Doctoral Program Admissions

The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration has been a leader in social work and social welfare scholarship since we helped establish social work as a field of scholarly inquiry in 1908 and our doctoral program in 1920. The University itself is home to six graduate and professional schools, offering SSA doctoral students extraordinary opportunities for cross-disciplinary study and research.

The program is designed to deepen students’ mastery of both social science theory and research methods so that they are prepared to contribute to scholarly knowledge in innovative ways. We do not provide specific clinical training for practitioners beyond the master's level. Our faculty members take great pride and pleasure in working across disciplinary boundaries to address the most pressing issues in social welfare and believe mentoring new colleagues is an important part of their mission. They use a variety of different methods in their research and the doctoral program supports students who want to use quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research approaches.

Students will start research as soon as they start the program, as the University is a research intensive environment. There are many opportunities to be involved in faculty-led research and all of our doctoral students are required to work as a Research Assistant to a faculty member during their first and second year. You will be expected to work as a Research Assistant for 10- hours a week during your first and second year as a part of your financial aid package; in years 3 through 4 you will fill this work requirement by serving as a teaching assistant.  We strongly recommend doctoral students do not work additional hours during the academic year unless is it directly related to their research interests.

Each year the Admissions Office receives about 100 applications.  Of those 100, we expect to enroll approximately 8 students.

Financial Supports

All doctoral students receive significant funding from SSA, which includes up to five years of tuition and fees, health insurance, as well as research and teaching stipends. SSA also provides financial support for doctoral students who are presenting their work at conferences and makes arrangements for students to practice their academic presentation skills. 

Doctoral Fellowship Opportunities

SSA students have been very successful in obtaining competitive fellowships such as the Illinois Consortium for Educational Opportunity Program Fellowships, Fahs-Beck dissertation fellowships, and the Center for Gender Studies dissertation awards.


Email the Office of Admissions.