Print Page
Email this Page to a Friend
Highlights new content for catalog year.:on | off
Reset text size to normal Increase text size to large Increase text size to largest

Social Work This is a Track

College : Health and Public AffairsDegree : PHD
Department : Public AffairsOption : 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.

Read less or more information


Total Credit Hours Required:
57 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Master's Degree

Students must complete 57 credit hours beyond the master’s degree, including fourteen courses (42 credit hours) above the master’s level distributed in the following manner:

  • a five-course, 15-credit required discipline specific courses
  • a five-course, 15-credit required interdisciplinary core
  • a four-course, 12-credit required research methods and quantitative analysis
  • 15 credit hours of dissertation minimum

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

If students receive grades of "C+" or lower in a required course, they may be dismissed from the program. Also, all students who receive a grade of “C+” or lower in a required course must repeat the course and obtain a grade of “B-” or better prior to taking the qualifying examination.

A minimum of a 3.0 GPA in the specified graduate program of study is required to maintain graduate student status and for graduation.

Required Courses—42 Credit Hours

Interdisciplinary Core—15 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7000 Foundations of Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7110 Ethics and Social Justice in Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7230 Strategic Change and Management in Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7300 Policy Analysis in Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7315 Public Policy: Microeconomic Applications (3 credit hours)

Research Methods—12 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7802 Advanced Research Methods in Public Affairs I (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7806 Advanced Research Methods in Public Affairs II (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7804 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Public Affairs I (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7805 Advanced Quantitative Methods in Public Affairs II (3 credit hours)

Specialization—15 Credit Hours

  • SOW 7XXX Conducting Evidence-based Research in Social Work and Allied Fields (3 credit hours)
  • SOW 7XXX Theory Development in Social Work and Applied Social Science Research (3 credit hours)
  • SOW 7XXX Social Entrepreneurship in the Public and Social Sectors (3 credit hours)
  • SOW 6383 Social Work Administration (3 credit hours)
  • See adviser for appropriate methodological or substantive elective (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 program coordinator 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 Coordinator. The program adviser helps the student select elective courses, finalize the program of study, and facilitate the discussion and review of dissertation topics. The dissertation chair should be selected by the student prior to the completion of the dissertation prospectus.

Qualifying Examination

Following successful completion of all required courses, students are required to pass a qualifying examination. The examination is given at the end of fall or spring semesters. Students are given two opportunities to pass all sections of the exam. Students who fail any section twice are dropped from the program.

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 qualifying examination.
  • Successful defense of the dissertation prospectus.
  • The dissertation advisory committee is formed, consisting of approved graduate faculty and graduate faculty scholars.
  • Submittal of an approved program of study.

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 from an accredited institution, preferably in criminal justice, health, public administration or social work. Applicants who do not have a master's degree in a field directly related to public affairs may be required to take courses at the master's level in preparation for doctoral level study. This preparatory course work requirement will be communicated at the time of acceptance into the program. These courses will not substitute for the doctoral degree requirements and will generally be taken prior to beginning the doctoral level course work. Admission decisions are made once per academic year in the fall.

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.
  • Applicants to this program are strongly encouraged to complete the necessary information requested for the ETS PPI (Personal Potential Index) report that is available during the GRE examination.  All official PPI reports must be submitted directly to the UCF College of Graduate Studies (use UCF Institution Code: 5233). 

Admission to the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs is granted on a competitive basis. Meeting minimum UCF admission standards does not guarantee program admissions. Final admission is based on 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

All application materials must be submitted by the appropriate deadline listed below.

Social Work Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15Apr 1
International Applicants Jan 15Jan 15
International Transfer Applicants Jan 15Mar 1


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see Student Finances, 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 Fellowships, which includes descriptions of UCF fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.