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Doctor of Philosophy

Submitted by 21232f297a57a5a... on Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:41am

The PhD is a research-based degree and is intended to produce highly qualified social work researchers and teachers. The aim of developing such advanced scholarly and research skills is to equip doctoral students for future roles as leaders of the social work profession.

Submitted by 21232f297a57a5a... on Mon, 11/25/2013 - 10:39am

Program Information

In addition to the requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Social Work requires:

  1. A minimum of 9 half-course equivalents, from which 5 are core courses and 4 are electives
  2. Research proposal
  3. Candidacy Examination
  4. Dissertation

Required core courses

SOWK 741: Research Foundations: Epistemology and Professional Knowledge-Building.
An exploration of major philosophical issues that have shaped social work's diverse approaches to knowledge building and research methods. The relevance of this exploration to the student's area of interest is emphasized.

SOWK 743: Theory, History, and Philosophy: Values, Ethics and Professional Beliefs.
An exploration of the philosophical and ideological issues that have been historically important to the profession with respect to its conception of its ethics, mandate and practices. The relevance of this exploration to the student's area of interest in emphasized.

SOWK 745: Research Methods I: Quantitative.
This course examines quantitative methodological and design options in social work research.

SOWK 747: Research Methods II: Qualitative.
This course examines qualitative methodological and design options in social work research.

SOWK 721: Integrative Research Colloquia.
A concluding course offered as final component of student's course work. Allows doctoral students and the instructor to engage in a series of research colloquia, thereby facilitating critical analysis, feedback and synthesis of materials covered and skills learned in other course work. This process will help students to develop conceptual and methodological skills.
Note: Social Work 721 can only be taken once all the other required and elective courses have been completed.

Elective courses

The 4 elective courses must be relevant to the student's area of specialization and research focus. Option courses may be taken outside of the Faculty of Social Work, depending on the student's needs and course availability. All courses taken external to the Faculty of Social Work must have prior approval from the supervisor and the PhD coordinator.
Note: Not all courses are offered every semester. Students should consult the timetables and program curriculum plans located on the web for a sequence and availability of courses.

Research Proposal

PhD students must have their thesis proposal approved (using the form below) by their supervisory committee prior to their candidacy exams and applying for ethics certification.

PhD Research Proposal Approval Recommendation

Those students whose research involves human subjects must complete the Tri-Council CORE Tutorial and receive approval from the University of Calgary Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics Board or the Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board before beginning data collection. A copy of the proposal becomes part of the student's record within the Faculty of Social Work.

Time Limit

Expected completion time for full-time students is four years, with a maximum completion time of six years.

Supervisory Assignments

Doctoral students are initially assigned an interim supervisor. Before the end of April of the first year, each student must designate a faculty member as permanent supervisor.
The supervisor and student must then select a supervisory committee within three months of the appointment of the permanent supervisor. Doctoral supervisory committees typically consist of the supervisor and two other members, one of whom may be external to the Faculty of Social Work.

The graduate-supervisor relationship is outlined in the new Supervision Regulations document. Please download this PDF to know and understand the expectations for both the graduate student and the supervisor. You will find more information about Supervision on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance may be available to qualified students. For information on awards, see the Faculty of Graduate Studies awards database (

For more information, please visit the Awards section of the Faculty of Graduate Studies website. Student may also consult with the Student Services Office in the Faculty of Social Work.

Faculty Members/Research Interests

Current faculty members and their areas of research interest can be accessed through the Faculty's Directory.

Timelines and Milestones

Summer prior to starting the PhD program

  • meet with your interim supervisor
  • set up your email account at
  • register for required fall and winter courses
  • attend the Faculty of Social Work Student Orientation
  • attend the Faculty of Graduate Studies' Student Orientation

Fall Year 1

  • begin PhD program
  • meet with your interim supervisor to fill out the Checklist  of Expectations for Graduate Students and Supervisors
  • submit a copy of the signed Checklist to your graduate program administrator in Student Services
  • apply for SSHRC/CIHR funding
  • complete two required courses: SOWK 741 and SOWK 747 (may also take an option course) 

Winter Year 1

  • complete required courses: SOWK 743 and SOWK 745 (also take an option course)
  • apply for GAC (Graduate Award Competition)
  • meet with your interim supervisor to discuss spring/summer course selection
  • in late February register for spring/summer courses
  • select your supervisor by April 30, complete the required form, and submit it to your graduate program administrator in Student Services

Spring/Summer Year 1

  • compete Annual Progress Report (APR)
  • complete option courses 
  • register for fall and winter courses

Fall Year 2

  • complete option courses
    Important: you need to have completed 8 courses (4 required and 4 option courses) by the end of this term
  • select your supervisory committee (max three months after selecting your supervisor), and submit the required form by mid-December
  • meet with your supervisor and supervisory committee to discuss your proposal ideas

Winter Year 2

  • take required course: SOWK 721 (last course; you will prepare a draft proposal and ethics application as course requirements)
  • work with your supervisory committee to finalize your 30 page proposal

Spring/Summer Year 2

  • complete Annual Progress Report
  • finalize your proposal and have it approved by your committee (form to be submitted)
  • finalize your ethics application (to be submitted once you pass your candidacy exam)
  • prepare your portfolio and present it to your supervisory committee
  • discuss candidacy exam questions with your supervisory committee
  • prepare for your candidacy exam
  • initialize fall/winter registration

Fall Year 3

  • your supervisor will select examiners for your candidacy exam
  • your supervisor will inform the FSW GPA of your candidacy exam date and questions (exam can be scheduled for anytime after your proposal has been approved by your committee, but no later than December 15)
  • four weeks prior to the exam date the FSW GPA will email you three candidacy questions (you have three weeks to prepare 3 x 20 page papers)
  • one week prior to your oral exam date (3 weeks after receiving the questions) submit your 3 papers to the FSW GPA (committee will have one week to read them)
  • complete your oral candidacy exam (4 weeks after receiving exam questions)

Winter Year 3

  • submit your ethics application to SWERC (FSW) and then CFREB (U of C) upon completion of your candidacy exam
  • begin working on your PhD research once you receive ethics certification

Spring Year 3 until max.  Aug 31 Year 6 in the program  (e.g., if you start Sept 2013, the final/approved thesis must be submitted to FGS by Aug 31, 2019)

  • complete Annual Progress Report
  • initialize fall/winter registration
  • work on your PhD research
  • write up your dissertation
  • defend your dissertation
  • graduate

Candidacy Examination

The doctoral candidacy examinations must be completed within 28 months of the student's admission to the program, after all required course work has been completed and the thesis proposal has been approved by the student's supervisory committee.

The examinations include a written and an oral component, both of which the student must complete to the satisfaction of his or her examining committee.
Students should consult the following resources:

In addition to the University of Calgary examination regulations, each student must satisfy all examination requirements, as noted on the Faculty of Graduate website under Examinations and in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar.

Final Oral Examination

The Doctoral thesis is the focus of the degree program. In consultation with the supervisor, the student should formulate an appropriate thesis topic as early as possible in the program because the thesis topic may affect the choice and number of required courses.

Doctoral students must defend their thesis to the satisfaction of the examining committee, within 6 years of the student's admission to the program.

Each student must satisfy all examination requirements, as noted in the Faculty of Graduate Studies website under Examinations.

PhD Coordinator: Dr. Dan


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