Course Descriptions

Empirical Inquiry for Social Work Research

This first-year doctoral course provides students with an overview of the philosophical assumptions of empirical inquiry and the guiding methodologies (quantitative, qualitative) associated with the scientific method specific to social work research. Students explore the relationship between empiricism and ethics. Students articulate the reciprocal link between social work research and practice, theory, and policy. (3 credits)

Social Work Practice: Theory Development and Analysis

In this course, students will examine how socio-political trends and essential theories of human behavior have influenced the development of social work practice approaches. Theoretical orientations and practice models will be examined through the lenses of historical significance, ontological and epistemological perspectives, sociopolitical relevance, values and beliefs, and empirical evidence of effectiveness. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate existing practice theories and approaches as well as engaging in new theory development.

Theories of Organizations and Leadership in Social Work

Different theoretical perspectives on the organizational and administrative context of human service delivery systems are examined in this course. Existing frameworks are explored for their underlying value assumptions and for their relationship to the state-of-the-art in research development and application to social work leadership in management and practice. (3 credits)

Qualitative Inquiry for Social Work Research

This course is the introductory doctoral course in qualitative research methods, and is a prerequisite for the advanced doctoral qualitative research course. This course emphasizes knowledge and skill development in qualitative research approaches and attendant methodologies in advancing social work practice. (3 credits)

Social Policy Analysis and Change

This course focuses on critical analysis strategies for application in policy development and policy reform. It examines methods of policy analysis and evaluation: policy impact assessment, determination of policy effects on populations, programs, and service systems. Students are encouraged to shape projects and assignments to their scholarship interests in anticipation of dissertation research. (3 credits)

Seminar in Dissertation Development I

This course focuses on developing student expertise about a social issue relevant to social work practice through an in depth and critical review of the existing academic literature. Students will learn to critically examine social issues relevant to social work practice and existing solutions through a social justice lens with the aim of identifying and addressing existing gaps in the research. In this course, students will develop a comprehensive and integrated review of the literature associated with an identified social issue relevant to social work practice. It is expected that this integrative literature review will directly inform the conceptual framework associated with students’ dissertation research. (3 credits)

Quantitative Research Design for Social Work

This doctoral course provides students with an in-depth understanding of the quantitative research process and the necessary components to design a quantitative study. This process includes a review of hypothesis and research question formulation, experimental and observation designs, measurement, sampling strategies and data collection. (3 credits)

Qualitative Methods and Analysis for Social Work Research

This course advances doctoral students’ knowledge and skills in engaging in qualitative inquiry in social science and social work research. Building on the knowledge gained in Qualitative Inquiry for Social Work Practice, students advance skills of critically assessing descriptive qualitative research literature, develop proficiency with the nuances of rigorous qualitative data analysis, and gain expertise with various qualitative data analysis software programs. The course is specifically designed to assist students in developing expertise in the methods of research that support and build upon existing social work practice knowledge. (3 credits)

Quantitative Data Analysis for Social Work Research

This doctoral course provides students with an in-depth overview of quantitative data management and statistics that are used to produce quantitative social work research that focuses on advancing social work knowledge. Topics include linkage of statistics to hypotheses/research questions, validity, descriptive and inferential statistics, and factor analysis. The use of SPSS as a software package to manage and analyze data is highlighted. (3 credits)

Social Work Education: Issues and Methods

Diverse professional and academic influences have an effect on social work education. The interplay of forces within the profession, the university or college context, and the larger society have both shaped and challenged social work education. Most social work educators in the 21 century are trained in research and other academic skills. This course extends the student’s proficiency to include preparation for the educational functions of the professorial role. This course provides a theoretical background to enable the student to better understand the teaching task in education for social work practice and recognize issues in the broader context of higher education which affect social work education. The goal of this course is to prepare doctoral students for leadership roles in the profession who are knowledgeable about curriculum issues, and teaching and training methodologies central to the development of social work education. The course provides opportunity for teaching skills development through classroom practice and discourse around teaching experiences. (3 credits)

Seminar in Dissertation Development II

This course is intended to further prepare students to successfully engage in independent doctoral level social work research. The course is designed to facilitate the development of the first full draft of the dissertation proposal, as well as to enhance students’ ability to engage in ethical, rigorous, independent research that attends to issues of social justice and advances the profession’s knowledge base. It is expected that upon completion of this course students will be prepared to present their dissertation proposal to their committee for review. (3 credits)

Social Work Teaching Practicum

Many doctoral students assume teaching and/or administrative positions after graduation, and teaching skills are important to virtually all leadership roles concerned with effective presentation, communication, supervision, evaluation, training, and mentoring. Working closely with a faculty member, this course provides students with a supervised experience with the major tasks and functions of the social work educator. Curriculum development, teaching, and supervision are seen as integral components of the practicum experience. (3 credits)


This course is optional to Social Work Teaching Practicum and may be taken outside of the School of Social Work. (3 credits)