PhD in Social Work
We welcome scholars to become part of our community of doctoral candidates researching in social work, counselling, professional supervision and human services.
Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work
PhD candidates undertaking the Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work carry out original, advanced research and present it as a written thesis. The degree is completed after an oral examination.
The PhD does not include coursework, however coursework might be required during the first year (your provisional year).
Please note: We do not offer doctoral programmes by distance.
You will do your doctoral study under the guidance of two supervisors. These supervisors will be experienced researchers who will help you through the research and thesis writing processes. However, you are expected to be self-managing and to take initiative.
The main supervisor takes overall responsibility for your supervision and is assisted by a second supervisor and/or an adviser or advisory committee.
Before you embark on your PhD, your supervision must be available and approved by the University.
Approaching a supervisor
As part of the application process, you will be invited to identify and approach potential supervisors to discuss your research proposal and expectations of each other.
This discussion may also address issues such as:
- Frequency of meetings
- Preparation for meetings
- Level and rate of work expected
- Availability of resources
Supervision involves a close working relationship where both parties will have expectations of each other and both will have responsibilities.
You can find more useful information about these roles and responsibilities on the University’s Supervision page.
Register of supervisors
The Faculty of Education and Social Work has a registry of academics who supervise doctoral students. This register includes:
- Name and contact information
- Area(s) of research expertise and methodologies
- Research experience and interests
- Additional information such as publications and involvement in research projects
Our faculty has five schools. Once enrolled in a PhD programme, you will be placed in the same school as your main supervisor.
Your school will then provide you with the resources you need to start your journey, such as:
- Workspace and desk
- Computer and phone
- Access to printing
For more information, visit our Schools and Departments pages:
- Counselling, Human Services and Social Work
- Critical Studies in Education
- Curriculum and Pedagogy
- Learning, Development and Professional Practice
- Te Puna Wānanga / School of Māori and Indigenous Education
Your first year (provisional year)
The first 12 months of full-time study in the doctoral programme (24 months part-time) is provisional.
This means to continue in the programme, you must achieve certain goals set for your provisional year. These goals include:
- Successful completion of a research proposal (completed within six months)*
- Completion of one substantial piece of written work (completed within 12 months)*
- Seminar presentation of research progress
- Approval of full thesis proposal by the appropriate school or faculty committee
- Ethics approval (if required)
- Attendance at one of the Doctoral Skills Programme induction days
- DELNA screening**
At the end of your provisional year, a written report will be completed that documents your progress and achievements.
Other goals may also be added to your provisional year, subject to agreement between you and your supervisors.
*The months refer to full-time study.
**Should the DELNA diagnostic be advised following the screening, you must undergo the diagnostic and attend any language enrichment recommended by the Language Adviser.
You must complete and submit a full research proposal for your PhD during your provisional year. This proposal must include:
- Your research area
- Your research aim
- Research questions
- An overview of your proposed research
Once completed, the proposal is reviewed by two academics nominated by your supervisors. These academics make judgements about the quality of your proposed research and provide feedback. Amendments can be made to your proposal prior to submission to the faculty’s PhD adviser.
The proposal must be approved by the faculty and the University’s Board of Graduate Studies before you can be fully registered.
If you need help putting together your research proposal, you can visit the following pages:
- Education and Social Work research proposal guidelines
- Doctoral Forms (contains sample research proposals)
- Doctoral Skills Programme Hub
If your research requires human participants, you must obtain ethics approval.
All research conducted within the Faculty of Education and Social Work adheres to the University’s Human Participants Ethics Committee guidelines.
To read these guidelines and submit an application, visit the University’s Human Participants Ethics Committee page.
Jointly awarded PhDs
As part of the Universitas 21 international consortium, the University of Auckland can enable doctoral degrees that are jointly awarded with another education partner.
Further information about joint PhDs can be accessed at the Universitas 21 website.
If you have any questions or queries, contact our Doctoral and Postgraduate Research Coordinator Leigh Beever.
Doctoral and Postgraduate Research Coordinator
Phone: +64 (0) 9 623 8812.