Apr 22, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Social Work, PhD

Graduate College of Social Work  > Social Work, PhD

Graduates of the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) impact the community as they address the innumerable complex challenges currently facing our nation. The GCSW’s vision of achieving social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global informs the curriculum providing a solid framework to develop social workers who are staunch advocates who urge and instruct multiple institutions - from grassroots organizations to powerful corporations - to achieve social justice and support vulnerable populations. They lay and continue to reinforce the foundations of service, self-worth and the undeniable value of positive human relationships.

For more information please see http://www.uh.edu/socialwork.

PhD Admission Requirements

Early application is strongly encouraged as the number of new students admitted each year is limited, and the admissions process is competitive. Applications must be accompanied by the non-refundable application fee. Incomplete applications, including those without the required fee, will not be reviewed.

To be considered for admission to the Ph.D. Program applicants must:

  1. Hold a master’s degree in social work (M.S.W.) from a CSWE-accredited program. Official transcripts, showing degrees awarded and date(s) conferred, from all colleges and universities previously attended are required, OR Hold a master’s degree in a related social science discipline from an accredited program. The Doctoral Admissions Committee will evaluate whether M.S.W. foundation prerequisite courses will be required.
  2. Have achieved a grade point average of 3.5 or better (A=4.0) in all previous undergraduate and graduate work. Applicants who do not meet the minimum 3.5 GPA requirement but who demonstrate excellence in other areas of the application may be considered. We will calculate your GPA based on your transcripts.
  3. Submit a minimum of three, but not more than five, letters of recommendation from persons who are familiar with your potential for doctoral education. At least two letters must be from academics (i.e., former tenure-track professors, graduate advisor, etc).
  4. Submit a current vita and a written narrative statement that describes your academic and employment histories, and your interest in the Ph.D. program. Identify the faculty you wish to work with in order to develop your research interest.
  5. Submit samples of publications, papers, or other materials reflecting your academic and research excellence. An admissions interview (in-person or by phone) may be requested at the discretion of the Doctoral Committee.
  6. International applicants have additional documentation requirements, including submission of possible test scores to demonstrate English language proficiency.  To learn more visit http://www.uh.edu/graduate-school/admissions/international-students/

Note: Proficiency in English. Students whose written or spoken English skills appear to be marginal (i.e., they may impede academic success and/or reflect communication problems) may be required to seek instruction outside the college.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 53.0 Credit Hours are required for the Ph.D. and must be in adherence with the grade policy.  
The credit hours consist of 44.0 Credit Hours in coursework and 9.0 Credit Hours in dissertation research.

There are a series of milestone students must successfully accomplish in order to progress through the program:

  1. Pass the Integrative Examination after first 20 hours of sequenced coursework.
  2. Complete a Summer Research Internship upon the completion of remaining coursework.
  3. Defend the dissertation proposal to the student’s dissertation committee via written manuscript and oral presentation.
  4. Conduct the dissertation research.
  5. Defend the final dissertation to the student’s dissertation committee via written manuscript and oral presentation.

The curriculum is oriented towards evidence-based social work (EBSW) and research on the translation of evidence-based interventions and policies in real world social work and social welfare settings. Students are trained to generate and use valid research evidence to inform the decisions social workers make at all levels of practice and policy. By training our students in EBSW, we increase the capacity of our profession to build interdisciplinary partnerships in both research and practice.

Coursework includes three EBSW research methods courses, statistics and data management courses, theory, social welfare policy analysis, teaching in higher education, grant writing, substantive electives, and a Research Internship designed to allow for the application of translational research skills in a real world social work/social welfare setting.


  • The time it takes to obtain the Ph.D. will generally vary according to your previous preparation, your progress in the program, and the nature of your dissertation research.
  • All dissertations must be completed within five (5) years of passing the oral comprehensive examination or students will be required to retake the oral comprehensive examination.
  • Students must complete the dissertation within 10 years of the date of first enrollment in the doctoral program.
  • It is recommended that students successfully complete the dissertation proposal defense no later than the fifth (5th) term following the oral comprehensive examination.

This then allows for five terms to complete the entire dissertation before the five-year deadline regarding the oral comprehensive examination.

Dissertation Research

9.0 Credit Hours