Academic Catalog

Social Work and Anthropology (SWAN Ph.D.)

An admissions moratorium is in effect for this program.

The Social Work/Anthropology (SWAN) doctoral degree draws on the strengths of both fields in theory, social history, research, policy and practice. The SWAN degree combines the approaches of each discipline to make use of the program's urban location to foster scholarship focusing on global issues of the 21st century, such as the re-invention of post-industrial cities. Students receive a thorough grounding in the theoretical and applied aspects of both Social Work and Anthropology and apply this knowledge to pursue scholarship in such areas of interest as urbanism, globalization, and social/cultural organization. SWAN students follow a curriculum that draws from existing courses in each discipline, including a core course that that focuses on the integration of the two fields. Content combining the perspectives of both disciplines is included in the qualifying exam and dissertation research requirements for the degree.

This program prepares scholars for work in several different occupations, including faculty positions in social work and anthropology as well as work in governmental, non-profit, and international settings.  

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 the program.

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 and potential will be accepted in this program.

Prospective students should apply for admission to either the Social Work or Anthropology Ph.D. programs and specify, using a pull-down menu, their request for admission to the SWAN program. They must meet the admissions standards of both the Graduate School and the SWAN program. Students who do not possess an MSW should apply separately to the MSW program and notify the SW doctoral director of their application to both the MSW and SWAN programs. All application and admission materials must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions by January 10 to begin in the following 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 credits. 

A minimum of thirty credits of graduate work must be at the 7000-level or above (excluding dissertation credits). Students must petition the SWAN  Steering Committee for course equivalents, substitutes, or any other exceptions to the SWAN requirements.

Once the student has attained candidate status, he/she is required to register for doctoral dissertation credits. Students must register for 9000-level credits (SW 9991, SW 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.


Student who have not attained the MSW degree are required to obtain this degree prior to graduating with a SWAN PhD. See the MSW Graduate Bulletin entry for details. Students are required to meet with their MSW adviser to develop an MSW plan of work that meets MSW program requirements.  With the approval of the SWAN committee and the MSW coordinator, a limited number of SWAN courses may be counted towards MSW requirements.   

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 7010Proseminar in Anthropology II3
ANT 7200Qualitative Modes of Inquiry and Methods4
ANT 7780Conceptualizing the Dissertation 3
Two ANT electives in the student's research area
SWAN - Theory
SW 9697Integrative Seminar in Social Work and Anthropology3

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.

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