100% online DSW programs were designed to help you learn higher-tier practitioner skills for use in fields such as social work, public health, human services, and non-profit services. The online DSW program is also a great alternative to the research-oriented Ph.D. in Social Work offered at a large number of public universities.

100% Online DSW Programs

Typical Courses and Descriptions of Each

In order to be an effective leader in the social work field, you should delve into the historical foundations and current developments in the field during your degree experience. Most programs at this level begin with a look at social work policy and its history and growth, which can give you insight into social problems and how the system has arranged to address them.

Diversity and Social Justice

Like many other social work degree programs, you may also take courses like Diversity and Social Justice. This course can expand your knowledge of diverse cultures, religions, socioeconomic groups, as well as provide you with knowledge into methods for social justice.

Methods for establishing fair and equal processes for establishing social work services, considering the needs of various groups, and advocating for equal treatment for all people may be a major focus of learning within this course.

Social Work Leadership

As you progress through this program, you may also engage in courses like Social Work Leadership. In this course, students can learn how to implement evidence-based practice within their work groups, establish relationship, and teach according to relevant policies.

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In addition to the courses listed, you may also participate in courses like Community Organization, which would be beneficial for professionals moving into local government positions after graduation. This course outlines methods for addressing community-wide social work problems through the organization of services within particular service areas.


One aspect of the online DSW program that students often question prior to enrollment is the doctoral thesis. This component in the doctoral process can be very important to your degree’s completion and require extensive research and effort throughout the process.

Choosing Your Thesis Topic

In most cases, students are permitted to choose their thesis topic early on in the degree process. The topic that you choose for your thesis should be related to a real-world social problem that you would confront in your specific service field.

Research Your Topic

Once you have chosen your social problem, you would research that area in order to determine what current social services address this problem, as well as determine weaknesses that you can address through change and implementation of services.

Interviews, Investigation, Thought

Throughout the process of developing your thesis, you may be required to conduct interviews, investigate services, and propose detailed solutions for the social problems you have chosen. Once completed, you may be tasked with defending your thesis as it is reviewed by your university, with this aspect varying depending on the university you attend.

This component of your doctoral program often begins in the last half of your program. Most programs conclude with the review and defense of your thesis, which is graded based on the relevance of the social issue and your designed intervention program.

Social Work Career Options

Graduating from a 100% online DSW program can be a great achievement for upcoming social work leaders. If you have already been working in social services or other related positions, this higher degree could potentially help you qualify for leadership positions in your current organization.

Social Service Managers, Community Organizers, Social Work Research Specialists, and Non-Profit Directors often hold doctoral level degrees in the social work field. If you are interested in applying your leadership skills in organizations that provide needed services to the public, this degree program can prepare you for this path.

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In addition to standard leadership positions, DSW graduates that hold LCSW or MSW licenses can move on to be Clinical Directors in mental health agencies or provide oversight to teams of counselors providing services to the public.

Your chosen degree specialty and your history of work in the field can help dictate the types of careers that you can pursue after this degree program. There are programs available all across the U.S. that can help you meet your social work career goals.