Is a PhD in Social Work Worth It?
Your passion for social work was fueled by a desire to make a lasting impact and to transform lives. Now you recognize that you have the potential to elevate your influence and advance your career. To reach your goals, a PhD in Social Work might be the right step.
What is a PhD in Social Work?
A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is necessary for entry-level work. Many social workers have a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree because often advanced social work positions and licenses require a master’s degree. A PhD is a doctoral degree—the highest academic degree in social work that you can earn. A PhD in Social Work is an elite credential that provides you with additional training that sets you apart as a scholar in the field of social work.
Whether it’s worth it to pursue a doctorate depends on your goals and aspirations. Explore five reasons to earn a PhD in Social Work.
Five reasons to earn a PhD in Social Work
You want to teach the next generation of social workers.
As a social work educator, you’ll prepare tomorrow’s social workers to change lives. If you want to teach social work, earning your PhD in Social Work can help you gain the credentials needed to become a professor. Most universities and colleges look for a doctorate when hiring faculty members.
Some social work degree programs offer specializations designed for prospective teachers, such as a Social Work Education specialization. A specialization in Social Work Education can teach you key skills, such as how to develop a syllabus and how to create grading rubrics, that you can put to good use as a professor.
You want to lead an organization.
If you see yourself working in a role such as executive director or director of social services, a PhD in Social Work can prepare you for a leadership position. When you lead an organization, you’ll develop and implement programs, set organizational strategy, and communicate with the public about the work your organization does. You’ll oversee a team, and you may also work with a board or do fundraising.
Some social work doctoral degree programs have specializations designed for future social work leaders. Impact Leadership in Social Work Administration is an example of a specialization for people who want to lead organizations. Courses in leadership development and impactful executive leadership can help you gain the skills you need to become an effective social work executive.
You want to do research.
As a doctoral student, you will conduct research and write a dissertation. If you enjoy delving deeply into the subject of social work and proposing solutions to issues, you may want to become a researcher. You could conduct community research on social work issues, such as poverty, or you might gather data to evaluate the effectiveness of social programs and organizations.
If you are interested in a career in social work research, you’ll gain the critical research skills you need in your degree program. Many PhD programs include quantitative and qualitative reasoning and analysis courses in their curriculum. You’ll likely also take advanced courses in these subjects as well as a foundational course in research design and methodology.
You want to set policies.
With a PhD in Social Work, you’ll be prepared to create policies that address social issues. You could advise lawmakers, advocacy groups, advisory boards, or community groups on needed changes and how to implement them. You might also raise awareness with the general public about social work policies. By setting policies, you have the opportunity to change many lives and improve communities. You can help those who need it most.
The leadership skills you’ll develop in a specialization like Impact Leadership in Social Work Administration will be useful to you as a policy advisor or policymaker. You can learn about the psychological principles behind leadership development and expand your understanding of your personal leadership capacity. You could also explore innovation and apply it to policy development.
You want to guide and inspire other social workers.
Perhaps you don’t want to lead an organization, but you do want to lead a team of social workers. You could empower social workers to do their best possible work as a social work clinical supervisor. You can mentor and develop new social workers and inspire experienced social workers. In doing so, you can help your team of social workers help more people and more effectively address social issues.
A specialization in Advanced Clinical Practice and Supervision can prepare you to lead social workers. By specializing in supervision, you’ll gain an understanding of the supervisory role and develop the skills to be a successful leader. You’ll also build your knowledge of clinical instruction and practice management.
Is a PhD in Social Work worth it?
Whether or not a PhD in Social Work is worth it depends on your goals. If you want to become a professor, an executive, a researcher, a policymaker, or a social work supervisor, earning a PhD in Social Work can give you the qualifications you need to pursue your aspirations. If a degree can put you on the right path, then it’s highly likely to be worth it!
If you decide to earn a PhD in Social Work, it’s important to choose a degree program at an accredited institution. It’s also important to find a program that will support you. Walden University is an accredited university that offers an online PhD in Social Work degree program. Online education enables you to learn from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, without commuting to campus. With the convenience of online learning, you could work full time while you earn your PhD.
Walden offers three specializations for the PhD in Social Work—Advanced Clinical Practice and Supervision, Impact Leadership in Social Work Administration, and Social Work Education—to help prepare you for a supervisory, leadership, policy, educator, or researcher career. Or, if you want to increase your knowledge and advance your own social work practice, a social work PhD can provide you with the high-level training that can help you be the best social worker you can be. No matter your goal, with a social work doctoral degree, you’ll be ready to strive for new heights, unlocking boundless potential for personal and professional growth.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a PhD in Social Work degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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