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Dr. William NugentThe College of Social Work offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree with a major in social work. The purpose of social work education at the doctoral level is to foster an understanding and appreciation of the scientific method, to improve and extend the knowledge base of social work, and to develop competent leadership in social work education, research, and practice. The program includes foundation courses, electives, advanced seminars, and dissertation research.

Thank you for your interest in the PhD Program in Social Work at the University of Tennessee. The goal of our program is to train researchers and teachers who can work in a variety of settings to develop and disseminate knowledge about interventions, programs, and policies that will be used by professional social workers. (Pictured is Interim PhD Program Director Dr. William Nugent.)

Students who go through our PhD program will receive extensive training in research methods and statistics and will critically examine issues relevant to social work practice at both the micro and macro levels. An essential aspect of their training is their access to state-of-the art technology and equipment. Students also gain extensive experience in effective college teaching, including online teaching and best practices for the use of technology in the classroom.

A cornerstone of the PhD program is strong mentoring relationships between students and faculty. Working closely with a faculty mentor, students will become thoroughly familiar with the professional literature in their selected area and will conduct empirical research that will contribute to the knowledge base of social work.

We have on our faculty some of the most outstanding social work researchers and scholars in the country. Our PhD program faculty are dedicated to producing outstanding social work scholars and educators.

The PhD program is closely linked with the Center for Behavioral Health Research, a renowned and well-established center for social work research excellence (and a part of the College of Social Work). The Center works with faculty and PhD students on research in such areas as the structure and coordination of services, aggressive and antisocial youth, child welfare, and measurement and assessment.

PhD students have multiple opportunities to publish research papers, make presentations at national conferences, and develop their skills as social work educators. Graduates of our PhD program work in a variety of settings. Many are now on the faculty of social work programs around the country, and we have several graduates serving as faculty in universities in foreign countries. We also have graduates working in such settings as psychiatric hospitals and state agencies.

We encourage you to visit our program and talk with our doctoral faculty about your educational and professional goals. For more information, feel free to contact us.

A Path to Excellence

  • Leading-edge curriculum
  • Preparation for faculty & research positions across the nation and around the world
  • Collaboration with two world-class research centers


Contact the PhD Program

Interim Program Director: William Nugent, PhD,

Administrative Specialist I - Knoxville Campus, Sarah Browning.

PhD Program The University of Tennessee
College of Social Work
301 Henson Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-3333
(865) 974-681



More on the PhD program:

Admissions Information

Degree Requirements

Video on the Doctoral Programs

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