PhD Program Information
Since September 1987, a doctoral program has been offered by the Faculty of Social Work. This program provides students with the opportunities for advanced scholarship and professional growth, and prepares graduates for leadership roles in fields such as higher education, research and specialized practice in governmental or private human service organizations.
There are three components to the doctoral program: course work (a four-term residency requirement), a comprehensive paper, and the dissertation.
PhD Program Course Work
The program consists of a minimum of eight half-credit courses. Seven courses are required courses for all students and one elective corresponding to the studentsí study plan and interests.
The required courses are as follows:
- SK701 Multivariate Analysis for Social Work Research
- SK702 Advanced Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Social Work Research
- SK790 Social Work Thought and Theory Development
- SK791 Epistemology and the Nature of Social Work Knowledge
- SK805 Applied Qualitative Research Methods
- SK820 Doctoral Seminar
- SK894 Publication in Social Work
During the first academic term each student, in collaboration with the PhD Program Co-ordinator, will prepare a study plan based on the above guidelines.
Note on Statistics Courses:
All students accepted into the PhD program are expected to ensure that they are prepared to take SK701 (Multivariate Analysis for Social Work Research), in the third term. If, upon acceptance, students believe that they do not have the skills and knowledge to take SK701, which is an advanced course and assumes a relatively solid knowledge of fundamental statistical methods, students will be expected to update their knowledge of statistics. We recommend strongly that such a person take a Masterís level statistics course prior to entering the program in the Fall. Otherwise, a student can take the course while in the program, prior to the first Spring term. To discuss this further, please FSW Admissions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
PhD Fields of Study
Please use the following link for an overview of the new PhD Fields of Study: click here
Part-time PhD Program
Please use the following link for more information about our part-time PhD program: click here
The PhD comprehensive paper serves to assess the student's ability to: (1) integrate social work knowledge, theory and practice; (2) analyze the implications of knowledge and theory for social work practice; and, (3) demonstrate a broad knowledge of the selected area of study.
Students complete a comprehensive paper and an oral examination. Guidelines for the content, scheduling and format of the examination can be found at: Comprehensive Paper and Oral Examination
Students must register for the comprehensive paper (SK893) by the fifth term. All requirements for SK893 must be completed no later than the seventh term in residence. The Chairperson and the members of the Comprehensive Examination Committee must be appointed at least four months prior to the proposed examination date.
All members of an Examining Committee must have Graduate Faculty Status at the time of appointment to the Committee.
One of two decisions are open to the Examiners: Pass or Fail
To pass the comprehensive paper, a student must receive a passing grade from at least two of the three readers. Students must receive a passing grade on both the written paper and the oral defense. If a student receives a failing grade on the paper, they will not be permitted to defend the paper at an oral examination.
Students who successfully complete the comprehensive examination are admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree and are entitled to register for the doctoral dissertation (SK899).
A student failing the comprehensive paper can rewrite the comprehensive paper once. A student who does not complete the requirements for SK893 after two attempts, or within three consecutive terms, will be required to withdraw from the PhD program.
All students are required to complete an original dissertation that makes a significant contribution to the existing knowledge in the field of social work.
If a dissertation topic involves animals or human subjects, approval for the investigation must be sought from the WLU Research Ethics Board. Details are available from the Office of Research Services.
FSW students can apply for funding for their thesis or dissertation research. PhD students can apply for up to $500. Submit a completed cheque requisition form with original receipts to the Administrative Manager in the Faculty of Social Work for reimbursement.
For further details, see Regulations and Procedures for Governing the Doctoral Dissertation
The PhD dissertation is the culmination of a candidate's program. The dissertation must represent an original and significant contribution to the field of social work and must, therefore, be exposed to the scholarly criticism of the members of the University community. The dissertation is placed on display in the Graduate Studies Office for two weeks. The examination is open and provides the candidate with an opportunity to defend and clarify the research.
Students are required to spend a minimum of four terms as full-time students. It is expected that most students will extend this period beyond the minimum.
All standards for examinations are set by the Graduate Faculty Council and the Senate of the University. The regulations for doctoral students are as follows:
- The student is expected to pass, with a minimum of a B grade, the core courses and all additional course work required by the PhD Committee.
- In addition, the student is required to pass a comprehensive written examination covering the areas addressed in the studentís selected area of concentration or write and orally defend a comprehensive paper covering the same area of concentration.