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Social Work (PhD)

Social Work (PhD)

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More than ever, society is in need of advanced researchers who have a deep understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion and are equipped to shine a critical light on inequality and injustice. Our PhD in Social Work offers you an opportunity to develop a nuanced understanding of the social issues that matter to you.

We are looking for students who have had successful practice experience and who are also looking for more than just an additional professional degree. This program is ideal if you want to enhance your already strong critical and analytic abilities and develop your passion for social work research and study.

PhD Information Sessions

To learn more about the program and the application process, please register for one of our PhD information sessions. They will be held via Zoom and participants must have a Zoom account to join (free accounts are available online). 

  • Monday, September 12, 2022 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Register now.
  • Wednesday, October 5, 2022 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Register now
  • Thursday, October 27, 2022 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Register now
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2022 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Register now
  • Monday December 5, 2022 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Register now

How We Can Help

Through our program, you will become a better researcher by creating an independent program of research supported by a strong and internationally regarded faculty. You will receive an educational experience tailored to your needs with some coursework individually personalized according to your field of research and to building a strong academic CV.

You will have opportunities to teach at the graduate and undergraduate levels and engage with faculty in collaborative, community-based research. Our faculty members will be your mentors and are focused on your professional and academic growth.

An individualized program within a small supportive cohort is one of our many strengths. Through our full- and part-time options, our program supports students interested in an academic or research career, a hybrid of teaching and practice, and other professional options.

Our graduates have a track record of success. More than 95% of our students are working in their chosen area within a year of graduation.

Program Structure

Our program has been carefully structured to maximize your success — during your study and after graduation. Each of our full-time and part-time programs require seven half courses plus a directed readings course that can be tailored to your field of research.

A comprehensive paper with a defence is a required and carefully laddered building block for the PhD dissertation, which requires original research followed by an oral defence.

We also offer an innovative and optional field-learning opportunity that can be independently designed in lieu of coursework. For some of our students, this option has enabled research collaboration at another university or in a specialized research setting. A field learning experience may take place fulltime over several weeks or provide an opportunity for ongoing association with another researcher or research institute. Importantly, it is designed by you with the support of our faculty.

*Name change subject to Senate approval. 


More information can be found on the International Applicants page.

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Contact Us:

Michael Woodford, Associate Dean, PhD program


Faculty and Staff


  • Winners of major external awards (OGS, QEII and Tri-Council) may be eligible for top-up funding which includes the Dean’s Graduate Scholarship (total value exceeds $10,000).
  • Eligible domestic students admitted to study on a full-time basis receive a minimum of $22,000 a year. This support may be made up of teaching assistantships, internal/external scholarships, and/or faculty-funded studentships or research assistantships.
  • A list of all funding opportunities available to Laurier graduate students, including information about OGS, QEII and Tri-Council, is available on our graduate funding webpage.

Research Focus

Our faculty members support a diverse range of research interests across all types of direct practice, public policy, international social work, disability, health and wellbeing, Indigenous issues, organizations and community development. The Faculty of Social Work’s research centres, programs and chairs include the Centre for Indigegogy, Walls to Bridges, the Lyle S. Hallman Chair in Child and Family Welfare, the Manulife Centre for Community Health Research and the Social Innovation Research Group.


  • A Master of Social Work (MSW) or equivalent with a minimum A- standing.
  • Normally, we require a minimum of three years of social work practice experience, which would usually be post-MSW, but other combinations of practice and education may be considered.
  • Applications are reviewed by the graduate program committee, which considers all prior university grades, a statement of research interests and letters of reference.
  • You may contact our Associate Dean or a prospective advisor prior to submitting your application.
  • Please note, we do not require prospective students to pre-select an advisor as this is a process we believe best occurs when you come to know our faculty and are engaged in the program.


Graduates of our program have pursued successful careers in higher education, teaching, government and the private sector.

Examples of jobs held by our graduates include:

  • University professors at University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, York University, Ryerson University and many other domestic and international universities and colleges.
  • Senior policy roles with the federal and provincial governments and non-profit organizations.
  • Private clinical practice.
  • Research roles in government, non-profit organizations and industry.

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