Participate in our Interactive Zoom Meeting for the  Doctoral Program

Interactive Zoom Meeting (click here for Zoom Set up/Help) with Doctoral Program Chair, Dr. Sonia Minnes (click here for access to join):

  • Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 7 PM

Letting us know that you plan to join by emailing our Department Assistant, would be appreciated.  We also encourage you to schedule a campus visit during our Fall 2018 Semester to observe a class, meet with current doctoral students, or our faculty.

Deadline to Apply for Fall 2019:  December 1, 2018

PhD: Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare

Founded in 1952 as one of the first doctoral programs in social welfare in America, the PhD program at the Mandel School is designed to develop leaders in social work research, policy, and teaching. It is a cornerstone of the school, offering doctoral students the unrivaled opportunity to engage with world-renowned faculty, cutting-edge research, and a creative curriculum – all within a supportive environment committed to student success. The doctoral program is on-campus only.

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Research and Training News

Dear Prospective Doctoral Student,

I am delighted in your interest in doctoral education. The Mandel School’s doctoral program offers excellent preparation for careers in social welfare research, policy, and teaching. Our highly ranked school has a diverse and nationally recognized faculty committed to doctoral education and to a close and supportive relationship with our doctoral students. We offer a strong program of research in a variety of areas of concern to social workers and a curriculum that prepares social work leaders who demonstrate competency in research, social welfare theory, teaching, and leadership. Our program attracts students from all over the United States and the world and offers both full and part-time study options.

This is an exciting time to begin your doctoral work at the Mandel School. Our faculty has just approved exciting changes to our curriculum that will be implemented beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year. New courses are being added in advanced research methodology and statistics as well as more opportunities for elective coursework. We have developed a new integrated research seminar that provides a link between your coursework and your doctoral dissertation many opportunities for peer interaction and feedback. In addition to the traditional doctoral dissertation format, we now offer a three-paper dissertation option.  Our faculty’s research projects are at an all-time high for the Mandel School, offering increased opportunities for doctoral student participation in funded research.

We strive to support students in a variety of ways—academically and personally. The typical student in our program will work closely with a faculty mentor throughout his or her doctoral training; will have hands-on experience in various phases of the research process; will have opportunities to learn and practice teaching skills; will develop presentations for national professional conferences; and will be actively involved in writing and publication for scholarly journals.

In addition to coursework, there are a variety of supports for career development and preparation for leadership in the profession: regular workshops on class and conference presentations and professional writing and publications; colloquia and workshops on research methodology; practice and preparation for job interviews; and colloquia presentations of completed dissertation research. I encourage you to explore our Doctoral Program’s website.

As a Mandel School student, you will be part of the vibrant campus of Case Western Reserve University, which offers interprofessional opportunities with your colleagues in medicine, nursing, psychology, sociology, and other disciplines. You will also be part of Cleveland, a city with a rich philanthropic history and a large array of excellent human service programs.

I welcome questions from you about our program and the application process. I would be happy to arrange a phone appointment or SKYPE call with you.  We also encourage visits to the School by applicants who can do so.  Please feel free to call my direct line at 216.368.2309 or e-mail me at You can also contact the Doctoral Program Department Assistant, Carmel Gambatese, at 216.368.2284 or e-mail her at with questions or to talk about our application process.


Sonia Minnes, PhD

Associate Professor
Chair, Doctoral Program

The Mandel School’s internationally and nationally recognized faculty are very productively engaged in scholarship and funded research activities, which provide a very rich environment for training doctoral students in research and opportunities for student dissertations.  Over the past nine years, our research grant funding from national, state and local funding sources has had unparalleled growth, increasing by over 270% and is now at an all-time high for the School.  Three-quarters of research grants come through our three interdisciplinary research centers with which doctoral students can become involved. These centers – The Dr. Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education, the Center for Evidence-Based Practices, and the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development – tackle society’s most difficult and complex issues, from urban poverty to youth violence, and investigate and foster the implementation of innovative evidence-based practices. Our faculty’s work covers the lifespan from prenatal to the elderly, with studies on both micro and macro levels. Findings from the faculty’s research activities continue to be used by human service agencies, county and state governments, and federal agencies to improve practice and service delivery and to impact public policy.

There are many opportunities for doctoral students to become involved with faculty research projects and activities. Full-time students receive a four-year research fellowship which provides individualized training in social work research methods with a faculty member closely matched with the student’s research interests. Through this fellowship the student will be closely involved with a faculty mentor through his or her doctoral training; will have hands-on experience in various phases of the research project; will develop presentations for national professional conferences; will be actively involved in writing and publication; and will have opportunities for dissertation research stemming from their research fellowship experience.

In addition to the research fellowship, students can apply for a mentorship in research which provides stipends for students to work with faculty mentors on research projects, students can serve as staff on faculty members’ funded grants, or serve as research assistants at one of the Mandel School’s research centers.

Our accomplished faculty are, first and foremost, mentors and teachers who are committed to doctoral education and dedicated to fostering collaborative relationships to help students grow.

Meet our Faculty.

Our students are a diverse group, bringing a wide breadth of experiences in research, teaching, and social work practice and administration. Through our admissions process, in addition to looking at the academic strengths of our applicants, we also closely examine the relationship between the applicant’s research interests and faculty expertise and availability in order to ensure sure that the applicant is an appropriate fit for participation in our program.

“When I visited the MSASS campus, I had the opportunity to attend a class, meet with faculty members, and chat with current students in the doctoral program. One of the most noteworthy aspects of my visit was how genuine and enthusiastic each person was. I quickly learned that the family and students at the Mandel School are not only passionate about their research and fields of study, but that they truly care about student learning, mentorship, and building a collaborative academic culture. I knew the Manel School would offer me opportunities to grow as a scholar in both a compassionate and academically rigorous environment.” –Kylie Evans, Doctoral Student, Cohort 2017

Among our PhD graduates are accomplished practitioners, researchers and chief executives in a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, including universities, public policy institutes, charitable foundations, corporate employee assistance programs, human service agencies, community mental health agencies, governmental advocacy organizations, hospitals, and schools.

Meet our Alumni.


Please contact Carmel Gambatese, Doctoral Program Department Assistant, by emailing or calling (216) 368-2284.

Ms. Gambatese will be certain to find answers to your questions or will direct your inquiries as needed to our Program Chair, Dr. Sonia Minnes,, who would be pleased to speak with any interested applicants.