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FAQs, PhD in Social Work

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the doctor of philosophy in social work at Widener.

If you have additional questions, please contact us by phone or e-mail (see Contact information on left) or schedule a visit.

Can I work full time while completing the PhD program in social work?

Yes. Our part-time PhD program is designed for professionals working part time or full time during the week. Courses and events are held each Friday between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. from the beginning of September through the end of July.

What are the differences between a PhD (doctor of philosophy) in social work and a DSW (doctor of social work)?

While there is no simple answer to this question because there are variations within both PhD and DSW programs, SocialWorkLicensure.org offers some points of comparison.

I currently have a master’s degree in a field other than social work. Can I still pursue my PhD at Widener?

Yes. Our PhD program accepts students who have either a MSW degree or a master’s degree in a related discipline. We caution, however, that accredited social work programs around the country often limit their full-time faculty hiring to individuals who hold the MSW, which is the terminal degree in the social work field. For this reason, we offer an MSW/PhD option for those students who have a master’s degree in a related field and would like to earn the MSW in conjunction with their PhD. We would be happy to speak with you further about this option.

Are there stipends or scholarships available for Widener PhD students in social work?

No. Because our program is part-time, we do not offer general stipends or scholarships to students. However, we work to connect as many students as possible to opportunities, including temporary graduate or research assistantships and adjunct teaching positions at Widener or elsewhere. In addition, students are encouraged to discuss financing opportunities and options with the Financial Aid department.

Will I have the opportunity to teach courses at Widener while earning my PhD?

Because matching instructors to course offerings involves many factors, including the subject and timing of the course, we cannot guarantee that every student who would like a teaching opportunity will have one. However, PhD students at Widener typically have at least one, and often more than one, opportunity to teach a course in the BSW, campus-based MSW, and/or online MSW program. Students who are not interested in teaching an entire course but who would like some teaching experience are matched with opportunities to guest lecture or meet with a faculty teaching mentor.

What types of research do Widener PhD students conduct?

Widener PhD students tend to pose research questions that have been drawn from their micro or macro practice experiences and to design research with an eye toward its practice relevance.

The following is a list of a few dissertations recently completed by our students:

  • Representations of Autism in the Social Work Literature from 1970 through 2013: A Critical Content Analysis
  • An Examination of Community Attachment and Psychological Well-Being in Older Adults
  • Religious and Cultural Tolerance in Northern Irish Participants: Effectiveness of the Ulster Project Delaware, 1976–2011
  • The Effects of Severity on the Completion of Outpatient Alcohol Treatment
  • A Study of Hospital Social Workers’ Knowledge and Comfort Level with Evidence-Based Substance Abuse Interventions
  • Domestic Violence and Custody/Visitation: Exploring Young Adult Women’s Perceptions of Their Childhood Experiences

I am currently a doctoral student at another institution. I am thinking of transferring to Widener to complete my degree. How can I do this?

Widener University’s PhD program in social work welcomes students transferring from within Widener or from other universities. A student interested in transferring applies to Widener’s program as a new applicant. If accepted, the student submits a formal request for transfer credit to the director of the doctoral program, along with a syllabus for each completed course and the student’s transcript. We accept up to 18 transfer credit-hours (or the equivalent) for doctoral-level courses taken within a 5-year period from admission to Widener’s program and in which the student has earned a grade of A (or the equivalent).