Skip to Main Content

Degree Requirements

Program Prerequisites

Required Courses
Elective Courses
Request for Reading/Research Courses
Collaborative Programs
Recommended Year 1 Course Load

Program Prerequisites

Successful completion of coursework for the doctoral program requires knowledge of statistics at an introductory level. All incoming students to the PhD program are, therefore, required to take SWK 4506H, Applied Quantitative Data Analysis for Social Workers. Alternatively, students can take an equivalent competency exam but will have to obtain a grade of B+ or higher in this exam. If a student chooses to or has to take SWK 4506H, please note that this course will not count towards PhD course requirements. The grade for this course will be included in the calculation of the overall GPA.

Doctoral students, regardless of their status as full-time or flex-time, shall complete ten graduate level half-credit courses and a First-Year Doctoral Colloquium. The credit courses are comprised of 5 required courses and 5 elective courses as following:

Required Courses:

SWK 6301H Intermediate Statistics and Data Analysis (half-credit) (prerequisite SWK 4506 Applied Quantitative Data Analysis or Competency Exam)
SWK 6302H Epistemology and Social Work Research (half-credit course)
SWK 6307H Designing and Implementing Qualitative Social Work Research (half-credit course)
SWK 6308H Designing and Implementing Quantitative Social Work Research (half-credit course)
First year Doctoral Colloquium Required / Non Credit
Second Year: Fall Term SWK 7000H Doctoral Thesis/Comprehensive Seminar
(half-credit- CR/NCR)


Procedures to Follow to Waive a Required Course

Students who demonstrate competency in any of the required courses can be exempted from taking any of these courses, and will substitute alternate courses. Course instructors will determine competency. See also Waiving required courses in Course registration Section. Candidates will substitute an alternate elective course for each exempted course in consultation with the PhD Director.  Transcripts will note exemptions from the required courses.

  1. The student is expected to send a formal letter of request to the PhD Director, with attached evidence of having covered the content previously (e.g. transcripts, course syllabus). The PhD Director will consult with the appropriate instructor and then make a decision.
  2. If a research course requirement is waived, the student discusses with the PhD Director a suitable course substitute. The course credits required for the PhD degree of at least ten half courses remains unchanged.
  3. When a course is waived, the material the student presented supporting the waiver and a cover memo from the PhD Director recommending the course substitute is submitted to the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work Registrar and sent to SGS for approval. A copy is filed in the student docket at the Faculty.
  4. The student must record the course exemption and course substitution on the SGS Registration/Enrollment form of SGS Program Change form during the course change period at the beginning of term. See the Faculty Registrar for details.

Elective Courses:

Five graduate elective half-credit (or equivalent), at least one of which is taken at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, and at least one of which is taken in another graduate department at the University of Toronto.

An elective course gives you an opportunity to choose among several courses when arranging your degree program. Elective courses may be located within the curriculum of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work or may be relevant courses offered in other graduate departments of the University. Taking courses in other departments requires approval by them as well as from the PhD Director.

Request for Reading / Research Courses

Reading/research courses are intended to meet the particular needs, or interests, of a student. The course can be offered on a specific topic not covered in other approved courses at the Faculty and must not be offered in other graduate departments at the University. It could involve a student meeting periodically with an instructor to seek direction and for feedback on the submitted assignments. We encourage student initiative in identifying the need for this type of courses. Please note that faculty resources and instructors’ time constraints limit the availability of these courses.

To arrange for these courses, a student will need to contact the concerned instructor directly.  A reading/research course that is developed, with one or more students, will involve reading assignments, written work and meeting frequency equivalent to those of a regular course. The instructor must hold an appointment at the Faculty; course instructors (PhD students) and sessional instructors cannot supervise a directed reading course. A maximum of two 0.5 credit courses will be accepted toward degree requirements. 

Students enroll by completing a Request for Reading and/or Research Course form as well as the Request to Add/Drop Course(s) form. Please enter course number SWK 6501H, Special Studies 1, or, SWK 6502H, Special Studies 2 for course number and description. The forms are located on the SGS website, within the Registration & Enrolment section. Submit the completed forms, with instructor and coordinator signatures, to the Registrar’s office at FIFSW.

Collaborative Programs

The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work participates in a number of collaborative interdisciplinary programs. Click here to find out more about each program. Please review programs both specific to the PhD Program and those also offered through the MSW Program. Students apply after Faculty registration for these programs. Please note that students who participate in these interdisciplinary programs must also meet all the requirements of the collaborative program in addition to the doctoral degree requirements of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

Recommended Year 1 Course Load

The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto is committed to providing funding to PhD students. The amount of funding is set by the School of Graduate Studies and this commitment to guaranteed funding is contingent on the student being available on a full-time basis. Students are required to register for each successive term, including summers, on a full-time basis unless granted a leave of absence.

In order to complete the program within the recommended time-frame, we have developed the following timeline for the first year:



Recommended Course Load

First Year Fall Term: SWK 6302H; SWK 6307H; SWK 4506H Applied Quantitative Data Analysis (or equivalent competency exam written in the first week of September)Winter Term: SWK 6301H; SWK 6308H; 1 ELECTIVE (Winter); Doctoral ColloquiumSummer: 2 ELECTIVES (Summer)TOTAL COURSE LOAD FIRST YEAR EQUIVALENT TO 7 HALF COURSES