PhD in Social Work

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York University’s Social Work PhD program is distinguished by its critical approach to the field and its emphasis on human rights, social justice and anti–oppression. Rich in theory, we challenge students to examine the functions of social control and oppression by focusing on how social structures contribute to the dislocation of oppressed and disenfranchised populations. Throughout the doctoral program, students are encouraged to promote social equality and the pursuit of social transformation and to deconstruct dominant ideologies. Students work with renowned faculty in the social work field, who are committed to providing leading-edge research that contributes to the production of critical theory, community-building, and political transformation.

York University provides an environment for doctoral students to conduct research with the various Organized Research Units and engage in collaborative learning opportunities developed by the Teaching Commons.

Students benefit from our research-based, critical theory approach to learning, preparing them for leadership roles focused on the promotion of social equality and the pursuit of social transformation. Whether you wish to become a professor in social work, practice in the fields of policy development and analysis, or take on a lead position at an international agency or NGO, you will graduate ready to make a significant contribution to scholarship and to the vision of social equality in both local and global communities.

Program Objectives:  York’s PhD in Social Work provides students with an opportunity for advanced scholarship related to the development and practice of critical knowledge, theory, skills, and approaches to social work. The program is research-based and emphasizes the development of social work knowledge that contributes to and promotes social justice. Key program objectives include:

  • Conducting independent and original research in pursuit of knowledge and excellence in social work;
  • Acquiring and expanding knowledge about the range of critical literature in social work and related fields of social research;
  • Recognizing the importance of the role of social work in resisting oppression both locally and globally; and
  • Shaping public policy and practice based on relevant social research.

All students need to complete seven 3-credit courses, a comprehensive exam (an approximately 50-page paper based upon a comprehensive reading list created by the student and their committee), and a dissertation based on independent research.