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Ph.D. Social Work Program


What can I do with a doctoral degree in social work?


What types of careers do Ph.D. graduates pursue?

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.

What is the difference between the Master of Social Work (MSW) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs?

The MSW program offers a pre-professional degree that prepares individuals to become practitioners and provide direct social work services. In contrast, the Ph.D. 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.

Do you provide advanced clinical practice training?

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.

Do I need a Master’s degree in social work to be in the Ph.D. program?

No. You may apply to the Ph.D. 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. Students who do not have a MSW degree are required to take additional course work. 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.

How long does it take to graduate?

On the average three to four years full-time study and four to six years for part-time study.

How many of my total hours or coursework can involve my dissertation?

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.

Are there opportunities to gain teaching experience while in the doctoral program?

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.

What must I do to be eligible to teach a UT Arlington School of Social Work course?

You can become eligible to be a GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) and teach a course on your own after taking the SOCW 6396: Social Work Education: Principles and Skills. If you have had previous teaching experience at the college or university level, this requirement can be waived.

What kind of financial support will be available to me?

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.

I am an international student. Am I eligible for funding?

Yes, you are eligible for the funding package described above.

May I apply as a transfer student?

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 Ph.D. Program Director.

Do you offer a part-time or an online Ph.D.?

We offer our PhD Program to part-time students. Part-time students must be registered for 6 credit hours/semester. However, we do not offer our PhD program online.

Will I be able to keep my current job and go to school at the same time?

The decision to pursue a doctorate requires a major commitment. The most successful students think of the Ph.D. program as another form of employment. Your “job” is to be a full-time student and handle all of the classes, research, teaching assignments, etc. that come with it. Part-time students may be able to keep their current employment and attend school. However, part-time students will need employment that offers flexibility to attend classes and meetings.

When is the application deadline?

All applications and supporting materials must be received by the application deadline of February 4th 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.

How do I send in my GRE or TOEFL scores?

The GRE is currently required as of Fall 2016 for admission to the program. 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 GRE or TOEFL your scores will be sent electronically to Graduate Office of Admissions, Records and Registration through TSI.

What can I do to improve my chances of admittance?

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
What additional factors do you consider in the application process?

We consider your career goals and how well they match our program’s goal. We also consider your research interest to make sure that there is a good match between you and a faculty member’s research interest.

What makes UTA School of Social Work’s doctoral program different?
  • 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
How would you describe the faculty mentoring relationship?

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.

Does the Ph.D. program encourage interdisciplinary work?

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).

Who is considered for admission to the Ph.D. program?

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.

When are applicants notified of admission decisions?

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.

Can I start taking courses anytime in the academic year?

Because the first year courses are a structured sequence, all students begin taking courses in the Fall semester.

What if I am not sure if a doctoral degree is really what I want?

Working toward a Ph.D. requires a major commitment of time, energy and finances. You should not apply to a Ph.D. program until you are ready to make this commitment.

Where should I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?

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.

How do I apply for the Ph.D. Program?

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must submit the following:

  • A completed online application that can be found at:
  • Transcripts from your previous institution. You are required to submit an official transcript from each college or university you attended to the Graduate Admissions.

Have transcripts sent by your university to the Graduate School at:
Graduate Admissions
Box 19167
Arlington, TX 76019