Doctoral Degree

Social Work PhD Doctorate Program

With its part-time, cohort and campus-based format, Widener’s PhD program is designed for experienced working professionals interested in becoming stewards of social work’s professional knowledge base.

msw degree students sitting at desk in office discussing master of social work program

Program Overview

Our mission is to help you develop as an academic leader and sharpen your skills and expertise in research, teaching, and application of theory. Here, you will cultivate leadership qualities and interpersonal skills to further your development for a career:

  • as social work faculty in undergraduate and graduate college and university programs
  • as administrators in private and public organizations
  • as advanced clinical, community, or policy practitioners

Program Options

View the Loading... for information regarding the course offerings and outcomes for the doctoral program.

Our PhD program accepts students who have either a MSW degree or a master’s degree in a related discipline.

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.

Admissions Requirements

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Scholarly writing sample
  • All transcripts
  • Personal statement

Applications are due by April 30.

If you are selected to interview for the program, we will contact you to arrange an appointment.

Program Highlights

Our PhD curriculum provides you with skills and expertise in scholarly research, teaching, and application of theory.

Predictable and Part-time Class Schedule

All of your classes will take place on Fridays, in one morning and one early afternoon session. Between classes, you'll experience scheduled opportunities to attend workshops and network with faculty and fellow students. Our commitment to part-time education allows experienced professionals to earn a PhD while continuing to practice in the field.

Coursework and Dissertation

Years one to three of your program will be dedicated exclusively to coursework. In your third year, you will complete a comprehensive examination paper. By the end of year four, you will submit a dissertation proposal for approval and defense. Years four and five are devoted to dissertation preparation under the supervision of the dissertation committee chair.

Clubs & Organizations

Social Work majors have the opportunity to join various clubs and organizations across and outside of campus to expand their network, including the Phi Alpha ΦΑ - National Social Work Honor Society, and many more


Widener’s social work instructors are all full-time faculty practitioners with experience working in the social work field. Many of the professors have a deep interest in research or have been social work clinicians for more than 20 years.

Margo M. Campbell
Director of PhD Program

"I strive to create an engaging, dynamic, and responsive learning environment. By encouraging self-reflection and co-created learning spaces, I aim for students to finish the course with confidence in the material, a sense of leadership in their own learning, and an understanding of the link between their work and social justice."

Brent A. Satterly

"My approach to teaching is best described as embracing an existentialist and social reconstructivist perspective, emphasizing respect for what each student brings to the classroom and students’ responsibility for their own learning. In my teaching at Widener, these methods have resulted in positive outcomes as measured by student course evaluations and verbal feedback."

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

Upon graduation, you will be prepared to enter the workforce as an agent of social change. Uniquely located between three states, Widener's community relationships can connect you to agencies, schools, and hospitals in the tri-state area and beyond.

Outlook & Outcomes

Industry Growth

Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 12% by 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Take the Next Steps

Join the Widener Pride and take the inside track to a career in social work.

Visit Us

Come spend some time with us on our beautiful campus. From open houses to personal tours, you'll uncover a variety of ways to get to know us.

View Tuition and Fees

Explore program costs and payment options.

Financial Aid

Learn how available graduate assistantships, scholarships, and work-study options can help make financing your degree a reality.

Next steps to apply

You can complete your application simply and easily on your own time using our mobile friendly web-based application. Rolling admissions means not having to rush; you can revisit your application as many times as you need. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

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