Program Overview – Joint MSW/PhD

PhD students working at the computer.

The goals and objectives of both the MSW and PhD programs reflect the Department’s concerns with urban social problems, social and economic equity and well-being, cultural diversity, and the empowerment of individuals, families, organizations, and communities to effect change. The Joint MSW/PhD program prepares students to make significant contributions to social work education and the knowledge base of the profession. Three areas of specialization that reflect both faculty expertise and issues of importance to the University’s urban mission are emphasized. They are:

  • Addiction and Behavioral Health
  • Applied Gerontology
  • Family and Child Welfare

In consultation with their advisors, students in the Joint MSW/Ph.D program will be expected to identify one of these three areas as the overall focus of their studies. For more information, click the Areas of Specialization link to the left.

Successful applicants must enroll as full-time students; the program does not offer an option for part-time study. The expected time to completion of degree requirements for the MSW is approximately two and one-half years, plus another one and one-half to two years for the PhD. Students who hold a BSW degree earned within the past five years at a CSWE-accredited program may be able to shorten the time to completion of the MSW degree by up to one year.

To enable students to enroll full-time, a variety of financial assistance is available, including fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships, Most fellowships and assistantships include tuition remission. Further information is available in the Financial Aid link to the left.

Objectives of the curriculum within each of the above areas of specialization include:

  • To provide opportunities for advanced scholarship and research in social work, including partnerships with the wider community;
  • To prepare scholars who demonstrate knowledge, skills, values, and ethics of the profession and who are able to serve as future leaders in social work academic and research settings;
  • To prepare scholars competent in the development and advancement of knowledge in the social work profession, with particular emphasis on social work intervention as broadly defined.

Outcomes and competencies expected of doctoral graduates, regardless of specialization, include:

  • Knowledge of theories underlying intervention approaches used in the social work profession;
  • Ability to critically analyze theories and knowledge development related to a specific content area;
  • Understanding of how knowledge currently is and has historically been developed, disseminated, and applied in the social work profession and in fields related to a specific content area;
  • Familiarity with relevant policies, their rationale, and their implications for practice;
  • Capacity to design and conduct intervention research appropriate to a specific area of social work, including the capacity to participate effectively in knowledge-building and in applying that knowledge to the development of effective interventions;
  • Capacity to develop, utilize, and disseminate quantitative, qualitative, mixed, epidemiological, and instrumentation research methods and statistical analysis with relevance to social work research;
  • To further the knowledge base of the field by conducting research that addresses questions of direct practical relevance and questions involving broad theoretical issues, etiological and epidemiological concerns, and large-scale social policy.
  • Knowledge, values, ethics, and skills essential to teaching and the preparation of future professionals, in addition to those relating to research, scholarship, and leadership in the social work profession.