Frequently Asked Questions about my Ph.D

I often get the following questions whenever I share with someone that I am completing my Ph.D. So here they are, the most commonly asked questions about my Ph.D. – answered.

Social work and political economy;

Yes, social workers do research too. When people hear social work, most people often think to work with children or youth and working one on one with those in need. While yes, that is a large part of the profession, another aspect is critiquing and researching policies, programs, and systems that affect those facing barriers from the ‘macro’ level. – This stuff is my jam! It’s important that our field is constantly conducting and evaluating current research as well as policies and programs to improve these services and systems for those in need.

I am situated in the humanities, so for all my science peeps I am sorry but that is the main focus for this blog but I hope you can still find some of the other tools useful and will hopefully be bringing in some guest writers to speak about experiences in other fields.

Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.

Usually followed by – You’re moving away from Toronto! Why did you choose Ottawa?

Ottawa is uniquely positioned in the Capital of Canada, which is also where our Parliament is located. Carleton offers a specialization in Political Economy which opens me up to opportunities, faculty, and colleagues that holistically look at policy, economy and social work simultaneously.

Not to mention there are other organizations such as CCPA, political organizations and impressive instructors working from a structural framework and who want to support me and my research (I still can’t believe it!) – need I say more?

(And then followed by) – Is your boyfriend moving with you?

No he’s not, he has his own goals to pursue in Toronto and we are both cool with it. Yes, long distance will suck but we have a strong foundation and we know honest communication is important to make it work (with lots of visits back and forth).

Context disclaimer: My experience will be situated from where I am pursuing my degree, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I will also be traveling back and forth from Ottawa to Toronto a lot and will dabble a bit in both cities. My resources will mainly focus on Universities in Ontario. I am hoping my readers can touch more on Universities across Canada, as well as Colleges in Ontario and across Canada. I most definitely encourage conversations about these contexts and experiences.

I am researching an increasingly unfortunate phenomenon that is occurring in my Province of Ontario (which is also very prevalent in the rest of Canada, UK, US and other Countries). I will conduct social research regarding youth social exclusion, particularly in relation to the labour market and precarious work in order to improve labour market outcomes and civic engagement. In Ontario, it is my view that systemic oppression is occurring through the use of dominant powers in economic positions which in turn is exploiting youth in the labour market. There are many relevant intersecting barriers that are being placed on young people and I hope to explore further the overlapping intersects of gender, the power and social relations of oppression as they relate to disability, sexual orientation, religion, and culture. The history, current context, formation, contributing values, implications and social and personal impacts of government policies which are currently affecting youth in Ontario as they face the harsh realities of a precarious labour market will also be examined. These social research findings can lead to a critical analysis of social problems and structural oppression and begin theorizing solutions that will influence public policy, in support of social justice and equality for youth within the labour market in Ontario.

An average of 4-8 years. After this, I often hear gasps.

Yes, it’s a long time but here a brief timeline of what I will be doing:

  • 2 years of course work
  • Qualifying exam: The purpose of the qualifying examination is to provide each student with an opportunity to demonstrate that they have achieved both a breadth of knowledge in social work and a depth of knowledge in the chosen area of specialization within which it is expected that his or her dissertation will be located. It is designed to enable the student to demonstrate (1) a command of the broad field of inquiry, and (2) the connections between the intended dissertation and the structural approach to social work.
  • Dissertation: In the school of Social work, students choose their Dissertation topic with the advice and approval of the Supervisor and members of the supervisory committee. It is expected that all Dissertation’s contribute to the existing body of knowledge relevant to social work. Within their broad parameters, the candidate’s personal interest, resources, and skills determine the choice of topic.

So now you can see research is tedious stuff – the length makes more sense now, right?

Yes *cough not really*, in this program and at this school I do get my tuition covered which is my grant (which I am extremely grateful for). And I have the opportunity to be a TA which provides be with an additional chunk of funding, but I will be working for it.

So in reality, it covers my schooling and a little bit more. I’ll still need to make a living somehow and will be applying for many, many grants (which you’ll be sure to hear more of on the blog).


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I hope I was able to answer some of your questions about me and why I have chosen this career path.

I am always happy to discuss more by e-mail or in person, especially to those who are thinking of following a similar path.

Until next time,

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