Social Work (PhD)

Program Description

NYU Silver School of Social Work’s PhD program prepares students to become leading researchers and educators in the promotion of social justice and the health and well-being of marginalized communities nationally and globally.

Our intensive doctoral training competitively positions graduates for top-tier academic and research opportunities—such as faculty positions at leading research universities—cultivating the next wave of independent investigators, scholars, and social work leaders. Building on Silver’s nationally recognized strength in intervention and implementation research and our focus on addressing inequities, the PhD program prepares students to make their own unique contributions to the field of social welfare.

Our rigorous coursework educates students in classic and contemporary theory, cutting-edge quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodologies, and specialized learning in their substantive areas. The opportunity to take electives within the larger university allows students to explore further their areas and methodologies in an interdisciplinary classroom. NYU Silver also prepares students to be educators through training, including in anti-racist pedagogies, and hands-on experience teaching BSW and MSW level courses.

At the heart of our program is the mentored research practicum offering students the opportunity to put their learning into practice. NYU Silver PhD students are paired from day one with a research mentor as part of our personalized mentoring program, helping them develop competencies in core research, scholarship, and teaching areas. NYU Silver Faculty are renowned for their expertise in several key research areas, including racial and social justice, behavioral health services, child welfare, and aging. Being part of a large Global Network University and located in the diverse and dynamic city of New York, NYU Silver offers an unparalleled environment for the study of areas critical to local, national and global well-being.


Requirements for admission to the Social Work PhD program include:

  • a master’s degree (MSW is preferred) with a graduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher, based on a 4-point scale;
  • a bachelor’s degree with an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher, based on a 4-point scale;
  • acceptable scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, for applicants whose first language is not English or who have not earned a degree from an institution where the language of instruction is exclusively English. The program will accept Duolingo English test scores if applicant received a combined undergraduate and graduate education of four years where the official language of instruction of the institution was English for all course work. Test scores for TOEFL, IELTS, and Duolingo English Test are considered valid for two years.
    • TOEFL Score Requirements
      NYU Silver accepts the TOEFL iBT test, the TOEFL iBT Home Edition and the TOEFL iBT Paper Edition. The minimum scores for the TOEFL are 92-93. Our TOEFL code is 2506. We will accept an unofficial score until we receive an official copy from Educational Testing Service (ETS).
    • IELTS Score Requirements
      Admission criteria for the IELTS is an overall score of 7.0 or higher (no individual scores less than 7 in any category).
    • Duolingo English Test
      Admission criteria for the Duolingo English Test is a minimum score of 115.
    • Exemptions: 
      • Applicants who have earned a degree from an institution where the language of instruction during their entire undergraduate program (four years) and/or master's degree was exclusively English, regardless of country, are exempt from submitting a TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo score.
      • Applicants who are U.S. Permanent Residents and have earned their undergraduate degree from a US Institution.
  • an updated Curriculum Vitae;
  • a well-written and compelling statement of research interest; and
  • three outstanding letters of recommendation.
  • International applicants ‒ please learn more about your additional requirements.

Note: Although post-MSW practice experience is not a requirement, at least three years of experience is recommended.