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The Baylor University Board of Regents approved the first doctoral program for the four-year old School of Social Work, which has grown from 75 students to more than 250 in its short history.
The "hybrid" program will include both on-campus and distance coursework supported by University technology with its first cohort of students to be admitted in fall 2011. The program requires 60 credit hours and will take four years to complete. The School also offers baccalaureate and master degrees, including two dual degrees with Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
"We have been developing this proposal and refining it since 2002, so we are deeply excited about the program," said Diana R. Garland, dean of the School of Social Work. "We are especially pleased at the vision Baylor has for a new approach to doctoral education that will allow us to use technology to bring students to campus virtually for some of their coursework, and at the same time, maintain their leadership positions in the communities where they are currently serving."
The emphasis of the PhD program will be on research and academic scholarship, not professional practice, Garland said. Studies will focus on three areas: intergenerational relations (children and families, and the aging); integration of religious faith with professional services; and social work in the context of congregations and religiously affiliated organizations.
This particular doctoral program addresses a unique gap in social work education, Garland said. Of the 446 programs in the country, there is no other PhD program in a Christian university that focuses on faith and learning, professional leadership of the church's ministries, and social work education in a Christian context, she said.
Baylor School of Social Work is already a leader in social work research and model development, especially in the fields of congregations and faith-based organizations," Garland said. "Our doctoral students will contribute to that leadership and expand the contribution we are making to the field of social work and to the ministry of the church in ways that I can only begin to imagine."