PhD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

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Why Get a PhD in Social Work at the Kent School of Social Work?

The PhD program in social work at the Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville prepares academically motivated master’s level social workers to take on teaching, research, administrative, and policy analysis positions in the United States and abroad. The program focuses on building research, teaching, and analytic competencies through course work on social (work) theories, advanced research design and analysis, teaching, ethics, special topics, guided research practicums and independent studies.

Who are the PhD Program Faculty?

Students have the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of nationally recognized faculty in various areas of social work and the social sciences. For a full list of the Kent School Faculty: Kent Faculty

Bibhuti K. Sar, PhD, Professor & Director, PhD ProgramChild & Family Wellbeing; Social  Justice Practice & Cultural competencies, Prevention systemic change

Email Dr. Sar


Anita P. Barbee, PhD, ProfessorSocial Support, Relationship Education, Child Welfare Systems Reform, Workforce Issues

Email Dr. Barbee


Crystal Collins-Camargo, PhD, Associate ProfessorFrontline Supervision, Public/Private Partnership, Permanency for Children in Out-of-Home Care, Court Interventions

Email Dr. Collins-Camargo


Anna C. Faul, PhD, Professor &  Associate Dean of Academic AffairsHealth Equity, Health Disparities, Social Determinants of Health, Diabetes, Aging, Palliative Care

Email Dr. Faul

Andy Frey, PhD, ProfessorLearning Barriers, Elementary Schools, Child Mental Health, Social Emotional Curricula, Education Environment, Children,  Severe Adjustment Services

Email Dr. Frey


Seana Golder, PhD, Associate Professor

Women, High Risk, Behavior, Violence & Victimization, Criminal Justice System

Email Dr. Golder


Lesley Harris, PhD, Assistant ProfessorGerontology, Qualitative Research Methods

Email Dr. Harris


Karen Kayser, PhD, Endowed Chair of Social Work OncologyStress & Coping; Oncology Social Work: Health Disparities; Chronic Illness & Palliative Care; Dyadic Coping

Email Dr. Kayser


Thomas R. Lawson, PhD, Professor, Director of International StudiesInternational Relations; Social Work Education; Social & Health Policy; Culture; Diplomacy

Email Dr. Lawson


Terry L. Singer, PhD, Professor and DeanOrganizational change in relation to emerging sandwich generation demographics Sexual harassment, Social work education

Email Dr. Singer


Riaan van Zyl, Ph.D., Professor & Associate Dean for ResearchPrevention  & HIV / AIDS ; Child Welfare Systems & Practice Models, ; Critical Thinking in Education, Corrections & Organizational Change

Email Dr. Van Zyl


How do I Apply?

Learn about our program by visiting our web page:  PhD Program or

Contact the program director, Bibhuti K. Sar, PhD at  502.852.3932 or Email Dr. Sar or

Contact the administrative associate, Norma Kyriss, at 502.852.3931 or Email Norma Kyriss

Submit the following materials to the web site of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS): by December 15th.

_____1                 Online Graduate School Application:

( International Students: )

_____2                 Kent School PhD Program Application

_____3                 Official transcripts from each college/university attended

_____4                 Official report of GRE scores (no more than 5 years old)

_____5                 Three letters of recommendations from the Graduate School Application (preferably from academicians with Ph.D.s)

_____6                 Application fee of $60 ($30 if UofL is the most recent university you attended or this is a re-application)

_____7                 Your resume

_____8                 A sample of your scholarly or professional writing

_____9                 A personal statement of career goals, research interests, and reasons for pursuing doctoral studies (no more than 3 pages double spaced)

The admission process involves (a) review of application materials by Kent School’s Doctoral Faculty members, and (b) interviews with those selected.  Admission is typically limited to individuals who hold Master’s degrees in Social Work from programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or international equivalents. We also prefer that applicants have two years of post-master’s work experience. However, applicants without a Master’s degree in social work, but with a Master’s degree in another related discipline are welcome to apply and will be considered on an one to one basis.

Other expected qualifications include at least a 3.0 undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA), a graduate GPA of 3.5 or higher on 4.0 scales, and competitive Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Information about taking the GRE can be obtained by calling the Prometric Testing Center in Louisville: 502-423-0478, and the University of Louisville routinely offer GRE preparation courses.

What is in the Curriculum?

The 3 credit hour Foundation of Doctoral Education course is required in the summer before beginning doctoral studies in the fall. It is taken Pass/Fail and the hours do not apply toward the Ph.D.

CORE CURRICULUM (41 required credit hours)
Advanced Research Design & Analysis I (ARDA I, 6 hrs)
Advanced Research Design & Analysis II (ARDA II, 6)
Advanced Research Design & Analysis III (ARDA III, 3)
Teaching in Social Work (3)
Theory I: Social Work Change Theories (3)
Theory II: Theory Development (3)
Theory III: Analysis of Social Work Problems (3)
Advanced Qualitative Research (3)
Advanced Measurement in Social Work Research (3)
Ethics, Social Work & Society (3)
Research Practicum (3)
Professional Seminar I (1)
Professional Seminar II (1)

INDIVIDUALIZED PLAN OF STUDY (at least 9 credit hours)
Independent Studies, Research or Teaching Practica, or other courses identified to meet individual students' needs.


DISSERTATION (6 credit hours)

When are the courses offered?

Summer-1st Year

Foundations of Doctoral Studies

Fall Semester-1st year students

Theory II- Thursday Mornings- 9-Noon (3)

Pro Seminar- Thursday Afternoon- 1-3pm  (1)

ARDA I- Friday 9-3pm  (6)

Spring Semester-1st year students

Theory I –Thursday mornings- 9-Noon (3)

Pro Seminar-Thursday Afternoon- 1-3pm (1)

ARDA II- Friday 9am-3pm (6)

(Independent Study) (3)

Summer- 2nd Year

Research Practicum (3)

Independent Study (3)

Fall Semester-2nd year

Teaching –Thursday mornings 9-Noon (3)

Qualitative Research- Thursday Afternoons, 1-4pm (3)


(Independent Study)/(Teaching Practicum-counts towards Independent study hours) (3)

Spring Semester-2nd year students

Ethics- Thursday 9-Noon (3)

Advanced Measurement- Thursdays 1-4pm (3)

Theory III- Fridays 9-Noon (3)

(Independent Study)/ (Teaching Practicum-counts towards Independent study hours) (3)

Summer-3rd year

(Comps) Dissertation hours (6)

Fall-3rd year

ABD- Candidacy (2)

What are the financial costs associated with doctoral studies?

Limited graduate research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and Fellowships are available for incoming full-time students.

Go to this link to the Bursar’s web site for current tuition.