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

The professional field of social work is filled with college graduates in fields such as psychology, sociology, and social work. A majority of professionals in this field may hold a bachelor's or master's in these areas, as well as hold licensure in their state.

Incoming students that are on a search for methods to stick out in a crowd of experienced college graduates can pursue Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs to help spotlight their higher level of knowledge and profound expertise.

The DSW can be found in a 100% online format, which can allow for maximum flexibility during your learning experience. If you are new to online degree programs, you may be surprised by the level of convenience that these options provide.

Why Consider an Entirely Online DSW Degree?

The field of social work reaches out into many different specialized career areas in the U.S. Generalized social work degree programs can lead you into careers in human services, children's services, healthcare, and even within the court system.

Reasons for a Doctor of Social Work

Pursuing a doctoral level degree program in social work can provide you with knowledge into the leadership components associated with managing teams in this field. Since teams that provide social services to the public require knowledgeable guidance from their leadership team, this degree program could put you on a path to this type of career after graduation.

Influential Opportunities

The online DSW program can also be a valuable tool for upcoming policy influencers at the government level. Government agencies may call on professionals holding this type of degree for better insight into how programs are affected by policy changes and programs.

As a doctoral-level professional, your experience and knowledge of the field can align you with unique career opportunities that involve provide direct social services, oversight of social work programs, or even consulting for future developments in the field.

Learning Online Excellent for Those Currently Employed

The online aspect of this degree program can also be a beneficial factor for current professionals seeking higher level positions in their current field. Since most people pursuing doctoral level degree programs currently hold full-time jobs, choosing the 100% online option could provide a path to success that is attainable for a wide range of applicants.

Online DSW programs can be a great way for you to branch your skills out into macro practice as part of your career path. Job openings in local or national government offices may also be available for doctoral level social work professionals with a history of social work experience.

Typical Pre-Requisites for Entry

Depending on where you are searching for programs, you might find that the acceptance requirements for each can vary. There are online DSW programs that accept graduates from Bachelor's of Social Work programs, while other prefer master's level graduates.

GPA Requirements

In order to qualify for enrollment into the 100% online DSW, you should be able to provide evidence of a 3.0 or greater GPA during your undergraduate educational program. High GPA requirements can act as a screening element for universities with a higher enrollment rate.


In lieu of the GPA requirement, some universities may require that you submit test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). This test takes place after completion of a bachelor's program and can act as a skill-check for upcoming graduate-level students.


The field of social work often requires that professionals hold a state license in order to obtain certain positions with the public. There are colleges with online DSW programs that prefer applicants that hold professional licensure as well as 2-5 years of experience in the field.

Be sure to review which of these requirements may be included at the university of your choice, so that you can better prepare yourself for submitting documentation during the enrollment process.

Online Options

Students that are on the hunt for online DSW programs can find availabilities at some well-known universities in the U.S. One option you could consider during your search is available through Tulane University.

Tulane's online DSW program consists of 54 credit hours that can be completed in around 3 years. Applicants to this program are not required to submit GRE scores, which can mean faster enrollment for students looking for quick entry options.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville also offers a competitive online DSW program that was designed for current professionals in the field. The curriculum for this program is provided in an accelerated format that can be completed in 3 years.

The residency requirements for online DSW programs are often scheduled on weekends or during the summer when required. Since these doctoral options were created for current professionals in the field, the on-campus requirements are infrequent and often available in different locations depending on where you reside.

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.