PhD in Social Work

7 minute read
PhD in Social Work

All work for themselves, some work for their loved ones, while a few work for the unknown. This notion displays the nobility of being a social worker. While some may just like to devote a few hours of their lives to others, there are many who choose to develop it as their lifelong profession. From Bachelor’s in Social Work to Advanced Certificate in Child and Family Work, there are scores of degree courses that can help you start a career in this field. One academic field that is related to the advanced stage of social work is PhD in Social Work. So, let’s explore this wonderful career option and unfold what it has to offer through this blog!

Full FormDoctor of Philosophy in Social Work
Duration3-6 years
Minimum EligibilityPost graduate/ MPhil
Admission ProcessEntrance Exam/ Merit-based
Top UniversitiesMichigan State University
The University of Manchester
Sacred Heart University
Job RolesLecturer or Professor
Community Service Manager

What Does PhD in Social Work Entail?

PhD in Social work is a doctoral degree, offered to those who want to pursue a career in research. Although It is a 3 year-long course, it may take 5 to 6 years in some cases. Apart from the domain-specific research, you will also be equipped with skills and knowledge related to policy formulation, teaching, Sociology, etc. Students looking for a degree after MSW (Masters in Social Work) can pursue Doctorate in Social Work degree (DSW), while those who are inclined towards research can opt for a PhD. Upon graduating, you can help the government, NGOs, or national and international organisations in drafting social policies, directing social activities of corporate giants, and making the lives of underprivileged better through your actions!

Credits: UWindsor

Syllabus & Subjects

PhD being an advanced academic endeavour, does not deal with simple theoretical subjects but also imparts extensive knowledge through highly focussed modules. These are often based on case studies that highlight the existing problems that require intensive research and analysis from students. Here are some of the subjects that form a part of PhD in Social Work:

  • Quantitative Scientific Methods
  • Doctoral Degree Practicum
  • Dissertation Direction
  • Survey of Research Methods in Social and Political Science
  • Integrating Public Policy Issues into Social Work Research
  • Critical Analysis of Clinical Practice

Also Read: Career in Public Policy

10 Best Universities for PhD in Social Work Abroad

There are numerous international Universities that provide a very broad and diverse doctoral degree in Social Work. With a curriculum set as per industry standards, doctoral degrees tend to be more updated. Here are some of the prominent universities which provide a PhD in Social Work:

University Location
Michigan State UniversityUSA
The University of ManchesterUK
Sacred Heart UniversityUSA
Mount Royal UniversityCanada
Alice Salomon UniversityGermany
National University of SingaporeSingapore
University of LondonUK
University of AdelaideAustralia
Kingston UniversityUK
University of KentUK

10 Best University for PhD in Social Work in India

If you are looking to do your PhD in Social Work, there are some of the top universities in India that offer the course:

  1. Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  2. Delhi University
  3. Madras School of Social Work
  4. Loyola College
  5. Christ University
  6. Rajagiri College of Social Sciences
  7. Banaras Hindu University
  8. Manipal Academy of Higher Education
  9. Central University of Rajasthan
  10. Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University
Credits: University of Denver

Eligibility Criteria

To pursue a PhD in Social work, you must hold a master’s degree like an MPhil/MSc/MRes in the same field from a recognised academic institute.

  • While some universities require 1-2 years of work experience, others don’t.
  • Apart from submitting GRE scores, you will also be required to furnish scorecards of English proficiency tests like TOEFL/PTE/IELTS, etc. SOP, LORs, research proposals (in some cases), transcripts, etc form an essential part of the application process.
  • The eligibility criteria can vary from one university to another. It is advised to go through the institute’s website.

Also Read: Understanding the Concept of Social Justice

PhD in Social Work Themes

Here are some of the themes in which you can write your PhD in Social Work:

  • Rural Development, Governance and Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Geriatric Social Work
  • Tribal Studies and Empowerment Practice
  • Migration
  • Feminist Social Work
  • Poverty, Social Policy and Programme
  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Navayana Buddhist Studies
  • Disability and Access,
  • Social Movements and Health
  • Mental Health
  • Disability and Relationships
  • Inclusive Education
  • Violence Against Women
  • Social Work Education
  • Child Rights and Child Protection

PhD in Social Work Online

Online courses help students to learn from top faculties from around the world without relocating to any country. Students can pursue the course as well as work. Online courses have pre-recorded sessions that help students to manage their work and studies together Lectures and assignments have the flexibility to do anytime anywhere. IGNOU and Christ University are the best institutions for PhD in social work online.

Credits: UBuffalo Social Work

PhD in Social Work: Career Prospects

PhD in Social Work aims to prepare top-tier leaders for social change. The academic knowledge imparted in a PhD prepares individuals for clinical research and practice. There are many high profile career opportunities that a PhD in Social Work can open up for you, some of which are:

Clinical Social Worker

These professionals deal with people who are in distress, going through some mental or personal issues. They assess their client’s requirements, prepare a working plan for them, and ensure follow up on the given plan. As a Clinical Social Worker, you will work as advocates for the impoverished section of society.

Director of Social Services

In this profile, you will be responsible to ensure that an organization prepares effective social work programs, follow up on the required steps for the implementation of laws and directives.

University Professor

If you want to pursue a career as an Academician and teach students right from undergraduate to postgraduate level after completing your PhD in Social Work degree, then this is the most suitable option for you! Moreover, you can also continue conducting research in the field of Social Work while working as a professor.

Licensed Social Worker

A licensed social worker has expertise in providing support to marginalized groups and individuals. They can work for diverse fields such as legal support, disaster management team, relief work head among others.

Job Profiles and Salary

Now that you are aware of the career prospectus, next thing you should know is job profiles and salary. Graduates from PhD in social work are able to land decent jobs. Let us explore the top profiles and salary structure for you:

Job Profile Avg. Salary In INR
Clinical Director$92,44175.71 Lakh
Executive Director$90,24073.91 Lakh
Geriatric Care Manager$119,78698.11 Lakh
Medical Social Worker$90,17673.85 Lakh
Program Director, Non-Profit$64,28552.65 Lakh

Also Read: International Relations Courses

Fully Funded PhD in Social Work

PhD requires intensive training and research. Students gain expertise and increase their base of knowledge. While the cost of PhD can dig up a hole in your pockets. To help the students fulfill their dreams various scholarship schemes are made available by the various universities, government, etc. Scholarships can be broadly classified into two categories- Fully and partially funded. Fully funded scholarships cover the entire tuition fees, traveling, accommodation, food among other expenses. While partial scholarships cover tuition fees, accommodation, or any other expense determined by the trust. Want to know more about the PhD scholarships? Read our blog on PhD Abroad With Scholarships For Indian Students, it covers everything you need to know about the PhD scholarships.

PhD in Psychology

Another popular course after PhD in social work is PhD in psychology. A PhD in Psychology is a doctoral-level program that provides rigorous training in research for the individuals who want to pursue a career as an academician or the ones who want to practice as a clinical psychologist. The course covers various aspects of psychology such as cognition, perception, neuroscience, behavior, etc. This program typically runs for a period of 4 years full-time and 7-8 years for a part-time course. While in the initial years, the students undergo theoretical training, the course comes to an end with a dissertation project and thesis. To know more, check out our blog on PhD in Psychology


Can I pursue PhD in social work from Delhi university?

Yes, you can study this course at Delhi university.

Can I study PhD in social work from IGNOU through distance education?

Distance education is a great option because the applicant is able to study and as well as work at the same time. For PhD in social work, students can consider IGNOU.

What are the best colleges for social work in Australia?

The University of Queensland, Griffith University and UNSW Sydney are some of the best colleges for PhD in social work in Australia.

What is the required IELTS score for PhD in social work in Canada?

The IELTS score of 6.5 – 7.5 will help you get admission to top colleges in Canada.

Hence, there are scores of career opportunities to explore after completing a PhD in Social Work! Pursuing a specialized career in social work can translate into a positive development, both for the pursuer and society. It is some of the few professions in the world which carry so much power. To know more about such interesting courses and the application process, reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu who will not only offer you professional support in applying to universities abroad but will also provide assistance in writing an impressive SOP! To begin your journey, book a free E-meeting right away!

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