PhD Program

The purpose of this program is to prepare social work scholars to advance social work knowledge. Coursework focuses on theory, research methods, and critical evaluation of social work policies and practice. In addition to coursework, students work with faculty members in research and/or teaching.  

The PhD program builds on a base of professional knowledge and practice in social work. The program offers students the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding in a selected area of concentration and, through the dissertation, contribute to knowledge development in that area. Students take electives in an area of personal interest. Upon enrollment in the program, students are assigned to a PhD faculty advisor for program planning and guidance. 

The program is notable among social work PhD programs for the range and depth of its research foundation courses and electives. Exceptional opportunities are available for students interested in research in health, mental health, aging, and child welfare. There are opportunities for international experiences as well as for collaboration with the Center for Mental Health and Aging, the Institute for Rural Health Research, the Institute for Social Science Research, and the Youth Services Institute, other colleges and departments of the University; and with various units of The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). 

Time Limit

Although the UA Graduate School has established a nine-year time-to-degree deadline for PhD students, entering Social Work PhD students have a seven-year internal deadline deadline to complete the degree. Students who reach Year 7 will be held accountable for reaching due dates and deadlines distributed each semester. If a student fails to meet a due date or deadline in Year 7, yet wants to pursue degree completion, the student must apply for an extension to the social work degree completion deadline. 

Obtaining Information

Inquiries about the program and requests for application materials should be to: The University of Alabama School of Social Work, PhD Program Office, Box 870314, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0314; telephone 205-348-6528;  

Financial Aid

Financial aid is provided through graduate teaching and/or research assistantships, university fellowships, external dissertation grants and/or part-time employment. 

Some additional scholarships are available from the School of Social Work including the Ben Avis Orcutt and Leslie J. Shellhase endowed scholarships, and the Social Work Board of Friends Summer Scholarships, which are administered by the PhD program. For more information on financial aid from other sources, visit the Financial Aid website.