important updates
  • Join the department for a virtual open house on Sunday, May 23! Register
  • Apply now: Now accepting applications for Fall 2021! Apply by 5/30/21. All application fees currently waived.

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Online Info Sessions

Join Dr. Larry Ortiz, PhD Program Director, for an online info session, occurring on the first and third Mondays of every month from 6-6:30 PM (Pacific).

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

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Program Director: Larry Ortiz, PhD, MSW


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.


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.

Program Requirements

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

Apply Here Questions? Message us!

Nipher Malika
As an epidemiologist, I've found that this program has enabled me to integrate qualitative and quantitative data to try to understand how policies affect the health of marginalized communities.
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.