Social Work Programs

April 30, 2010

PhD Programs for Social Work: Getting the DSW Degree

Filed under: phd programs for social work — Tags: — admin @ 11:26 am

phdprograminsocialwork Deciding how far to take a social work degree is a concern of many students. The majority of students obtain bachelors or masters degrees (the BSW or MSW degree) . Those who achieve a Bachelors of Social Work can find entry-level positions as case workers, mental health assistants, group home workers, agency counselors and residential counselors. While students who pursue their masters degree can expand their careers into supervisory work, administrative responsibilities, staff training, certain teaching positions, and private practice. The Masters of Social Work is the minimum degree needed for certain positions in healthcare, clinical social work, and schools. If you are looking to advance your career to the pinnacle of the field, then you’ll want to consider a PhD programs for social work. A DSW (doctorate degree for this field) or PhD will allow you the qualifications to teach at any institution or to obtain a research appointment.

Some people will work for a few years and then continue to get their doctorate. This gives you clinical experience and helps you save for the program.

Entry-level programs include coursework on the field’s values and ethics. This teaches you how to deal with cultural diversity, at-risk people, human behavior, welfare policy and its services, methods of social research, and fieldwork education. Masters degree courses will train you for a career in your chosen emphasis and specialization, and to continue to develop the expertise needed to complete clinical assessments, handle large casework, supervise, and discover fresh avenues to use social services to help the people you serve.
PhD Programs For Social Work

Doctoral programs of study, such as the ones in NYC including Columbia University School of Social Work or Hunter School of Social Work , can help you to advance your career in social services. For the most part, those who obtain this doctoral degree get positions in academia. Others will tend to focus on research, policy analysis or administration. Top administrative positions at certain substance abuse facilities or mental health clinics often prefer those with a Phd Degree. If you decide this is the path where you want to take your education, understand that the program will instruct students to create and conduct their own research and increasing their expertise in the chosen field. You will focus on concentrated coursework and independent study in order to achieve a solid knowledge of theory and history of social welfare, research techniques and stats.
It takes roughly two to three years to complete a PhD program for social work and multiple years for writing your dissertation. You also need to pass examinations in methodology and field practice as well as mastery in the knowledge of behavioral science in your particular field and emphasis. Ultimately you must prepare your own academic dissertation that contributes some ideas or understanding of social work into the world. A teaching career is a wonderful way to be able to work closely with students and share your love of the human services field. Many people first complete a two year MSW Program and then decide to get their doctorate degree.


  1. Teaching at a university is a wonderful job and it is great to get stimulation from students. It can be a bubble but it also is good if you are focused on ideas and less hands-on with clients. The DSW degree can be a lot of work but worth it as you impact future generations.

    Comment by Weston — May 4, 2010 @ 8:25 am

  2. My social work teacher in grad school who had a DSW was very influential on my thinking. Many of us were floudering about what to do and she gave us focus. She was a very special lady who I’ll never forget.Also, she questioned some of the tenents of ego psychology model and was a true critical thinker.

    Comment by Larry — May 5, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

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