Abstract: Assessing Supply and Demand of the Social Work Academic Job Market (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

568P Assessing Supply and Demand of the Social Work Academic Job Market

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul, MN
Mingyang Zheng, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul, MN
Background and Purpose: While social work doctorate programs can prepare students for a range of research and leadership careers, most programs prepare students to be competitive on the academic job market. In many other disciplines, doctoral students face an extremely tight academic job market because of the scarcity of tenure-track positions. Social work is clearly an anomaly in higher education in that it appears that social work PhDs graduates are most often successful on the academic job market. However, there are also concerns that despite the aging of the social work academic workforce, with CSWE (2015) estimating that a large number of social work faculty will be retiring in the next decade, there has been a large increase in the use of adjunct faculty that could limit the number of future social work tenure-track faculty lines. Currently, there is little research to back up these assumptions regarding the current social work academic market for PhD and DSW graduates. This study investigates the supply and demand of the current social work academic job market, and explores what qualifications and experience that schools desire when hiring tenure-track faculty.

Methods: This study collected data via document analysis and a survey covering the academic job market from 5/1/2017 through 4/30/2018.The Council on Social Work Education’s job announcement website, the main location for advertising social work jobs, was monitored weekly to collect job announcements. This was cross-checked with the social work academic jobs wiki and announcements sent on the GADE and NADD listserv. The announcements were analyzed for types of positions, job requirements, and types of universities of positions. We also surveyed all the doctoral program directors who were members of GADE regarding the number of the doctoral graduates from their programs who were on the job market during the same time period, the types of positions they were seeking, and the types of positions they obtained.

Results: From the CSWE website, we collected a total of 150 posts that contained advertisements for 198 tenure-track positions. Research 1 universities advertised about one-third (n=68) of the tenure-track positions. The job market timeline was skewed toward early fall, with September having the highest number of job posting (n=43). In terms of desirable qualifications and experiences, a large majority (87.4%) of the positions specifically stated that having a master’s degree in social work was required or preferred.  In addition, nearly four-fifths of the positions (79.8%) required applicants to have at least 2 years of post MSW experience, ranging from 2 to 7 years of required post-MSW practice experience. Of doctoral graduates, just over half of the graduates were willing to move to take a position, less than one-third were interested solely in Research 1 positions, and nearly one-quarter were not interested in seeking tenure-track positions.

Implications: The study provides the first comprehensive overview of the social work academic job market. The findings can help social work doctoral programs recruit students and prepare them for future academic careers, and can help doctoral students better prepare for seeking tenure-track positions.