Enhance your knowledge and expertise to support individuals and communities with our PhD in Human and Social Services degree program.
Creating sustainable social change requires knowing how to work effectively with legislators, lobbyists, and other stakeholders in a challenging public and political arena. In the Social Policy and Analysis and Planning specialization, you will learn the strategies used to shape and implement public policy today. You will study how you can impact the legislation that governs society, including legislation related to healthcare, hate crimes, and the environment. Your dissertation will focus on an issue related to shaping social policy.
As a graduate, you will be prepared for roles such as policy advisor to municipal and state governments; policy analyst for nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and government organizations; and consultant to NGOs on policy implementation and social services delivery at local levels.*
If you hold a master’s degree in a non-related field of study (any discipline other than human services, counseling, social work, or psychology) or a bachelor’s degree in any field of study from an accredited university choose Track II.
If you are eligible for Track I, you may also be eligible to choose the Fast-Track Option, which allows you to earn your degree more quickly by taking additional courses per term. If you are a highly motivated student with discipline and a flexible schedule, learn more about this accelerated path to a doctoral degree or contact an enrollment advisor today.
Note on Licensure: The PhD in Human and Social Services program, including its specializations, is not designed to lead to professional licensure including licensure as a professional therapist, counselor, social worker, or psychologist.
Walden students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.
In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.
To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an enrollment advisor at 855-646-5286.
|Quarter||1||Course Code||HUMN 8000||Course||Foundations of Graduate Study in Human Services||Credits||(3 cr.)|
|Quarter||1||Course Code||HUMN 8150||Course||Helping Individuals, Organizations, and Communities: Introduction to Human Services||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||1 or 2||Course Code||RESI 8401||Course||PhD Residency 1||Credits||(0 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||RSCH 8110||Course||Research Theory, Design, and Methods||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||HUMN 8210||Course||Management and Leadership Development in Human and Social Services||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||3||Course Code||HUMN 8451||Course||Public Policy Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||3||Course Code||RSCH 8210||Course||Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||3 or 4||Course Code||RESI 8402||Course||PhD Residency 2||Credits||(0 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||HUMN 8207||Course||Grant Writing||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||RSCH 8310||Course||Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4 or 5||Course Code||RESI 8403||Course||PhD Residency 3||Credits||(0 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||HUMN 8465||Course||Strategic Planning: Collaboration, Cooperation, and Coordination||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||HUMN 8237||Course||Advanced Program Evaluation||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||6||Course Code||HUMN 8809||Course||Fundamentals of Law and Public Policy||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||6||Course Code||HUMN 8550||Course||Preparing for Dissertation||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||6 or 7||Course Code||RESI 8404||Course||PhD Residency 4||Credits||(0 cr.)|
|Quarter||7 or 8||Course Code||
Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis
Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis
|Quarter||8-12||Course Code||HUMN 9001||Course||Dissertation||Credits||(5 cr. per term for a minimum of four terms until completion)|
Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Students work toward building a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. They assess the relationship of mission and vision to professional goals and develop a program of study and strategies for online success. Students also explore resources used throughout the program, such as the online Walden University Library. Students engage in course assignments focused on the practical application of professional writing, critical-thinking skills, and the promotion of professional and academic excellence.
This course is designed to provide students with a doctoral foundation in the history and development of the various human services professions. Students engage in coursework that integrates content from various specializations, in areas such as counseling, social work, psychology, family studies, and criminal justice. Examining both the strengths and weaknesses of the human services delivery systems, students review the origins of the profession as well as its various responses to the changing needs of society. Through critical literature reviews related to research, policy, and practice; discussions about human services and contemporary society; and practical assignments, students begin to develop their identities as leaders, researchers, and informants in the area of human services. Students focus on the competencies and ethics of human services professionals.
The purpose of Residency 1 is to socialize new students into the Walden doctoral community of scholar-practitioners. Topics include doctoral competency development, orientation to academic support services and networking, community building, writing at the doctoral level and using American Psychological Association (APA) style, library search skill building, and professional development. Upon completion, students will have completed a self-assessment and identified goals for continual development of the skills and practices required of new doctoral students.
In this research course, students are provided with core knowledge and skills for understanding, analyzing, and designing research at the graduate level. Students explore the philosophy of science, the role of theory, and research processes. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs and data collection methods are introduced. The alignment of research components is emphasized. Students also explore ethical and social change implications of designing and conducting research. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing an annotated bibliography.
Public and nonprofit leaders in all areas of public administration require a thorough understanding of the expectations of their roles as leaders and managers of diverse and complex organizations. Students use theoretical and applied perspectives from which they study the intricacies of these roles, including the distinction between leadership and management, organizational culture, change management, systems theories, and organizational development. Students gain a practical understanding of these topics through the application of principles and concepts to public and nonprofit organizational settings in different cultures and societies depicted in case studies, a virtual city environment, and through relevant material provided by students themselves. Students will also explore how to promote interprofessional collaboration within and among organizations.
Contemporary public administrators work in a dynamic, partisan environment with unprecedented access to public policy data—conditions leading to extraordinary opportunities and, often times, severe constraints. Students in this course thoroughly examine key stakeholders involved in the public policy process and devote special attention to their function, impact, and constraint on policy development. In addition, students explore professional ethics related to the role of the policy analyst and consider the significant social outcomes of public policy. They examine the theories and strategies used by policy makers and policy analysts to develop, implement, execute, evaluate, and promulgate public policy. They also assess the impact and consequences of public policy and evaluate it though a social justice framework. Using critical-thinking and communication skills, students craft a policy memorandum regarding a current public policy problem, for which they consider and evaluate competing policy alternatives.
In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results. RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110.)
The purpose of Residency 2 is to develop skills in reviewing and performing scholarly research. Topics include refinement of research questions, research question and methodology alignment, and literature critique and synthesis. Upon completion, students will have developed key components of a research plan.
Grant writing is a highly marketable skill that requires many nonprofit, educational, and community organizations to secure external funding to provide needed services to the community. In this course, students will explore the basic skills needed for non-research grant writing including identifying potential funding sources, creating objectives and a needs statement, preparing and justifying a budget, identifying appropriate assessment plans, and writing an executive summary. Course assignments will allow students to directly apply what they are reading and discussing by writing a full grant proposal based on an actual Request for Proposal (RFP).
Students in this research course are provided with the opportunity to develop basic knowledge and skills for conducting qualitative research at the doctoral level. Students explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, how theory and theoretical and conceptual frameworks uniquely apply to qualitative research, data collection procedures and analysis strategy, and how the role of the researcher is expressed in the ethical and rigorous conduct of qualitative research. Students practice collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, and they develop a detailed research topic for conducting a qualitative study. RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110.)
The purpose of Residency 3 is to continue developing research skills that will lead to the development of the prospectus or dissertation proposal. Topics include qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research designs; data collection, management, and analysis considerations; and development of the prospectus. Upon completion, students will have completed a research alignment tool to inform and guide their dissertation research planning.
In an increasingly complex world, leaders and managers in public and nonprofit organizations plan strategies to fulfill the organizational mission and enhance stakeholder satisfaction. Students in this course explore the role and process of strategic planning, including collaboration, cooperation, and coordination. They also examine the benefits, challenges, and pitfalls of strategic planning, in addition to the impact of globalization. Students apply these concepts to real-life scenarios and develop a strategic plan for a nonprofit or public organization.
Doctoral level practitioners are often called upon to conduct rigorous evaluations of programs, and the results of their evaluations often determine the fate of the programs they evaluate and the clients served by those programs. Therefore, it is important that students learn how to conduct both formative and summative evaluations and how to evaluate the fidelity of program implementation prior to evaluating program outcomes. In this way, program evaluation also tests the theory or logic model on which the program is based. Students will use hands-on activities to develop their ability to develop evaluation plans, provide constructive critical critiques of other students' projects, and accept constructive, critical feedback from others. They will also connect with other professionals engaged in evaluation research through various professional forums (e.g., listservs, blogs, and professional associations). In addition, they will explore how the process, pressures, and outcomes of evaluation research could differ in a different culture and across different professions.
Legal decisions and the law often have a major impact on the creation of public policy. In this course, students explore and discuss the relationship between laws and public policy and the impact that court decisions have on policy and policy leaders. They examine the role of administrative agencies in the creation and execution of law and public policy and the role of the courts in resolving challenges to agency rule making; conflicts between executive and legislative branches of government; and conflicts between and among federal, state, and local laws. Students have the opportunity to sharpen their critical-thinking and research-database skills as they search for real-world examples of how fundamental legal concepts and processes affect the creation and execution of law and public policy.
Students in this course focus specifically on the process of writing the dissertation prospectus. Students use their preliminary research plan, developed previously, and develop a problem statement, to be used in the dissertation. They further refine the problem statement and carry out the planning and the library research that will bring them to the formulation of a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus is a brief paper, typically 15–20 pages in length, that lays out the background for the problem statement, the problem statement itself, a survey of the relevant literature, typically 25–75 references, and a research, implementation, and evaluation plan for the solution of the problem.
The purpose of Residency 4 is to build students' capacity in representing themselves as scholar-practitioners. Topics include practicing presentation and critique, research dissemination, implications for social change, and dissertation writing. Upon completion, students will have composed a draft presentation of their doctoral research and plan for research dissemination.
Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project. RSCH 8110.)
Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone.
Students build upon knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8210 - Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis and RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis for more specialized knowledge and skills to design mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. Students are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for designing mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. They gain an understanding of the types of mixed-methods designs and how to select the most appropriate approach for the research question(s). The emphases of this course are on integrating quantitative and qualitative elements into true mixed-methods studies, practice in data analysis, and integration of qualitative and quantitative data within a research write-up. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a mixed-methods research plan that incorporates qualitative and quantitative elements appropriately. RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110 and RSCH 8210 or RSCH 7210 or RSCH 6210 and RSCH 8310 or RSCH 7310 or RSCH 6310.)
Through this course, doctoral students have the opportunity to integrate their Program of Study into an in-depth exploration of an interest area that includes the completion of a research study. Students complete the dissertation independently, with the guidance of a dissertation supervisory committee chair and committee members. Students complete a prospectus, proposal, Institutional Review Board application, and dissertation. Once students register for HUMN 9001, they are registered each term until successful completion of the dissertation.Students take this course for a minimum of 4 quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their Dissertation with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.To complete a dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook. (Prerequisites: RSCH 8100U, RSCH 8200U, and RSCH 8300U.)
|Course Code||DRWA 8880G||Course||Doctoral Writing Assessment||Credits||(0 cr.)|
This course is part of Walden’s commitment to help prepare students to meet the university’s expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.
The Advanced Customized option gives you a unique way to meet the coursework requirements in this program. Gain a deeper level of knowledge in your specific area of interest and benefit from an independent, self-directed learning experience under the guidance of a mentor. Learn more.
*The number of credits eligible for transfer from a Walden or another accredited university master’s degree program may vary depending upon the date the master’s degree was completed.
†The number of credits eligible for transfer from a Walden or other accredited university master’s degree may vary depending upon the date the master’s degree was completed.