Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

PhD in Social Work

Loyola’s doctoral program extends the tradition of educating outstanding professionals for the practice of social work. By the time you earn your PhD, you will be skilled in clinical research, scholarship, and teaching.  


  • The degree offers full-time enrollment

-Average time to completion is 4–6 years.

  • Two years of required courses (3 per fall/spring semester and 1 in the summer)
  • Comprehensive exams take place after all required coursework is completed
  • Classes are generally held on Fridays, Saturdays, and evenings at Loyola’s Water Tower campus in downtown Chicago
  • Courses are taught by full-time faculty

Admission into the program requires a shared research interest between the student and faculty to ensure support for future dissertation work. Students, as part of their financial assistance, are matched with faculty members during the first two years of required coursework. Research skills are developed through quantitative and qualitative methods courses, a two-semester research seminar course, followed by your dissertation work on a topic of interest within the field of social work. Teaching skills are developed through a two-semester teaching class and seminar. Successfully completing the course prepares the student as an adjunct professor within the School of Social Work. Faculty mentorship and grant work opportunities provide experiences in scholarship through publications and conference presentations.

The PhD program prepares you to teach undergraduate and graduate level social work programs, to pursue scholarship opportunities at academic and agency settings, and to advance practice through research expertise. The program supports publication and conference presentation opportunities as part of the doctoral experience to have a competitive edge in the job market.

Loyola’s Jesuit ideals of service to others and commitment to social justice guide the program, preparing students for leadership roles in practice and academic arenas. The program, located in an urban setting and with established international collaborations, provides opportunities to evaluate social work services and the context of those services.

Our faculty has a wide variety of clinical and policy-based research interests, including school social work, mental health, health care, children & families, leadership & development, migration & immigration, gerontology, LGBT, poverty and employment, suicide, advocacy, domestic violence, substance abuse, at risk youth, social justice, and many others. We encourage you to look at the school’s website for compatible faculty research interests.

A limited number of tuition waivers from the Graduate School may be available. The School of Social Work may match these tuition waivers with a research assistantship stipend that requires a student to work for a faculty member with similar interests. While many doctoral students are employed during their time in the program, some of these sources of financial aid may require that the student does not work full-time.