Ph.D. Program in Social Work and Social Research



The Ph.D. Program in Social Work and Social Research at Portland State University educates the next generation of scholars, researchers, teachers, and leaders in social work and related fields. Students will be prepared to contribute to scholarly knowledge, conduct ethical, rigorous, and community-engaged research, and teach passionately and effectively in various settings--all with special attention to equity and justice.

The Ph.D. Program admitted its first cohort in 1992, and since then doctoral graduates have been hired into tenure-track academic positions in universities across the country. Many conduct research as principal investigators on major research projects, and others hold leadership roles in diverse communities and at social service organizations.

The program employs an innovative curriculum that prepares graduates to become leading academics, researchers, and scholars. It is rigorous, relevant, and responsive to the future of social work education and scholarship and continues its focus on the promotion of social and economic justice for the improvement of communities.

Ph.D. Program Components

Coursework Built Through a Focused Social Justice Lens

The program teaches students to recognize and interrupt the expression or perpetuation of privilege, discrimination, inequality, and structural systems of oppression. All graduates will learn how to promote justice and equity through critically informed research, teaching, and action. Students learn to recognize and interrupt the expression or perpetuation of privilege, discrimination, inequality, and structural systems of oppression.

Interdisciplinary Education

Students can take courses in other colleges, schools and departments of the university, including: OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, Division of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Department of Psychology, and Department of Sociology.

Community-Engaged Research

Students engage in research projects working with a wide variety of community and governmental agencies, programs and leaders.

Coursework Designed to Make You a Better Teacher

The curriculum highlights teaching pedagogy in social work and social science related disciplines using a variety of didactic, interactive, and experiential strategies. Students gain instructional skills teaching in classroom and community settings.


Learn More About Ph.D. Program Competencies »

Research Opportunities

Our School's commitment to cutting edge research is at the heart of the program. It is all about turning research into action for the people and communities we serve. Our doctoral students work with senior researchers at three nationally recognized research centers:


Total 90 credits including 31 core credits, 16 selected research electives, 16 selected substantive area electives, and 27 dissertation credits. In order to maintain a full-time student status, students must enroll a minimum of 9 credits per term.

View program course maps and timeline »

Ph.D. Program Advisors

The University requires that new, incoming students be assigned a faculty advisor, designated by the program director. The faculty advisor is assigned based on the interests expressed by the student in the application materials and expertise, interests, and availability within the faculty. Once the match has been made, the student is notified and the advisor meets with the student in regular consultation concerning the program of studies and research.


All applicants must hold a master's degree in social work or relevant disciplines. The application for Fall 2021 is open from September 1, 2020 to January 15, 2021.

Apply for Admission »

Application Checklist

Basic Information

  • Provide current contact Information and personal information (DOB, race/ethnicity, veteran status, etc.).
  • Select the program option and term for admission (fall term only) you are applying for.
  • Provide your residency status for tuition purposes.

Educational Information

  • List every post-secondary institution attended.
  • Provide Scanned copies of transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended regardless of the number of credits earned. Submit both front and back sides of each page of scanned transcripts.
  • Note that applicants must have a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or the equivalent of a graduate GPA of 3.0.
  • Note that GRE requirement is waived for applicants applying for admission to the program in fall 2021.

Submit transcripts »

Program Specific Materials

  • Submit a writing sample.
  • Provide a statement of purpose addressing your professional interest and goals (maximum 1,000 words).
  • Submit three letters of recommendation (two letters for references should address your ability to do doctoral-level academic work. Your references will submit their letter of recommendation online.)
  • Complete your employment history and resume.
  • Disclose other graduate programs to which you are applying
  • List honors, scholarships, and prizes received at academic institutions and/or employment.
  • Provide a list of citations for all presentations at professional conferences or symposia.
  • Detail research interests and research experience.
  • List previous research courses you have completed.

International Applicants Must Submit Additional Materials

  • Submit copies of official degree certificate/diploma.
  • Submit certified translation of transcript.
  • Provide evidence of English Language Proficiency Requirements.
  • Provide financial documentation demonstrating adequate financial support for at least the first year of study.

Submit certified translation of transcripts »

Submit evidence of English language proficiency »



Junghee Lee, Ph.D. »
Program Director and Professor
(503) 725-5374

Thet Mar Win, M.Ed. »
Administration Specialist
(503) 725-8065 »
PhD Program in Social Work and Social Research

Ph.D. Program Information Sessions

Information sessions for the 2021-22 academic year will be held throughout the summer and fall terms. It is required that all applicants hold a master's degree in social work or relevant disciplines.

View Information Sessions calendar »