PhD Programs in Social Work in Massachusetts

There are a variety of programs in Massachusetts designed for social workers who are interested in pursuing PhD level research. This article compares the tuition rates, lengths, and features of PhD in Social Work programs. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Boston College

The four-year PhD in Social Work at Boston College prepares graduates for tenure-track teaching and research positions through a blend of academic coursework and teaching experiences (PhD candidates teach and tutor master's degree students). Boston College also offers a joint MSW/PhD program for students who do not yet have a master's degree in social work, and accepted students can save up to one year of study by completing the two degrees simultaneously.

Boston University

Boston University attempts to prepare its PhD in Social Work graduates for careers in either research or teaching through a blend of academic core courses and a sequence of teaching courses. Students complete core coursework in social justice, social welfare policy, and social problems and then choose to take three courses to earn a specialization in either a demographic category (like immigrants and refugees, children, or older adults) or a specific social issue (like housing, trauma, poverty, or health disparities).

Simmons University

Students in the PhD in Social Work program at Simmons University can complete the program full time (three courses a semester) or part time (two courses a semester) in 4-7 years. To graduate, students must take 15 academic courses, complete a research practicum, complete a teaching practicum, write and defend a research thesis, submit a journal article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and pass a comprehensive exam.

Smith College

Smith College's PhD program in social work operates on a block schedule where students alternate between taking academic courses (like clinical theory, research methods, and social work theory) and clinical and research internships. While completing both academic coursework and internships, students also write and defend an independent research thesis on a topic of their choice.

School Name Programs Offered Average Graduate Tuition (2019-2020)*
Boston UniversityPhD in Social Work
MSW/PhD in Social Work
$54,720
Boston CollegePhD in Social Work$30,612
Simmons CollegePhD in Social Work$21,654
Smith CollegePhD in Social Work$53,940

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Entrance Requirements for PhD Programs in Social Work in Massachusetts

PhD programs in social work are generally designed for seasoned social work professionals and leaders. Thus, applicants are often expected to have a Master of Social Work (MSW) and a few years of relevant work experience. However, some programs will accept applicants with a related master's degree and clinical experience.

Applicants must send in a nonrefundable application fee, their professional resume, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, GRE test scores (some programs waive this requirement), a writing sample, and a personal statement explaining their accomplishments, research interests, and career goals. Some programs include an optional interview as part of the application process. Students whose first language is not English must submit TOEFL scores.

Earning a PhD in Social Work

Common courses that PhD in Social Work students complete include:

Social Work Research Methods

Most graduate students begin their studies with a course on social science research methods where students learn to use and analyze the research methods common among social work scholars. Topics may include data collection methods like ethnography, observation, interviewing and focus groups. Students may also learn useful statistics theories and quantitative analysis methods. Students may practice reviewing, analyzing and critiquing academic research reports. In many cases, the goal of this course is to prepare PhD candidates to develop both a project proposal and methodology for their own thesis project.

Social Work and Social Justice

Social work PhD candidates must learn to grapple with the relationship between social work, social welfare, and social justice. To this end, many PhD programs include a core course wherein students study the challenges specific to providing care for oppressed populations. Students study the impact race and culture on the relationship between clients and social workers. Topics may include defenses, resistance, transference, and countertransference. Students work to apply psychological theories and social justice theory to their own research and clinical practice.

Social Work Education

Because one of the most common outcomes for students pursuing a PhD in Social Work is tenure-track professorships and teaching positions, students may complete teaching practicums as part of their coursework. Candidates may take teaching theory courses to help them develop their skills for teaching both social work professionals and master's level social justice students. Topics may include adult learners, teaching clinical material, modes of teaching, integrating social justice and other social work values into education.

Social workers who wish to develop a research specialty in one or more areas of social work theory or practice may want to consider earning a PhD in Social Work. Several universities in Massachusetts offer a variety of programs with differing emphasis and schedule options.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Simmons College

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Boston
  • Yeshiva University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • Washington University in St Louis

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Saint Louis
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Champaign
  • Smith College

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Northampton