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Graduation

PhD Curriculum

The USC COSW Doctoral Program prepares graduates for careers in research and higher education. Starting in the first year, a primary faculty mentor and an advisory committee advise each student. By the second year, the advisory committee includes a faculty member from a discipline other than social work. This strengthens our transdisciplinary approach to research.

To develop research skills, USC COSW PhD students engage in a variety of experiences: 

  • coursework (minimum of six research courses: four in social work and two out of department) 
  • a supervised research practicum 
  • supervised research assistantships
  • independent research for the dissertation

Professional development seminars in the first two years prepare students to write for publication and funded grants. Starting early in the program, faculty support students in developing peer-reviewed conference presentations and journal articles.  Students are expected to attend three research colloquia each year, though many attend more. They choose from among the scores that are offered across disciplines on the USC campuses. 

To develop skills as educators, USC COSW PhD students go through a series of supervised experiences.  They develop a teaching practicum that is commensurate with their prior teaching experience. For example, one who is inexperienced might serve as a teaching assistant to a professor and practice class facilitation, course preparation, and student assessment. One who is experienced as a social work instructor might develop a new elective course with supervision from a faculty member. 

All COSW PhD students are required to take a course in the College of Education on “Principles of College Teaching.”  In addition, COSW PhD students attend the USC Graduate School core instructor day-long workshop for graduate students from across disciplines.  

After attaining these basic milestones, PhD students are eligible to teach in the COSW BSW or MSW programs, and almost all choose to do so. As they develop teaching experience, they use the resources of the USC Center for Teaching Excellence (available to all faculty) and develop a teaching portfolio to demonstrate their teaching proficiency before graduation. 

Click here for a full description of the course of study you will pursue as a PhD student: PhD Curriculum (pdf)

Click here for the Doctoral Program Policies and Procedures Manual.

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