NYC Birdeye View

Social Welfare

CUNY Graduate Center Social Welfare students are prepared to be leaders in higher education and human services who are dedicated to social justice and progressive change.
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NYC Birdeye View

CUNY Graduate Center Social Welfare students are prepared to be leaders in higher education and human services who are dedicated to social justice and progressive change.

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Degree Offered

Ph.D. in Social Welfare


Admissions Deadlines

January 1 for fall enrollment
(No spring enrollment)

Students in the Ph.D. Program in Social Welfare at the CUNY Graduate Center work closely with leading faculty from throughout CUNY on research that is personally meaningful and that addresses important issues in social work practice and policy. We prepare graduates to carry out social work’s historic role in developing effective change at the individual, agency, community, national, and international levels.

Graduates Are Ready to Lead

Social Welfare graduates successfully compete for academic positions in public and private universities and occupy influential positions in social service agencies and foundations. Alumni have gone on to lead government and private agencies, serve as tenured faculty and top researchers, and spearhead social justice organizations and initiatives.

Research Rooted in Practice

The program of study emphasizes answering research questions that arise from the world of practice, promoting the research skill repertoire of students, and linking classroom work to the complex challenges of practice. We offer courses in both quantitative and qualitative methods and analysis and encourage students to deepen their research skills through elective courses in advanced and mixed methods. Throughout the path to degree, students are exposed and encouraged to participate in professional development activities.

Solving Social Problems Together

Our faculty members are experts in a wide range of social problem areas such as child welfare, aging, public education, entitlement services, criminal justice, health care, and mental health. Faculty and students are fully engaged in the policy and practice issues of the day, and student scholarship explores social welfare concerns that emerge from their own experiences in the field. Within this shared devotion to enquiry and social problem solving, our faculty is committed to mentoring students in all aspects of the craft of social research.

Accomplished, Diverse Scholars Valued

The program selects a highly qualified and diverse student body. We share in CUNY’s commitment to creating opportunities for students who are underrepresented in higher education. We seek applicants who have at least three years of post-master’s work experience in human service organizations. Some students remain full-time professionals while attending the program.

From Our Alumni

“[The program] has enriched and added another language to what I was already doing, a language that really builds on the context of direct practice and enhances the ability to show how research and practice connect.... It makes it a much more holistic way of thinking about my work and my research and the way that I teach and work with students.”

— Ovita F. Williams

(Ph.D. '20, Social Welfare)

Ovita Williams

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Open Houses

Virtual information sessions will resume Fall 2021. You can also email Janille Bagcal at to request our latest open house presentation or other information.

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Contact Us

Barbra Teater

Executive Officer and Professor, Social Welfare

Janille Bagcal

Assistant Program Officer, Social Welfare