From Carleton to Kathmandu

Too few graduates, chasing too many jobs. It may not sound like a common scenario these days, but in Canadian social work, a critical lack of Ph.D. programs is starting to raise warning signs.

If a proposal by Carleton’s School of Social Work to offer a doctoral degree within the Faculty of Arts and Social Science is passed by the University executive this year, the program could start as early as September 2005. Carleton currently offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the discipline.

“There’s a tremendous need for people prepared at a doctoral level because so few Canadian universities offer it,” says Carleton’s Director of the School of Social Work, Colleen Lundy. “Such a small population is a concern at a time when social work is becoming increasingly important in all areas of society.”

Of 35 universities in Canada offering degrees in social work, only seven offer Ph.D. courses, and none are in Eastern Ontario, as a result many students end up going to the United States to further their education. In the field, master’s degrees outnumber Ph.D.s by a ratio of 50-1. Individuals who earn a doctorate are usually snapped up by the Public Service, so few end up in the academic realm, Lundy explains.

Lundy said the School surveyed recent Carleton social work graduates and found 50 percent of those looking to pursue a Ph.D. program would prefer to do it in Ottawa. Also, Carleton’s interdisciplinary approach to learning offers a distinct advantage.

If the program is approved by the Carleton Executive, and passed to the provincial government for funding, fields of study would likely focus on three areas: private practice, social policy and advocacy.

“This would advance the School’s structural approach to social work and allow it to take advantage of its relationship with the Faculty of Public Affaris and Managment, which is a leader in public policy as well as the advocacy fields involving social movements and human rights,” says Lundy.

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