What will I learn?

The UW School of Social Work doctoral program stands out among advanced social welfare programs by offering an array of academic resources available at one of the nation’s premier research universities. Transdisciplinary opportunities and faculty mentorship enrich the learning experience and help to shape a viable career path in social justice teaching, research or public service. It’s one of the key reasons our graduates find work in highly regarded social work programs throughout the country.

Plan of Study

Students develop an interdisciplinary plan of study to meet their scholarly and professional goals and complete a portion of their coursework outside the School of Social Work. They are expected to develop a strong theoretical framework for their knowledge-building activities, and they frequently work with faculty in other schools and departments in the University. Students are encouraged to include scholars from other disciplines on their supervisory committees.

The PhD program is constructed so that each student develops a plan of study that focuses on a well-defined substantive area of interest in the field of social welfare. During the first 2 years, the student completes required classes before moving on to a specialized area and set of research objectives anticipated as being the focus of subsequent research priorities. The program of study encompasses substantive work in a field or issue of social welfare, relevant intervention development needs or responses, and appropriate research methodologies, with all aspects integrated through a social justice framework. It involves close working relationships with faculty whose expertise complements the student's learning objectives. Analytical reasoning, sensitivity to diversity factors, and the ability to develop and integrate a theoretical and empirical framework and to articulate social justice learning objectives for one's current and future work are emphasized.

Specific plans for the program of study are outlined in each student’s Individual Development Plan (IDP), which describes the areas of specialization and crosscutting career skills that the student plans to undertake in the PhD program and how the student will build competence in these areas through coursework, teaching, research, cross-disciplinary, community engagement, and professional development experiences.

Program Objectives

The principal objective of the program is to prepare students to promote social justice by contributing to the advancement of knowledge and practice in the field of social welfare and the profession of social work. Our graduates have assumed leadership positions in such areas as teaching, research, administration, and policy analysis. In these various capacities, they use their scholarly abilities to improve the quality of policies, programs, and services in the field. More specifically, the objectives of the program are for students to acquire:

a broad understanding of the major policy and practice trends and issues in the field of social welfare and the profession of social work;

the substantive knowledge of some field of social welfare with particular emphasis on issues and questions within the field that require scholarly attention;

the competence to conduct empirical research that informs and advances policy and/or practice in some area of social welfare;

a balanced preparation for the professorate, including teaching, scholarship, and related faculty roles.

Which department am I in?

School of Social Work

Study options

Full Time (10 years)

Tuition fees
US$30,832.00 per year
Start date

Expected September 2022


University of Washington

Schmitz Hall, 1410 NE Campus Parkway,



98195, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Prospective graduate students must meet the following minimum requirements: Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S.1or its equivalent from a foreign institution; Have earned at least a 3.0 grade-point-average (on a 4 point scale) for the last 90 graded quarter credits or 60 graded semester credits. Other English Language Requirements: 580 paper-based TOEFL.

For international students

MSW or a master's degree in a related discipline.

Minimum TOEFL scores are required for application to the program: TOEFL, 500; TOEFL iBT, 80; TOEFL C, 237; MLT, 90

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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