PhD in Social Work

About the Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in social work focuses on research that informs social welfare policy and practice. It is designed to prepare scholars for research, teaching and program development positions in academic and professional social work practice and policy settings.

Degree Requirements

The PhD program is available to both persons with a Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree and those with other master’s degrees. The curriculum consists of a minimum of 55 post MSW semester credit hours or, for applicants without an MSW, 67 hours. The curriculum is divided among three distinct but highly interrelated elements designed to complement one another in assisting students to achieve the competencies expected of a graduate of this program. A core of social work courses provides the foundation in the traditions and knowledge in the profession and exposure to state-of-the-art research and techniques for the 21st century. Electives from the broad spectrum of social and behavioral sciences offering available through MU departments provide students with the opportunity to design an individualized plan of study that capitalizes on their unique interests and talents. A strong regimen of research methodology, theory, and policy analysis are designed to prepare students for use of both current and emerging methods of scientific inquiry.

Required Social Work Courses
SOC_WK 9001Topics in Social Work (Applied Theory Workshop (1) Social Measurement (3) and Qualitative Methods (3))7
SOC_WK 9090Teaching Practicum in Social Work1
SOC_WK 9150Statistical Concepts in the Social and Behavioral Sciences3
SOC_WK 9300Research Methodology and Design Seminar3
SOC_WK 9350Research Methods & Design II3
SOC_WK 9650Pedagogical Methods in Social Work and Applied Professional Programs1
SOC_WK 9350Advanced Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Social Research3
SOC_WK 9800Research Application I1
SOC_WK 9890Dissertation Seminar3
SOC_WK 9900Doctoral Dissertation Research in Social Work12
Total Credits37

 Sample Plan of Study (full-time student)

First Year
SOC_WK 9001 (Applied Theory Workshop)1Advanced Stat3Elective3
SOC_WK 91503SOC_WK 9001 (Qualitative Methods)3 
SOC_WK 93003Elective3 
SOC_WK 96501SOC_WK 90901 
 8 10 3
Second Year
SOC_WK 98003SOC_WK 9850 (if needed)1Comprehensive Examination 
Elective3SOC_WK 98903 
Advanced Statistics3Elective3 
SOC_WK 9001 (Social Measurement)3SOC_WK 93503 
Qualifying Exam at the end of the semester   
 12 10 0
Third Year
SOC_WK 99006SOC_WK 99006 
 6 6  
Total Credits: 55

Financial Aid from the Program

Scholarship opportunities are available for full-time program applicants who meet the application deadline. Graduate teaching and research assistantships are also often available. Some forms of support require additional forms from those who wish to be considered for internal assistantships, fellowships or other funding packages. Check the program Web site or ask the program contact for details.

Admission Criteria

Admission deadline: Midnight December 1

  • Minimum GPA: 3.0; 3.5 in graduate study
  • Minimum TOEFL scores:
Internet-based test (iBT) Paper-based test (PBT)
80 550
  • An MSW or related master’s is required. Applicants without the MSW must take a minimum of 12 credit hours of MSW course work. This requirement may be waived for applicants with additional graduate work.
  • Minimum of two years post-master’s practice experience encouraged.

Note: These criteria are used flexibly to assess the applicant’s potential for study and research in this program.

Required Application Materials

To the Office of Graduate School:

  • All required Office of Graduate School documents

To the Director of the Doctoral Program in Social Work (via the Graduate School's online application system):

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • CV
  • Writing proficiency sample
  • Personal statement
  • A personal interview is required, and if possible, will be arranged at MU. A Zoom interview may be utilized in some cases.

Admission Contact Information

Program Contact: Crystal Null (
723 Clark Hall; Columbia, MO 65211

PhD Program Director: Dr. Virginia Ramseyer Winter (
705 Clark Hall; Columbia, MO 65211

PhD Program Website:

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