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PHD Social Work

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Social Work Programs

Dr. Viola Vaughan-Eden, Ph.D. Program Director
(757) 823-8773

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (Ph.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. Program prepares students for leadership roles in social work and in the field of family-centered social work practice. Special emphasis is placed on knowledge building for social work practice and service delivery on behalf of diverse, especially African American, families. The program seeks students who are committed to a focus on the family as the unit of attention in research and theory development.

The program is unique in its focus on family-centered social work with African American families. It also has integrative seminars designed to help students to connect theory and research, and to develop dissertation ideas and proposals.

Doctor of Philosophy Admission Requirements

  • A master's degree in social work.
  • A minimum of two (2) years of full-time post MSW practice experience.
  • Completion of a graduate course in research and a graduate course in statistics.
  • A personal statement and a writing sample.
  • Four (4) letters of recommendation.
  • A personal interview.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

  • The Ph.D. program is a fifty- four (54) credit hour program, which consists of forty-eight (42) credit hours of course work, and twelve (12) dissertation credit hours.
  • Course work includes a nine- (9) credit hour core curriculum, twelve (12) credit hours of electives, and fourteen (14) credit hours of course work in research, policy, theory, and family-centered practice.
  • At the conclusion of class work, students must successfully pass the comprehensive examination.
  • Completion of a dissertation is the final requirement for the degree of Doctor of Social Work.

Other Organizations

Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education
The Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (GADE) is an organization whose membership is comprised of directors of established social work/social welfare doctoral programs located in accredited universities.


The School of Social Work’s Baccalaureate Social Work Program and Master of Social Work Program are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)