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  April 23, 2001

Board Gives Go-Ahead for Ph.D. in Social Work

UConn's proposed new Ph.D. program in social work would be the first public program in New England and one of few in the Northeast.

The program, approved unanimously on April 12 by the Board of Trustees, must be approved by the state Board of Higher Education before the first students could be enrolled in fall 2002.

The program would meet a growing demand for social work scholars, researchers and educators and provide new knowledge to support the profession, Dean Kay Davidson said.

There is a growing national shortage of social work faculty, she said, and a national view that a master's degree in social work is no longer a terminal degree.

"This graduate program is extremely important to the school, to the University and to the state," she told the trustees.

There is currently no social work Ph.D. program in Connecticut, Davidson said, and students travel to New York or Boston to earn their degrees.

UConn's program, if approved by the state Board of Higher Education, would admit five or six students a year and would eventually have 27 students in the program.

The Ph.D. candidates would serve as graduate assistants and lecturers in the master's degree program, Davidson said. She added that the school will seek fellowships to provide support for students in the Ph.D. program.

Participants in the program would take courses both at the School of Social Work and also in other schools such as Allied Health, business, family studies, law, and medicine.

Demand for social workers is expected to rise sharply in the next two decades, according to the proposal for the program. Between 1989 and 1999, the number of social workers nationally receiving master's degrees rose from 9,509 to 15,598, an increase of 64 percent.

In Connecticut, there are two MSW programs, one at UConn and one at Southern Connecticut State University.

There are seven schools in Massachusetts, two in Maine, and one each in Vermont and New Hampshire that provide MSW degrees, all of them private.

Karen A. Grava

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