Responding to a growing demand for more doctoral-level social work faculty, the St. Catherine University-University of St. Thomas School of Social Work announced today that it will begin its Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) program in August 2014.

This will be the nation’s first program specifically designed for those with a master of social work degree who are either currently teaching at the bachelor’s or master’s level – or plan to do so – and who are seeking a doctorate in order to further develop the skills needed to excel as teachers and advance in their university careers.

“We began developing this program in response to inquiries from our graduates and others in the social work field who are interested in pursuing a doctorate and careers in higher education,” said Dr. Barbara Shank, dean of the School of Social Work and chair of the Board of Directors of the Council on Social Work Education. “The expansion of bachelor’s and master’s programs in social work nationally has created a strong demand for faculty who hold doctorates.

“The nation’s doctoral programs are not graduating enough individuals to replace retiring faculty or to staff the expansion of social work programs.

“To help fill that gap, our doctoral program will focus on teaching, scholarship, service and leadership, as opposed to a traditional focus on research or advanced clinical practice. We will prepare graduates for leadership and scholarly roles in social work education who will become the stewards of our discipline.”

Because the program will be primarily online, it will be accessible to students nationally and even internationally. Three of the doctorate’s 15 required courses will be held in a traditional classroom setting during a one- to two-week summer residency in St. Paul; the other 12 courses will be conducted online. To enroll, students must already hold a master of social work degree and have a minimum of two years post-master of social work experience. One cohort of students will be admitted to the program each year.

The St. Kate’s-St. Thomas School of Social Work’s programs have been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1975. The new doctoral program has been approved by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  U.S. News & World Report ranks the School of Social Work 52 among the nation’s 231 accredited graduate-level social work programs. This year the school enrolls 200 undergraduate and 368 graduate students.

Both universities have offered courses in social work since the 1930s. Social work was first offered as a joint St. Kate’s-St. Thomas major in 1974, and a joint undergraduate department was established two years later. A joint master of social work program, with an emphasis in clinical social work practice, began in 1990. The School of Social Work was established in 1996.

More information about the doctoral program can be found on this School of Social Work website.