Graduate Catalog

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work

Students are admitted to the doctoral program in the fall semester, every other year. The next cohort will begin Fall 2021.

Program Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in School of Social Work prepares experienced social work practitioners and allied professionals to further the knowledge base of the social work profession through scholarship, to educate the next generation of BSW and MSW social work practitioners.Graduates of the program are expected to advance social work theory and research, social work education, social work practice, and to establish themselves as effective leaders in a variety of roles within the social work profession.

Mission of the School of Social Work

The mission of the Barry University School of Social Work is framed by the core values, ethics, and commitments of the social work profession and Barry University mission. Within a culturally diverse framework, the School is committed to educating social workers for professional social work practice that is informed by context and characterized by competence, skills of leadership, quality, the quest for social and economic justice in local and global communities, and dedication to continuous professional growth and development.

PhD Program Goals

The Ph.D. in Social Work Program is dedicated to educating graduate social workers who will contribute to the creation, dissemination, application, and evaluation of practice-relevant knowledge. The purpose of doctoral education is to prepare graduates for careers in applied social work research, teaching, and leadership in the field of practice and human service organization management. A primary goal of the PhD program is to graduate students who demonstrate skill at conceptually and theoretically framing, investigating, and analyzing complex systems, social problems, human behaviors, and intervention outcomes through a trauma-informed lens. Additionally, the program further strive to produce graduates committed to the promotion of social justice in ways that assist individuals, families, groups, communities, and larger societies in maximizing their potential and well-being. 

The PhD program is guided by five (5) academic goals; graduates will:

  1. Demonstrate the capacity for leadership and advocacy focused on promoting social justice;
  2. Demonstrate expertise in producing independent research that informs social work practice, service delivery, advocacy, and system change;
  3. Conceptualize, critically evaluate, and construct theory to advance social work knowledge, education, and practice;
  4. Integrate the values and ethics of the social work profession in teaching, scholarship, and service; and
  5. Demonstrate comprehensive mastery of a substantive area of social work.

Program of Study

The PhD Program in Social Work is a part-time program that requires at least 37 credit hours of concentrated course work with continuous matriculation until the successful defense of a dissertation proposal and the successful defense of a scholarly dissertation. The program is tri-semester; courses are delivered fall, spring, and summer, for a total of six consecutive semesters. The program provides individualized mentorship designed to advance the student’s ability to search, disseminate knowledge through scholarship, practice, and inquiry.

Doctor of Philosophy (minimum 37 credits)

Semester 1 (6 credits)





Semester 2 (6 credits)





Semester 3 (6 credits)





Semester 4 (6 credits)





Semester 5 (7 credits)





Semester 6 (7 credits)






Note: Electives may be taken outside of the School of Social Work with approval from the Director of the Doctoral Program.

Core Performance Standards for Admission, Progression, and Graduation

Barry University School of Social Work seeks to create and maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect, accessibility and acceptance among all who attend or work here. Faculty, staff, and students all play an important role in the process. The guidelines and administrative determinations detailed in the School of Social Work PhD Program Handbook are rooted in the belief that there is a responsibility to graduate students that demonstrate and emulate professional conduct, professional ethics, and practice competency as discussed in the Schools Core Performance Standards and the NASW Code of Ethics.

Statement of Cultural Values

The School is committed to creating a professional learning environment that fully embraces and respects cultural and intellectual diversity among students and faculty.

Faculty-Student Scholarship and Community Service

The School fully endorses student-faculty collaboration for the purpose of advancing leadership and scholarly and professional growth. Opportunities for student scholarship and participation in community service are imbedded in the School’s extrinsic and intrinsic curriculum. The School provides limited scholarships to students to support oral presentations at national referred conferences.

Faculty Advisement

Mentoring and advising in the doctoral program is student-centered and concerned with each student’s academic progress and professional development. During their coursework, each doctoral student is academically advised by the Director of Doctoral Studies. Informal mentoring with faculty members is encouraged. When dissertation proposal and dissertation planning is in process, doctoral students choose members for their committees best suited for their particular interest.

International Students

Students from other countries are encouraged to apply for admission to the doctoral program.

Admission Requirements

The PhD in Social Work Program seeks to admit individuals who demonstrate, through their previous graduate studies and professional practice experience, the ability to successfully complete doctoral studies. More importantly, the PhD In Social Work Program seeks to admit individuals who demonstrate commitment to the advancement of social justice through their independent research, knowledge dissemination, clinical practice, and executive leadership in organizations. The admissions process has been designed to give each applicant an opportunity to validate his/her readiness to meet the educational challenges and expectations of the program. The Admissions Committee (made up of doctoral faculty and the Director) is charged with selecting candidates who best demonstrate the best potential of becoming a scholar and leader in the social work profession.

The Doctoral Program Requires


Either a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program or a master’s degree in an allied discipline.

Practice Experience

Preference is given to candidates with a minimum of two years post-masters’ practice experience.

Strong Academic Performance

Applicants are expected to have a minimum, graduate-level grade point average of 3.5. Applicants with a graduate-level grade point average between 3.3 and 3.49 may be considered, on an individual basis.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The GRE is not required for admission into the doctoral program.


An official transcript from each college or university previously attended. Official transcripts are those that are sent in sealed envelopes directly from the registrar of the originating colleges/universities to the Barry University School of Social Work. The transcripts must be in sealed envelopes from the issuing institutions to be considered “official.”


Three (3) professional references. References should be from colleagues and/or supervisors who know of the applicant’s work and professional performance. No more than one reference from an academic source should be submitted.


Applicants should prepare a four (4) page written response/discussion to the following questions: 1) What is your motivation for applying for doctoral study at this time?; 2) How does your professional experience inform your research interests?; and 3) What are the ways in which, you imagine, this program might advance your career?

Writing Sample

Applicants should submit an additional sample of their written work in order to provide evidence of scholarly ability. This can be in the form of a published scholarly work for which they are minimally the second author or a newly written essay, not to exceed ten double-spaced pages (excluding reference pages), that links her/his current practice/research interests to social justice issues and referenced by the appropriate literature.


An updated resume that include public and/or professional employment service, professional memberships, publications, and conference/training presentations is required.


A personal interview may be required with designated members of the Doctoral Admissions Committee. Criteria employed in determining admission include evidence of achievement in previous academic programs, increased competency in professional performance, knowledge of critical issues associated with the applicant’s area of professional interest, and the potential for contributions to the knowledge of the profession through independent research, knowledge dissemination and executive leadership in organizations.

Application Fee

Online applications are preferred. A $125.00 non-refundable fee must be paid at the time of application. This fee is waived for persons who are Barry University alumni.

Dates and Deadlines

Our next doctoral cohort is set to begin in Fall 2021. The application for admission will open on October 1st, 2020.


Only students in good standing who were granted a Temporary Withdrawal from the PhD Program may be considered for re-admission.

  1. Students who are returning to the program within two (2) years of executing a temporary withdrawal may return to the program.
  2. Returning students must have an interview with the Director of Doctoral Studies before the student may register to continue in the program.
  3. Students who are returning to the program after two (2) years of absence must complete and submit the “Application for Readmission” form to the School of Social Work, Director of Admissions. The form can be obtained from the Admissions Office at the School of Social Work. The Doctoral Program Committee will review applications for readmission and make a determination. If re-admitted, any courses or course equivalences taken five years prior to the date of readmission must be re-taken.
  4. On an individual basis, applicants may be requested to submit additional information to update the School on their activities, progress, and professional or academic development during their hiatus from the PhD program prior to a decision being rendered.
  5. Students terminated from the program for other than an egregious breach of Core Performance Standards and the professional codes of ethics may re-apply for admission. To re-apply for Program admission, a student must submit a new application and pay all associated fees. The Doctoral Program Committee will review applications for readmission and make a determination. If admitted, the student must meet with the Director of Doctoral Studies and develop a matriculation plan. Failure to comply with this plan, gives cause for termination and the student is considered ineligible for readmission.


Readmission to the program is not guaranteed.

Transfer of Credit

After the applicant has been accepted into the Barry University School of Social Work Doctoral Program, up to six (6) credits may be transferred from other doctoral programs in CSWE accredited schools or from accredited doctoral programs in fields other than social work if the courses are comparable and appropriate to the School’s program. Only those courses not applied to other degrees, in which a student has earned grades of “B” or better, and which have been completed not more than five (5) years before enrollment in the Barry University School of Social Work Ph.D. Program may be considered for transfer credits. Students must submit the application for transfer credits prior to beginning their coursework within the School of Social Work. Students will not be allowed to transfer credits after beginning classes at the School of Social Work.

Financial Aid

Both Barry University and the School of Social Work administer financial aid programs. Financial aid consists of loans, scholarships, assistantships, and selected tuition discounts. Students seeking financial aid must apply each academic year. Barry University administers loan based financial aid while the School of Social Work administers scholarships, assistantships, and tuition discounts. To request information regarding loan based financial aid please contact the University’s Financial Aid Office at (305) 899‑3664 or 3978 or (800) 756‑6000 extension 3664 or 3978.

School of Social Work Ph.D. Program Financial Assistance

Tuition Discounts

Social Work/Human Services Employee

Tuition is discounted by 10 percent for students who are not an alum but are working twenty-four (24) hours per week or more in social work/human services, health services, education, or other allied professional settings.

The Barry Lifelong Learning Discounts

  • Tuition is discounted by 25 percent if you are an alum pursuing your second Barry degree.
  • Tuition is discounted by 30% if you are seeking your third Barry degree.

Graduate Assistantships

The School of Social Work offers a limited number of assistantships and is dependent upon faculty making a request for an assistant. Research and teaching assistants are generally appointed for ten hours per week. Assistants work with faculty members on a variety of projects and assist with teaching responsibilities or research activities. Students wishing to be considered for a Graduate Assistant appointment must complete an application and submit it to the School of Social Work Office of Student Services. Assistantship course equivalency reimbursement is determined by the scope and nature of the assigned workload. Students enrolled in Continuous Matriculation are not eligible for graduate assistantships.  Please note that additional criteria for eligibility may be required to participate in the Graduate Assistantship Program. 

The School of Social Work supports the investment of providing tuition reimbursement support to our students through graduate and research assistantships. Therefore, the tuition reimbursement protocol is as follows:

  • Students working up to ten (10) hours per week will be reimbursed up to 80% of a 3-credit hour course per semester

  • Students working eleven (11) – seventeen (17) hours per week, will be reimbursed 100% of a 3-credit hour course per semester

  • Students working eighteen (18) hours (this is the maximum number of hours allowed by the School of Social Work) will be reimbursed at 100% of two 3-credit hour courses per semester, for a total of six (6) credits

For additional details about the Graduate Assistantship program, please contact the School of Social Work’s Operation Manager at 305-899-3937

Scholarships and Tuition Waivers

The School of Social Work administers limited tuition scholarships. Scholarship awards are made to students who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need. The Beulah Rothman Scholarship supports students with interest in group work practice and research.

The Dr. Beulah Rothman Memorial Scholarship is named for the first Director of the PhD Program at Barry University who was a nationally renowned social work educator and group work scholar. The Scholarship financially supports the education of matriculating doctoral students whose course of study focuses on social work practice with groups.

The Dr. Neta Kolasa Scholarship is named for Dr. Neta Kolasa, an MSW alumna of Barry University, who has served as a member of the University Board of Trustees and as a generous philanthropist in the South Florida area.  The Scholarship financially supports the education for matriculating students whose course of study demonstrate a focus on developing leadership values and skills in the areas of social work practice intervention, research competence, human service administration, and/or social policy change.

Barry University does not ordinarily offer financial assistance for international doctoral students. All international students entering Barry in F-1 visa status must prove adequate funding to meet their expenses.

Other Sources for Funding

Additional sources of pre-dissertation and dissertation support are administered by government and professional agencies such as NIMH, NIDA, NIAAA, HUD, CSWE, and the Florida Education Fund (FEF). These are awarded competitively to students enrolled in social work and other doctoral programs and each requires its own application procedure. Information on the Florida Education Fund’s McKnight Fellowship for African American applicants ( and the Council on Social Work Education’s Minority Fellowship programs ( can be found on their respective web sites.

Additionally, foundations, civic and professional organizations, social welfare agencies, and employee reimbursement plans are all potential sources for funding. Applicants and students may want to personally check with local organizations regarding availability of scholarships or grants. Many computerized scholarship data bases also exist to help locate information on alternative sources for funding.

Grading Policy

Doctoral Courses Are Graded on A Pass/Fail (Credit/No Credit) Basis.

CR (credit/pass) assumes strong performance at the A or B level. NC (no credit/fail) assumes weak performance at a C level or below and the course must be re-taken at the point at which it is offered again.

I (incomplete) may be granted at instructor discretion, in the event of an unavoidable circumstance that precludes the student’s completing the course, such as a health crisis. Incompletes are given only when a small portion of the course work is not completed by the end of the semester and the instructor approves an extension of time to complete assignments. The grade of Incomplete will not be used to provide extended time for students to finish assignments or to re-do unsatisfactory assignments and must be cleared within two weeks of the subsequent semester. Incompletes unsatisfied after the identified due date will automatically become a grade of NC.

W (course withdrawal). The university publishes dates by which graduate students can withdraw from a course without incurring a NC/fail. Students considering course withdrawal are expected to consult with the instructor and their advisor and, if a decision to withdraw is made, requisite paperwork must be completed and signed by the advisor and student. If a student is enrolled in only one course, course withdrawal results in withdrawal from the program and the university. As with courses earning a NC, a required course from which a student withdraws must be re-taken at the point at which it is offered again.


The doctoral program is a year-round part time program. The core curriculum is designed to provide students with expertise in social work education, leadership, research methods, and social work theory. The program requires a minimum of 37 credit hours of graduate study, plus dissertation. The curriculum consists of eleven 3‑credit hour courses (including an elective option) and one 4-credit hour course. The 3‑credit hour elective option allows students to choose an extended learning opportunity within the School or from an approved external source.

Students must be enrolled in at least six hours of course work each semester. Two courses are offered each semester (fall, spring, and summer). A semester consists of fourteen (14) weeks. Three-hour classes are held in the afternoon and evening on the same day each week. It is expected that students will complete class requirements in two academic years.


Academic residency requirements stipulate that students enroll in a minimum of 6 credits each semester until they reach candidacy. Following candidacy, students enroll in a minimum of 2 credits each semester until successful completion of all degree requirements. Failure to register for two consecutive semesters will result in automatic termination from the program.

Progression Requirements

The School of Social Work establishes progression requirements for course work and candidacy. Upon successful completion of the Dissertation Seminar II course, the student must present and defend a dissertation proposal no later than two semesters following the completion of the course. A successful defense of the dissertation proposal transitions one from a student to candidacy. Candidates are granted a maximum of two years, after the committee’s approval of the dissertation proposal, to present and defend the dissertation.

The Doctoral Committee reviews the progress of students who have not completed the degree at the end of four (4) years, from the time of admission. As a result of the review, the Committee may recommend additional course work and/or enhanced academic support systems. At the end of the fifth year, with the exclusion of a leave of absence approved by the Dean of the School, the Doctoral Committee will review the status of student, in consultation with the student's Dissertation Committee Chair..

Continuous Matriculation

Candidates must maintain enrollment in SW 799 Continuous Matriculation until the dissertation has been successfully defended. Failure to register for Continues Matriculation for two consecutive semesters will result in automatic termination from the program.

Graduation Requirement

The requirements listed below must be met in order to apply for graduation

  • Successful completion of all classroom-based courses.
  • Successful completion and defense of a dissertation.
  • Submission of all required documents relative to the final submission of the dissertation for binding.
  • Completion and submission of the Graduation Application online to Registrar by the deadline date posted by the Director of Doctoral Studies in congruence with the Office of the Registrar and University policy. Students are able to register online after they receive graduation authorization from their dissertation chair or the Director of Doctoral Studies. The student is advised to retain a copy of the submitted graduation application for their records.