• Director - Social Research Institute, College Of Social Work
  • Research Assistant Professor, College Of Social Work


  • Ph.D., College of Social Work, University of Utah. Project: Child Welfare Expert Consensus Through Virtual Reality Learning.
  • MSW, Social Work, University of Utah
  • BS, Marriage, Family, & Human Development, Brigham Young University


Chad McDonald received his Ph.D. in 2021, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) after also getting his MSW from the College of Social Work at the University of Utah (UofU), focusing his research interests on competency development and assessment, particularly within the child welfare workforce. Chad is the Director of the Social Research Institute (SRI) and the Principal Investigator (PI) of Utah's Title IV-E Education Contract between DCFS and the University of Utah. He also helped develop the curriculum for, and currently co-teaches, the MSW Advance Practice in Child Welfare course at UofU.  He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Marriage, Family, & Human Development from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 2003, and his Master’s Degree in Social Work from the UofU in 2012. 
Chad is also a veteran having served in the Army National Guard for eight years as Chaplain Assistant as well as Translator/Interrogator speaking Russian.  In 2003 Chad served in the Iraqi theater assisting intelligence efforts during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).  Chad is a member of the steering committee for the National Human Services Training Evaluation Symposium.
Chad has 12 years of direct casework experience in Utah’s public child welfare agency, the Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS).  During his time as supervisor, region trainer, state training manager, and ultimately administrator, Chad personally carried a caseload of clients in order to continue to strengthen the bridge between client needs and training/administrative decisions.  This has provided Chad with a unique perspective on being able to identify the need of families on the front line, while also having influence in helping to develop and train effective child welfare practices to meet the needs, as well as being able to influence the administrative decisions to support the implementation of effective child welfare practices on the front line.
Some of Chad’s important interests include helping states develop effective pre-screening and hiring practices, strengthening the training delivery through more evidence-based content and practice, as well as helping organizations understand and develop the key elements of successful transfer of learning strategies to improve practice delivery.