Interdisciplinary Social Work PhD Programs

I was wondering whether there were interdisciplinary PhD programs involving social work (SW) and other disciplines.  I did know of the one at the University of Michigan, where a PhD in social work required participation in a joint PhD program with another social science department.  But were there others?

A search told me that there were more than 400 relevant webpages.  I worked through the complete list.  It turned out to be more like 130.  I didn’t look at each webpage; I focused on those that did look like they might have some kind of joint deal between social work and some other university department.

I discovered that Indiana University was not among my search results, so I ran another search that did turn up Indiana, but only barely.  (I knew IU had a double PhD major option because I had spent five bizarre years in that university, and that’s exactly why I was looking for something else.)  Since my first search didn’t turn up a reference to IU, I suspected there were probably various other PhD dual or double or joint major or degree opportunities out there, but it was hard to come up with a good search.  I didn’t feel like working through 58,000 webpages, so I tried a much narrower version and worked through that one too.  (Note that I was looking for purely PhD-level programs, not joint PhD/master’s programs.)

Next, I ran more focused searches for a number of schools, looked at maybe the first dozen results under each search, and came away with the impression that most schools that had looked like they might have interdisciplinary SW PhD programs probably didn’t.  There were some that had graduate minors, certificates, research institutes, or other interdisciplinary opportunities, as distinct from a genuine interdisciplinary PhD.  But I wasn’t sure what the employment value of a certificate would be.  Most PhD programs would have a doctoral minor requirement, possibly with about the same expectations as a certificate program.  I had seen certificate programs that didn’t seem to carry much weight.  By contrast, if you had a PhD major in social work and also a PhD major in sociology, you could compete for faculty positions and other kinds of jobs in sociology as well as social work.

In the end, it seemed there were some places that would pretty much let you combine any two PhD programs, as long as you could make a case for it.  The ones I found were Rutgers, the University of Louisville, Oregon State, and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (nothing else to do, most of the year; might as well study).  Others had specific rather than global interdisciplinary PhD options that might or might not combine a social work PhD with some kind of doctoral credential from another department.  The University of Iowa was a possible example (JD/PhD).  Arizona State had a JD/PhD in justice and social inquiry.  Boston University had an interdisciplinary PhD with sociology.  Tulane‘s PhD in aging seemed to be the most multidisciplinary of the lot.

I hate to say it, but after several hours of doing searches and viewing websites, that was pretty much all I came up with.  It seemed that probably the next search I should do, which would partly repeat what I had already done, would be to look for more universities that allowed double majors among a variety of schools and programs, and see if social work was included on the list.

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