PhD Program

A message from Michael Hurlburt, chair of the PhD program.

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work established the first social work doctoral program in the western United States in 1953. Today, we continue to welcome highly motivated, self-directed individuals interested in university research and teaching. Students admitted to the PhD program pursue an in-depth, customized course of study in an atmosphere of careful mentoring and respect for scholarship.

Our doctoral curriculum is highly interdisciplinary, with the intent of producing graduates who are capable of original research and passionate about advancing the profession’s knowledge base. Course work and independent study opportunities within the school and across the university offer intellectual grounding in:

  • Comparative social science theories
  • Advanced research methods and statistics
  • Global issues
  • Policy analysis and advocacy
  • 21st century challenges

The school gives special emphasis to evidence-based approaches and translational science. Our doctoral students regularly collaborate on faculty research projects in addition to pursuing their own funded research.

USC graduates
PhD Admissions

Our admission PhD candidate selection process is rigorous, reflecting our emphasis on academic achievement, initiative and motivation.
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PhD Degree Requirements

The PhD program requires a minimum of 45 units beyond the master's degree and successful completion of written and oral qualifying exams and the doctoral dissertation.
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teacher in classroom
PhD Research

Our PhD program places major emphasis on independent inquiry, the development of competence in research methodology, and communication of research results.
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USC PhD graduates
PhD Students

We provide our PhD Students a wide range of educational support services, a rich campus experience and our Doctoral Student Association.
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