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  • Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (Ph.D.)


Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (Ph.D.)

Ph.D. Program Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work  in conjunction with the School of Graduate Studies-New Brunswick provides an outstanding program of academics and research. Here are a few key features: 

  • Rutgers is a member of the highly selective Association of American Universities (AAU) comprised of 62 leading research universities in North America.
  • Faculty are outstanding scholars in their respective fields.  
  • Starting in 2023-24, generous funding packages for all full-time students through the fifth year, with tuition, health coverage, and fees covered for the first five years.
  • Rutgers University is a vibrant and welcoming intellectual and social environment.
  • Location allows for easy access from New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Learn more about life at Rutgers.


If you are a prospective student interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or a dual MSW/Ph.D., visit Ph.D. admissions or dual degrees for information about how to apply. Call us at 848-932-5333 if you have questions.


Our Ph.D. program prepares you for a career as a faculty member, research scientist, or policy analyst and offers you:

  • Access to exceptional faculty
  • A dynamic, diverse, and accomplished student body from across the United States and the world.
  • Research facilities that rank among the best in our nation.
  • Research opportunities with faculty and institutes in areas including child welfare, poverty, violence against women and children, mental health services, addictions, gambling, international development, prevention, health, and public health.
  • Starting in 2023-24 generous funding packages for all full-time students through the fifth year, with tuition, health coverage, and fees covered for the first five years.
  • Strong professional development support, including funding for conferences
  • A commitment to advancing social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Outstanding job placements in academia and research.

Choose Your Research Opportunities

We have an extensive network of faculty and institutions that provide you with excellent faculty-supervised research opportunities. Choose from a variety of areas, including health, poverty, interpersonal violence, mental health, gerontology and aging, immigration, public health, community practice, child welfare, addictions, gambling, international development, prevention, global issues, and more. Explore your options and talk with your advisor about your interests.

Be Inspired

Read about our Ph.D. student accomplishments.


Ph.D. Syllabi

Click links below to view individual course syllabi. 

Recent Ph.D. Dissertations

  • Roxanna Ast Dissertation Title: Quality of Life Among LGBTQ+ Survivors of IPV: A Sequential Exploratory Mixed Method Approach                                     Dissertation Chair: Victoria Banyard

    Julia L. Cusano Dissertation Title:  The Role of Social Reactions and Students' Perceptions of the University's Response to Sexual Violence Disclosures Among College Students                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Dissertation Chair: Sarah McMahon

    Brett MacGyver Greenfield Dissertation Title: Exploring Connections Among Early Attachment Relationships, Adoption Decision-Making, And Parental Identity Among Queer Couples                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dissertation Chair: Edward Alessi

    Kate Golden Guzman Dissertation Title: The Cultural Salience of Belongingness: How Placement Neighborhoods And Ecological Factors Shape Adolescent Experiences Of Fitting in During Out-Of-Home Care                                                                                                                                                 Dissertation Chair: Cassandra Simmel

    Christine James Dissertation Title:  Serious School Discipline & Law Enforcement Involvement Among Urban Youth with Disabilities: Implications For Transition To Adulthood                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dissertation Chair: Dr. Lenna Nepomynaschy

    Feng-Yi Liu  Dissertation Title: Maternal Instrumental Social Support, Parenting Stress, and Toddlers’ Social-Emotional Development                                   Dissertation Chair: Joy Kim

    Rebecca Logue-Conroy Dissertation Title: Fathers’ Use of Leave At The Birth Of A Child: An Examination Of Factors Influencing Fathers’ Leave-Taking Behaviors  Dissertation Chair: Anna Haley

    Camille S. McKenzie Dissertation Title: Business of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Examining the Effect of Health Insurance Literacy on Forgoing or Delaying Preventive Health Care Services                                                                                                                                                                                   Dissertation Chair: Patricia A. Findley

    Mariam Tariq Rashid Dissertation Title: Exploring the Equity Of Youth Tobacco Use Prevention In New Jersey: Geospatial Analysis and Policy Evaluation                Dissertation Chair: N. Andrew Peterson

    Jennifer Schrum Dissertation Title: Self-Determination Theory and Food Insecurity: A Mixed-Methods Study of a Client Choice Food Pantry                        Dissertation Chair: N. Andrew Peterson 

    Peter Treitler  Dissertation Title: Treatment Initiation and Engagement Following Opioid-Related Emergency Department and Inpatient Hospital Visits         Dissertation Chair: Stephen Crystal

  • Iris Cardenas Dissertation TitleFormal Help-seeking Among Intimate Partner Violence Survivors: Identifying Survivors' Characteristics and Variations Between Latinas and Non-Latinas                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Dissertation Chair: Andrew Peterson

    Laurent Reyes  Dissertation Title: A Phenomenological Study Exploring Experiences of Civic Participation Among Older African-Americans and Latinx Immigrants Using an Intersectional Life Course Perspective                                                                                                                                                                                       Dissertation Chair: Emily Greenfield

  • Hsiu-Fen Lin Dissertation Title: Female Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: Financial Strain, Depression, and Financial Education Intervention              Dissertation Chair: Judy L. Postmus

    Jordan Steiner Dissertation Title: The Relationship Between Sexual Violence And Mental Distress For Female Adolescents And Young Women In Malawi  Dissertation Chair: Judy L. Postmus

    Yuqi Wang Dissertation Title: Neighborhood Effects on Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Community-dwelling Older Adults.                                         Dissertation Chair: N. Andrew Peterson

  • Evalyne Kerubo Orwenyo: Dissertation Title: Participation, Social Isolation, Biculturalism, and Empowerment: A Virtual Ethnography of Kenyan Diaspora Women Living in North America
    Dissertation Chair: N. Andrew Peterson

  • Julia O'ConnorDissertation Title: Rape myths and proclivity to perpetrate in male college students
    Dissertation Chair: Sarah McMahon

    Shrivridhi Shukla: Dissertation Title:  A Phenomenological Inquiry of Women Living with HIV Caring for Family Members Living with HIV in India: Pathways Through Authoritative Knowledge and Self-Efficacy Towards Resilience
    Dissertation Chair:  Judith L.M. McCoyd

    Kate Stepleton: Dissertation Title:  Care Coordination as a Preventative Intervention: Effects on Child Welfare Outcomes
    Dissertation Chair:  Michael MacKenzie

  • Sangeeta Chatterji: Dissertation Title: Like Mother Like Daughter: Mothers' Education and Investment in Daughters' Education in India
    Dissertation Chair: Lenna Nepomnyaschy

    Katherine Findley: Dissertation Title:  Trafficking in Persons for the Removal of Organs in India 
    Dissertation Chair:  Patricia Findley

    Elizabeth Matthews: Dissertation Title:  Electronic Health Records in Social Work Practice: The Impact of Collaborative Documentation on Person-Centered Care
    Dissertation Chair:  Beth Angell

    Jillian Stein: Dissertation Title:  Does Industry Sector Matter?  An Examination of the Relationship Between Industry and Rearrest
    Dissertation Chair: Jeounghee Kim

  • James Fedor:  Dissertation Title:  "A Victim is a Victim": Barriers to Culturally Competent Service Delivery to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender Crime Victims
    Dissertation Chair:  Michael LaSala

    Denalee O’Malley:  Dissertation Title:  Examining the Impact of Diabetic Status on Multiple Outcomes Among Cancer Survivors
    Dissertation Chair:  Patricia A. Findley

    Samantha Winter:  Dissertation Title: Identifying Factors Associated With Women’s Sanitation Practices in Informal  Settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa:  A Case Study of Mathare Valley in Nairobi, Kenya
    Dissertation Chair:  N. Andrew Peterson

  • Fiona Conway:  Dissertation Title:  Aggressive Behavior and Alcohol Use:  Classification of College Athletes
    Dissertation Chair:  Darcy Clay Siebert

    Gretchen L. Hoge:  Dissertation Title:  Understanding and Measuring Economic Self-Sufficiency in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence and Immigration:  A Mixed-Method Study
    Dissertation Chair:  Judy L. Postmus

    Alexis Jemal:  Dissertation Title:  Transformative Consciousness of African American Racial Oppression and White Racial Privilege:  Conceptualization, Scale Development and Testing
    Dissertation Chair:  N. Andrew Peterson

    Shuang Lu:  Dissertation Title:  Well-Being of Migrant and Left-Behind Children in China
    Dissertation Chair:  Chien-Chung Huang

    Sheila McMahon:  Dissertation Title:  Examining Relationships Among Student Empowerment, Sense of Community, and the Implicit Curriculum:  A Multigroup Analysis of Race and Ethnicity
    Dissertation Chair:  N. Andrew Peterson

    Alexandra Redcay:  Dissertation Title:  The Impact of Attraction and Identity Fluidity on Depressive Symptoms in Young Adults:  Exploring Gender as a Moderator
    Dissertation Chair:  N. Andrew Peterson

    Amanda Mathisen Stylianou:  Dissertation Title:  The Impact of Economic Abuse on Depressive Symptoms Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence
    Dissertation Chair:  Judy L. Postmus

  • Louis Donnelly:  Dissertation Title:  Neighborhood Disadvantage and School Dropout:  A Multilevel Analysis of Mediating Contexts
    Dissertation Chair:  Ayse Akincigil

    Kerrie L. Ocasio:  Dissertation Title:  Understanding Individual Level Motivations for Repeat Service Use in a Family Support Program
    Dissertation Chair:  Beth Angell

    Bonnie Fader Wilkenfeld:  Dissertation Title:  Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover:  Contextual Antecedents of Identity Complexity in Individuals with Development Disabilities
    Dissertation Chair:  Judith McCoyd 

  • Aleksandr M. Cheryomukhin:  Dissertation Title:  Development and Validation of the Azerbaijani Empowerment Scale:  Support and New Implications for Theory
    Dissertation Chair:  N. Andrew Peterson

    Bradley Anton Forenza:  Dissertation Title:  Civic Engagement Among Youth Aging out of Foster Care:  Processes and Outcomes of a Statewide Initiative
    Dissertation Chair:  N. Andrew Peterson

    Jamey D. Lister:  Dissertation Title:  The Relationship of Gambling Goals and Loss/Win Conditions to Chasing Behavior During Slot Machine Play
    Dissertation Chair:  Lia Nower

    Kristen C. Niemczyk-Kistner:  Dissertation Title:  U.S. Physicians Treatment of Adolescent Tobacco Use
    Dissertation Chair:  Ayse Akincigil

    Anasuya Ray:  Dissertation Title:  In the Shadows of Armed Conflict:  Exploring Everyday Violence in Afghanistan
    Dissertation Chair:  Jeffrey Longhofer

  • Heather F. Harcourt:  Dissertation Title: Judging Failures in Moral Development: The Classification of Antisocial Behavior
    Dissertation Chair: Kathleen Pottick

    Nadine Murshid:  Dissertation Title: Examining Linkages Among Microfinance Participation, Domestic Violence, and Help-Seeking Social Networks in Bangladesh: A Mixed-Methods Study
    Dissertation Chair: Allison Zippay

    Kristen Gilmore Powell:  Dissertation Title: Empowerment and Effectiveness: A Mixed Methods Study of Coalition Building Within a Statewide Substance Abuse Prevention Context
    Dissertation Chair: N. Andrew Peterson

    Jessica Strong:  Dissertation Title:  Women at War:  A Qualitative Study of Combat Experiences of Female Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
    Dissertation Chair:  Beth Angell

    Corinne D. Warrener:  Dissertation Title: Sense of Entitlement and Dating Abusive Behavior in College Dating Relationships
    Dissertation Chair: Chien-Chung Huang

  • Christine M. Allegra:  Dissertation Title: The Influence of Neighborhood Characteristics, Peer Delinquency, and Attitudes Approving of Violence During Adolescence on Male-to-Female Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration in Young Adulthood
    Dissertation Chair: Antoinette Farmer

    Mi Sung Kim:  Dissertation Title:  The Role of Maternal Verbal Sensitivity During Parent-Child Shared Book Reading in Socio-Emotional Functioning in the Preschool Years
    Dissertation Chair:  Judith C. Baer

    Cory M. Morton:  Dissertation Title: Alcohol Outlets and Child Maltreatment: The Moderating Effect of Access to Community Substance Abuse and Prevention Facilities
    Dissertation Chair: N. Andrew Peterson

    Kathleen Giblin Ray:  Dissertation Title: Protecting Newly Deployed Troops from PTSD: The Role of Preparedness
    Dissertation Chair: N. Andrew Peterson

    Svetlana Shpiegel:  Dissertation Title: Resilience Among Youth Emancipating from Foster Care: Cumulative Risk and Protection and Their Relationship with Positive Adaptation
    Dissertation Chair: Kathleen Pottick

    Jeoung Ah Yoo:  Dissertation Title:  The Effects of Domestic Violence on Behavior Problems of Preschool Children
    Dissertation Chair:  Chien-Chung Huang

    Joelle Zabotka:  Dissertation Title:  “How Could I Have Done This?”:    A Qualitative Study of Birth Mothers Who Have Children Diagnosed With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
    Dissertation Chair:  Michael LaSala

Ph.D. Graduates and Candidates on the Job Market.

2023-2024 CV Booklet

Roxanna S. Ast


ORCiD: 0000-0001-8922-0277

• Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (January 2023)
• Master of Social Work, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (May 2017)
• Master of Psychological Studies, University of Glasgow (May 2012)
• Bachelor of Arts, English Literature and Translation, Guilan University (May 2010)
Research Interests:
Quality of life and health outcomes in the LGBTQ+ community with a focus on experiences
of abuse and violence, community and policy response; identity development and media
representation; violence prevention; evaluation research, and research and data ethics.
Research Experience:
• Prevention Researcher (2023-present), Department of Children and Families-NJ
• Research & Evaluation coordinator, Center for Research on Ending Violence,
Rutgers University (2020-2022)
• Graduate Research Coordinator, Center for Research on Ending Violence,
Rutgers University (2018-2020)
• Quality Control Evaluator, Ryan White- Part A- Central NJ (2015-2021)
• Research Assistant: Safe Horizon (2016-2017); Institute for Families (2015-2018)

Roxanna Ast (She/her) received her PhD in January 2023 from Rutgers University with
research interests in quality of life and health outcomes in the LGBTQ+ community, violence
prevention and policy, and research and data ethics and often uses community-based
participatory research strategies and mixed methods research approaches. Roxanna has over
10 years of practice experience with survivors of violent crimes and system impacted
communities in the Middle East, United Kingdom, and United States. Roxanna is pursuing a
TT academic position at an institution that values community-based work and is dedicated to
expansive learning, impactful research, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Yafan Chen


yafan.chen@rutgers.edu; yafan.chen.cyf@gmail.com
ORCiD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8984-125X
LinkedIn: Yafan Chen
• Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (expected May 2024)
• Master of Social Work, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (May 2017)
• Bachelor of Art in Editing and Publishing Science, South China University of Technology,
Guangdong, China (2015)
Research Interests:
Child exposure to domestic violence, domestic violence in Asian immigrant communities,
developmental psychopathology, & child developmental and well-being
Research Experience:
• Doctoral Research Associate (01/2022-05/2023) for the project on examination of key
elements to successful implementation of services for youth with problematic sexual behavior: A
New Jersey research partnership (PI: Dr. Jacquelynn Duron).
• Doctoral Research Assistant (09/2021-04/2022) for the project on trauma services in the
juvenile justice system (PI: Dr. Paul Boxer).
• Graduate Assistant (09/2018-05/2021) at the Huamin Research Center
• Research Assistant at the Huamin Research Center for projects on mindfulness intervention
for immigrant children in New Jersey (06/2017-05/2018), mindfulness, life skills, resilience, and
emotional and behavioral problems for gifted low-income adolescents in China (09/2019-
• Social Work Intern (09/2015-04/2016) at the Huamin Research Center.

Yafan Chen is a 6th-year Ph.D. candidate with research expertise in child exposure to domestic
violence and domestic violence in Asian American communities. She has done research in the
area of the impacts of exposure to domestic violence on child and adolescent well-being and
domestic violence among Asian immigrants. Shehas practice experience in the field of mental
health and violence against women and children.

Alisha Cupid


Email: ac1765@ssw.rutgers.edu; a1lisha@hotmail.com
ORCiD: 0000-0003-3991-5462
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alisha-cupid-0156761a8
Research Gate identifier: www.researchgate.net/profile/Alisha-Cupid
• Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, School of Social Work, New Brunswick, NJ (expected May 2024)
• Master of Social Work, Tulane University, School of Social Work, New Orleans, LA (May 2013)
• Bachelor of Science in Social Work, New York University, New York, NY (May 20011).
Research Interests:
International social work, gendered poverty, African and Caribbean women, poverty reduction policy; participatory and mixed methods research; women’s empowerment; culturally competent social work practice.
Research Experience:
• Graduate Assistant (2018-2019) Institute for Families
• Graduate Assistant (2019-2023) Center for Prevention Science
• Research Assistant for projects on AI-informed poverty index for food security in Zambia and Congo (2020-2021), State opioid response (SOR) performance assessment and evaluation report (2020), Evaluation of the Marijuana Impact Report (2020), Partnerships for Success: Third Annual Performance Assessment (2022), Substance Use and HIV Prevention Navigation for African American and Hispanic Youth at Higher Risk in New Jersey (2023), Communities & Officers Working Together to Prevent Opioid Use Disorder (COP) Study (2022-2023)

Alisha Cupid is a 5th year PhD candidate with research interests in women and poverty. She has practice experience in multiple fields including foster care, homelessness, substance abuse, LGBTQ youth, mental health, corrections, and international research in Rwanda and Trinidad. Her hope is to pursue a research focused job that uses empowerment as a tool to explore the status and needs of women in the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa, ultimately ,leading to the creation of poverty reduction strategies that support women reaching their full potential.

Lorraine Y. Howard


lhoward@rutgers.edu jamiiconsult@gmail.com https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7351-792X
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lorraine-Howard-3 www.linkedin.com/in/lorraineyhoward-lcsw-lcadc
• Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (expected May 2024)
• Master of Social Work, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (May 2008)
• Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ (1996).
Research Interests:
Intersecting areas of trauma, substance use, adolescent/young adult health and wellbeing, and culturally relevant social work practice.
Research Experience:
• Research internship (2022-present) Mental Health Equity Lab at the New School
• Research Consultant for projects on ALDA Inc. After School program Evaluation Report (2012), and Gene Upshaw Players’ Assistance Trust Evaluation Study (2016).

Lorraine Y. Howard is a PhD candidate with research interests in intersecting areas of trauma, substance use, adolescent/young adult health and wellbeing, and culturally relevant social work practice. Prior to joining the PhD program at Rutgers, she had over 20 years of extensive administrative and clinical experience in the field of social work and addictions. In addition, she has 10 years of teaching various social work courses in different formats at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.


Huiying Jin


hy.jin@rutgers.edu or huiying0622@gmail.com
• Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (expected May 2024)
• Master of Social Work, The University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration (May 2016)
• Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Fudan University, China (2013).
Research Interests:
Child and family well-being, low-income working families, work-life programs, immigrant families and children, quantitative and mixed-methods research
Research Experience:
• Graduate Assistant (2019-2021) Institute for Families, Rutgers University
• Research Assistant for multiple projects that encompass topics such as social workers' well-being in China under nonstandard work schedules (2021-present), the effect of nonresident fathers' involvement on children's economic stability and mothers' mental health (2021- present), issues with the Head Start (2022-2023), childcare cost analyses (2020-2022), substance abuse indicators in NJ (2020-2022), NJ childcare market price study (2020-2021), evaluations of anti-poverty policies and child development initiatives in China (2019-2021) and school-based interventions in Chicago (2015-2016).
• Social work internship, Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission (2014), Chinese American Service League (2014), Chicago House, Chicago (2013-2014)


Huiying Jin, a sixth-year PhD candidate at Rutgers University, specializes in enhancing the well-being of children from low-income working families. Drawing from her experience as a news reporter in China, Huiying observed the challenges faced by construction workers and their families. Her understanding was further enriched while at the UChicago and her work with individuals and families affected by work and health-related issues. At Rutgers, she studies topics such as work-family dynamics, involvement of nonresident fathers, childcare programs, and Chinese anti-poverty policies. She aspires to be a tenure-track Assistant Professor, allowing her teaching and research on the intersection of work-family issues and children's well-being.

Nicole Milano


Nicole Milanonmilano@rutgers.edu
ORCiD: 0000-0002-3795-6685
• Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (expected May 2024)
• Master of Social Work, Rutgers University, School of Social Work (May 2019)
• Bachelor of Science in Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA (2012).
Research Interests:
Health equity, equitable healthcare access, social drivers of health, Integrated Care, behavioral health parity and social justice
Research Experience:
• Graduate Assistant (2021-present) Institute for Families
• Graduate Assistant (2019-2012) Dr. Patricia Findley
• Research Assistant for projects on LatinX sexual minority men (2022- Present), Integrated care (2019), resiliency (2018), empathy in social work (2017).
• Social work internship, New Jersey Community Research Initiative (2018-2019), Llanfair House, (2017-2018)


Nicole Milano is a fifth year PhD student with research interests in health equity. They have practice experience in the field of chronic illness treatment and have done research in the area of integrated care, health equity and differences in access to healthcare interventions among minoritized groups. Their hope is to pursue a research focused job further exploring barriers and facilitators to equitable healthcare access among minoritized populations.