Online DSW (Doctor or PhD in Social Work)

Consider Featured Online Social Work Programs

Programs Currently Accepting Applicants
University of Southern California Doctor of Social Work (DSW) University of Southern California - Doctor of Social Work (DSW) - Study part time without attending classes on campus.
Simmons University Online DSW Simmons University - Online DSW - Complete in less than two years full time or less than three years part time. No GRE scores required.

Compared to the Ph.D. in Social Work, this program is best suited for individuals that wish to pursue hands-on positions in the field, as opposed to the research-oriented nature of the Ph.D. path. Most learners interested in pursuing this degree program have some experience working in the field of social work.

Every degree program at each degree level serves a specific purpose for the learners enrolled in it. The DSW is an intensive doctoral-level degree program that seeks to provide students with practical skills for use in the social work domain.

Who Should Consider a DSW?

Students with the desire to pursue careers responsible for helping others can enroll in diverse and all-inclusive Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree programs. This incredible applied degree program can provide learners with the skills needed to assess, plan, and implement programs to improve the lives of others within their specialty field.

The field of social work can reach into several different specialized fields - providing direct services to clients in need. Many degree programs focusing on social work can provide you with concentration options that allow you to learn more about your particular field of interest, while others can provide a generalized curriculum that can be applied in a variety of settings.

What To Expect in an Online DSW Program

At the onset of an online DSW program, you may enroll in 1-4 classes per term through your university. These courses can be accessed through logging in to your schools online course room, which is usually linked to the college's main website.

Participation in each course is measured by how many times you log in per week and the weekly assignments that are outlined in your course syllabus. These assignments may include weekly readings, discussion board posts, assignment submissions, or even online quizzes.

Online learning can provide you with the independence of logging in at times that work around your schedule and the convenience of an all-in-one platform from your very own home. This can be exceptionally beneficial for students that are currently working full-time jobs in the social work field.

As an example of online course expectations, a student may log in on Monday morning, review an assignment outline, and be required to submit that assignment by the following Sunday night before midnight. The way that you utilize the time between is totally up to you, with the only required factor being on-time submissions of homework.

Consider a Featured Online Social Work Program

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*Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

What is the Online DSW?

Leaders in the social work field often should have higher knowledge of state and federal policies pertaining to social work, as well as some insight into leadership methods and practices for social work professionals. Each of these components may be part of the greater DSW program at your chosen university.

Universities Are Bringing the DSW Online

Universities that offer the DSW may have various expectations of learners within their programs, including participation in a practicum or residency requirement prior to graduation. These on-site experience requirements can allow learners to engage with the population that they intend to serve under the guidance of doctoral-level professionals.

What You Would Study

There are multiple unique aspects of this degree program that can essentially set it apart from other similar options in this field. As an example, this program prepares students to become knowledgeable and persistent advocates for social justice, safety and stability for families, and responders in times of crisis or need.

As society progresses into one that is accepting of all people and is developed into a provider for all citizens, social work professionals may be in integral part of these motions. Your involvement in a DSW program can be a great first step to becoming an important factor in positive societal change.

Studying the DSW Online

The popularity of online degree programs may be changing the way that upcoming students view the process of completing a higher education program. If you are like many other busy adults in today's society, the thought of pursue your degree on-campus may be daunting and even nearly impossible alongside your daily responsibilities.

Online DSW programs can be found at a large number of reliable and well-known universities across the country. Typically, these programs require that you hold at least a minimum GPA of 3.0 from your previous educational experience in order to enroll, likely due to the independent nature of the learning experience.

Programs Currently Accepting Applicants

Designed to prepare professionals to address social issues, top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work’s online Doctor of Social Work program can be completed in 28 months part time.
Click for admissions information.

Simmons University offers its online Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) — MSW required; no GRE required. The program prepares you to become a well-rounded scholar-practitioner through a curriculum focused on three key areas: inclusive leadership, advanced clinical practice, and teaching and education.
Click for admissions information.

Entry Requirements for DSW Programs

If you have a career goal involving leadership, justice, and dedication in mind, the DSW could be a degree program to help you meet this goal. Since this program is of the highest level for degrees in the field of social work, you may find that different universities have varying requirements for upcoming applicants to their program.

There are multiple universities that require applicants to hold at minimum a Master of Social Work degree program prior to applying. While this is the most widely-known expectation for incoming learners, there are several universities that accept master's graduates from related degree programs such as Public Affairs, Nursing, or other specific Counseling disciplines.

Students that hold master's degrees from other related disciplines should check with their chosen university for enrollment standards prior to applying. There is a high number of DSW students that have transitioned from alternative master's level programs.

In addition to the degree requirements, some institutions may also require that applicants have experience in the field of social work to be considered for their program. This requirement can also be different depending on which college you are researching, with some colleges requiring as little as 2 years and others asking for applicants with 5 years of experience.

Experience in the field can provide you with a stable foundation for learning, especially since this career area can be extremely diverse and complex for new entrants to grasp. Different types of careers at different levels may also be considered for satisfying this requirement.

The field of social work can lead you into many different specialized areas throughout your career. If your DSW program is related to counseling or mental health services, your anticipated degree program may require that you hold licensure as a MSW social worker or even LCSW.

One of the most important steps to preparing for entry into a DSW program is to review the acceptance requirements and curricula for the schools you plan to apply to. This can help to ensure that the program accepts individuals with your credentials, as well as help to confirm that the degree program provides insight into fields that interest you the most.

Sample DSW Courses from University of Southern California Online DSW

In order to shed some light on real-world and available online degree programs, our team of educational experts reviewed an online DSW program currently being offered at the University of Southern California (USC). USC is a prestigious and well-respected university that offers flexible alternatives to their on-campus programs.

The curriculum for this online DSW program is filled with in-depth and informative courses developed to train experienced and knowledgeable doctoral-level social work professionals. Read through some of the course provisions below to see what types of courses you might take while enrolled in this program.

The entire online DSW through USC can be completed in 6 semesters. During this time frame, students may be expected to complete 42 credit hours, all of which are part of the required curriculum for this program. In addition to course work, students are also required to complete 2 residencies and a capstone project prior to graduation.

Leading and Managing Large Complex Systems is a course offering that takes a look at some of the macro-elements of doctoral-level social work. This can include national views on the housing crisis, social justice, and programs that ensure income security for people from all social classes.

Part of the consistency of this course includes considerations into how these programs can be financially stable, managed, and implemented in today's society. Students may also learn more about the political barricades that interfere with progress in this area of change, as well as methods for enlightening politicians of the need for change.

Leading Public Discourse is another course offering that can further education students on the methods utilized for encouraging public involvement in the debate and public conversations on various social issues. Since social work professionals are often vying for change, the best method for speeding up this process is through making the issue known to the public and encouraging members of society to participate in the rally for change.

Courses that offer further learning in the financial management of social work organizations, methods for implementing programs, and data-driven decision making can also be a part of your DSW program at USC. The combination of these courses can create educated and motivated social leaders prepared for taking on the task of improving the quality of life for people from all backgrounds in the U.S.

Programs Currently Accepting Applicants

Career Options with a DSW

Now that you have read more about what this degree program consists of and its overall mission, you might be interested in learning more about the careers that can manifest as a result of your dedication. The field of social work may be filled with an abundance of career options for graduates of the DSW program in the online environment.

Since the DSW can provide you with more insight into the knowledge of financial management and guidance to social work professionals, you could pursue a careers as a leader within a social work organization. Some example titles may include a Non-Profit Director, Social Services Manager, or Clinical Director.

Social work professionals that have an employment background in nursing or healthcare administration could utilize their doctorate degree as a means for obtaining careers as Nursing or Healthcare Administrators. This field may require that you have an extensive knowledge of healthcare guidelines and regulations within your state.

If your prior social work experience was through licensure as a MSW or LCSW, you could seek out careers as a member of a Clinical Oversight Team or even as a regional Clinical Manager within your organization. Some career opportunities at the government level may require that doctoral-level graduates hold licensure is one of these social work areas.

The social work field can be found under the blanket of human service organizations within a given community. Leadership professionals responsible for ensuring that these agencies operate according to policy may require DSW graduates to fill their positions responsible for regional management, auditing, and ensuring operation in accordance to policy.

These types of leadership positions can be found through your local Department of Human Services and often require a minimum of a doctoral degree for incoming applicants. Since there are so many individual social work organizations within certain areas, your experience and education can lead you into diverse and multi-disciplinary career options throughout your career.

List of Programs


University of Southern California

Simmons University

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