PhD Curriculum

The program requires a total of 50 doctoral level credit hours plus 6 dissertation credit hours, or a total of at least 56 credit hours (subject to change). The curriculum consists of three components:

Core Curriculum (41 credit hours):These are required courses that include advanced research design and analysis, theory development, policy analysis, change theories, ethics, teaching in social work, and professional seminars.

Click on the links below to jump to a course description in this document:

766-01 Foundation of Doctoral Education (Pass/Fail, these hours do not apply to the Ph.D.) taken in the summer) This course is basic research concepts: research and   sampling designs, units of analysis, independent and dependent variables, and basic analytic procedures using statistical software packages.

769-01Advanced Research & Design Analysis I (ARDA I) (6), taken in the first semester  of the first year in the doctoral program

The integration of statistics and quantitative research methods demonstrates how theoretical perspectives drive research questions, measurement concepts, sampling and research designs, and how to determine appropriate statistical procedure.

770-01Advanced Research & Design Analysis II (ARDA II) (6), taken in the second semester of the first year in the doctoral program

Doctoral students demonstrate that they can initiate research using the conceptual, methodological, statistical, and both quantitative and qualitative research methods studied in ARDA I as needed in Social Work.

771-01 Advanced Research & Design Analysis III (ARDA III) (3), taken in the first semester of the second year in the doctoral program

Students work one-on-one with professors in (a) guided research, (b) developing detailed research agendas, or (c) in-depth study of particular analytic procedures to be used in their subsequent dissertations.

772-01 Advanced Qualitative Research

Students learn and practice the basic elements of organizing, conducting, and disseminating qualitative research, with special attention focused upon grounded theory, ethnographies, and action research.

773-01Advanced Measurement in Social Work Research

The concepts, principles, and models of measurement include designing, testing and refining measurements, and factor analysis, reliability and validity, measurement error,       classical measurement theory, item response theory and generalizability theory.

764-01Teaching in Social Work (3)

This course engages students in the philosophy of education with emphasis on professional education, curriculum theory and social work curriculum standards, and instructional theory, methods and technology. Each student will create a social work course from initially surveying a body of relevant literature, choosing content and conceptualizing it, developing lectures, and inventing tasks and assignments.

759-01Theory I: Social Work Change Theories (3)

This course provides a critical analysis of theories which seek to explain human behavior and serve as foundations for current clinical change interventions. It includes an     examination of the empirical support for and efficacy of major treatment modalities used in social work practice.

755-75 Theory II: Theory Development (3)

This course explores the nature of knowledge and how it is generated and acquired. Explanatory and practice theory, current models related to practice, and the relationship of theory and data to social work will be examined. Strategies for building knowledge will be discussed. Students will analyze theories into their components, construct mini-theories, and propose how they can be tested in social work practice.

757-01 Theory III: Advanced Analysis of Social Work Problems (3)

This course provides students with theoretical and conceptual frameworks for understanding social problems and their implications for macro social work practice. Critical perspectives related to social science theory will be identified, assumptions assessed, values examined, and empirical evidence analyzed. Theories covered will be drawn from sociological, socio-cultural, political, economic, historical, and other perspectives. Students will be expected to develop their abilities to analyze and critique social problems and macro social work practice.

760-01 Ethics, Social Work and Society (3)

This course identifies and articulates the philosophical formulations of relevant ethical traditions and their implications for social work. Students examine approaches to ethical analysis as well as major ethical problems facing contemporary social work. The course emphasizes the development of advanced ethical reasoning and decision-making skills.

762-01 Research Practicum (3)

Students work directly with faculty who are engaged in research to gain hands-on experience in the conception and implementation of a project or data collection and analysis.

756-01 758-01 Professional Seminars (I & II, total of 2 credits)

These are one credit hour seminars offered during the fall and spring semesters in the first year for a total of two credits. Their purpose is to (a) introduce doctoral students to the research interests of the faculty and their current research activities, particularly research that is in the early stages of conceptual development, and (b) introduce students to life in the academy of higher education.

Individualized Plan of Study (at least 9 credit hours)

These credit hours are devoted to students’ individual research and teaching interests may include additional methodological and statistical courses offered in other schools on campus. Three of these hours will be the required teaching practicum.

An area of scholarly study is necessary to provide students with a distinctive area of expertise in social work. This phase of the student's educational experience is individually tailored to each student's specific educational goals. Students complete their educational plans by selecting from a range of graduate courses or independent studies. Ph.D. students may choose courses or design independent studies with professors both in and outside of Social Work to inform their areas of scholarly research.

The objective is to prepare students to contribute to empirical research and theoretical developments in intervention methods and to teach social work knowledge and practice. This is accomplished by emphasizing contemporary and newly developed approaches, analyzing the adequacy of intervention methods and policies, acquiring the relevant foundation knowledge from behavioral and social science, conducting research on outcomes including their effectiveness and efficiency, and identifying the critical issues needing further research and practice development. This also requires a broad knowledge of educational methods and assessment techniques and critical thinking.

Comprehensive Examination (no credit hours)

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to provide a format in which students can demonstrate their abilities to apply and integrate the whole of their educational experiences by adequately addressing complex questions pertinent to the current and developing knowledge base of social work. Students are eligible to write their comprehensive examinations upon successful completion of all required and individualized courses. Following the passage of the comprehensive examination, students are admitted to Candidacy status.

799-01 Dissertation (6 credit hours)

The dissertation includes the design and implementation of a major research project, the results of which are expected to contribute to the social work knowledge base.  Upon admission to candidacy, students proceed to propose, complete, and defend their dissertations. The primary requirement of a dissertation is that it contributes to the knowledge base of the Social Work profession. It must represent independent work and be based on original research questions or hypotheses. Dissertation committees will have at least five members, one of whom is from the University of Kentucky.