- Program Goals
- The Student Advisor
- Course Requirements
- Qualifying to Begin the Dissertation
- The Dissertation
- Departmental Requirements for Depositing a Thesis
- Other Policies and Opportunities
- Teaching Opportunities for PhD Students
- Special Awards
1. Critical thinking and the formulation of constructs, models, and theory.
2. Scientific and research methodologies appropriate to social welfare issues and social work practice.
3. Critical appraisal, synthesis and integration of knowledge from a related field which has relevance for policy and practice in social work and/or social welfare.
4. Independent research and development of programmatic lines of scientific inquiry.
5. Dissemination of knowledge through social welfare leadership, publications, and teaching.
Each entering doctoral student is assigned a faculty as her/his academic advisor. The assignment of a student’s advisor is based on the focus interests of the student and those of a faculty member. A student’s academic advisor will work closely with the PhD Program Director in supervising the student’s progress during her/his first-year of study.
Responsibilities of the student's advisor include:
1. Facilitate the student's identification of a professional focus plan;
2. Facilitate the student's selection of relevant
outside course work;
3. Monitor the student's progress through the
4. Maintain a written record of the student's progress;
5. Evaluate the student's progress at the end of each year in cooperation with the Director of the PhD Program Director.
The minimum requirement for the degree is 60 units of course work and research beyond the master's degree. Students who enter the program without an MSW degree may be required to successfully complete additional social work course work. Decisions regarding additional course work will be made in consultation with the PhD Program Director.
Emphasis on research as well as the theoretical foundations and knowledge base of social work are reflected in the core courses. The five primary areas of study are:
1. Theories and issues in social policy and social policy analysis.
2. Theories and issues in social work practice.
3. Research and statistical competency.
4. Specialization area, including dissertation research.
5. Issues and competency in college teaching.
Doctoral students are required to take the following seven courses within the School of Social Work, which are specifically designed for doctoral students:
Social Work Practice Theories
National Social Welfare Policy
Design of Social Work Research
Quantitative Research Designs
This course is designed to enhance skills of doctoral students in social work through research collaboration with a faculty member. (Two semesters required) Proposal Outline for SW594 Individual Research
Social Work Teaching Seminar
|SOCW 579, 585, 593, 595
|Social Work Teaching Seminar
|SOCW 594 (2 semesters of enrollment)||8|
|Focus Area (outside of social work)||12|
|3 Courses in Statistics and Research Methodology (outside of social work)
|Thesis Hours Required
SOCW 599 (min applied toward degree):
|Masters Degree Required for Admission to PhD||Yes|
|Qualifying Exam Required||Yes|
|Preliminary Exam Required||Yes|
|Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required||Yes|
|Dissertation Deposity Required||Yes|
The Ph. program is typically a 60 graduate hour program for students who enter with an MSW or other master's degree. The program is interdisciplinary and has a strong research emphasis. The PhD program is organized around five curricular components: (1) seminars in social welfare policy, social work practice theories, and research; (2) research methodology and statistics; (3) an interdisciplinary area of study; (4) qualifying examinations; and (5) the dissertation. While the curriculum focuses on issues of relevance to social work and social welfare policy, students select courses not just in the School of Social Work but also from the full range of graduate courses offered, notably those in educational psychology, human and community development, sociology, labor and industrial relations, and anthropology. Candidates prepare for leadership in teaching, research, policy analysis, development, and implementation.
Professional Focus/Interdisciplinary Component
The doctoral student designates a professional focus area of study when admitted. Course work, as well as the dissertation, is planned around each candidate's focus.
All students are required to take a minimum of three units of course work outside the department related to their focus area. Outside courses should be selected to form a core of knowledge to support the student's competency in their area of specialization, and to aid in the development of a dissertation proposal.
Research and Statistical Competency
Each candidate is held responsible for competence in research methods and analysis. Students are required to take a minimum of three courses outside the School of Social Work in statistics and research methodology, which are appropriate for their area of specialization. These courses should provide evidence of research proficiency in the area of the dissertation. A minimum grade of B or better is required in these courses.
Guidelines for Independent Study
Independent Study is an integral part of doctoral education through which students may pursue individualized, specialized and in-depth learning on a particular subject. It is not a substitute for formal coursework.
On occasion, doctoral students are unable to enroll in course work that meets the outside course work requirements. In these cases, an independent study with an outside graduate faculty member is appropriate. The proposal for independent study will be approved and signed by the student, the student's advisor, and the outside graduate faculty member with whom the independent study will be completed. It will be filed with the PhD Program Director and in the student's academic record in the School of Social Work.
Students may substitute only two independent study units in lieu of core course requirements in either the Research/Statistics Competency, the Outside Professional Focus/Specialization component or in any combination of these two areas.
Required courses cannot be taken for "Credit/No Credit," (i.e. pass/fail). Students may use the credit/no credit option for electives.
Guidelines for SW 594 Individual Research
This two-semester sequence is designed to provide students with a supervised, "hands-on" research experience with a faculty member. The student's project may involve student- or faculty-initiated research (e.g., work on a new or ongoing project such as funded research). The primary objective of the research practicum is to strengthen students’ ability to synthesize different phases and components of social work research. The key, therefore, is for students to be involved in as many aspects of the research project as possible (e.g., articulation of research questions, literature review, selection of sampling techniques, formulation of design strategies, development of instruments and other methods of data collection, data analysis, interpretation of results, and research report writing).
The proposal outline for Individual Research will be approved and signed by the student, and the student's faculty supervisor. It will be filed in the student's academic record in the School of Social Work.
The research qualifying exam is taken after the student has completed at least 32 hours of academic credit beyond the master's degree and has a 3.0 GPA (B) or higher. The exam is offered in the Fall and Spring semester. After completing 32 hours, students must take the qualifying exams within one calendar year. If a student fails the exam, it must be retaken and passed within six months. The exam will encompass several areas central to social work research: philosophy of science, design, methods, analysis, and application.
Examination questions are developed by three or four faculty members. These faculty members include two members from the Ph.D. committee, and the other members will be rotated among faculty who are outside Ph.D. committee. The examination is written and is in take-home format. Students have up to 3 days to complete the examination. The student's printed answers, as well as a Word file, will be turned in at the end of the examination.
Examinations are graded by the three faculty members who develop the exams. Answers are judged on the basis of factual accuracy, knowledge and integration of professional literature, success in applying theory to professional situations, and in developing and substantiating positions on issues. The level of performance expected is higher than that of course work. Results of the examination usually will be available within 30 days.
After passing the qualifying exam and completing required course work, students begin work on their qualifying paper. In this paper, students critically review literature addressing an issue from their focus areas. In researching and writing the qualifying paper, students become familiar with theories and research, as well as the interventions and policies, associated with their focus areas. The final product demonstrates that they have achieved a level of knowledge sufficient to begin the dissertation stage of their programs.
Students meet with the PhD Program Director to present their topic and to discuss the procedures. The student and his/her advisor, in consultation with the PhD Program Director, identify three professors to be the qualifying paper graders and at least two graders need to be from our faculty. In selecting social work professors, the student should attempt to select one with expertise on policy implications and one with expertise on intervention implications. These faculty members may go on to be a part of the students’ dissertation committee, which allows the qualifying paper to serve as a bridge into the dissertation. However, that is not required.
Students then meet with each professor to secure their agreement to participate. In addition, students present their qualifying paper advisors with a reference list and an outline to be used in developing their paper. Advisors make recommendations on additional literature to review, and issues to consider. Students then inform the PhD Program Director who has agreed to serve as qualifying paper advisors. Students then complete their qualifying papers and submit the final product to each advisor for grading.
Students are expected to take up to one semester to complete their qualifying papers. The papers vary in length from 25-40 pages, not including references. All papers contain a critical discussion of theory and empirical research from the focus area. It is expected that papers critically discuss multiple theoretical perspectives and multiple methodological approaches used to investigate the area of interest, and important findings from existing research in the area. Papers also contain sections elaborating the implications of this scholarship to social work practice and to social work policy. Intervention and policy sections should contain a critical discussion of relevant social work scholarship. Issues to be addressed in the social work sections include: specific implications of scholarship in the focus area for social work interventions and policies, how particular policies have supported or obstructed particular interventions, and how beliefs about certain kinds of interventions have informed policy decisions.
All 3 qualifying paper advisors read and evaluate the paper. They grade the paper as either a “pass” or a “fail”. Paper advisors are expected to notify the PhD Program Director of their grading within about 3 weeks after the students submit the paper. A passing paper displays the student’s readiness to begin with the dissertation proposal process. To pass the qualifying paper, all professors must judge the paper to “pass.” Should one of more professors judge the paper to “fail,” then the student may consult with that professor(s) and submit one revision. If one or more professors still judge the paper to “fail,” the student may choose to discontinue the PhD program, or to appeal to the PhD committee.
The research question for the student's doctoral dissertation shall derive from the student's professional focus and have significance for social work theory, practice, policy or administration. Information on various aspects of the dissertation follows. The best source of information on technical aspects of dissertation preparation, such as proper formatting, is the “Thesis Handbook”. It is available online at: http://www.grad.illinois.edu/thesis/thesishandbook/
Dissertation Proposal Guidelines
The dissertation proposal is the product of a careful and searching inquiry into a significant problem or question in the field of social work. The proposal will be a cogently argued description of the proposed research study, its rationale, and its significance. It includes a description of the study questions or hypotheses as well as a feasible plan for the research. In situations where agency cooperation is required, negotiations with participating agencies should have begun. All proposals must abide by University IRB guidelines.
Composition of Doctoral Committees
The Dean of the Graduate College shall appoint voting members of doctoral committees, upon recommendation of the executive officer of the student's unit. Upon unit request, the Dean may also appoint non-voting members of doctoral committees, such as an external reader, a faculty member who is on leave off campus, or others who have made a significant contribution to the dissertation but who cannot be present at the examination.
1. The committee shall consist of a minimum of four voting members, three of whom must be members of the graduate faculty of the UIUC and two of whom must be tenured. One voting member must come from outside the department.
2. The chair of the committee must be a member of the graduate faculty and a tenure track faculty of the School of Social Work; this includes a member on leave or on zero-time appointment. Committee chairs are typically tenured and/or have had experience directing dissertation research in the past. A faculty member who resigns or retires from the University is automatically terminated from membership in the graduate faculty unless the unit asks that the faculty member continue for a specific period of time. Emeriti faculty who have been awarded continuing membership on the graduate faculty may chair committees. Co-chairs and co-directors of research may be appointed.
3. A person who is not a member of the graduate faculty, but who is especially qualified to participate in an examination, may be appointed a voting member of the committee. A brief description of qualifications should be stated on the Request for Appointment of Doctoral Examination Committee. The Graduate College does not defray expenses for committee members to be present at the examination.
4. All members of a committee need not be present in person at an examination. However, the committee chair, student, and at least one additional voting member of the committee must be physically present for the entire duration of all oral components of the prelim and final examinations. If the committee has more than one chair, all chairs must be physically present; in these cases, no additional voting member is required to be physically present. If not present, committee members must participate in the examination via an appropriate electronic communication technology. Preliminary and final examination committees need not have the same membership or chair.
Dissertation Preliminary Exam Procedures
The dissertation proposal must be circulated to the preliminary committee at least 10 working days prior to the hearing and given to the office of the Dean of the School of Social Work.
The chair is responsible for scheduling the examination, notifying committee members and the student of the time and place. When a date is set for the exam, the chair completes a Graduate College Request for Appointment of Doctoral Dissertation Committee form and submits it to the Director of the PhD program. This must be done two weeks prior to the date of the hearing. (Copies are made and distributed to the student, the student’s file, the committee chair and the Dean’s office file).
The chair reserves a room for the hearing and submits the title of the dissertation (along with day, time, and place), to the Director of the Doctoral program.
The students must be enrolled during the term in which they take their Preliminary Examination.
Criteria for Evaluation of a Dissertation Proposal
1. A question must fall within the area of social welfare, have significance for the field, and not have been satisfactorily resolved by existing knowledge.
2. The proposed investigation must be feasible with respect to the candidate's qualifications to complete the investigation as well as the resources available. This includes the necessary clearances to access data, protection of human subjects, a reasonable time table and available resources to conduct the study.
Except for time set aside for committee deliberation, the dissertation preliminary exam is a public hearing. The hearing has two objectives: to examine the candidate’s knowledge of the supporting literature and research methodology, and to contribute to the intellectual and educational climate of the School.
Preliminary hearings begin with the student making a brief (20-25 minute) presentation of the research plan. This presentation is a summary of the proposal. Committee members then question the candidate. Upon completion of committee questioning, non-members of the committee are invited to participate/ask questions. Upon completion of the discussion as determined by the chair, the candidate and the non-committee members present are asked to leave for the committee to deliberate. The committee has the following choices:
1. Pass: The candidate may proceed with the dissertation.
2. Fail: The student may be granted another opportunity to take the examination after completing additional work. The chair will inform the Graduate College if the student should be given a second examination.
3. Decision deferred: The committee has a temporary adjournment (maximum six months).
The committee must render a unanimous decision and sign the Certificate of Result. Upon completion of the deliberations the candidate is invited back into the room and told of the committee's action. The committee chair is responsible for having a copy of the Certificate of Result of Preliminary Examination for the Doctoral Degree filed in the student's folder, a copy filed in the Dean's office, and the original sent to the Graduate College. The Dean of the Graduate College shall notify the student in writing of the official outcome of the examination after it has been received and recorded by the Graduate College.
Final Dissertation Defense
The policy is the same as for preliminary appointments. The composition of the final doctoral committee need not be identical to the preliminary examining committee. However, only in unusual circumstances will the composition of these committees differ. The final doctoral committee is responsible for final examination and approval of the student's dissertation. The final doctoral committee is appointed in the same manner as the preliminary committee. The students must be enrolled during the term in which they take their Final Examination.
1. The completed dissertation must be submitted to committee members at least 10 days prior to the final examination. A copy of the dissertation must be deposited with the Dean of the School of Social Work's secretary at the same time.
2. The dissertation must follow the APA editorial style and Graduate College guidelines (in writing the dissertation), free of typographical and spelling errors, and grammatically correct. To facilitate writing the dissertation in compliance with APA editorial style, students are encouraged to use this style in writing all scholarly papers prior to writing the dissertation. The chair of the dissertation committee has the right to refuse any copy that does not meet these requirements and hence to postpone the hearing.
3. The student should bring the "Certificate of Committee Approval" to the exam/hearing. This is the form that can be obtained either at the PhD Program Office or on-line. The committee member names must be typed below where they sign the form. All members must sign this form before the dissertation can be deposited.
4. The defense is handled in the same manner as the preliminary hearing. Questions are normally restricted to the findings and analysis, because questions of design are handled at the proposal hearing prior to the beginning of the research.
5. The committee has the following choices:
b. Satisfactory pending revision
a. The student may be granted another opportunity to take the examination after completing additional work.
b. The student may not be granted another opportunity.
Dissertation Format Check
1. Visit the Graduate College website that provides information on proper dissertation formatting, as well as deadlines and procedures for depositing dissertations (www.grad.uiuc.edu/thesis/index.htm). Carefully review all of these materials, as failure to do so may delay graduation.
2. Meet with the School of Social work format checker at least a few weeks before the final hearing.
3. The School of Social Work format checker will do a brief review of the final defense manuscript if it is submitted with sufficient time (prior to the defense) in order to make general comments on the work to be done.
4. Before submitting the final copy of the dissertation to the School of Social Work format checker, the student must submit it to the Dissertation Committee Chair for approval. At this time the copy should be a coherent manuscript free of typographical and spelling errors, and grammatically correct. The Dissertation Committee Chair has the right and the responsibility to refuse to accept any copy that does not meet these requirements.
5. The dissertation is then submitted to the format checker who has 30 days to review. If extensive work is required the dissertation will be returned and the 30 day period will again be operable.
The Graduate College has a "Thesis Handbook" which is available online at http://www.grad.uiuc.edu/thesis/thesishandbook/. These are the guidelines to follow except for the following departmental requirements. Please incorporate the requirements listed below. Your thesis must be ready to deposit before the department will check it.
1. An abstract is required for PhD students with the title of ABSTRACT as a heading.
2. Please use all capitals and bold for major headings, e.g. ABSTRACT, ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, TABLE OF CONTENTS, CHAPTER HEADINGS, etc. Subheadings should be in upper and lower case. All chapters must say CHAPTER 1; the next line should be the title of the chapter. Center all chapter headings; multiple line headings need to be single spaced. Use bold, italics or underlines for subheadings. These need to be easily seen on the page. Do not center all of your subheadings.
3. The title "TABLE OF CONTENTS" should be in bold print, but no other bold lines, italics or underlinings should appear on the table of contents page even if italics or underlines are used in the text for subheadings. If there are two lines to a heading, single space and line up the second line of text with the first word of the heading; make sure the first line does not overlap the page numbers. Main level headings from within chapters should be listed in the Table of Contents, do not include lower level headings in the Table of Contents. Please use this format Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION on the Table of Contents only.
4. The list of References should start on a new page using the heading of REFERENCES. Please make sure references are single-spaced and double-spaced between and that you do not split the reference citation: if some of the lines automatically roll to the next page you must force the rest of the citation to that page with a page break.
5. All line spacing needs to be consistent throughout the thesis.
Social Work Abstracts
Students are encouraged to prepare an abstract for Social Work Abstracts. You may obtain the necessary forms from the PhD Program Director.
Candidates are expected to pursue a full-time program during the first year of study. The University residency requirement is enrollment for two semesters in sequence as a full-time student. Specific University policies govern course loads for those students employed by the University.
According to University guidelines a student who enters with a MSW is allowed up to six years to complete the degree program. A student without a MSW degree has seven years to complete the doctoral program. Extension of the time limit and/or a leave of absence may be granted for unusual circumstances.
Student Faculty Committees
PhD students participate in the work of the PhD Committee and the School’s Diversity Committee. Student members provide valuable input, promote the interests of the student body, and provide a channel of communication among graduate students and the School. Opportunities to participate on these committees are offered at the beginning of each academic year.
A PhD student who has taken a minimum of 16 hours of graduate work in the program, with a grade point average lower than 3.0 (B) will receive a letter of warning from the Graduate College. A student who has completed a minimum of 24 hours with a grade point average below 3.0 (B) will be reclassified to limited status for a maximum of one term (Students on limited status are not eligible to receive a graduate degree). After one term on limited status, no further registration will be permitted unless the GPA has been raised to 3.0 (B) and the department makes a request to the Graduate College for reinstatement of the student.
Grievance and Capricious Grading Policies
Occasionally, students have conflicts which are related to School personnel or procedures and which require third-party intervention. When this occurs, students should discuss their concerns with the faculty or staff member involved. If a disagreement cannot be resolved in discussion with the faculty or staff member, students should consult the Assistant Dean. The Assistant Dean discusses the situation with students and informs them of both the informal and formal grievance procedures established by the School and by the University. If, at this point, further action is needed, the Assistant Dean refers the student to the Associate Dean.
Procedures for review of Alleged Capricious Grading and Grievance and Complaints may be found in the Graduate College Handbook and related links at http://www.grad.illinois.edu/gradhandbook/print/chapterIX.asp.
Protection of Human Subjects
All research conducted at or sponsored by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work and that involves human subjects must adhere to the standards that are stated in the Handbook for Investigators: For the Protection of Human Subjects. Investigators need to be especially aware of the standards concerning informed consent, confidentiality, the classification of minimal risk and more than minimal risk, and the required safeguards.
No data collection will be initiated without approval from the Human Subjects Review Officer of the School of Social Work. Every research project must be reviewed by either the Human Subjects Review Officer of the School of Social Work or the Executive Secretary of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to determine compliance with the exemption criteria. Information and IRB-1 forms are available on-line at: http://irb.illinois.edu/.
Sexual Harassment Policy
The Sexual Harassment Policy can be found in the Student Code This material is available on-line at: http://www.admin.uiuc.edu/policy/code/article_1/a1_1-109.html
Members of the campus community are expected to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct in carrying out their teaching, research and service responsibilities. There are many aspects of academic integrity, including but not limited to instructional responsibilities, honest and ethical practice in completing both coursework and research, and more generally in professional conduct.
The commitment of the University to the most fundamental principles of academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity requires that decisions involving students and employees be based on individual merit and be free from invidious discrimination in all its forms.
It is the policy of the University of Illinois not to engage in discrimination or harassment against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, unfavorable discharge from the military, or status as a disabled veteran or a veteran of the Vietnam era and to comply with all federal and state laws, orders, and regulations on discrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action. This nondiscrimination policy applies to admissions, employment, access to and treatment in each university program and activity.
For additional information or assistance on the equal opportunity, affirmative action and harassment policies of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, please contact the Associate Chancellor at 317 Swanlund Administration Building, MC-304, 601 East John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820-5796, (217) 333-6394, or the Assistant Chancellor and Director of Equal Opportunity and Access (Title IX, ADA and 504 Coordinator) at 100A Swanlund Administration Building, MC-304, 601 East John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820-5796, (217) 333-0885. Further information is available on the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access web page: http://www.eoa.uiuc.edu.
Serving as a teaching assistant or adjunct instructor is not a requirement for receiving a PhD degree from the School of Social Work. However, we strongly encourage all students who have an interest in future teaching to take advantage of this opportunity. It can be quite important in demonstrating teaching potential as students enter the job market.
The School has several special awards for PhD students, which have been developed through donor contributions. The specific awards are summarized in the attached PDF file.