The program seeks to prepare students to make significant contributions to both education and research in the social sciences. There are primarily two areas of focus — social work and criminal justice and criminology.

Social Work

This specialization focuses on a number of different substantive areas that fall within the interdisciplinary purview of the social work field. These include:

  • Child and family welfare
  • Applied gerontology
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Physical health and well being

Faculty within the program have expertise in all of these areas. For instance, they conduct research into adverse childhood experiences, aging and ageism, adolescent behavioral health, and child carers of adults with chronic illness.

Doctoral students enrolled in the program have the opportunity to develop expertise in any one of these or related areas. At the same time, students gain mastery in the general categories of theory, their substantive area of interest, and methods.

Criminal Justice & Criminology

This specialization focuses on criminal justice theory, the causes and consequences of crime, and the administration of justice. It also covers specific issues in the criminal justice system and the integration of criminal justice research, theory, and policy. The goal of this specialization is to prepare students for teaching and scholarship in the fields of criminal justice and criminology.

Objectives & Outcomes

Objectives of the curriculum within each of the above areas of specialization include:

  • Providing opportunities for advanced scholarship and research, including partnerships with the wider community;
  • preparing scholars who demonstrate knowledge, skills, values, and ethics of their respective discipline and who are able to serve as future leaders in social work academic and research settings;
  • preparing scholars competent in the development and advancement of knowledge in criminal justice or social work.

Outcomes and competencies expected of doctoral graduates, regardless of specialization, include:

  • Knowledge of theories underlying intervention approaches used in the student’s discipline;
  • ability to critically analyze theories and knowledge development related to a specific content area;
  • understanding of how knowledge currently is and has historically been developed, disseminated, and applied in each discipline and in relation to specific content areas;
  • familiarity with relevant policies, their rationale, and their implications for practice;
  • capacity to design and conduct intervention research appropriate to the student’s area of interest, including the capacity to participate effectively in knowledge-building and in applying that knowledge to the development of effective interventions, programs, or policies;
  • capacity to develop, utilize, and disseminate quantitative, qualitative, mixed, epidemiological, and instrumentation research methods and statistical analysis with relevance to discipline-specific research;
  • furthering the knowledge base of the discipline by conducting research that addresses questions of direct practical relevance and questions involving broad theoretical issues, etiological and epidemiological concerns, and large-scale social policy;
  • knowledge, values, ethics, and skills essential to teaching and the preparation of future professionals, in addition to those relating to research, scholarship, and leadership in their respective discipline.