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

Green lawn with Campus building in the background; spring

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

Program Overview

The PhD in social work is conferred by the Rutgers University Graduate School-New Brunswick in conjunction with the School of Social Work. Students complete a 73 credit program including:

  • 37-49 course credit hours (holders of an MSW degree from an accredited program can transfer 12 credits into the PhD program).
  • Research internship
  • Written qualifying examination
  • Dissertation

The program aims to maximize student choice with regard to dissertation research studies. Students work with their advisors to assemble elective courses, research internships, and mentored research projects that will build a coherent body of knowledge and expertise in the student’s chosen area of interest. The distribution of PhD courses includes required, restricted choice electives, and free elective courses.


Ph.D. Graduates’ Job Placements

Rutgers School of Social Work PhD graduates experience great success in their field and we are proud of them!

Many hold jobs as faculty at colleges and universities, including: Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Boston College, Clark-Atlanta University, Dankook University (Korea), Fordham University, Monmouth College, Rutgers University, State University of New York, University of Connecticut, University of Minnesota, University of New Hampshire, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, University of Pennsylvania, University of Vermont, and Wayne State University.

Many of our graduates have accepted post-doctoral awards at fine institutions including:

  • Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, Brandeis University, Heller School for Social Policy and Management;
  • Institute for the Study of Child Development, Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School;
  • Behavioral Science Training Fellowship, National Development and Research Institute, National Drug Institute, New York;
  • Center for Research on Child Wellbeing (CRCW), Woodrow Wilson School and the Office of Population Research at Princeton University.

Others are senior research scientists at organizations including the Veterans Health Administration and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., and some have jobs in policy and research such as Deputy Commissioner, NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities, and Special Assistant with the United Nations.

Students facing laptop

Life at Rutgers


The School of Social Work is located on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a convenient five-minute walk to the New Brunswick train station which connects easily to New York City and Philadelphia and a short walk to downtown New Brunswick which has many restaurants and shops. The campus features shuttle buses to provide convenient travel for getting around campus.

Social Activities

The School of Social Work PhD program is committed to an environment in which students feel welcome and connected to other students.  The Doctoral Student Association (DSA) and the PhD program director organize lectures, seminars, workshops, and social events such as trips to nearby New York City, dinners, and hikes. Each semester features a variety of seminars on various topics to bring PhD students and faculty together for discussion. The School of Social Work includes  a lounge and computer lab for PhD students.

Professional Development

All students take a 1-credit seminar on Professional Development. Taught by the PhD Program Director, the curriculum coaches students on topics such as the how-to of publications, conference presentations, and preparations for the academic job market.

The Graduate School of New Brunswick offers a Teaching Assistance Program (TAP) to help develop pedagogical skills. 

Other Highlights

Diversity - Rutgers University is one of the most culturally diverse universities in the nation.

New Student Orientation - introduces new students to current students and faculty members and helps prepare new students for their transition to PhD life.

Peer Mentoring Program - new students are paired with current students to answer any questions and address any concerns regarding academic or student life.

Recreation at Rutgers - Rutgers-New Brunswick boasts five fitness centers that are open seven days a week, as well as numerous recreational and fitness classes such as rock climbing, dancing, and yoga.


Ph.D. Student Accomplishments

Rutgers School of Social Work PhD students have many impressive accomplishments.

Our students are recipients of competitive funding awards for dissertation research including:

  • Soros Foundation Fellowship
  • Fulbright Award
  • American Cancer Society Fellowship
  • National Drug Institute Fellowship
  • Philanthropic Educational Organization
  • Boren Fellowship
  • Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-being: Seeking innovations to prevent child abuse and neglect, Chapin Hall, University of Chicago

Our PhD students regularly receive competitive Rutgers University awards including pre-dissertation study and travel and are selected to participate in the nationally recognized Rutgers Pre-doctoral Leadership Development Institute.

Our PhD students work as funded research assistants with faculty from social work and across the university, and are authors on peer-reviewed publications generated from this research. We regularly fund upwards of 20 students per year to present their research at national conferences including the Society for Social Work and Research, American Public Health Association, and the Association for Public Policy and Management.

Many graduates are awarded post-doctoral positions including:

  • Institute for the Study of Child Development, Department of Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Behavioral Science Training Fellowship, National Development and Research Institute, National Drug Institute, New York
  • Congressional Fellowship, Washington DC
  • Institute for Disability Policy, Brandeis University, Heller School for Social Policy and Management
PhD Students
Students facing laptop
PhD Students

Funding, Tuition & Financial Aid

The Social Work PhD Program offers generous funding packages for all full-time students through the fifth year, with tuition, and fees covered for the first five years. Qualified students may be eligible for Graduate Assistantships (GA's) which include full tuition remission and a stipend.  Competitive University Fellowships may also be available.

University Merit-Based Financial Aid

Rutgers University provides merit-based financial aid to many of its doctoral students. Applicants to the PhD program in social work may qualify for teaching and research assistantships, or school-specific awards or tuition waivers. If you wish to be considered for academically based financial aid, check the box in the Academic Awards and Financial Assistance sections of the application. No separate forms are required. The deadline for merit-based financial aid is March 1 for U.S. students and February 1 for international students.

University Need-Based Financial Aid

United States students and permanent residents may apply for loans, grants, and part-time employment by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All requests for need-based aid must be submitted by March 15 for consideration for the subsequent fall term. 

Office of Financial Aid

The Office of Financial Aid is committed to assisting students and families in planning for and meeting expenses associated with attendance at the University. To apply for grants, loans, and employment, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available from most college and university financial aid offices and online.

Student Accounting, Billing, and Cashier Services

Student Accounting, Billing, Cashier Services ensures the proper billing of your account and assists in term bill payment and refund services. 

Campus in Spring
Campus in Spring

Program FAQs

  • The Ph.D. in Social Work is a research-focused degree.  We prepare students for positions as faculty in colleges and universities, research scientists, and policy analysts. This program does not prepare students for advanced clinical training or for going into private practice. The Ph.D. is a program of the School of Social Work and the Graduate School New Brunswick, Rutgers University. We enroll a cohort of about six to seven students each year. 

  • Our graduates hold jobs as faculty at colleges and universities across the country including: Boston College, University of New Hampshire, University of Connecticut, University of Pennsylvania, State University of New York, Rutgers University, University of Vermont, Fordham University, Wayne State University, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Monmouth College, Clark-Atlanta University. Many of our graduates have accepted post-doctoral awards including positions at Brandeis University and Princeton. Others are research scientists at organizations such as Veterans Health Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington D.C. Some work in policy and research such as Deputy Commissioner, N.J. Department of Human Services, and Special Assistant with the United Nations. 

  • There are two enrollment options:

    1. Applicants may apply to both the MSW and Ph.D. programs at the same time; students take courses in both programs; 
    2. Students may apply to the Ph.D. program during their first year in the MSW program, and begin taking Ph.D. courses in their second year while completing the MSW.

    We admit 1 or 2 students per year into the combined MSW/Ph.D. program. 

  • We consider research interests and commitment to research, graduate and undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, reasons for pursuing a Ph.D., intellectual capacity, determination, and ability to pursue work independently. 

  • An MSW is not required for acceptance into the Ph.D. program. A Masters degree in a related science field is acceptable for admission; we do advise that applicants without an MSW consider the combined MSW/Ph.D. program. 

  • No, at this time GRE scores are not a requirement. Please join us for our next info session for further details on GRE scores. 

  • Our application deadline is December 15, 2024. All students enter the program in the fall of the academic year. 

  • There are no weekend or online course offerings for SSW Ph.D. courses. They are offered in small seminar style format, within in-person settings. 

  • Our Ph.D. classes are available only to students admitted to the Ph.D. program in social work, or enrolled in other Ph.D. programs at Rutgers or consortium universities. 

  • Social Work Ph.D. classes are only offered on the New Brunswick campus. 

  • The full-time Ph.D. program consists of two years of coursework, followed by two years of predominately individual study (e.g., qualifying exams; development of dissertation projects; completion of dissertation thesis). It is reasonable to expect that students will finish the program within four to five years.  For combined MSW/Ph.D. students, it may take five to six years because they will need to complete their MSW course program requirements as well. 

  • There is a part-time option for the Ph.D. program, though most of our students are full-time. Classes are held during day-time hours, so part-time students require a flexible work schedule.  There is no part-time option for the combined MSW/Ph.D. program. 

  • The Ph.D. program is a separate program and requires a separate application. 

  • Tuition and fees are posted on the website of the Graduate School New Brunswick. The School of Social Work offers tuition remission and research and graduate assistantships to full-time admitted Ph.D. students. 

Contact Us

Cassandra Simmel, PhD
Director of Doctoral Program and Associate Professor | Rutgers School of Social Work 
(848) 932-5389 x25389

Uri Yarmush, MSW
Program Coordinator | Rutgers School of Social Work
(848) 932-5333