About the Program

The mission of the School of Social Work’s Doctor of Philosophy program is to prepare graduates to conduct interdisciplinary research and become exemplary social work scholars and educators.

Degree Requirements

The 53-credit curriculum begins with 23 credits of core courses:

  • research seminar (2 credits);
  • quantitative and qualitative research design and methods (9 credits);
  • data analysis and statistics (6 credits); and
  • research practicum (6 credits)

Additional required courses include:

  • intervention research (3 credits);
  • integrative seminar (3 credits);
  • teaching methods (3 credits);
  • advanced research or data analysis in the student’s area of interest (3 credits), and
  • theory in the student’s area of interest (3 credits)

Students also take another 3-credit elective.

After completing integrative seminar, students take a comprehensive examination. The final phase of the program is the completion of 12 hours of doctoral dissertation credits.




Contacting Us

Director - Bethany Lee, PhD
Room 508 SW/LAW Building
Phone: (410) 706-3809
Email: blee@ssw.umaryland.edu 

Academic Services Specialist - Jen Canapp
Suite 502-C SSW/LAW Building
Phone: (410) 706-7960
Fax: (410) 706-3448

Mailing Address
UMB PhD Program
525 West Redwood Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Frequently Asked Questions by PhD Applicants

Q: Can I begin my studies in January?

A: There are no January admissions. Students are only admitted for the Fall semester.

Q: When and where are classes held? 

A: All classes in the PhD program are held on Thursdays and Fridays.  Full-time students take three courses per semester and need to be available to take classes on both Thursday and Friday.  Part-time students take two courses per semester and need to be available on Thursday and Friday as well.  All classes are conducted in the School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore campus in downtown Baltimore.  No online courses are offered at this time.

Q: Can I take a course to “try out” the program before I am admitted?

A: Non-degree status is not granted to those who plan to obtain a PhD.  We welcome you to visit our program for the day and sit in on a class if you wish.

Q: What type of Financial Aid is available?

A: The School has a number of graduate research assistantships (GRAs) that require either 10 or 20 hours of work per week for a 10- or 12-month academic year.  Full-time students are eligible for full-time (20-hour) assistantships which provide a stipend of $23,200 (10-month) or $27,800 (12-month), plus tuition remission for the fall and spring semesters, and health insurance.  Admitted students interested in applying for assistantships should complete the GRA application. (http://www.ssw.umaryland.edu/phd/phd-forms/phd-gra-application/)

GRAs are offered to full-time students only.  The University of Maryland Graduate School provides PLUS awards that may be available to provide tuition remission and fees for part-time students; students are recommended for these awards by the Program Director.

Q: What kind of health care is available?

A: All full-time students are required to have health insurance.  An excellent insurance policy that provides wide coverage, including obstetrical care, is available through the university.  For detailed information about health insurance, please visit www.umaryland.edu/health  Full-time students with a GRA have the student health insurance covered as part of the GRA package.

Q: Can I enroll part-time?

A: Yes.  Students enter the program as either part-time or full-time.  Full-time is nine credits per semester (three courses).  Part-time is six credits per semester (two courses).  Students cannot enroll for fewer than two courses per semester.  If possible, it is best to complete the program as a full-time student.

Q: What will my workload be like?

A: Doctoral education is different from master’s degree education.  The workload is much heavier and the program is more rigorous.  The University of Maryland PhD program maintains high standards by having high expectations of the students.  Students spend 3 to 4 hours in preparation for every hour of class.  A full-time student with a 20-hour GRA will spend 56 to 65 hours a week on the doctoral program.  This is a major commitment and may require sacrifice in other areas of life.

Q: Can I keep my job? 

A: If you have a GRA, you are not allowed to work for pay outside of the GRA.  We provide GRAs so that you can focus on your doctoral education, gain research experience, and complete the degree in a timely manner.

If you are a part-time student, you can work outside of the program, but it is best to meet with the Program Director to discuss your individual circumstances and how to balance working with being a PhD student.

Q: I am from out of town.  Is it possible to live on the GRA stipend in Baltimore?

A: Yes.  Baltimore’s cost of living is very reasonable.  Check out the University’s Housing Department’s website at www.housing.umaryland.edu. You will find information about on- and off- campus housing, housing costs, and Baltimore neighborhoods.  Also, if you have a 10-month GRA, you can work for 2 months over the summer to gain extra income.

Q: Can I take courses in other schools or programs?

A: Yes. Students are required to take at least one course outside the social work PhD program; students begin taking electives in their second year.  Students may select their electives from doctoral-level courses offered in the School of Social Work, the other UMB schools, as well as academic departments on the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) or University of Maryland in College Park (UMCP) campuses (e.g., psychology, sociology, policy sciences).  Elective courses from other institutions may also be acceptable.  The tuition remission provided as part of the GRA or PLUS awards covers courses at several campuses of the University System of Maryland.

Q: Is there a maximum time limit?

A: You must achieve candidacy status within 5 years of admission to the PhD program and you must graduate within 4 years of the date you are admitted to candidacy.

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?

A: Full-time students can complete the coursework in 2-3 years.  Part-time students complete the coursework in an average of 3-4 years.  The time for the completion of the dissertation depends on the nature of the research and the amount of time the student devotes to it.  Our full-time students average 4 to 5 years to complete the program.

Q: How does the program help prepare students for the job market?

A: In addition to providing an outstanding education in research and teaching, we offer workshops in applying for jobs (academic and non-academic), submitting abstracts, and making presentations.  The Graduate School also offers numerous workshops in career development.  Students are encouraged to attend the annual meetings of the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and other professional groups, and to present and publish their work.  Travel fellowships are offered to help cover expenses.

Q: Does the program help with job placement upon graduation?

A: The PhD Program Director receives numerous job announcements, and these are posted and distributed to students nearing graduation.  Also, the School shares the vitae of graduating students at national social work conferences. Faculty members also help their students find jobs.

International Applicants

The PhD Program in Social Work welcomes International Applicants.  Our program requires an MSW for admission consideration.  The program also maintains a strict language requirement for non-native speakers of English. All applicants to the PhD program whose native language and/or language of their home is not English are required to submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This guideline includes international students/non-native speakers of English who have completed a master of social work or similar degree from a US college or university.

Please refer to the Graduate school website for information relevant to International Applicants: