COVID-19 update: This course will start online and continue on campus later. Read more

What will I learn?

The focus of social work education at the doctoral level is to foster the development of an attitude of scientific inquiry, knowledge of the scientific method, ability to extend the knowledge base of social work practice, and effective participation in leadership roles in social work education, research, and practice.

Upon completion of the Ph.D. program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate expert knowledge in a focused substantive area relevant to social work.
  • Conduct independent and original scientific research that advances knowledge in a substantive area.
  • Communicate scientific findings in an effective way to a range of audiences (from lay persons to other scientists).
  • Secure funding for a substantive research agenda.
  • Teach students the knowledge, skills, and values they need to be proficient social workers in a substantive area.

The courses are available only in Knoxville. Students and their committees can develop a plan for completing their research in Nashville based on the availability of dissertation resources.

Academic Standards

  • Typically, the 34 credit hours of foundation curriculum and 9 credit hours of elective course work are completed during the first two years of study.
  • Dissertation research usually begins in the second year and is continued in the third year of study.
  • While it is generally expected that the course work will be completed on a full-time basis, dissertation research can be completed on a planned part-time basis.

Which department am I in?

College of Social Work

Study options

Full Time (67 credit hours)

Tuition fees
US$31,798.00 per year

*Price shown is for indicative purposes, please check with institution

Start date

24 January 2022


College of Social Work

1618 Cumberland Avenue, 401 Henson Hall,



37996, United States

Entry requirements

For international students

The PhD program is designed for students who have completed a master's degree in an accredited school of social work and have post-master's social work/social welfare experience.

An applicant requesting admission to the Graduate School may be required to submit results of the TOEFL or IELTS. Minimum score requirements for admission to the Graduate School are:

  • a total score of 80 on the internet-based TOEFL (iBT),
  • a 6.5 overall band score on the IELTS.

Application Deadline: Spring: June 15

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


About University of Tennessee

Internationals get to participate in exciting hands-on experiences that are invaluable for future careers.

  • Tennessee’s flagship university
  • 80% of graduates in employment or further study in 6 months
  • Experiential learning opportunities
  • Up to USD 18,000 per year in financial aid

Get in touch