FAQs
 

Do I need to have an MSW to apply for the doctoral program?

Yes. However, the Doctoral Admissions Committee has made one exception in the past. The doctoral program is designed for persons who are committed to social work and want to be a social work researcher and/or social work educator. If you do not have a master’s degree in social work and wish to apply to our program, it will be important that you have worked in a social work setting alongside social workers and have a good grasp of social work values and approaches. Explain how you have acquired your knowledge and understanding of social work in writing and the Committee will make a determination about whether the MSW requirement can be waived in your case. The Committee might request that you enroll in several MSW courses as an additional requirement for admission to the doctoral program.

Is the GRE still required for application?

Yes. Your GRE scores are a very important component in your application packet. If you have ever applied to a University of Kentucky graduate program, your scores will very likely still be available to us and can be retrieved. Otherwise, your scores will have to be forwarded to the Graduate School. If your scores are older than five years, you will need to retake the GRE.

Is there a critical score that must be obtained on the GRE?

Yes. The Doctoral Admissions Committee is looking for a minimum score of_1,000 on the GRE when the Verbal and Quantitative scores are added together. The more you exceed the minimal threshold, the better! In some instances, strongly motivated applicants have taken Kaplan courses or worked with math tutors to improve their scores and retaken the GRE with success.

Will the Ph.D. in social work degree prepare me to be a better clinician?

No. The Ph.D. program does not require any clinical or practice courses and there are no required practica where students work with clients. Students may, however, find themselves collecting data from clients as part of a research practicum, research class, independent study, or for a dissertation. The Ph.D. program has been carefully crafted to provide a balance of teaching, research opportunities, and instruction so that our graduates can step into university assistant professor positions and have a solid competence and confidence that comes from knowing how to conduct research and be an effective educator.

Can I take doctoral classes without formally applying to the doctoral program?

Maybe. The Director may extend an offer to take one course as a post-_baccalaureate applicant to a promising candidate with great potential. In this situation the individual must have the necessary GRE scores or provide other evidence (e.g., publications, research experience, grant-writing success) demonstrating the potential to succeed in a Ph.D. program.

What is the deadline for application?

The College has a rolling admissions policy which means that earlier applicants are processed first and later applicants are admitted last. There is no formal deadline. However, early applicants (e.g., by February 1st) allow the Program Director to contact faculty to inquire about possible research assistantships in the next school year and to schedule teaching assistantships. In some instances, doctoral applicants have been hired into open staff positions which then provide employee tuition waivers. The longer one waits to complete an application, the fewer resources that may be available. Do not expect to be admitted if you apply as late as May 15. Because of the paperwork connected with applying for visas, international students must conform to the Graduate School’s deadlines of February 1 for the Fall Semester and June 15 for the Spring Semester.

How do I know if obtaining a Ph.D. is the right decision for me?

Generally speaking, those who choose to make a career in academia have several things in common: they are voracious readers. If you don’t read in your spare time, academia may not be for you. As an assistant professor you’ll be spending many hours a week conducting literature reviews, reading student papers, and trying to keep up with the research in your field. You absolutely must thrive on reading. You also have to have a healthy curiosity. Some applicants have a good idea of what they want to learn about or research questions they would like to answer. Others are not as focused initially but may become advocates for a population and want knowledge about how to improve a program, a therapy, or make other important policy decisions. An academic is a bit like a detective looking for clues to answer questions, testing hypotheses...trying to get to the truth of the situation or phenomenon. You also have to have good time management skills and self-discipline to find quiet time to write your papers or research reports, if needed, on a weekend or a Wednesday evening. Being a procrastinator is not a good trait for academics to have and although there are exceptions, the majority of our Ph.D. graduates are affiliated with universities and either teach in a primary or secondary capacity. Thus, you should like people and enjoy classroom teaching. If you don’t want to teach or don’t like teaching, there are still positions as pure researchers but probably many fewer of these positions than those typically found in social work programs. Entering a doctoral program is a major decision that will change your life. If you have never taught before, you might want to teach as an adjunct or part-time instructor to see if it’s for you. Or, volunteer to teach one or two classes for someone you know.

Why should I choose UK’s Ph.D. program in social work over other schools?

UK’s doctoral program in social work is different from some of the other large state universities in that we are a small program, accepting between 4 to 6 doctoral students a year, so you’ll get individual attention and advice. The Program Director will be your advisor for the first year. Later, after a couple of semesters under your belt, you can choose a faculty member with whom you are well-matched in terms of research interest. The Assistant Dean and the Program Director work closely together to assist you in obtaining valuable teaching experience and teaching assistantships. If you want to teach, there are ample opportunities. Another advantage is that the program is designed for the part-time student. This allows those who have responsible positions to continue their education without sacrificing income needed for their families. All of the required doctoral classes are taught on Fridays, so if you can work a three or four day week for your employer, you can still take two classes a semester in the doctoral program. This part-time model allows us to individualize some of the student’s educational experience. You decide if you want to work on a research project during the summer, for instance. This model does not require you to move through the program lock-step. Some students, because of family or employment obligations, go through the program slowly and take five or six years to finish. Lastly, the University of Kentucky has among its faculty nationally and internationally known researchers. Our doctoral students have obtained positions or research assistantships with the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, the Training Resource Center (with a focus on foster care/adoption and child welfare), the Center for the Study of Violence Against Children, and the Institute for Workplace Innovation (iWin) as well as other institutes and research centers at the University.

Will the College of Social Work hire me after I obtain my Ph.D.?

This is a very difficult question to answer. First of all, most universities take the position that it is best for their graduates not to be hired on the faculty. This is because too much "inbreeding" is antithetical to what universities value. However, most every school makes exceptions to this policy depending on the talents and skills of unusually gifted individuals. If you would like to be hired by the College of Social Work after graduation, you must have accomplishments that far exceed those of others in the applicant pool so that you not only stand out but also demonstrate to the faculty an exceptional scholarly potential you bring over the other candidates. Many schools have an informal policy that their graduates can return and be hired after obtaining tenure (and thus receiving an objective determination of the worth of their accomplishments) at another institution.

What is the Cost of Doctoral Education?

The latest fee schedule can be found at the Registrar's website here (Note: assistantships cover tuition and provide single health insurance.)

How Do I Defray the Cost of Doctoral Education?

Most of our Ph.D. students maintain full-time jobs and engage their doctoral studies on a part-time basis. That approach supplies the maximum amount of job security but also greatly decreases the amount of time that you will have for leisure and recreation. If you can maintain a part-time job or otherwise find the time, then teaching an undergraduate class will cancel your tuition and provide health insurance (single policy). In addition, you will receive a cash stipend. Most doctoral students who wish to be a teaching assistant can be appointed. This does depend, however, upon the College’s needs, the students’ preparation, and past performance in the class room.

Research assistantships are also a possibility although their availability varies depending upon funded grants. For these assistantships, faculty who wrote the proposal/secured the funding do their own interviewing of interested applicants. Research assistantships can be either half-time or full-time, either 10 or 20 hours per week. The 10 hour per week position pays one-half of one’s tuition, the 20 hours of employment per week provides full tuition plus insurance. Other funding mechanisms for doctoral study include:

Office of Residence Life hires a number of graduate students each year to be Hall Directors and Assistant Hall Directors. Compensation includes a fully furnished apartment, all utilities including cable and Internet access, a yearly stipend that varies depending upon the size of the building, a meal plan, plus the out-of-state portion of tuition is paid. Persons interested in applications with Residence Life should contact Mr. Tony Ralph at 859-257-4784 or e-mail him at tony.ralph@uky.edu

Employment at the University of Kentucky . Full-time employees are granted 6 hours of free tuition each semester.