Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

Sept 2024 Entry

Mixed Mode

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



  • This programme adopts multi-method approaches to teaching and learning including online, classroom, skill laboratory and blended learning.

  • ​This programme admits students in alternate years.

Application Deadline
Local - Mixed Mode
Sept 2024 Entry - 30-Apr-2024
Non-local - Mixed Mode
Sept 2024 Entry - 30-Apr-2024
About Programme
How to Apply
Aims & Characteristics

Programme Aims

The programme aims to provide first-rate education for social workers, welfare administrators and social work educators who have substantial professional experience and a commitment to pursuing a higher level of research and education and integrating this knowledge into their practice to further social betterment. 


The programme is specifically designed to cater to those who seek to develop and advance their academic, professional and reflective capabilities 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 use an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective to develop mastery of conceptual, methodological, analytical and practice skills. 


The programme will inspire students to adopt 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

  • Develops leaders in social work practice and practice teaching

  • Integrates reflective practice, practice research and professional education


Integration of Theory and Practice

  • Integrating theory and practice leads to social work that is relevant, practical and attuned to specific social and governance settings

  • Embodies a reflective approach to theory–practice integration

  • Incorporates cutting-edge knowledge into innovative practice


Dialogue between International Perspective and Local Setting

  • Engages in a critical dialogue between the local and global communities

  • Applies a comparative perspective to local and international social and welfare issues

  • Explores culturally sensitive and appropriate social work practices for indigenous and international settings


Individual Concerns and Social Consideration

  • Recognises the complex external forces that impact professional practices

  • Adopts a cross-disciplinary, inter-professional and holistic approach to problem-solving in social work


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 MA in Social Work (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)

  • ​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.

Credit Required for Graduation


Programme Leader(s)

Prof. Ku Hok-bun
PhD, MPhil, BA

Subject Area
Social Work
Entrance Requirements
  • MSW, MASW, MSocSc (Social Work) or a Master's degree in a related discipline.
  • For all applicants, 5 years of relevant work experience is preferred.
  • Applicants with a Master's degree in a discipline other than social work are required to take two additional subjects related to social work theory and practice (total: 6 credits) at the Master's level. 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.


For further information on admission matters, please contact:
Tel: (852) 2766 4315
Email: sspg@polyu.edu.hk

Initial Registration Credits


Tuition Fee

HK$388,800 per programme (HK$8,100 per credit) for local and non-local students

Entry Scholarships are available. Please click here for details. 

PolyU reserves the right to change or withdraw the scholarship at any time. In case of any dispute/disagreement, PolyU's decision is final.

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 experience for me. I have developed a broader vision of social work practice. My “old-fashioned” ideas about social work practice have faced many philosophical and epistemic challenges. I have learned to see and think from different perspectives. The greatest challenge for me has been being open to new ideas and exchanges in class, both from professors and fellow classmates. It has sometimes been painful to admit my own “ignorance” in a discussion, but most of the time, I enjoy seeing these new horizons, which demand my engagement in active reflective thinking and knowledge building. In sum, it has been 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 in Hong Kong. It is designed to provide the most up-to-date 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 promotes 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.


Sincere 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, and they have given us the necessary information and logistical support.


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

Wong Fung Yee, Margaret

I am the founder of a social work organisation in Mainland China. When I founded the POAI, the field of social work was rapidly developing in Mainland China. As a CEO, I realised the importance of mastering professional knowledge. I was lucky to be admitted to the DSW program of Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2014. I was eager to learn, and this programme undoubtedly opened doors to the world for me. DSW courses cover topics from epistemology to methodology; from theory to practice; from quantitative research to qualitative research. Most importantly, the programme provided me with an international perspective, helped me understand international trends in social work and promoted my exploration and reflection on the localisation of social work services in Mainland China.


For a Mainland student, studying in Hong Kong also means learning in and accepting a multicultural environment. DSW students have diverse backgrounds and rich experience, which helped me to improve my speculative ability. Hong Kong has a mature model and rich practical experience in social work services, which is worth learning for Mainland practitioners and researchers. DSW’s programme also gave me the opportunity to learn more about social service agencies and social workers in Hong Kong, and this has been valuable for my own management of organisations and development of professional services. I strongly recommend the DSW programme to social work professionals, as well as teachers from colleges and universities and government officials. I believe you will definitely benefit from these courses.

Wu Juan, Jenny
Additional Documents Required
Transcript / Certificate

Copies of graduation certificate and official academic transcript (including Master's and Bachelor's degrees) are required.

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