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Our doctoral program in social work provides the nation and world with some of the profession’s best scholars, teachers and researchers.

PhD in Social Work

The Brown School is a one-of-a-kind place to learn and grow as a doctoral student.

“Welcome to the Brown School PhD Program in Social Work. For more than half a century, our doctoral program has established itself as a leader in preparing the next generation of social work scholars for impactful careers dedicated to social justice, equity, and rigorous research. Our students receive individualized mentoring and training by a multidisciplinary faculty dedicated and passionate to preparing the profession’s best social work scholars, teachers, and researchers to address the world’s biggest challenges.”

— Shenyang Guo, PhD
Frank J Bruno Distinguished Professor of Social Work Research
Director, PhD Program in Social Work


PhD in Social Work

Research &
Teaching Experience
Stipends &

The curriculum at the Brown School emphasizes substantive, theoretical and methodological preparation. Our program requires 74 units of credit, 21 of which can be transferred from your MSW program or a graduate degree from an allied field.

Your first year of study includes basic principles in research, statistics and measurement, as well as theoretical study and content to strengthen your social science knowledge-base. Your second year offers a more individualized program of study that is expanded to include a host of electives offered throughout the university. A curriculum plan is developed by each student and an advisor/mentoring team, focusing on an area of specialization. Following two years of coursework, an additional two years is reserved for work related to the dissertation.


Vital and groundbreaking research is being conducted at over a dozen Brown School research centers, and you’ll have access to the scholars forging the future of your field. Our faculty are top scholars and experts, and students receive the benefit of their mentorship and guidance.

The director of the program serves as the primary faculty advisor of all incoming doctoral students. During orientation, students receive a tailored list of additional Brown School faculty who may serve as substantive advisor(s), those who share mutual areas of research interest. At the completion of the first year, students officially select an advisor to mentor them in their chosen area of research.


The PhD curriculum includes three units each of required teaching and research practica. These practica typically occur after the first semester in our program and round out the individualized curriculum plan.

Teaching practica ensure students are well-trained in substantive content and pedagogy as they prepare for independent teaching at the graduate level.

Research practica provide opportunities to engage in different aspects of the research process and increase a student’s capacity for completing independent research. Additional opportunities for research development are available within specific research fellowship programs, faculty laboratories and research centers.


We are dedicated to providing our doctoral students full-tuition scholarships, four-year stipends, and professional development accounts. Base stipends for students are at least $35,000 for each of the first five years in the program and additional funding is possible through paid research, teaching fellowships, and other internal and external support sources.


Our doctoral program provides the nation and the world with some of the profession’s best scholars, teachers and researchers, and as such, is highly competitive. We review all applications holistically, assessing an individual’s overall preparation for rigorous doctoral study.

Applicants to the PhD in Social Work must have a master’s degree in social work or related discipline. Applications are accepted through our online application system. The application deadline is December 1.

Application requirements include:

  • Application Fee
  • Academic Transcripts
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose and Objectives
  • Writing Sample
  • English Language Proficiency


Brown School PhD students typically develop an individualized research area through coursework and mentored training opportunities. The Dissemination and Implementation Sciences (D&I) doctoral concentration provides an opportunity for students interested in the transdisciplinary field to complete relevant coursework and mentored research.


Meet our PhD Students

PhD in Social Work Students

PhD Social Work

​Take the next step in your career.