Skip to main content
Boston College School of Social Work
Graduating PhD Students
Director of the
Doctoral Program in Social Welfare

James Lubben

Professor James Lubben is the Director of the BCSSW Doctoral Program in Social Welfare.  Hear Dr. Lubben talk about his background and teaching philosophy in 'I'm a Dreamer' and read about his experience as chair of the Society for Social Work & Research's (SSWR) annual conference.

Support Renewed for Social Welfare PhD Program

Santander Universities renewed its support for the International Doctoral Program in Social Welfare.  Read the news story ยป

Student Profiles

Learn about the research interests, publications, and backgrounds of our doctoral students and recent graduates.


*Please note that the School of Social Work will not be accepting any applications for the International Social Welfare program for the 2017-18 admissions cycle.

Students are expected to be full-time students while in their home country and when they are at Boston College. While students are encouraged to enroll in nine to twelve units of study each semester, this may not always be the case. It is hoped that students will be able to complete the program in about five years.

Curriculum Plans

PhD in Social Welfare Curriculum Plan 2015-2016 (PDF)

Research Training

Research training, both formal and experiential, is at the core of the program. Flexibility is provided to help students attain in-depth competence in a substantive area of social welfare. Students acquire expertise in applied social and behavioral science research methodologies that are especially appropriate for investigating critical policy and practice questions. This set of courses emphasizes analytic skills needed to understand, appraise, and advance knowledge in social welfare and associated fields. With these tools, the student selects a specific area of specialization and develops relevant social and behavioral science expertise to conduct significant research in that area.

The learning process involves more than classroom instruction. Students are expected to work closely with faculty mentors from Boston College as well as in their home countries. This program by its nature is multi-disciplinary, and students are encouraged to use the rich learning resources available in the Boston area and in their home countries.

Doctoral students come with diverse academic backgrounds and levels of preparation, and the program assists in identifying elective courses that can fill in gaps in knowledge needed to pursue advanced work. For Social Welfare students, classes to develop language skills may be necessary in the first year of study. Rather than merely completing a set of courses, the program emphasizes knowledge acquisition. Students who demonstrate possession of such knowledge on the basis of prior work and proficiency examinations may be exempted from specific course requirements and are encouraged to seek more advanced options. Review a list of current doctoral students for an idea of potential research projects and agendas.

International Partner University Courses

Given the international nature of the Social Welfare Doctorate, students must closely work with their advisors in their home country and in Boston College School of Social Work to select appropriate classes that will help them acquire skills that will be relevant to their future investigation. Moreover, it is hoped that since students will be spending half of their time in their home country, they will continue to think about the impact of their research on the current and future challenges that their countries face. By studying and working in their countries of origin, students will be able to forge strong professional ties that will help them find and gather information that will serve them in the writing and research phase of their careers.