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Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

The Graduate School interviewed Dr. Younghee Lim, the Program Coordinator for the PhD in Social Welfare, as well as Drew Lefmann, a doctoral student in the program, about the unique offering.

UM crest Social Work

Graduate School: What is the mission of the PhD in Social Welfare program?

Dr. Younghee Lim:

The PhD in Social Welfare program seeks to train social work researchers, educators and advanced applied practitioners. Graduates will be able to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the profession in order to develop more effective interventions in social welfare. Graduates will be trained to assume leadership positions in teaching, research, and administration. The doctoral program’s overall learning outcome objectives are as follows: To become leaders in examining and addressing the needs of diverse, vulnerable and at-risk populations; to contribute to the development and dissemination of knowledge about social work interventions as they relate to at-risk and vulnerable populations; to develop expertise of the broad knowledge base in social work and a specialized area of knowledge germane to their individual research interests; to be able to design data collection and analytic methods to effectively carry out quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research investigations; and to identify and incorporate one or more philosophies of science to guide their research.

Graduate School: What does the curriculum of the program entail?

Dr. Younghee Lim: Its curriculum is designed to train and mentor students to become competent scholars and advanced applied practitioners. The emphasis of the program is to advance knowledge and provide leadership in addressing critical issues pertinent to at-risk and vulnerable populations.

The program consists of 55 post-M.S.W. credit hours. The requirements include 21 hours in a substantive core area of social work; 16 hours of research methods and statistics; and 18 hours of dissertation tutorial and dissertation. Additional requirements for the degree include students passing a Comprehensive Exam.

We have about 16 faculty members and instructors with a wide array of expertise in areas such as epigenetics, disability & stigma, financial capability, health disparities, health risk behaviors, issues in public school, poverty, racial & economic inequalities, policy research, substance use/mental health, suicide, child welfare, gerontology, and much more.

Graduate School: Why should students pursue a doctorate in Social Welfare?

Dr. Younghee Lim: Our students are passionate about the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities—in particular, those who are vulnerable and disenfranchised. Our doctoral program prepares students with the knowledge and skills needed to be social work scientists. Ultimately, social work science is dedicated to social change which positively impacts the lives of individuals, families, communities, and society. Our doctoral program empowers students to realize this scientific charge through supporting each student at every point during the research process.

Graduate School: When was the program stablished? Are you graduating the first class soon?

Dr. Younghee Lim: Our program first matriculated students in 2017-2018, and no students have graduated to date. We hope to graduate our first doctoral student(s) in 2021-22.

Graduate School: Is there any additional information you would like graduate students and alumni to know about the program?

Our students are skilled emerging researchers and educators prepared to contribute to    knowledge and leadership in the profession.

Our PhD program has been successful in helping doctoral students progress in the program and we are looking for students who show interest in social work research and desire a career in higher education. If you have students who are interested in pursuing doctoral education, please encourage them to consider our program.

Drew Lefmann is a doctoral student in the PhD Social Welfare program. He answered a few questions for the Graduate School.

Graduate School: Why did you choose to pursue your doctorate in Social Welfare?

Drew Lefmann: I chose to pursue my PhD in Social Welfare because I want to make an impact on the body of knowledge in the profession of social work.  My goal is to one day become a professor at an R1 (like UM) and make a meaningful contribution through research, teaching, and community-engaged service.  I have passion for helping others, asking hard questions, and seeking out truth.

Graduate School: Why did you choose the University of Mississippi?

Drew Lefmann: I chose UM’s program because it is full of talented and well-accomplished faculty who I believe will prepare me to meet the goals I have set for myself. I get the sense that my professors truly care about me and work hard to prepare me for future scholarship.

Graduate School: What is your favorite thing about the program so far?

Drew Lefmann: My favorite thing about the program thus far is the learning environment—the cohort I am a part of is diverse and we genuinely want to help each other grow and learn.