Social Work & Anthropology (SWAN Ph.D.)

Students can apply to earn a doctorate in Social Work and Anthropology (SWAN). The joint Social Work/Anthropology Ph.D. program draws on the strengths of both fields in theory, social history, research, policy and practice. The SWAN program combines the approaches of each field to make use of its urban location to foster scholarship focusing on global issues of 21st century post-industrial cities and how these cities are being re-invented. Students will receive a thorough grounding in the theoretical and applied aspects of both Social Work and Anthropology and will apply this knowledge to pursue scholarship in areas of interest focusing on urbanism, internationalism, and social/cultural organization. SWAN students follow a curriculum that draws from existing courses in each field with the addition of one new core course that fully integrates the two disciplines. Specific new content combining the perspectives of both disciplines is included in the MA/MSW level practica, the qualifying exam requirements, and dissertation research to meet the educational requirements of this degree.

This program prepares scholars for work in several different occupations. Graduates are qualified for faculty positions in social work or anthropology. In addition, they are highly qualified for positions in governmental or non-profit agencies that work in urban or international development.

Academic Scholarship: All course work completed to satisfy the following degree requirements must be done in accordance with the academic regulations of the Graduate School. All students are required to maintain a 'B' average. A grade of 'B-minus' or below in two courses will be sufficient reason to dismiss a student from a graduate program. For the purposes of evaluating this condition, a grade of 'WF' is considered to be a failing grade.

Admission Requirements

Admission to this program is contingent upon admission to the Graduate School. Only a limited number of applicants who have demonstrated superior ability can be accepted in this program.

In addition to the transcripts and other materials required by the Graduate School, applicants must apply for admission to either the Social Work or Anthropology Ph.D. program and then request admission to the SWAN program. They must meet the admissions standards of the Graduate School and the SWAN program. Students who do not possess an MSW must also apply to the MSW program after alerting the SW doctoral chair of their application to the SWAN program. All application and admissions materials must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions by January 15 to begin in the Fall semester.

The Plan of Work must be submitted before forty credits have been completed and before the qualifying examination is scheduled.


The Doctor of Philosophy requires ninety credits beyond the baccalaureate degree, thirty of which must be earned as dissertation credit. 

A minimum of thirty credits of graduate work must be at the 7000-level or above (excluding dissertation credits). Students must petition the Graduate Committee for course equivalents, substitutes, or any other exceptions to the Ph.D. requirements. Students who do not enter with  program with an  MSW will  need to  complete all of the courses below.

Once the student has attained candidate status, he/she is required to register for doctoral dissertation credits. Students must register for 9000-level credits (ANT 9991ANT 9992ANT 9993, and ANT 9994) through the Graduate Office and must fulfill 7.5 credits in these courses each semester for four consecutive semesters (excluding spring-summer). All course work completed to satisfy the following degree requirements must be done in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Social Work.

Coursework: The following courses, or their equivalents, must be completed by students without an MSW:

Social Work - Practice/Policy Courses (Foundation)
SW 7040Methods of Social Work Practice3
SW 7998Concentration Field Work for Social Workers I (Max. 12)4-6
SW 7055Foundation Group Theory and Practice3
SW 7065Foundation Macro Theory and Practice3
SW 7720Introduction to Social Welfare Policy in the United States3
Social Work - Practice Courses (Community Concentration)
SW 8048Social Action Research and Evaluation3
SW 8035Techniques of Quantitative Data Analysis1
SW 8045Techniques of Data Interpretation and Presentation1
SW 8075Theories and Practice of Community Building and Development4
Total Credits25-27
Coursework: The following courses, or their equivalents, must be completed by ALL students:
Social Work - Research/Theory
SW 9100Social Statistics and Data Analysis3
SW 9210Theories for Practice and Research with Individuals3
SW 9220Theories for Practice and Research with Groups and Families3
SW 9230Theories for Practice and Research with Communities and Organizations3
SW 9300Applied Regression Analysis and Generalized Linear Models3
SW 9410Quantitative Research Methods in Social Work3
Anthropology - Research/Theory
ANT 5060Urban Anthropology3
ANT 5140Biology and Culture3
ANT 5320Language and Societies3
ANT 5700Applied Anthropology3
ANT 7010Anthropological Theory I3
ANT 7020Anthropological Theory II3
ANT 7200Qualitative Research I3
ANT 7210Qualitative Research II3
ANT 7780Conceptualizing the Dissertation 3
Two ANT electives in the student's research area
SWAN - Theory
SW 9697Integrative Seminar in Social Work and Anthropology3
Total Credits48

Qualifying Exams: The SWAN steering committee will design and administer the SWAN qualifying examinations so that students can demonstrate the breadth, depth and mastery of their theoretical and empirical knowledge related to social work and anthropology theory, research methods and data analysis approaches as well as their substantive domain of knowledge. Students will demonstrate this knowledge through a written examination consisting of four sections:

  1. statistics,
  2. culture area,
  3. research methods, and
  4. a substantive paper demonstrating students' application of social science theory and SWAN knowledge to their intended research domain.

The statistics exam will be an in-school, open book exam developed by faculty teaching the required statistics courses. For the take home theory, topic area and substantive paper components, students will, in consultation with their academic advisers, select a three-person examination committee consisting of social work and anthropology faculty. These examination committee members will meet with students to develop reading lists and questions that students will then address in written take-home exams.

Students who fail one or more sections of the qualifying examination will be expected to retake only those sections that they failed. Students who fail one or more sections of the examination for a second time will be dismissed from the program.

Foreign Language Requirement: Students doing SWAN research fieldwork in non-English speaking settings will be expected to have 3 semesters of a foreign language or demonstrate fluency in their field language. These students need to take classes to complete the Anthropology Foreign Language requirement (3 semesters of the same foreign language at the undergraduate level; language credits do not count towards the 90 credits needed for a Ph.D.).

  1. a grade of 'C' or better in one and one-half years of work in the language offered to meet the requirement (three semesters or five quarters of coursework at any accredited college or university);
  2. satisfactory performance on a standardized (Educational Testing Services) examination; or
  3. certification of competence to carry out research in the relevant language by a member of the graduate faculty of Wayne State or an equivalent university. The nature of the tools of research and requirements for satisfactory proficiency will be determined by each student's doctoral committee. Additionally mandated tools of research may include additional statistics, mathematics, computer science and/or a field language.

Additional Information: A more detailed discussion of this doctoral program is available on the SWAN website. Students should also consult the Graduate School's general requirements for doctoral degrees.