PhD Program

PhD Program

Welcome to the Doctoral Program page for incoming and current PhD students in Social Work.

Please see the checklist for new Graduate students and the Terms and Conditions of Admission and Funding.

Doctoral students will be assigned a shared office space. As a doctoral student, you are awarded a Teaching Assistantship and an office where you can meet with students, as well as to study and conduct research. You will have a mailbox for both internal and external post in the faculty mailroom DT 505. The mailing address is the same as the school.

Program Requirements

The program requirements are outlined in the Graduate Calendar.

The PhD program is offered on an alternating cohort basis so that every cohort is able to take classes with an incoming cohort. This year, 2021-22, PhD students are entering as Cohort A and will take classes with last year’s Cohort B. Next year’s Cohort B will take classes with this year’s Cohort A.

2021-22 (Cohort A) Course Sequencing
Fall Term 2021 Winter Term 2022 Summer Term 2022
SOWK 6101 Theoretical Foundations (0.5) SOWK 6102 Ethical Foundations (0.5 credit) No registration is required, unless students wish to take electives, or begin the Qualifying Exam – SOWK 6800.

SOWK 6303 PhD Seminar (0.25) SOWK 6304 PhD Seminar (0.25)
SOWK 6401 Critical Pedagogy (0.5) SOWK 6600 Advocacy Practicum (0.5 credit)
  Elective (0.5 credit)  
Fall Term 2022 Winter Term 2023 Summer Term 2023
SOWK 6201 Theory & Methods (0.5 credit) SOWK 6202 Research Design (0.5) SOWK 6800 Qualifying Exam (if not completed) or SOWK 6909 – Thesis if completed.
SOWK 6301 PhD Seminar (0.25 credit) SOWK 6302 PhD Seminar (0.25 credit)
Elective (0.5) SOWK 6800 Qualifying Examination (0.5)


At least one 0.5 elective credit at the 5000 or 6000 level must be taken from SOWK electives, while the other 0.5 credits can be taken in another discipline with the approval of the Graduate Supervisor.

Students can choose to do a Directed Study (template) as an elective option(s): SOWK 6405/6406 (0.5) – Individually-arranged independent exploration of selected areas of inquiry that are offered subject to the availability of faculty. Requires a written proposal with clear learning objectives and a study plan.

The School requires that 5.0 credits in course work plus the 0.5 credit in the Qualifying Examination be completed by the end of the first six semesters (Fall, Winter, Summer, Fall, Winter, Summer).

SOWK 6600 – Advocacy Practicum

In order to complete the advocacy practicum, students must create an agreement with a community organization to complete a project for the organization. The project should take approximately 130 hours of work, the equivalent of a 0.5 credit course. Before beginning the project, students must submit a proposal to the graduate supervisor. The proposal must include a description of the organization, a description of the project, an articulation of the tasks involved in completing the project and an agreement for 130 hours of work. This proposal must be approved by the graduate supervisor and signed by the student and a representative from the community organization. Upon completion of the Advocacy Practicum students must submit a summary of the project completed and this must also include signatures of the student and the organizational representative. Please note: normally all 130 hours of the practicum must be completed within the term so that the graduate supervisor can submit a SAT (Satisfied) grade.

Advocacy Project Template Agreement
Advocacy Practicum Completion Summary

Collaborative PhD in Political Economy

The School offers a Collaborative PhD with a Specialization in Political Economy. Several units in the university participate in this collaborative program, please see further information on the Institute of Political Economy website. Students admitted in the PhD in Social work program who are interested in this option would apply for admission to the collaborative program during the fall semester of their first year.

If accepted to the Collaborative program, students are required to replace their Social Work PhD electives with PECO 6000 and one other course with political economy content. When you graduate the designation on your diploma will be “PhD in Social Work with a Specialization in Political Economy.”

Qualifying Exam Requirements

The Qualifying Exam is a critical assessment and demonstration of mastery in an area of inquiry related to the research project, involving theoretical, methodological and substantive components. Requires a proposal to the Exam Committee, the successful completion of a Qualifying Exam paper and an Oral Qualifying Exam.

Social Work PhD Qualifying Examination (SOWK 6800) Guidelines

PhD Qualifying Exam Committee Form

PhD Qualifying Exam Completion Form

PhD Dissertation

The PhD Dissertation is an original scholarly research contribution constituting a significant contribution to the field of social welfare and the profession of social work. The dissertation must meet standards including a formal oral defense governed by the regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

PhD Dissertation Guidelines

PhD Dissertation Committee Form

PhD Dissertation Proposal Approval Form

Graduate Student Thesis Requirements