A Bridging Approach to Boost Doctoral Enrollment in a HBCU: An Exploratory Qualitative Study

  •  Charles M. S. Birore    
  •  Liyun Wu    


A declining enrollment in doctoral social work programs not only affects the sustainability of the programs, but also impacts the knowledge-based economy in the long run. The shortage of doctoral-prepared faculty, interwoven with the current national shortage of social workers, will limit effective service delivery, and generation of knowledge base for direct practice and policy advocates. Little is known about the barriers and strategies in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Two focus groups with in-depth interviews were conducted among Master of Social Work (MSW) students at a four-year public university. The study resulted in a wide range of identifiable strategies to boost the doctoral enrollment in the social work program, including more summer courses, more online courses, more flexible class time, higher integration of technology in the classroom and better curriculum structure. Findings suggest that non-traditional becomes the new traditional. With the advancement in smartphone and wireless technology, the University can reposition the program, seek for ways to serve the new traditional student population, and improve the infrastructure to accommodate students’ digital needs.

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