Doctoral study in pursuit of social justice

The School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) offers doctoral students the resources of an Ivy League institution within a small, intimate program. Having long been a leader in social work research through the PhD in Social Welfare program, SP2 established the Doctorate in Clinical Social Work program, the first practice doctorate, in 2007. Today, students in the PhD program research social problems through a transdisciplinary lens, while DSW students focus on preparation for leadership in social work practice. Graduates from both doctoral programs are well-equipped to serve as teachers and effective advocates for social justice.

The PhD program in Social Welfare is designed to develop leaders in academia and research to identify both problems and potential solutions. We work hard to foster scholarly energy, collaboration, and creativity.

Doctorate in Clinical Social Work

Now, more than ever, social worker leaders are needed in the movement towards social justice. Our Doctorate in Clinical Social Work (DSW) graduates are sought after social work doctors—highly trained and respected experts, educators, researchers, and leaders who engage in fulfilling, rewarding work and make important contributions to the profession.

PhD vs. DSW

Although both have a focus on social justice, the PhD in Social Welfare and the Doctorate in Clinical Social Work are distinct programs that prepare graduates for different career paths. Learn more about the differences between the programs below.

Focus1. Research-focused and theory-driven interdisciplinary program

2. Students and faculty apply diverse research methods to a wide range of social problems/issues related to social welfare and social justice
Graduates are prepared to:

1. Design and implement empirically grounded social work interventions

2. Conduct sound, evidence-based inquiry on issues of significance to social work practice

3. Position themselves as content experts with deep knowledge in at least one chosen area related to social work practice and disseminate this knowledge through teaching, presentation, practice, and scholarly activities

4. Serve as educators who teach and engage in course and curriculum development
FormatFull-time, on-campusFull-time, online with 2 week-long immersions
Time to complete4-6 years3 years
Funding1. Fully funded for four years including a stipend, full tuition remission, and individual health insurance coverage through the plan offered by the University

2. Ten-month stipend for a research-focused assistantship, and after coursework is completed, can be expanded to include teaching assistantships
Federal loans via the FAFSA with some financial aid
Career Goals1. Faculty positions in schools across different disciplines including Social Work, Public Policy, and Public Health

2. Leadership positions in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, research institutes, and more
1. Promotions in clinical settings

2. If interested in social work education, a lecturer/term faculty/practice professor and other non-tenure track position

3. Tenure-track positions in small, teaching-oriented programs
DissertationAn original work of research scholarship to advance knowledge in the field of Social Welfare with the exact components of the dissertation varying depending on the nature of the proposed project, the conventions of the specific field of research in which it is situated, and the expectations of the dissertation committeeA research-based dissertation that is circumscribed in scope, often qualitative, on a clinical practice area that has practice implications and is publishable in the academic literature
Adapted from the University of Buffalo, School of Social Work