Social Work Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. Program

School of Social Work

Policy, Planning and Administration, and Social Science Ph.D. Program

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Social Work prepares individuals for careers in teaching, research, social policy analysis, human service management, and organizational development. The program seeks to increase the number of African -American and other underrepresented ethnic minority social work leaders at the doctoral level.

The purpose of the program is to implement a set interdisciplinary teaching and learning experiences that will lead to the development of competent and motivated leaders in the global human enterprise. The program provides educational content in two areas: 1) Core courses in social policy, human service management/administration, organizational development, and research methods and statistics, and 2) courses in a cognate area that students select from the graduate schools within the University include the School of Business Administration, Education, Arts and Sciences.

Ph.D. Program Goals

1. To educate a diverse student population committed to the search for solutions to problems of poverty, social and economic injustice, sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression while preserving the heritage of African-American people

2. To ensure through all teaching and practicum experiences the core values and ethics of the profession, including the promotion of social justice, a responsibility to serve the oppressed and at-risk members of society. Further, to develop a strong commitment to fight inequality and oppression based on race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, and disability rooted in one’s capacity to grow and change.

3. To enhance the role of research with an improved research infrastructure that acknowledges the contributions to mankind that could be made by increasing the number of graduates of color, who obtain doctoral degrees

4. To develop seamless partnerships with governmental agencies at all levels and the corporate community, both profit and nonprofit, for the purpose of creating long-term sustainable funding opportunities for the School

5. To develop and implement more comprehensive public service programs, including opportunities for students to participate in local, regional, national, and international internships and work experiences.

6. To enhance and provide services to meet the social service needs of the community by maintaining ongoing linkages with other local, regional, national and international organizations, institutions, and governmental entities.

Ph.D. Program Objectives

  1. Prepares students for careers in teaching, research, social policy analysis and leadership of human service organizations.

  2. Educate a diverse student population committed to the search for solutions to problems of poverty, social and economic injustice, sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression while preserving the Heritage of African-American people.

  3. Ensure through all teaching experiences the core values and ethics of the profession; the promotion of social justice; a responsibility to serve the oppressed and at-risk members of society; and a strong commitment to fight inequality and oppression.

  4. Promote the role of research that acknowledges the contributions to humanity.

  5. Provides opportunities for students to engage in policy analysis that will enhance services to those who are oppressed.

Ph.D. Application Requirements

Applications for the doctoral program are accepted throughout the year, however, classes are admitted ONLY in the fall. The following materials are to be submitted to the University's Office of Graduate Admissions:

GPA 3.3 or higher

The Master of Social Work Degree from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Official transcript from all colleges and universities attended.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores taken within the last five (5) years.

Three (3) references from professional persons who can attest to ability to complete a doctoral program in social work. References must include at least one graduate professor or professional supervisor.

A Personal Statement clearly presenting the relevance of their professional experience in Social Work to their career objectives, including how the program focus of Social Work Policy Planning Administration and Social Science will prepare the applicant to meet these objectives and a reflection of how their research interests align with the school’s mission of social justice (3-5 pages).

A writing sample that clearly communicates the applicant’s potential for integrative and critical thinking, the ability to appropriately use the literature (paraphrasing arguments, synthesis of ideas, citation practices utilizing APA) and an advanced ability to present a clear, logical and a compelling written product (published article, chapter, book, master's thesis, unpublished research report, conference presentation, term paper written in a graduate course, training manual, grant application, legislative testimony).

Curriculum Vitae/Resume

Completed a minimum of two (2) years of professional experience in Social Work.

** Students who have questions and are interested in our program may contact our administrative assistant, Ms. Kimberly Kinchen via email at to schedule a Zoom call with our program director, Dr. Shonda Lawrence.

Degree Requirements

In addition to the General Degree Requirement as presented in the Clark Atlanta University Graduate Catalog, students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Social Work must complete a minimum of sixty four (64) semester credit hours which include the core curriculum course, cognate course, required elective courses, satisfactory completion of qualifying examinations and a dissertation;

  • Course Requirements
    • Core Requirements: 33 Graduate Credit Hours
      • Required courses during the first and second years include social work administration theory, organizational development, policy, research methods, and statistics. The third year is primarily devoted to the completion of cognate and elective courses. After all course work is satisfactorily completed, students must complete qualifying examinations prior to enrolling in dissertation research. Transfer courses must be approved by the Program Director and Dean.
  • Qualifying Examination
    • Cognate Courses: 9 Graduate Credit Course
      • Cognate course are courses other than social work that individually and collectively enhance the depth of understanding of the student’s chosen research area and or area of interest. These are graduate-level courses from other disciplines within the University or at another accredited institution of higher learning. Cognate course expose the student to interdisciplinary training. Students choose cognates under the advisement of the major professor and with the approval of the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee (DAC).
    • Electives: 9 Graduate Credit Hours 
      • While students have the freedom and flexibility to choose whatever elective they prefer(across any relevant discipline), they are encouraged to consider three (3) of their  electives from their cognate area.
  • Dissertation: 12 Graduate Credit Hours
  • Dissertation Defense
  • Dissertation Consultation: 1 Credit Hour

Ph.D. Degree Curriculum

The curriculum requires satisfactory completion of sixty-four (64) semester credit hours. The curriculum is divided into core, cognate, elective courses and a dissertation. Core curriculum courses are required during the first and second years. The third year is primarily devoted to the completion of cognate and elective courses. After all course work is satisfactorily completed, one must take and pass qualifying examinations prior to beginning work on the dissertation.

Year One

First Semester
CSSW 900 Historical Analysis of Social Welfare and Professional Social Work 3
CSSW 910 Research Methodology
CSSW 913 Doctoral Seminar I
Second Semester
CSSW 901 Social Welfare and Professional Social Work Policy Planning and Development 
CSSW 911Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
CSSW 914 Doctoral Seminar II

Year Two

First Semester
CSSW 912Evaluative Research and Multivariate Statistics
CSSW 920 Organizational Development 
CSSW 930 Critique and Analysis of Managerial Theories
Second Semester 
CSSW 921Planned Change in Complex Organizations  
CSSW 931 Administration in Human Service Organizations3
 (Comprehensive Exams) 

Year Three

First Semester 
——Cognate Course I3
——Cognate Course II3
– – – – – –Cognate Course III 


Second Semester 
– – – – – –Required Elective3
– – – – – –Required Elective 3
– – – – – –Required Elective3

Year Four

CSSW 995 Dissertation Research 12 
CSSW 996Dissertation Consultation1
Total Hours _________
Summary of Course Requirements

Semester Credit Hours

Core Curriculum 33
Cognate Studies9
Required Electives 
Dissertation Research12
Dissertation Consultation1
Total Hours ________