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Graduate Program in Social Work

Department of Social Work

The mission of Howard University School of Social Work is congruent with the mission of the University, which is to provide quality social work education for students irrespective of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities or national origin. The School is committed to educating students for advanced professional social work practice and doctoral careers in teaching and research who will be able to assist in the solution of human, organizational and social problems, particularly those affecting the poor, oppressed and Black people. That commitment is realized through educational programs, research and scholarly inquiry and community service.

The mission is expressed in the concept of the Black Perspective as evolved from Black experiences. This mission reflects a commitment to the historical roots of Howard University, while preparing professional social workers to meet emerging challenges.


The Ph.D. Program in social work is research oriented and interdisciplinary in nature. It prepares graduates for leadership positions in the profession and for careers as social work researchers and educators. Three concentrations are offered: (1) Migration and International Social Development, (2) Family and Community Resilience, and (3) Health and Well Being.


General Admission Requirements

Students should consult the Department and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) for other requirements not indicated in this document. Official information for degree requirements is given in the Graduate Bulletin and the publication "GSAS - Rules and Regulations for the Pursuit of Academic Degrees"

A completed application should include the following:

  • Completed online application and signature page. You may download the paper application (HTML) / (acrobat), and mail in your completed package folder.
  • The non-refundable $45 application fee should be made payable to: Treasurer, Howard University (Certified check or money order only).
  • Official transcripts (undergraduate and graduate) must be submitted directly from the Registrar's Office from ALL colleges and universities attended.
  • Results of your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test Scores.
  • Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if you are an international student.
  • A curriculum vita of your education and professional experiences. Please organize your curriculum vita so that the following items can be conveniently determined: education, professional experiences, scholarly writings/presentations, and community services.
  • Three (3) written letters of recommendation -- NOTE: References must include at least one graduate professor, and one professional supervisor.
  • Essay. Please prepare a statement reflecting the following: (a) your philosophy of social welfare/social work; (b) your personal, professional, and educational goals; and (c) your research interests. Please include information on how you intend to relate your professional and educational experiences to your future goals, and how you think this program will assist you (3 to 5 double spaced type-written pages).
  • Information regarding your plans for finacial support, as well as how you plan to finance your education. If you want to be considered for financial aid, please complete the Financial Aid Form for evaluation by the Educational Testing Service at Princeton, New Jersey. Please adhere to deadlines on the [FAF]. Financial Aid is available through the University on the basis of need and academic performance in the form of federally supported loans, tution scholarships, and part-time employment. The School of Social Work offers a limited number of graduate assistantships, partial-tuition scholarships, and tuition grants on the basis of need and academic performance.
  • Other relevant material you would like to submit as evidence of your ability to perform in the program including copies of published papers.

The requests for admission far exceed the number of students who can be accommodated by
the Program. Therefore, you should present a complete portrait of yourself in your application package to:


The Graduate School of Arts and Science
Howard University
4th and College Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20059

Attention: Graduate Admission Office


Kindly include a telephone number where you may be reached during the day so we can call you in the event it is neceesary to clarify something regarding your application.


The deadline for receipt of all application material is February 15th, You are encouraged to begin the application process early. The application review begins in January and some of the items, such as transcripts and letters of reference may require additional time. From time to time you should check with the doctoral program office at 202-806-7306 regarding the status of your file. The Doctoral Committee does not assess incomplete files. We should be able to notify you regarding the dispostion of your application as soon as it is reviewed.




Degree Requirements

Ph.D. in Social Work Degree Requirements

Candidates must complete 48 semester credit hours of course work, including 3 hours for the dissertation. A cumulative average of B is required for graduation. Additionally, students must earn a grade of B or better in all core courses and special-interest area courses. A one-year period of full-time residency (9 credits per semester) is required of all students.

The core curriculum consists of five pro-seminars. One course in the history and philosophy of social welfare, three theory courses (Individual, Group, Community and Organization, and Social Work Education), and four course in advanced social research methods and statistics. All students are required to take the above specified courses as the basis for their study in one of the special interest areas.

Students are expected to take 12 credits in their chosen special interest area. The specific interest area courses are decided upon by the student, his/her academic advisor and the Director of the Ph.D. Program. These courses may be taken outside of the School of Social Work, in other schools and colleges of Howard University, or in one of the Consortium of Universities in Washington, D.C. Six credits of elective courses are required.

The qualifying examination is taken at the end of the first year of study, after completion of 18 credit hours. The examination covers the course content in the first-year core courses. Emphasis is placed on the ability to synthesize knowledge. The student must pass the examination in order to continue in the program.

The comprehensive examination is taken upon the completion of all the core courses and special interest area courses. Students are admitted to candidacy after passing the comprehensive examination and receiving the recommendation of the doctoral committee. The candidate is required to present and orally defend the proposal for and subsequently a completed dissertation. Dissertations will be bound.



Admission to Candidacy

A student should file for admission to candidacy on completion of most of the requirements of the Ph.D. Program except the dissertation. The student should have also satisfied the GSAS writing proficiency requirements



Residence Requirements

Students in the Ph.D. program are required to spend at least four semesters in full-time residence, two of which must be consecutive.



Caution to Prospective Students

The Board of Trustees of Howard University on September 24, 1983, adopted the following policy statement regarding applications for admission: "Applicants seeking admission to Howard University are required to submit accurate and complete credentials and accurate and complete information requested by the University. Applicants who fail to do so shall be denied admission. Enrolled students who as applicants failed to submit accurate and complete credentials or accurate and complete information on their application for admission shall be subject to dismissal when the same is made known, regardless of classification."

All credentials must be sent to:

Howard University Graduate School
Office of Graduate Recruitment and Admissions
4th and College Streets, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20059





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