Professional Doctorate in Social Work

To be effective as a social work professional, the continuous development of knowledge that can be applied in practice is critical. In-depth practical study and sophisticated research skills are vital for those in leadership roles or who want to progress further in the field of social work.

The Social Work Professional Doctorate at UNSW Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences is a postgraduate research degree designed for practising social workers. You will combine postgraduate coursework study directly related to an area of advanced social work practice with doctoral research. Upon completion of this degree, graduates will advance their knowledge within the field of social work.

In this degree, the specialised coursework component will build upon your foundational social work education and experience in professional practice.

The advanced practice study you will undertake as part of this degree provides the basis for a contribution to social work knowledge through your empirical or conceptual research.  You will study alongside thought-leading academics in the field of social work at a faculty ranked above world standards in research excellence by the ERA.

The thesis component of the degree will help you develop the high-level research skills necessary to make a meaningful contribution to social work knowledge. The Professional Doctorate in Social Work will prepare you for leadership in a diverse range of social work roles.


The Social Work Professional Doctorate is a three-year full-time degree. The degree is structured as one year of full-time coursework (Year 1) and two years of full-time research (Years 2 and 3).

The coursework must be completed before undertaking the thesis research study. The 48 UOC coursework will be taken within the Master of Counselling Social Work OR the Master of Development Studies OR the Master of Public Policy and Governance degrees. Your chosen program of study must be approved by the relevant Masters Convenor and the Social Work Professional Doctorate Program Convenor. In the research component, which is 96 UOC, candidates undertake supervised research leading to the production of a thesis.

Enrolment in the coursework component in the Master of Counselling Social Work is part-time (this program is not available on a full-time basis). Candidates have the option of completing coursework within the Master of Development Studies or the Master of Public Policy and Governance on a part-time or full-time basis. Enrolment in the thesis component can be part-time or full-time, depending on your personal and professional commitments.

Entry Requirements

There are 3 requirements for admission to the Social Work (PrDoc) degree and all 3 requirements must be met:

  1. A social work qualification established by eligibility for membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers, or membership of an equivalent overseas professional social work association
  2. A minimum 2 years post-qualifying professional social work practice experience
  3. A first or upper-second class (Distinction) thesis research Honours degree (minimum thesis wordlength: 10,000 words) OR a Masters (Coursework) degree with a distinction average and a significant research component, minimum equivalent 18 unit of credit content, consisting of methodology training and a stand-alone research project.

How To Apply


For program rules and structure, see the UNSW Handbook.