Doctor of Social Work

Sept 2022 Entry
Programme code: 54053

Duration & Credit Requirement

Duration & Credit Requirement

Stream Code

DF (Full-time)
DP (Part-time)

Mode of Study
Mixed Mode
Normal Duration

3 years (Full-time) with summer terms
4 years (Part-time) with summer terms

Credits Required for Graduation


Fund Type
Initial Registration Credits


Tuition Fee

HK$352,800 per programme (HK$7,350 per credit) for local and non-local students

Programme Leader(s)

Dr Ku Hok-bun
PhD, MPhil, BA


This programme adopts multi-method approaches in teaching and learning such as online, classroom, skill laboratory, or blended learning.

Aims & Characteristics

Aims & Characteristics

Programme Aims

The programme aims to provide first-rate education for social workers, welfare administrators and social work educators with substantial professional experience and a commitment to pursuing and integrating a higher level of research, practice and education to advance the framework of knowledge and practice and further social betterment. 


The programme is specifically designed to cater to the needs of those who seek to develop and advance their academic, professional and reflective capacity and capability as practitioner-researcher-educators in a rapidly changing social setting. 


The programme also offers a platform for local-global dialogue on critical social work practices, helping those enrolled to develop mastery of conceptual, methodological, analytical and practice skills with an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective. 


The programme is to inspire students to uphold a reflexive perspective that emphasises critical reflections on current local and international wisdom and professional practices in social work. 


Programme Features

Practice Research and Practice Education

  • Development of a critical mass of future social work leaders in practice and practice teaching
  • Integration of reflective practice, practice research, and professional education


Integration of Theory and Practice

  • Integration of theory and practice in social work with consideration of relevance, practicality and the specific social and governance setting
  • Embodiment of a reflective approach in theory-practice integration
  • Incorporation of cutting edge knowledge in innovative practice


Dialogue between International Perspective and Local Setting

  • Engagement in critical dialogue between local and global community
  • Development of comparative perspective in understanding local and international social and welfare issues
  • Exploration of culturally sensitive and appropriate social work practices for indigenous and international settings


Individual Concerns and Social Consideration

  • Recognition of complexities of external forces impacting on professional practices
  • Adoption of a cross-disciplinary, inter-professional and holistic approach in problem-solving in social work

Recognition & Prospects

Recognition & Prospects

No information is available at present.



Programme Structure

To be eligible for the DSW award, students are required to complete 24 credits of coursework and a DSW thesis that counts for 24 credits.


Students can choose to graduate with the award of MASW (Research Studies) after completing 24 credits of coursework and passing a thesis proposal defence (6 credits).


Core Areas of Study

Core Subjects (15 credits)

Students are required to take all of the following subjects: 

  • ​Epistemology of Social Work Knowledge (3 credits)
  • Social Work Practice Research (3 credits)
  • Pedagogies in Educating & Developing Social Work Practitioners (3 credits)
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Social Work Research (3 credits)
  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methodology (3 credits)


Elective Subjects (9 credits)

Students have to take three subjects, including a guided study subject (3 credits), and select two elective subjects either at level 6 in one of the following three areas OR choose no more than two elective subjects at Master's degree level within the Department.

I. Direct Service Practice (Family Practice & Mental Health)

  • ​Advanced Family-Centred Social Work: Theory, Practice & Research (3 credits)
  • Recovery & Emotionality in Mental Health Practice (3 credits)

II. Policy & Administration Practice (Social Policy & Social Service Administration)

  • ​Critical Social Policy in Comparative Contexts (3 credits)
  • Pathways to Social Development (3 credits)

III. Social Work Education

  • Innovations in Social Work Education (3 credits)
  • ​Towards a Personal Stance in Teaching Social Work Practice (3 credits)


Doctoral Thesis and Research Seminar (24 credits)

  • ​DSW Thesis Seminar & Proposal Development I (2 credits)
  • ​DSW Thesis Seminar & Proposal Development II (2 credits)
  • ​DSW Thesis Seminar & Proposal Development III (2 credits)
  • DSW Thesis (18 credits)


The subjects offered may be altered at the discretion of the Department.

Entrance Requirements

Entrance Requirements

  • ​MSW, MASW, MSocSc (Social Work) or a Master's degree in related disciplines.
  • For all applicants, five years of relevant work experience is preferred.
  • Applicants with a Master's degree in related disciplines other than social work are required to take two additional subjects (total: 6 credits) at Master's level related to social work theory and practice. Students are required to pay the additional credit fees.

If you are not a native speaker of English, and your Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification is awarded by institutions where the medium of instruction is not English, you are expected to fulfil the University’s minimum English language requirement for admission purpose. Please refer to the "Admission Requirements" section for details.

Other Information

Other Information

No information is available at present.



For enquiries about this programme, please contact: 
Ms Winnie Hui (tel: (852) 2766 4315 or email:

Student Message

Student Message

Life is a continuous learning process. After 30 years of field practice, I returned to the APSS to enrol in the Doctor of Social Work programme. This has been my dream since I was a young practitioner. I feel fortunate to have been accepted, as this is the first social work doctoral programme in Hong Kong. When I look back on the last year, I confess that it has been a totally new learning experience for me. I have developed a broader vision of social work practice. I have faced many philosophical and epistemic challenges to my “old-fashioned ideas” of social work practice. I have learned to see and think from different perspectives. The greatest challenge for me is pondering on new ideas and exchanges in class, both from professors and fellow classmates. It is sometimes painful to admit my own “ignorance” in the discussion, but most of the time, I enjoy engaging in this new horizon of learning, which demands my engagement in active reflective thinking and knowledge building. It is, in sum, a transformative experience for me.

Yeung Yee Yu, Leo

I feel very fortunate that I was able to enrol in the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programme at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This is the first programme of its kind to be launched in Hong Kong. It is designed to provide leading edge knowledge of social work practice and to advance the integration of knowledge, research and practice.


Having practised for over 20 years, I find it especially timely and meaningful to re-examine social work as an epistemology, as a clinical practice, as a macro policy process and as a professional education base. The programme also offers dialogues between DSW students and international social work educators and practitioners. Discussions with overseas experts have allowed me to reflect on my personal commitment to the profession and acquire a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the policies and practices in our local community.


Students of the DSW programme are expected to conduct high-quality practice or academic research on selected topics using qualitative and/or quantitative research methodologies. This is an area that I very much look forward to engaging in.


A vote of thanks must be given to Professor Tsui Ming Sum and his colleagues in the DSW programme. Their tremendous understanding and great support have made our studies so much easier, giving us relevant information and logistical support.


I would highly recommend the DSW programme to social work professionals and practitioners aiming to acquire the top educational opportunities in the social work profession.

Wong Fung Yee, Margaret

Additional Documents Required

Additional Documents Required

Transcript / Certificate

Academic transcripts and graduation certificates are required

Info Seminar

Info Seminar

No information is available at present.

Programme Leaflet

Programme Leaflet

Please click here to download.