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Ph.D. in Social Work

The Ph.D. Program in social work is research oriented and interdisciplinary in nature.

admissions info

It prepares graduates for leadership positions in the profession and for careers as social work researchers and educators. The program offers a rigorous series of required pro-seminars and courses in the student's area of concentration. Three concentrations are offered: (1) Migration and International Social Development (refugees, immigrants, and other displaced populations), (2) Family and Community Resilience (family and child welfare, adolescent development, adulthood, and social gerontology), and (3) Health and Well Being (health care and mental health.

Degree Requirements

An applicant must have a Master's degree from an accredited School of Social Work. There is a provision to accept a limited number of non-MSW students who have Masters of Arts degrees or Masters of Science degrees in an allied field such as sociology, psychology, human development, and family studies. However, all students are expected to complete their MSW degree.

Candidates must complete 48 semester credit hours of course work, including 3 hours for the dissertation. A cumulative average of B is required for graduation. Additionally, students must earn a grade of B or better in all pro-seminar courses and special-interest area courses.

The curriculum of the doctoral program consists of four components:

  • Core Curriculum (pro-seminars)
  • Special Interest Area
  • Electives, and
  • Dissertation

The core curriculum consists of nine pro-seminars. One course in the history and philosophy of social welfare, three theory courses (Individual, Group, Community and Organization), one course in Social Work Education, and four courses in advanced social  research methods and statistics. All students are required to take the above specified courses as the basis for their study in one of the special interest areas.

Students are expected to take 12 credits in their chosen special interest area. The specific interest area courses are decided upon by the student, his/her academic advisor, and the Director of the Ph.D. Program. These courses may be taken outside of the School of Social Work, in other schools and colleges of Howard University, or in one of the Consortium of Universities in Washington, D.C.

Six credits of elective courses are required.

The qualifying examination is taken at the end of the first year of study, after completion of 18 credit hours. The examination covers the course content in the first-year core courses. Emphasis is placed on the ability to synthesize knowledge. The student must pass the examination in order to continue in the program.

The comprehensive examination is taken upon the completion of all the core courses and special interest area courses. Students are admitted to candidacy after passing the comprehensive examination and receiving the recommendation of the doctoral committee. The candidate is required to present and orally defend the proposal for subsequently a completed dissertation.

A student should file for admission to candidacy on completion of most of the requirements of the Ph.D. Program except the dissertation. The student should have also satisfied the GSAS writing proficiency requirements and a foreign language examination or an approved substitute.

General Admission Requirements

A completed application should include the following:

  • Completed online application and signature page. You may download the paper application (HTML)/(Acrobat), and mail in your completed package folder.
  • The (non-refundable) $45.00 application fee is to be made payable to: Treasurer, Howard University. (Certified check or money order only).
  • Official transcripts (undergraduate and graduate) must be submitted directly from the Registrar's Office from ALL colleges and universities attended.
  • Results of applicant's Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test Scores.
  • Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), for an international student.
  • A curriculum vitae with your education and professional experiences. Please organize the curriculum vitae so that the following items can be conveniently determined: education, professional experiences, scholarly writings/presentations, and community services.
  • Three (3) written letters of recommendation – NOTE: References must include at least one graduate professor, and one professional supervisor.
  • Essay to include a statement reflecting the following: (a) your philosophy of social welfare/social work; (b) a personal statement with your professional and educational goals; (c) research interests; and (d) how the program will assist with meeting your goals (3 to 5 double spaced typewritten pages).
  • Information regarding your plans for financial support. If you would like to be considered for financial aid, please complete the Financial Aid Form for evaluation by the Educational Testing Service at Princeton, New Jersey. Please adhere to deadlines on the [FAF]. Financial Aid is available through the University on the basis of need and academic performance in the form of federally supported loans, tuition scholarships, and part-time employment. The School of Social Work offers a limited number of graduate assistantships, partial-tuition scholarships, and tuition grants on the basis of need and academic performance.
  • Other relevant materials should include evidence of your ability to perform in the program with copies of published papers.

The requests for admission far exceed the number of students who can be accommodated by the Program. Therefore, you should present a complete portrait of yourself in your application package to:

The Graduate School of Arts and Science
Howard University 4th and College Street, N.W.
Washington, DC  20059
Attention: Graduate Admissions Office

Kindly include a telephone number where you may be reached during the day so we can call you in the event it is necessary to clarify something regarding your application.

The deadline for receipt of all application materials is February 15th. You are encouraged to begin the application process early. The application review begins in January and some of the items, such as transcripts and letters of reference may require additional time. From time to time you should check with the doctoral program office at (202) 806-7306 regarding the status of your file. The doctoral committee does not evaluate incomplete files. We should be able to notify you regarding the disposition of your application as soon as it is reviewed.

For any further information, please contact the Director of the Ph.D. Program of Social Work as follows:

The Director
Ph.D. Program in Social Work, Room 333
Innabel Lindsay Hall
Howard University
601 Howard Place, N.W.
Washington, DC 20059
(202) 806-7306

Residence Requirements

Students in the Ph.D. Program are required to spend at least four semesters in full-time residence, two of which must be consecutive.

Caution to Prospective Students

The Board of Trustees of Howard University on September 24, 1983, adopted the following policy statement regarding applications for admission: "Applicants seeking admission to Howard University are required to submit accurate and complete credentials, as well as accurate and complete information requested by the University. "Applicants who fail to do so shall be denied admission. Enrolled students who as applicants failed to submit accurate and complete credentials or accurate and complete information on their application for admission shall be subject to dismissal when the same is made known, regardless of classification."