Ph.D. Program

PhD Program

The Columbia School of Social Work’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program has produced many of the world’s most influential leaders in social work and social welfare scholarship since its inception in 1950.

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Program Information

The Ph.D. program is offered by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and administered by the School of Social Work. It prepares candidates for careers as researchers, scholars and educators. Doctoral students choose from among three concentrations—advanced practice, social policy and policy analysis, or social policy and administration—and take advanced courses in social work as well as a wide range of courses in other Columbia professional schools.

A Ph.D. candidate will take approximately two years of full-time coursework; master content in a social work method, a related behavioral or social science, and a substantive field of practice; and prepare and defend a dissertation.

Questions? Please contact Acting Director of Administration Nicole Schroeder (ns2842@columbia.edu; 212-851-2389) or the doctoral program chair, Dr. Neeraj Kaushal (nk464@columbia.edu; 212-851-2235).

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Ph.D. Candidates, 2015–16

Read about the topics the current Ph.D. candidates are working on. Go to 2015 PhD Candidates Booklet (PDF: 33 pages).

Are you a current Ph.D. student? Go to Courseworks area for notices on upcoming events and job opportunities.

Alumni Testimonials

Lucy CabreraLucy Cabrera (Ph.D.’00), former President & CEO of the Food Bank for New York City: “I was already working at the Food Bank when I applied to Columbia’s doctoral program. I felt strongly that a Ph.D. would help me strengthen the Food Bank’s work. That instinct proved to be accurate.”

Charles lewisCharles E. Lewis, Jr. (Ph.D.’02), President, Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Public Policy:My Ph.D. is in social policy analysis. I eventually found my niche on Capitol Hill, where I had the opportunity to create the Congressional Social Work Caucus, and now there’s an institute to complement the caucus’s work. We strive to bring social work research to bear on federal policymaking.”

Matt EppersonMatt Epperson (Ph.D.’09), Assistant Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago: “The most valuable aspect of my doctoral training at Columbia was the mentoring and hands-on research experience that I received working with Dr. Nabila El-Bassel and the whole Social Intervention Group team. Working with these top-notch researchers gave me a vast array of valuable experiences, including developing research designs and protocols, conducting pilot studies in real-world environments, and learning how to do grant-writing, all in the context of working within an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners. At the same time, SIG nurtured the passion that was driving my doctoral research: the need for making socially just changes in our criminal justice system.”

pal-webIpshita Pal, current doctoral student, Social Policy and Policy Analysis track: “The best feature of doing my doctoral research at the Columbia School of Social Work has been the incredible mentoring and research training I have received. Where else would you have the chance to collaborate with the top scholar in your field and have that work highlighted in the media, in policy advocacy materials by various non-profits and multinational organizations, and published in a peer-reviewed journal even before you graduate?”