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KNOXVILLE— The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, plans to offer a new Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree program, beginning January 2012.

The new degree program was approved by the UT Board of Trustees last week. Approval is pending with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).

The part-time program will be offered primarily online and is aimed at working professionals. UT Knoxville would be the first PhD-granting university in the southeast to offer a DSW degree, according to the proposal.

The DSW differs from the PhD in social work in that it is a professional practice degree and is designed to prepare students for advanced clinical practice and clinical leadership positions in their field.

“Social work is a fast-growing field, and our market studies showed need for this new degree program,” said Susan Martin, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We really think this program will help us contribute to the well-being of the citizens of Tennessee, especially those in rural areas.”

Applicants for the new DSW program must have a master’s degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education-accredited program and appreciable clinical experience. The program allows working professionals to advance their education while continuing in clinical practice. It allows for the development of advanced clinical skills in the student’s current area of practice, including mental health, substance abuse, gerontology, child welfare, developmental and physical disabilities, military and veteran’s social work practice, and other relevant areas of clinical social work practice.

“The United States is experiencing unprecedented needs for social services and health care,” said Karen Sowers, dean of the College of Social Work. “Current social work professional shortages and impending retirements threaten the ability of our nation to respond to these growing needs.

“Professional social workers help millions of individuals and families in every community combat a range of social problems that limit our nation’s health and potential, and they help ensure full participation of all members of society.”

Reallocation of existing resources of faculty and staff will support the program and no additional resources will be needed.

As a part of the process for developing new doctoral programs, THEC requires

campuses to have curriculum proposals reviewed by outside consultants. The proposed program has gotten favorable reviews from these outside consultants.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,