PhD in Social Welfare

artistic rendering of mandel building

Due to the COVID pandemic, we do not have campus visits at this time.

As of September 2020, the GRE is no longer required to apply to the Mandel School Doctoral program.

To learn about our full-time and part-time study options, cutting-edge curriculum, nationally recognized faculty, student financial support, and admissions process for the entering Cohort for Fall 2022, we encourage you to request an Interactive Zoom meeting with our program chair, Dr. Victor Groza. Let us know that you would like to schedule a date and time by emailing and we will be sure to find a common time for you. Please sign up for a webinar by clicking the link below on the day and time you want to attend or feel free to call 216.368.6682 to schedule a meeting.

Virtual Open House Dates

March 29, 2022
5:00 PM Eastern Time
Register for the March 2022 open house

April 14, 2022
12:00 PM Eastern Time 
Register for the April 2022 open house 

May 11, 2022
10:00 AM Eastern Time
Register for the May 2022 open house 

June 14, 2022
5:00 PM Eastern Time
Register for the June 2022 open house

August 31, 2022
3:00 PM Eastern Time
Register for the August 2022 open house

September 13, 2022
1:00 PM Eastern Time
Register for the September 2022 open house

October 25, 2022
6:00 PM Eastern Time 
Register for the October 2022 open house

Zoom set up and help

Applications to join our Fall 2022 Cohort will open September 1, 2021, and the deadline to submit will be midnight on December 1, 2021. The application deadline for Fall 2021 was December 1, 2020.

Founded in 1952 as one of the first doctoral programs in social welfare in America, the PhD program at the Mandel School is designed to develop leaders in social work research, policy and teaching.

The PhD program is a cornerstone of the school, offering doctoral students the unrivaled opportunity to engage with world-renowned faculty, cutting-edge research and a creative curriculum—all within a supportive environment committed to student success.

In response to the different needs and interests of our students, the Mandel School offers both full-time and part-time formats. The doctoral program is on-campus only.

  • 37 credits of required and elective coursework
  • Passing a qualifying exam
  • 18 hours of dissertation credits
  • Completion of a dissertation


  • Two years of coursework (4 semesters)
  • Eight courses per year—four courses in the fall semesters and four courses in the spring semesters


  • Accommodates social work professionals who are balancing employment commitments and PhD study
  • Three years of coursework (6 semesters)
  • Six courses per year—three courses in the fall semesters and three courses in the spring semesters

What are classes like?

Our PhD curriculum emphasizes the creative and evaluative knowledge and skills necessary for an independent inquiry, critical thinking, research and theory. Both the full-time and part-time formats are structured to maximize interaction among students, as well as between students and faculty.

Our curriculum and professional development opportunities are focused on assisting students to achieve competencies in research, theory, teaching and leadership. Student performance on the four competencies is assessed annually as part of our faculty’s review of students’ activities and accomplishments.

Course content includes:

  • Philosophy of science and theory building
  • Theories of human behavior
  • Advanced research design
  • Statistics
  • Measurement and data analysis
  • Qualitative research models and methods
  • Integrated research seminar
  • Social work education

See the Course Descriptions

What’s the research about?

Mandel School faculty members are nationally recognized for leadership in research and scholarship and boast an extensive portfolio of funded research.

Their high-ranking levels of productivity and groundbreaking research impacts upon diverse fields of social work, transforming individuals and communities all over the world. Our five interdisciplinary research centers tackle society’s most difficult and complex issues—from urban poverty to youth violence to trauma and adversity—and investigate and foster the implementation of innovative and evidence-based practices.

Our faculty’s work covers the lifespan from prenatal to the elderly, with studies on both the micro- and macro levels of social welfare. Findings from the faculty’s research are used by human service agencies globally, county and state governments, federal agencies, and governments outside the USA to improve practice and service delivery as well as to have an impact on public policy.

There are many opportunities for doctoral students to become involved with faculty research projects and activities. Full-time students receive a four-year research fellowship, which provides individualized training in social work research activities with a faculty member closely matched with the student’s research interests.

In addition to the research fellowship, students can apply for a mentorship in research, which provides stipends for students to work with faculty mentors on research projects. Additionally, students can serve as staff on faculty members’ funded grants or serve as research assistants at one of the Mandel School’s research centers.

How can I get involved in teaching?

Our doctoral program provides formal coursework on social work education and teaching mentorships, which allow doctoral students the opportunity to develop knowledge of the history and current context of social work education and skills in education program design, curriculum development, and the delineation and assessment of educational objectives.

Students have an opportunity to participate in seminars on teaching offered by the University Center for Innovations in Teaching Excellence. Students can serve as adjunct faculty who teach courses in our master’s degree program in our on-campus, intensive weekend and online teaching formats. Doctoral students typically leave the program with a teaching portfolio that can be used as a strong foundation for employment.

What kind of professional development is available?

Our program enjoys a diverse and talented faculty committed to doctoral education who have close working relationships with doctoral students. Students work individually with a faculty mentor throughout their doctoral training:

  • Hands-on experience in various phases of the research process
  • Learn and practice teaching skills
  • Develop and give presentations for national professional conferences
  • Active involvement in writing and publication

In addition to coursework, there are a variety of supports for career development and preparation for leadership in the profession:

  • Regular workshops on class and conference presentations and professional writing and publications
  • Colloquia and workshops on research methodology
  • Practice and preparation for job interviews
  • Colloquia presentations of completed dissertation research.

We consider this individual investment in our doctoral students an investment in the future of the social work profession.