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PhD Programs in Social Work in Michigan

This article compares the three different social work PhD programs offered by universities in Michigan. Applicants can choose the best program for them based on location, research resources, specialization options, and other program features.

University of Michigan

In the University of Michigan's PhD in Social Work program, students combine their social work research with a secondary PhD in one area of social science (anthropology, sociology, political science, or psychology). Students have a wide range of research resources and networking opportunities at their disposal through the many research centers and institutes housed at the university. These institutes are dedicated to the study of clinical health, poverty, women, gender, substance abuse, and other topics.

Michigan State University

The Michigan State PhD program in social work prepares graduates for a variety of career options, including postsecondary teaching, policy making, social service administration and planning, and social science research. All students complete statistics courses and a research internship, develop an individualized plan of study, and write a dissertation.

Wayne State University

Candidates for Wayne State University's PhD program spend the first two years taking courses in social work theory, research methods, and statistics. Accepted students can choose to earn a dual degree in gerontology, infant mental health, or anthropology.

University Programs Offered Graduate Tuition for Academic Year (2019-2020)*
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor*PhD in Social Work and Anthropology
*PhD in Social Work and Sociology
*PhD in Social Work and Political Science
*PhD in Social Work and Psychology
In-state: $23,890
Out-of-state: $48,204
Michigan State UniversityPhD in Social WorkIn-state: $18,858
Out-of-state: $37,056
Wayne State University*PhD in Social Work
*PhD in Social Work and Gerontology
*PhD in Social Work and Infant Mental Health
*PhD in Social Work and Anthropology
In-state: $16,285
Out-of-state: $35,274

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Earning a PhD in Social Work in Michigan

Social work PhD programs may require students to pursue research internships, complete practicums, write a dissertation and/or take a comprehensive exam. In addition, candidates may have the opportunity to practice teaching undergraduate social work courses to prepare for their future career in education (while also earning funding for their PhD program). Particularly near the beginning of the program, students may take academic courses that help them prepare for their dissertation research. Common core courses include:

Theoretical Foundations of Social Work

In this course, PhD candidates receive an introduction to the ethical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations of social work research. The course typically includes an introduction to different theories that social workers use to work with communities, individuals, and formal organizations. Topics of study could include model effectiveness and practice controversies.

Research Methods

To prepare to conduct their own research for their dissertation, candidates must develop advanced social research skills. To this end, they may study qualitative research methods (like case studies and action research) as well as quantitative research techniques (like designing experiments, using statistical methods, analyzing data, drawing samples, etc.). Students also learn about ethics in social research and discuss topics like diversity and social justice in experiment design.

Social Welfare

In this course, students study the history of social service delivery and social welfare policy in the United States. Students grapple with some of the most controversial topics in the field of social work, like the role of social control, differing perspectives on charity work and other forms of help, and structures for delivering social welfare services. They may analyze how race, gender, class, ethnicity, and culture affect differing perspectives on social welfare policy. In addition, students may compare national and international social welfare policies.

Admissions Requirements for a PhD in Social Work in Michigan

Many programs require students to have a master's degree in social work (MSW) or be in the process of earning that degree (although the University of Michigan allows PhD students to earn their MSW within the PhD program). Schools might require students to have either a few years of experience working as a professional social worker or excellent grades in their MSW coursework. Students must submit a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume, letters of recommendation, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) test scores, one or more writing samples, and official transcripts. They must also write a personal statement explaining their professional goals, reasons for pursuing doctoral study, their potential research interests, and how their desired research project fits into the work of the faculty at the university they are applying to.

Students who wish to earn their PhD in Michigan can choose between three universities: the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. Each program offers students the chance to take academic core coursework, pursue their research interests, develop a specialization, and write a dissertation.