Students attend the Doctoral Program full-time. Students are required to take a minimum of fifteen courses: one in the history of the social work profession, five in statistics and research methods, and at least three in other departments or professional schools at the University of Chicago. These three courses would normally be chosen from a single discipline.
Students are required to complete a pre-dissertation research project during their first two years of study. This project should be an empirical report, a critical analysis of the literature, or a theoretical piece, written while a doctoral student, that has been submitted for publication in a journal or book. Most commonly, pre-dissertation projects will grow out of research assistantships at SSA or elsewhere at the University of Chicago or from papers initially written by students as course requirements, but further developed to be suitable for submission for publication, usually under the guidance of the instructor from the class. Manuscripts may be co-authored with faculty or others, but if the student is not the first author, the first author needs to attest to the student’s role in preparing the manuscript.
Students must pass a qualifying examination that assesses their understanding of the major conceptual domains informing direct practice, policy or organizational research and their ability to use these frameworks to analyze social welfare problems. This take-home, open-book examination is completed during a one-week period at the end of the summer following students' second year.