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.

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2016 Candidates and Graduates

Doctoral Student Presenters at 2016 CWRU Research ShowCASE

biegelDear 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.

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.

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.  Please feel free to call my direct line at 216.368.2308 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.


David E. Biegel, PhD
Chair of the Doctoral Program
Henry L. Zucker Professor of Social Work Practice
and Professor of Psychiatry and Sociology


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%.  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.


Learn more.

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.

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.

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Address all correspondence to:

Dr. David E. Biegel, Chair of Doctoral Program
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
Case Western Reserve University
11235 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7164
(216) 368-2308

Or, reach the Doctoral Program through the Department Assistant, Carmel Gambatese:

Phone: (216) 368-2284
Fax: (216) 368-3891