University Senate                                            

Proposed: April 5, 2013

Adopted: April 5, 2013




WHEREAS,    there is a shortage of qualified Ph.D. social work graduates at both the professional and research levels, and

WHEREAS,    the proposed combined program will allow recruitment of highly talented and accomplished students to the Ph.D. program who do not possess an M.S. in social work and would not have otherwise entered an M.S. program in social work, and

WHEREAS,    an M.S. in social work is required by the Council on Social Work Education regulations to be eligible to teach courses across the social work curriculum, and obtaining the M.S. degree is likely to assist graduates in their job search, and

WHEREAS,    students to be recruited are interested in becoming social work researchers but not necessarily in practicing social work, and this program will be attractive to them as it will shorten the length of required coursework by one year, and

WHEREAS,    there is a demand for such a program for a select group of students, and

WHEREAS,    this is not a new program but a merger of two existing programs,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED   that the Senate approve the Combined M.S./Ph.D. Program in Social Work.


Proponent: Committee on Education


M.S./Ph.D. Background

The Combined M.S./Ph.D. Program in Social Work is a thoughtful and robust academic proposal by the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW). The program is a combination of two existing programs, the M.S. in Social Work and the Ph.D. in Social Work, currently offered by CUSSW, and the M.S./Ph.D. student will be considered a Ph.D. candidate by CUSSW and will be equipped with Ph.D. advisors. The first semesters of the program consist of typical M.S. classes, with the second year a mixture of introductory Ph.D. courses and M.S. courses. By the third year, students will be solely involved in Ph.D. courses. As with any Ph.D. candidates, the CUSSW Ph.D. advising department will be responsible for securing the funding for these additional Ph.D. students.

CUSSW has also placed ample thought into the structure and function of the M.S./Ph.D. program. Because no new programs are being formed, the M.S./Ph.D. student will utilize existing facilities, and the admissions staff estimates that admission rates will not increase greatly, with perhaps one or two requests for the joint M.S./Ph.D. in Social Work per year.

The program has two major, interrelated goals:
--to increase the attractiveness of the Social Work PhD for highly qualified applicants by offering a combined program that decreases the total time needed to earn both the MS and PhD by one year.
--to add to the pool of eligible graduates for social work research and instruction

The main mechanism for achieving these goals is the decrease in total time required for the completion of the combined M.S./Ph.D. program as compared to obtaining the M.S. and Ph.D. separately—an expected 5 to 6 as opposed to the typical 6 to 7. The diminishing in total time needed for the two degrees occurs because CUSSW will permit certain upper-level Ph.D. courses taken by the M.S./Ph.D. candidate to count towards the M.S. electives. Thus, the main question that arose during the Education Committee’s discussion of this proposal was whether the M.S. degree would still be given the requisite academic and intellectual commitment when the main focus of the M.S./Ph.D. program is to produce more Ph.D.s. With CUSSW’s commitment to ensuring that the M.S./Ph.D. student’s M.S. method (Clinical Practice/AGPP, Policy, Social Enterprise Administration) is concordant with his or her Ph.D. method (Advanced Practice, Social Policy and Policy Analysis, Social Policy and Administration) and long-standing requirement of a fieldwork component in its Ph.D. program, qualms about the dilution of the M.S. degree requirements seem to be adequately addressed and unfounded.

The Education Committee supports this program.