PhD in Social Work

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Our doctoral program in Social Work builds on the strengths and traditions of our undergraduate and graduate programs, while focusing on the conceptualization of the field of social work, its antecedents, theory and epistemology. Students are encouraged to deconstruct dominant ideologies in order to address power inequalities inherent in our society.

Rich in theory, our program challenges students to expose and examine the functions of social control and oppression, focusing on the ways in which social structures contribute to the dislocation of oppressed and disenfranchised populations. 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.

Located in a dynamic and diverse urban neighbourhood, York provides an ideal environment for doctoral students to conduct research, engage in collaborative learning opportunities and to help foster and develop valuable community partnerships. You will learn from faculty renowned in the social work field, and committed to providing leading-edge research that contributes to the production of critical theory.

Social Change in a Local and Global Context

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.

All students will complete eight 3-credit courses, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation based on independent research. Students study on a full-time basis and are offered two options for moving through the program.

In Option 1, students will complete all coursework within the first year of study, including two summer courses.

Option 2 allows students to reduce their coursework in the first year of the program; students enter the program from professional rather than recent academic experience to take more time to re-orient themselves to academic work. All core courses will be completed in the first year, but students can take electives at a slower pace, completing the final two electives in the fall of year two.

An ongoing goal of the program is to produce graduates who are committed and prepared to create positive social change locally, nationally and internationally. In particular, the program will provide graduates with the ability to:

  • Conduct independent and original research in pursuit of knowledge and excellence in social work;
  • Provide leadership in the promotion of social justice and anti-oppressive practice and in the creation and support of processes of social transformation;
  • Acquire and expand knowledge about the range of critical literature in social work and related fields of social research;
  • Recognize the importance of the role of social work in resisting oppression both locally and globally;
  • Develop critical understanding of the relationship between theory and practice;
  • Influence public policy based on reliable and relevant social research.

Alongside their studies, students are expected to participate in the activities of the School including a speaker series, special events and student organizations. They will also have an opportunity to teach at York University and to gain experience as research assistants. Whenever possible, students are also encouraged to get involved in community partnerships.