important updates
  • This program is closed to admissions for the 2023-24 academic year.

At a Glance

  • 92 quarter unit academic program focusing on critical analysis in theoretical approaches to research and policy
  • Promotes integrative and interdisciplinary research focusing on chronic social issues, social justice, implementation science, and global practice
  • Small class size for maximum learning experience
  • One-on-one faculty mentoring
  • Graduate assistantships nurturing research interests, publications, and career endeavors
  • Diverse faculty and student population
  • Christian environment emphasizing integrated learning and compassionate whole person care
  • Embedded professional self-care

Request Information

Program Director: Larry Ortiz, PhD, MSW

Program Requirements

All course grades should meet the minimum B (3.0) standard, which by university policy indicates satisfactory performance.

Curriculum Guide Course Descriptions


Students admitted to the program should have demonstrated evidence of interest in social welfare, values aligned with a commitment to social justice, and research interests compatible with the areas of expertise supported by program faculty. Information regarding faculty areas of expertise is available by contacting the program director. Years one and two are largely composed of course work, a comprehensive examination and shaping of one's dissertation question. 

While completing all required course work students choose a dissertation committee chair and committee with whom they work closely to develop and defend a dissertation proposal—following University guidelines. Upon successful defense of the proposal students are admitted to candidacy and actively engage in dissertation research, culminating in the successful defense of their dissertation. Consistent with Faculty of Graduate Study policy, the department requires a two-publication dissertation. More information is available from the program director.

Cristie Granillo
Cristie Granillo
I appreciate the program's intentionality in the selection of course content and the development of strong quantitative and qualitative skills. The faculty supports students in tangible ways and ensure classes are challenging enough to expand thought and strengthen critical thinking.

Admissions and Application

General Admission Requirements

In addition to the Loma Linda University admission requirements, admission to the program is governed by the policies and procedures established by the School of Behavioral Health. Admission requirements include:

  1. Master's degree from an accredited institution of higher education. Examples would include such disciplines as social work (MSW), nursing (MS), business (MBA), public health (MPH), education (MEd), and theology (MDiv).
  2. Evidence of adequate academic preparation in graduate education. This includes a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) for graduate/postgraduate work.
  3. Strong intellectual abilities, including background in social sciences and statistics.
  4. Evidence of research and social welfare interests reflecting the values of social justice. Professional experience and achievement that demonstrate the competence, motivation, organization, and leadership to complete doctoral education in a timely manner. It is preferred that applicants have at least two years post master degree experience in their professional area.
  5. Personal interview.
  6. Sample of writing in the form of a published article, academic or professional paper prepared for a research purpose, or an essay prepared for admission to the program.
  7. Curriculum vitae or other description of education and employment history.
  8. Three letters of recommendation (including one from an academic source and one from a work supervisor).

In addition to the above criteria, the application process for the PhD degree in Social Welfare and Social Research utilizes a pooled application process by which the top candidates meeting the admissions criteria are selected. The number of new candidates admitted each year ranges from three to four students, depending on the total number of students completing the program.

Information on international student admissions can be found here.

Admissions FAQ

Application Procedure

Potential applicants may receive general admissions information from the School of Behavioral Health Office of Admissions. Requests for specific information about the program should be directed to the program director.

School of Behavioral Health Office of Admissions

Phone 909-558-8722

Dr. Larry Ortiz, Program Director

Phone 909-379-7585

All applicants must submit their application online. Applicants can also monitor the status of their application online. In addition, the School of Behavioral Health office of admission informs all applicants when their files are complete or if additional information is required. The department's admissions coordinator reviews all completed applicant files and contacts the candidates for an admissions interviews.

Notification of Acceptance

The Social Welfare and Social Research PhD program admissions committee forwards a recommendation to the dean of the School of Behavioral Health for review and confirmation. All applicants are first notified by the dean's office of their admissions status. Accepted students must then acknowledge in writing their intentions to reserve their place in the program.

Change of Program or Degree

Students should refer to the Loma Linda University Catalog for information regarding transfer to a different degree program.

Concurrent Admission

Students may not be admitted to a School of Behavioral Health program while admitted to another program at this University or elsewhere. Dual degree programs are exempt from this policy. See the Loma Linda University Catalog.


The mission of the Social Welfare and Social Research PhD program is to extend the distinctive principles of whole person care beyond the individual to include interventions with communities and social institutions. The program's emphasis on an integrative approach to an advanced curriculum in social science, social welfare, Christian ethics, and social research provides students with the theoretical and methodological knowledge and professional skills needed to conduct innovative and interdisciplinary research. Graduates of the program are prepared for advanced administrative and research roles in national and international health and human services, policy development and analysis, and as university faculty.

Nenette Caceres
Nenette Caceres
The program offers a strong research-oriented focus. The faculty are always available and willing to help students develop and excel in their area of interest. The small class size has allowed me to become fully immersed in the material, form great relationships with the faculty, and connect with my classmates.