Postgraduate study options

social work department pounamu

There are a range of postgraduate opportunities in Social Work, both for Social Work graduates and graduates of other disciplines. Explore the options we offer, or contact one of our student advisors for guidance.

The Bachelor of Arts (Hons) programme is designed for students who have completed a first professional qualification in Social Work and wish to undertake further advanced study. The programme can be completed in one year (full time) or over four years (part time).

Students can enhance their practice opportunities and pursue topics that are of specific professional and academic interest to them. The aim of the course is to equip them with the necessary skills to write papers for publication.

Students are required to complete four courses chosen from those available at 400-level. Students intending to move on to PhD or Masters by thesis studies are normally required to include a research methods paper.

The range of courses offered each year will depend upon the needs and interests of the individual students. Individual programmes can be developed in consultation between the department and the student. Some limitations apply.

A student may also include one paper at BA(Hons) level from another department in the University with the approval of the Head of School and the head of the other department/school.

Intending students wishing to undertake the MSW must first seek the approval of the Head of School. Full or part-time study options are available.  To be eligible you must have a Graduate Diploma in Social Work, Bachelor of Social Work or an approved equivalent. 

The Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work degree is a course of personal study and research leading to the submission of a dissertation. There is no class work. The programme can be undertaken on a part- or full-time basis.

Candidates must hold a BA(Hons), BSW(Hons), MSW(App), MSW or MA in Social Work. Honours degrees must be either First Class or Second Class (Division 1).

Candidates are well supported by committed academic staff with diverse Social Work interests and expertise. Registration may depend on the availability of a supervisor and of support from the Social Work and Human Services Programme.

Current and previous PhD candidates include local and international students. The topics of their theses cover a wide range of interests across the field of social work and human services.

Some of our current students' research profiles include:

David Betts - The Ageing LGBTQ+: A Critical Social Perspective on Wellbeing and Social Capital.
Dominic Chilvers - Cultural-historical mediation in the practice of social work field education
Jacqui Johnson - Mothers with Babies in Prison: Narratives of women who have resided in Mothers and Babies Units in women’s prisons in New Zealand: outcomes, impacts and meaning making.

How to apply

Intending students must first seek the approval of the Dean of Postgraduate Study. More information on enrolling for a PhD is available here.

Further information

Find out more about PhD study at UC.


Undergraduate Social Work students may apply for a number of scholarships and grants. Visit the UC Scholarships page for details.

Postgraduate scholarship options ican be found in the UC scholarships database as well as Fulbright Travel Awards and New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women.