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Social Work

AAU School of Social Work
PhD Program: Introduction

In 2006, Addis Ababa University, in collaboration with major United States research universities, initiated a three-year project to develop the first-ever PhD in social work in Ethiopia. This innovative PhD program prepares doctoral students in social work and social development, mentors these graduates in research, teaching, and scholarly dissemination, and builds the infrastructure to continue the doctoral program. Initially the program will incorporate collaborative teaching with scholars from the United States. Ultimately the program will empower the new faculty members to develop their own institutional identity and competencies to build social work as a profession within Ethiopia.

(Download the entire "Rationale and Course Descriptions" document.)

Mission Statement

The mission of the AAU PhD Program in Social Work and Social Development is to prepare scholars who can undertake action research through community engagement that addresses the social development challenges Ethiopia faces, builds knowledge to strengthen community life, and stewards the education and profession of social work within the nation. The program will advance scholarship relevant to Ethiopia and expand the corps of Ethiopian scholars who are committed to the social development of the country. The kind of scholar the program identifies is contextually relevant to the Ethiopian experience and to the challenges and needs the country faces whether regionally or at local levels, in accordance with national and international standards.

Social Work Education Underlying Assumptions

Among the plethora of helping professions, the profession of social work stands out in its commitment to poverty reduction through social development. Social work uses an integrated approach that recognizes the importance of working simultaneously with individuals, groups and families, communities and localities, and national policy and resource systems. The profession's multi-level approach targets the amelioration of social issues by focusing on addressing both the causes and consequences of these issues. Social work is an action profession that bases much of its knowledge on what it discovers through the projects it undertakes within the complexity of the real world. Social work's history is one of civic engagement, building synergistic relationships among institutions, organizations, and even disciplines to address poverty, HIV/AIDS, unemployment, and homelessness. By linking research to action, the profession builds the knowledge bases necessary to achieve meaningful breakthroughs, particularly those related to the advancement of the quality of life.

Internationally, the profession serves as the backbone of social welfare as professionally educated and trained social workers at the BA and MA levels are active as core workers in numerous fields of practice, including mental health care, substance abuse treatment, child welfare, health care, management, human rights, and community development. Social workers within these settings blend knowledge bases at multiple system levels including policy, community, organizational, group and individual. In their work with people, organizations, and communities social workers are informed by theory, knowledge, and the determinants of human behavior as influenced by social structure, culture and diversity, and the dynamics of oppression, marginalization, and exclusion. At the level of the PhD, scholars educated in social work serve as faculty in schools of social work who combine their research agendas with the preparation of the next generation of social work professionals. Doctoral-trained social workers who possess a research degree but who understand practice are essential to the development of national infrastructure in social welfare and development. This includes building the capacity of Ethiopian faculty to expand social work education to the BA level at Addis Ababa University, as well as preparing faculty to develop BA and MSW programs at other universities throughout the country.

Graduate Profile

The primary mission of the PhD Program in Social Work and Social Development is to prepare graduates who are expected to:

  1. Achieve international expectations of research faculty members who can produce and disseminate social work knowledge that is relevant to the pressing social development faced by Ethiopia.
  2. Fulfill key faculty roles within Ethiopia's universities and leadership roles within its major institutions.
  3. Educate social workers at the Ph.D. level who have the requisite knowledge, skills, and competencies to advance innovation in social welfare and social development.
  4. Contribute to the development of the social work profession within the country and the advancement of the innovation and effectiveness of social welfare programs and policies.
  5. Create and test models of social work practice that are relevant to Ethiopia and to the education of Ethiopian social workers
  6. Build a knowledge base supporting social work within Ethiopia that is relevant both nationally and internationally.
  7. Strengthen the capacity of villages, cities, regional authorities, and national institutions to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
  8. Produce knowledge relevant to social development through the integration of action research and civic engagement.
  9. Take leadership for the advancement of social development projects that foster the movement of people out of poverty.
  10. Improve community infrastructure through applied research and policy development in collaboration with citizens and local and national leaders.
  11. Critically evaluate and advance services, supports, and capacities for the advancement of the collective health and well being of rural villages and cities.

Admission Requirements:

Admission into the PhD Program in Social Work and Social Development (PhD) requires the approval of the Council of Graduate Studies (CGS) of the University and is effected according to the rules and regulations set forth by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).

Candidates will be eligible to apply for admission if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Graduate GPA of at least 3.5
  2. Graduate degree in social work (MSW) or MA degree in social work-related field
  3. A cover letter and Personal Statement with a rationale for doctoral study, research, and teaching (5 pages maximum)
  4. Presentation to the PhD Admissions Committee
    1. Present MSW Thesis findings or other research
    2. Present rationale for doctoral research and teaching
  5. Resign from any job and commit to full-time study in the School of Social Work

Degree Nomenclature and Award Requirements

The degree graduates of this program earn will be called "Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work and Social Development (PhD)". The Amharic translation of this shall read as follows: "Me" ʡ_ =] ufhM`" Tu^ у".

The PhD in Social Work and Social Development at Addis Ababa University includes an innovative menu of Courses (C), Seminars (S), and Research (R). The PhD degree consists of 28 credits in 7 Courses delivered over 3 terms (Fall, Spring, and Summer), and 8 Dissertation credits. The curriculum also includes 8 Seminars and 4 Research Supervision scheduled across 3 years of doctoral study.

All courses (C) are completed in the first calendar year of study. A Qualifying Assessment is completed at the end of the 3rd term. Students who pass can move forward to Doctoral Candidacy. Since coursework will be completed after the first year of study (Fall, Spring, Summer), students will be able to teach courses in the 2nd year of PhD studies. Since the PhD program is year-round study, students will complete their dissertations and graduate in 3 years.

The award is given upon fulfillment of the following requirements, subject to approval by the University Senate:

  1. Each student is required to complete a Qualifying Assessment after the 3rd term of doctoral study.
  2. Each student is required to select (using a special form) a topic for the dissertation not later than the end of the 4th semester of doctoral study. All dissertation topics require the approval of the School of Social Work.
  3. The dissertation shall be based on field research carried out by each student under the supervision and guidance of the student's Doctoral Advisor.
  4. All dissertations must meet the general as well as the specific requirements set by the School of Graduate Studies.
  5. Each completed dissertation is examined by an examining board set up by the School's Graduate Committee that will also appoint the student's principal thesis advisor in accordance with the rules of the School of Graduate Studies.
  6. The final dissertation shall be submitted to School of Graduate Studies.
  7. Passes with grades of "B" or better in each course taken in the PhD program and a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.00; and
  8. Timely submission and successful defense of a dissertation.

Course Descriptions

SWPH-701  Action Research and Models of Social Change (4 credits)
SWPH-705  Quantitative Methods & Data Analysis (4 Credits)
WPH-707  Qualitative Methods & Data Analysis (4 Credits)
SWPH-709  Knowledge Building for Social Work and Social Development (4 Credits)
SWPH-711  Program Evaluation & Policy Analysis (4 Credits)
WPH-713  Writing for Publication (4 Credits)
SWPH-715  Teaching and Pedagogy in Social Work & Social Development (4 Credits)
SWPH-717  Dissertation (8 credits)


SWPH-831 Doctoral Pro-Seminar I
SWPH-832 Doctoral Pro-Seminar II
SWPH-833 Doctoral Pro-Seminar III
SWPH-834 Doctoral Pro-Seminar IV
SWPH-835 Doctoral Pro-Seminar V
SWPH-883 Dissertation Design and Proposal Writing (No credit)
SWPH-891 Portfolio Preparation (No credit)

Research Supervision

SWPH-941 Research Supervision I (No credit)
SWPH-942 Research Supervision II (No credit)
SWPH-943 Research Supervision III (No credit)
SWPH-944 Research Supervision III (No credit)

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