Social Work This is a Track

College : Health and Public Affairs Degree :PHD
Department : Public Affairs Option : Dissertation
Program Websites :


The Social Work Track in the Public Affairs PhD program prepares students for university faculty and research positions, as well as leadership roles in public, non-profit and private human service, health and community-based agencies, drawing upon research and evaluation skills.


Students must complete 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree distributed in the following manner:

  • a three-course, 9-credit required Public Affairs substantive core
  • a six-course, 18-credit required Public Affairs methodological and statistical core
  • a three-course,  9-credit required discipline-specific specialization
  • a two-course, 6-credit unrestricted elective requirement
  • a one course, 3-credit required Public Affairs practicum
  • 15 credit hours of dissertation minimum
Total Credit Hours Required:
60 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Master's Degree

A maximum of 6 credit hours of Independent Study may be used as electives with adviser’s approval.

Transfer work will only be accepted by the Public Affairs PhD program if taken as part of an approved plan of study for a doctoral program at UCF or elsewhere.  A maximum of 6 credit hours taken at the doctoral level may be considered for transfer.  The acceptance of transfer credit into the track specialization or general elective component is dependent upon the approval of the Track Coordinator in consultation with the PAF Director. Transfer work will not be accepted into the PAF substantive or methodological core components..

A grade of B- or better is required in all Substantive Core and Methodological Core courses.  Students receiving a grade of "C+" or lower will be required to repeat the course and receive a grade of B- or better prior to taking the Research Proficiency Exam and Qualifying Exam. Any student who receives more than one “C” in their doctoral course work may be dismissed from the program.   

A minimum of 3.0 graduate status GPA and program of study GPA is required to maintain graduate student status and for graduation.  Students with a GPA less than 3.0 may be dismissed from the program. 

Any student who receives an "F" grade in their doctoral course work will be dismissed from the program.

Required Courses—45 Credit Hours

Public Affairs Substantive Core—9 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7000 Foundations of Public Affairs: People, Places, Policies and Paradigms (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7230 Strategic Change and Management for Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7317 Social Inquiry and Public Policy (3 credit hours)

Methodological and Statistical Core—18 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7802 Advanced Research Methodology for Public Affairs I (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7804 Advanced Statistics for Public Affairs I: Multivariate Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7805 Advanced Statistics for Public Affairs II: Survey of Statistical Methods (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7820 Qualitative Methods for Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7325 Policy and Program Evaluation for Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
Advanced Methodology

Choose one of the following courses:

  • PAF 7868 Advanced Statistics for Public Affairs III: Continued Survey of Statistical Methods (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7856 Applications of Structural Equation Modeling in Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • Pre-approved methodological or statistical course (3 credit hours)

Practicum—3 Credit Hours

At the end of the required coursework, students will take the Practicum in Community-Based Research course (PAF 7947). Led by a professor, the practicum provides the student with the opportunity to work within an interdisciplinary team to use their substantive learning and apply their methodological and statistical tools to a real community problem. This experiential learning brings the student out to the community while bringing the community into the university.

Track Specialization—9 Credit Hours

Students are required take the following three courses and attain a "B-" or higher:

  • SOW 6383 Social Work Administration (3 credit hours)
  • SOW 7492 Theory Development in Social Work and Applied Social Science Research (3 credit hours)
  • SOW 7494 Conducting Evidence-based Research in Social Work and Allied Fields (3 credit hours)

Electives—6 Credit Hours

Choose two additional courses from the following:

  • SOW 7397 Social Entrepreneurship in Public and Social Sectors (3 credit hours)
  • See adviser for appropriate methodological elective (3 credit hours)
  • Directed reading (3 credit hours)
  • Directed independent study (3 credit hours)
  • Or other course that will add to the student's course of study.  Requires approval of adviser. (3 credit hours)

Dissertation—15 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7980 Dissertation Research

Assignment of Faculty Advisers

Upon acceptance of a student into the program, the program director provides students with an initial orientation and a general advising session.  The Track Coordinator in conjunction with the PAF Director helps the student throughout the foundation stage of the program, assisting in the clarification of interests and goals and facilitating the introduction of students to faculty and research interests that can advance the student's program of study.  Social Work Track students will be advised by the Social Work Track Coordinator. The Track Coordinator assists the student in selecting elective courses, finalizing the program of study, and facilitating discussion with faculty members who have similar research interests.  Discussion and review of dissertation topics should take place with the faculty member who has agreed to chair the dissertation committee. The dissertation chair is to be selected by the student prior to commencing the dissertation prospectus.

Research Proficiency Exam and Qualifying Exam

Upon successful completion of the required courses and the required Practicum course, students are required to take a Research Proficiency Exam (RPE) and Qualifying Exam (QE). The Research Proficiency Exam will be taken after the successful completion of the Methodological Core Courses. Following successful completion of all PAF core courses (not including Track Specialization Courses), students are required to pass a Qualifying Exam. The exam is given following finals in the fall or spring semesters.

Students are given two opportunities to pass the RPE and the QE. Students who fail any section twice are dismissed from the program. Any student who fails any the RPE twice or the QE twice will not be readmitted into the PAF program. This policy includes all tracks and/or any masters to PhD program(s) within the PAF program. Please refer to the student handbook for further information.

Candidacy Status

Students officially enter candidacy when the following has been accomplished:

  • Completion of all course work, except for dissertation hours.
  • Successful completion of the Research Proficiency Exam and Qualifying Exam.
  • The dissertation advisory committee is formed and has been reviewed and approved by the PAF Director and the College of Graduate Studies.  Members of the committee are to be approved graduate faculty or graduate faculty scholars.
  • Submittal of an approved graduate program of study.
  • Submission of dissertation prospectus to Subsequent results to be within acceptable rating.
  • Successful defense of the dissertation prospectus.
  • All approved documentation has been received by the PAF and Graduate offices.

Equipment Fee

Full-time students in the Public Affairs Program pay a $40 equipment fee each semester that they are enrolled. Part-time students pay $20 per semester.

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

Applicants must hold a master's degree in Social Work from an accredited institution.  Admission is offered for fall semester only.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements, applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended for both bachelor's and master's degrees.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
  • A narrative statement of 1000 words or less describing the applicant's educational expectations, career aspirations, level of computer skills, and any special qualifications or experiences that may enhance the overall learning environment of the PAF program.
  • Résumé.
  • A writing sample, i.e., academic paper, report, etc.
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty or professionals who can assess the applicant's ability to succeed in a doctoral program.

The Public Affairs Program Admissions Committee will begin reviewing applicant files once the student has submitted all of the above documents. Admission to the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs is granted on a competitive basis. Meeting minimum UCF admission standards does not guarantee program admissions. The Admissions Committee will base final admission on the evaluation of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations, match to the program, correspondence of the applicant’s career and academic interests with those of the core and affiliated faculty, and potential for completing the degree and making a significant contribution to Public Affairs.

Application Deadlines

Social Work *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15Mar 1



The Fall 2018 application deadline has been extended until June 1, 2018.

International Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



International Transfer Applicants Jan 15Mar 1



*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.