PhD Degree Requirements
The curriculum emphasizes theory and method rather than substantive specialization. Faculty members teach both behavioral and social theory and quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis. While specialization is achieved through the dissertation and elective courses, required courses are designed to ensure that successful graduates leave Bryn Mawr with the range and depth of preparation essential to a successful career as a scholar and/or college or university teacher. While graduates sometimes use the degree to pursue research positions, agency administration, program planning, or clinical practice, the curriculum is oriented toward reproducing the professoriate, a critical issue in social work and social welfare education at this point in time. The Ph.D. program affords supervised teaching opportunities in the M.S.S. program for qualified, advanced doctoral students interested in a teaching career.
The Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr is awarded by the College, not by individual departments or schools. Therefore, each student must meet certain general requirements as well as specific School requirements for the degree. A minimum of four semesters of class work is required for the degree. In the School of Social Work and Social Research this means 12 courses, 7 of which are required for each student, plus 5 carefully chosen electives. There is no foreign language requirement.
The 7 required courses are:
501 Introduction to the History of American Social Welfare and Social Reform
526 Behavioral Theory or
531 Social Theory
540 Data Analysis I
541 Data Analysis II
551 Research Methodology I
552 Research Methodology II
And one Advanced Statistics or Research Methods course
Required courses are taken within the School.
Electives may be taken as formal seminars or tutorials in the School, but may also be selected from courses offered in the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences or at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with which Bryn Mawr has a reciprocal tuition arrangement.
Elective courses are offered in clinical theory and research, program development and social policy formation and analysis, the analysis of non-numerical data, and program evaluation. Students are expected to design a cohesive program of study in an area or areas of special interest to them including advanced research training.
Admission to Candidacy
When course requirements are nearly completed, students apply to the doctoral faculty for formal admission to candidacy for the degree. A supervising committee is then formed to evaluate the student's performance on the preliminary examinations and to guide work toward the dissertation. The supervising committee consists of a Director of Work plus three additional faculty. It is chaired by a member of Bryn Mawr College's faculty of Arts and Sciences.
After admission to candidacy has been approved, students must pass preliminary examinations before proceeding to the dissertation. These consist of three written exams (four hours each) on the following fields:
1. Social Work and Social Welfare: Past and Present
2. Social Research
3. Social or Behavioral Science Theory
A paper is also required on Social Work Practice (either Social Policy and Program Development or Clinical Theory and Research). Students are examined orally on the three written examinations and the paper.
Early in the preparation of the dissertation, each student meets with his or her supervising committee to review a proposal summarizing the scope of the research and the method(s) to be followed. Well in advance of the meeting, the student distributes the proposal to committee members. Before scheduling the meeting, and in consultation with the Director of Work, the student will ascertain the opinion of committee members regarding whether or not the proposal is ready for discussion. The student then sets the meeting time after consulting with committee members regarding their schedules. Students are expected to keep committee members informed of all substantial changes from the approved proposal. All dissertation proposals must undergo review by the College’s Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects.
Submission of Dissertation
Dissertations must be submitted by a specified date in order to qualify for the award of May or December degrees. These dates are stated annually on the Academic Calendar, and may vary from one year to another. After the dissertation has been received by members of the supervising committee, it is either accepted or rejected with recommendations for revision. If it is accepted by the committee, the student proceeds to the oral Final Examination on the content of the dissertation.
Additional information about degree requirements will be found in the Ph.D. Operating Procedures manual. Questions may be referred to faculty advisors, to the Director of the Ph.D. Program, or to the Dean.
Doctoral students usually live in nearby communities or in Philadelphia . The School is easily accessible from center-city Philadelphia by automobile or commuter rail. Assistance can be obtained by contacting the Office of Residential Life at 610-526-7331.