PhD Course Descriptions

This is an exciting time to begin your doctoral work at the Mandel School.  Our faculty has just approved exciting changes to our curriculum that will be implemented beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year.  New courses are being added in advanced research methodology and statistics as well as more opportunities for elective coursework.  We have developed a new integrated research seminar that provides a link between your coursework and your doctoral dissertation.  In addition to the traditional doctoral dissertation format, we now offer a three-paper dissertation option.

SASS 608 – Philosophy of Science and Theory Building (3 credits, required)
This is a required foundation course. The nature of theory is examined. Inductive and deductive methods for knowledge building are reviewed. Course content draws from the philosophy of science as well as empirical and phenomenological research.

SASS 613 – Advanced Research Design (3 credits, required)
This foundation course in research methods is required of all students.  It is a prerequisite to the quantitative and qualitative courses.  Topics covered include operationalization of variables, threats to validity, and experimental, quasi-experimental, and non-experimental research design.

SASS 614 – Models of Qualitative Research (3 credits, required)
This course introduces students to the principles, approaches, methods, and analytical techniques utilized when conducting qualitative research in the social sciences.  Five models of qualitative research design and methodology are studied, including narrative analysis, case study, ethnography, and grounded theory and phenomenology. This course is designed to provide students with the tools to critically evaluate as well as to enhance the academic rigor or “quality” of qualitative data.

Prerequisite:  SASS 608, SASS 613

SASS 615 – Social Statistics and Data Analysis (3 credits, required)
This foundation course (or its equivalent) is required of all students. Content includes descriptive and inferential statistics for univariate and bivariate analyses, and the use of electronic data processing technology to manage and analyze data.

Prerequisite: SASS 613

SASS 616 – Applied Regression and the General Linear Model ( 3 credits, required)
This is the second required course in the research methods sequence for MSASS doctoral students.  At the end of this course, students will be able to apply ordinary least squares regression and logistic regression in the analysis of social science data.  They will learn to formulate research questions and hypotheses, specify statistical models, carry out the appropriate analyses, interpret their findings, and communicate their results clearly and effectively.

Prerequisites: SASS 613, SASS 615

SASS 617 – Specialization Seminar (3 credits)
This course is a graduate-level seminar; students and instructor share in the responsibility for presenting information and constructive criticism on the material.  Topics include the selection and description of a social welfare topic, the theoretical explanations of that topic and the development of a focused, empirically-based literature review resulting in research questions and hypothesis.

SASS 618 – Measurement Issues In Quantitative Research (3 credits, required)
This course covers the operationalization of social science concepts and development of quantitative methods for their measurement. Issues covered include index and scale construction, validity, reliability, questionnaire design, factor analysis, measurement error, and missing data.

Prerequisites: SASS 613, SASS 615

SASS 619 – Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) (3 credits)  
This advanced-level course covers theoretical and methodological considerations and preliminary data screening necessary to ascertain whether SEM would be an appropriate technique; statistical assumptions and strategies for assessing and remedying possible violations; use of SEM to conduct confirmatory factor analysis; use of SEM to test structural models, including mediation models; advanced models (e.g., multiple-group, longitudinal, dyadic, to be determined by student interests); how to critique SEM analyses and identify common problems; statistical power; and best practices for reporting SEM analyses and results.

Prerequisites: SASS 613, SASS 615, SASS 616

SASS 623 –  Research Synthesis & Systematic Review Methodology (3 credits) 
The purpose of this course is to develop student’s methodological skills in how to conduct a systematic literature review and train students on how to analyze, integrate, and synthesize a body of literature. This course will provide advanced skill development of systematic review methodology and will combine didactic sessions with in-class laboratory sessions. Students will conduct their own systematic review resulting in a final product of a systematic literature review manuscript that is ready for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

SASS 630 – Seminar in Social Work Education (3 credits, required)
This seminar examines the structure and content of social work education within the context of higher education in American society.  Emphasis is placed on curriculum design and course development.  The course also is designed to help students develop a strategic approach to teaching based on learning theory.  Finally, attention is given to current issues and future directions for social work education.

SASS 631 – Job Seekers Seminar (3 credits)
This course will prepare doctoral students for a successful academic job search. The course is designed to provide students with knowledge about the job search process including application material, conference interviewing, campus visits, and negotiation process. Students develop application material, fine-tune interviewing and presentation skills, and develop a strategy for a successful first year as an assistant professor.

SASS 637 – Independent Reading (1 to 3 credits)
This is an individual reading course permitting students to select areas of interest and pursue these interests with specific faculty.

SASS 638 –  Integrative Research Seminar (1 credit, required)
This seminar will create an active learning community to prepare developing scholars of social welfare to enter an increasingly transdisciplinary research landscape. Using a range of formats (e.g. invited speakers, discussion panels, and student working sessions) the course is designed to respond to challenges that doctoral students are experiencing, enhance integration of methods and theory, and address topics that are beyond the normative bounds of standing courses or project activities. The aim is to foster scholarly development, collegiality, peer mentorship, and a cross-cohort community for doctoral students.

SASS 639 – Independent Study for Early Teaching Support (1 credit, required)
This course is designed to support doctoral candidates in their independent teaching experience(s).

SASS 644 – Critical Theories in Social Welfare (3 credits, required)
This is a required foundation course designed to help students acquire a critical and reflective approach to theory in social work research and practice.  The course provides a broad overview of theoretical perspectives at the individual, group, community, organizational, and/or societal levels that are utilized in social work practice and that provide the basis for formulating social welfare research questions

SASS 701 – Dissertation PhD (1-18 credits)
This course is intended for students who have passed the qualifying examination and are actively working on their dissertation.

Prerequisite: Predoctoral research consent or advanced PhD candidacy milestone.