholarship. The development of competence to design and carry out rigorous research studies relevant to social work is a critical expectation of the Ph.D. program. Applicants are expected to have a master’s degree from an accredited school of social work. Exceptions are sometimes made for students with a master’s degree in a related field who have extensive experience in human services.

We begin notifying students about admissions in the middle of February. Since enrollment is limited, some applicants may be placed on a waiting list pending an available slot. The admissions committee generally interviews applicants.

Many students chose to live close to the campus to have access to the university and its resources. However, some students live in Dallas; other students live in Fort Worth. Students live in a variety of locations in the DFW metroplex.