Our Curriculum

The links below will provide you with more specifics on our PhD program. For more information about our program, to schedule an admissions interview or to request application materials, please contact the Doctoral Office at 212.960.0813 or e-mail us at wsswphd@yu.edu.

Please note that to be considered for the MSW/PhD program students must apply also for the PhD program after completing the first semester of the MSW program.

The Curriculum

Dissertation Requirements

Time Limitations

Handbook and Manuals

The Curriculum

A minimum of 60 credits are required for the program, which include course work, seminars and doctoral dissertation research. Preparation and approval of the dissertation is required in order to receive the degree.

Coursework typically takes two years (permission can be granted for three years), after which time the student writes the dissertation. The dissertation is expected to take three years to complete.

The program can be classified as one that is ''practice-based,'' that is, a program that is intimately connected to practice yet doesn't strive for a direct or immediate impact on the practice skills of the students.

Program Road Map of Courses  (PDF)

Year One: Dependent Study

The first year, characterized as a time of dependent study, is when course content is largely determined by the faculty. Here, the competent social work professionals who are students acquire the skills and inculcate the standards of doctoral scholarship. They integrate new learning with their existing knowledge, learning how to question favored assumptions and to formulate questions as a basis for inquiry.

Students acquire a foundation of social theory that can help to analyze the dilemmas and contradictions of social work practice. At the conclusion of the first year, students are asked to submit to the doctoral faculty a Plan of Study, which contains a scholarly, documented statement of learning representing the student's knowledge and understanding of a particular theme for which there is professional concern. It is the program's approach to comprehensive examinations.

Entrance into the second year of doctoral study is contingent on the student passing the Plan of Study, both written and oral components. The student is expected to demonstrate mastery of course material and the ability to apply these concepts to student-relevant aspects of social work practice. The examination provides the student with an opportunity to integrate the conceptual framework of the first-year courses and to apply this integrated conceptual framework to social work practice.

Year Two: Independent Study

The second year is a period of independent study. The open-ended expansion of knowledge and discovery that is the focus of the first year becomes much more targeted as students work with their advisers to define and develop their dissertation topic.

In students' course work, the conceptual frameworks and research incorporated in their course papers become part of the foundation for the preparation of their plans for the dissertation, which are laid out in the formal document of the dissertation proposal.

After receiving faculty approval on their proposals, students begin working on their dissertation. Each student is assigned a faculty adviser who assists the student throughout this process. For most students, it takes three years to complete the dissertation.

The second year also includes preparation for career pathways. Following the acceptance of the Plan of Study, students take one of two courses--Administrative Practice or Social Work Education. Students may also take the second set of courses (Administrative Practice or Social Work Education) as electives.


Dissertation Requirements

Preparation and approval of the dissertation is required in order to receive the PhD degree.

A dissertation adviser is assigned to the candidate upon acceptance of the dissertation proposal. The adviser serves as the chair of the dissertation committee. The director of the doctoral program appoints the other members of the committee, with input from the faculty adviser and student. Professionals in the field of practice that is the focus of the study who are not members of the faculty serve on such committees at the invitation of the director of the doctoral program. Such professionals will possess an earned doctorate in social work or a related field.


Time Limitations

All course work requirements must be completed within three years of the date of admission. The dissertation proposal must be completed and approved within five years of admission and the dissertation itself completed and approved within three years of proposal acceptance. Students may, in unusual circumstances, petition the doctoral faculty committee for a time extension.


Handbooks and Manuals

We provide our doctoral students with much assistance during their years of study at Wurzweiler. Linked below are manuals and guides that are distributed to WSSW doctoral students.

Doctoral Student Handbook 2019 (PDF)

Doctoral Student Manual (August, 2015 version) (PDF)

Doctoral Student Manual (Archived - prior version) (PDF)

Guide for Writing Dissertation (PDF)

Guide for Writing Proposal (PDF)