To ensure that incoming students receive the in-depth advising they need to develop a customized program of study, the Doctoral Committee selects an advisor for each student during the admissions process, matching theoretical and substantive interests. Students have the opportunity to work with several faculty members as their course of study evolves. Annually, students meet with advisors to complete an annual "self-assessment" in which they may track their substantive progress. The assessment focuses on developing expertise rather than meeting milestones so that conversations between student and advisor focus on intellectual and skill development.
Students participate in a variety of colloquia and workshops held by SSA and by other units of the University. A required, non-credit seminar is offered in their first year in the program to connect students with appropriate faculty and to develop the knowledge and skills needed to initiate and complete an independent research project. Students are exposed to cutting-edge research and scholarship in these forums. They also have the opportunity to present and refine their own ideas and receive feedback from leading scholars in the field.
Preparation for Teaching
The School offers training and teaching opportunities to develop as a teacher while still a student. Doctoral students may apply to SSA's teaching apprentice program. The teaching apprentice program is an unique two-year program where students work closely with a faculty mentor as their teaching assistant in year one, and then teach independently in year two. Teaching apprentices also help to develop teaching workshops throughout the year that are designed to prepare doctoral students for the academic job market. All doctoral students may participate in the workshops.
SSA is one of few schools of social work with a full-time career services office. SSA's Director of Career Services, Michael Jogerst, Ph.D., provides career and professional development workshops and seminars for both master's and doctoral students.
Each year, SSA Career Services assembles a resume book for all graduating doctoral candidates seeking academic appointments, and promotes this book to deans and directors of schools of social work.
Doctoral Program Funding and Research Support
All students entering the Doctoral Program are offered a financial aid package that includes a stipend, full tuition, health insurance, and fees. Note that stipend awards are not subject to federal or state income tax withholding and you may be required to make quarterly estimated income tax payments to the IRS and State of Illinois. Federal tax code requires the remuneration allocated to teaching assistantships to be treated as wages subject to tax withholding, and processed through the payroll system. Thus, in quarters when students TA or serve as a graduate student lecturer, their stipend payment will be reduced and they will receive payment for the reduced amount through the payroll system and subject to withholding.
Students in years six through 10 will receive an 82 percent tuition benefit. There is no aid for students beyond year 10. Students may also apply for four years of summer support (for $4,000 per summer) between years one and five, contingent on student submission of a summer workplan to pursue continued doctoral study activity.
The doctoral program involves a full-time commitment. Stipend support is provided in order to allow students to concentrate their time and energy on fulfilling the requirements of the program, developing their scholarship, and completing their doctoral studies in a timely manner.
Many SSA doctoral students receive additional funding through outside training and fellowship programs. SSA students have been very successful in obtaining competitive fellowships and awards from entities such as the CSWE Fellowships for Minority Students, Fahs-Beck dissertation grants, Doris Duke fellowships for the promotion of child well-being, and NIH Dissertation awards.
As part of their financial aid packages, students are expected in their first two years to work as research assistant with an SSA faculty member for 10-12 hours each week and for three years as a teaching assistant (usually during years three through five).
Advanced doctoral students wishing to supplement their aid packages have access to opportunities to teach in the master's program and to serve as university resident heads.
The SSA Office of Grants and Contracts provides support to doctoral students in:
- Funding Opportunity Searches
- Proposal Planning and Development
- Central Administration/Sponsor Liaison
- Award Administration
- Financial Management/Coordination of Financial Reports to Sponsors
SSA also supports doctoral students to travel for presentation of papers.