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List of Accredited Online DSW Programs

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Increased demand for social services and healthcare in the United States is creating more jobs for social workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for social workers will increase by 11% by 2028, which is much faster than average. Employment for healthcare social workers will rise by 17%, as well. (BLS.gov).

That is why this could be a good time for you to obtain your online Doctor of Social Work (DSW degree). Today, you can get your doctoral degree online and never even visit a college campus. We have done our research and found the five programs below are the best online DSW programs.

#1 Capella University

Capella University offers an online DSW Social Work program that will help you to nurture your advanced, real-world leadership skills, and prepare you for a social work leadership role. (Capella.edu).

This four-year, no GRE required, online Ph.D. has been designed to meet all guidelines set up by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). You will be prepared to take on the full responsibilities of a social work leader, educator, or advanced practitioner.

*Visit Capella University

Highlights of the Capella program are;

  • Focus on leadership skills that will prepare you to serve as an advanced social work practitioner and leader in social work.
  • Doctoral capstone that allows you to apply what you learned in a written social work project.
  • Command of technology that will teach you to think strategically about technology and how to use it to enhance patient outcomes.
  • An intensive, onsite residency that grows the skills you learned in the classroom.
  • A doctoral research seminar that requires intense work on your capstone topic.
  • No GRE required for program admission

Required courses are:

  • Advanced Social Work Practice: Theoretical Perspectives
  • Leadership and Management in Complex Social Systems
  • Advanced Social Work Policy and Practice
  • Clinical Theories of Social Work Practice
  • Advanced Social Work Practitioner as a Leader of Social Change

#2 Walden University

Walden University offers an online Doctor of Social Work that was created to change your future and others’ futures. This four-year, accredited DSW program will prepare you to be a respected leader in social work, and gain the skills needed to created sustainable solutions for today’s most challenging social issues.

*Visit Walden University

Most of the program can be completed online, but there is a four-day DSW academic residency where you will grow your social work skills and have the chance to network and socialize with professors and your fellow students.

Students complete their residency when the program begins, and there also is a capstone research project due before graduation.

#3 University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers an online Doctor of Social Work from the respected Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Students are taught to develop innovative social work solutions to real-world problems. This accredited program brings social workers into a higher level of public discourse as they construct and explore new ways to deliver essential human rights to all people, and to build a more just society. (Online.USC.edu). No GRE required for program admission.

Students will develop a strategic plan and budget to pitch ideas to a panel of experts to solve major social challenges, in social justice, economic inequality, and family and child welfare.

In addition to live, online classes, students are required to go to two in-person residencies. The residencies occur during the third and sixth semesters and are held in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

Unlike a Ph.D. the USC DSW degree prepares the student for advanced social work practice. Graduates of this online doctoral program in social work will be well-positioned to lead conversations on major social topics, including gun violence, homelessness, poverty, and foster care.

Required courses are:

  • Managing Innovation and Change in Social Work
  • The Science of Social Work
  • Informatics and Social Innovation
  • Leading and Managing Complex Systems
  • Financial Management for Social Change
  • Data-Driven Decision Making in Social Services
  • Evaluating Innovation and Change

#4 The University of Buffalo

The University of Buffalo offers a DSW Social Work program online that builds on the university’s trauma-informed and human rights perspective. It is designed for experienced social workers who wish to advance their social work skills and move into leadership roles in their institutions. (Socialwork.Buffalo.edu).

DSW students at the University of Buffalo build their social work knowledge and learn how to better incorporate these critical concepts into the evaluation and implementation of evidence-based treatments with our most vulnerable populations.

Highlights of this unique, online DSW program are:

  • Uses a trauma-informed and human rights perspective to revolutionize and transform social work practice.
  • Uses implementation science techniques and strategies to translate social work research into best practices, and identify major barriers to effective treatment.
  • Uses the latest digital technologies to innovate social work practice and education.
  • No GRE required for program admission.

Required courses include:

  • Technology, Human Behavior, and Professional Practice
  • Doctoral Seminar in Trauma and Human Rights
  • Concepts in Implementation Science
  • Evaluating and Utilizing Evidence-Based Practices in Social Work
  • Designing Implementation Strategies
  • Evaluating and Disseminating Interventions

#5 Tulane University

Tulane University offers an online, three-year Doctorate in Social Work that helps social work practitioners to have an opportunity to become leaders in the field, and do their part to create a more equitable society. (Socialwork.Tulane.edu).

Students in this accredited, online doctoral program are readied for executive positions by studying a curriculum that is intended to foster the vital thinking skills needed to evaluate, design, and implement effective social work programs. This unique DSW program because each student learns from professors and peers who have immediate knowledge of learning and living with communities and people of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Program goals are:

  • Train each student to have a detailed mastery of a chosen area of social work scholarship, including social welfare services and policy.
  • Teaches the student to utilize evidence-based decision making to implement, design, and improve social services.
  • Equips the social work practitioner with a better understanding of the critical thinking skills needed to review secondary research and the methods of research required for social work program evaluation.
  • Offers added training for social work professionals who want to advance their skills into applied research, program management, university teaching, or nonprofit leadership.
  • No GRE required for program admission.

Required courses include:

  • Leadership in Social Work and Evidence-Informed Practice
  • Social Work Theory, Practice Models and Methods
  • Historical and Current Policy Approaches to Social Welfare
  • Quantitative Methods and Measurements for Services Outcome Research
  • Introduction to Qualitative and Interpretive Approaches to Human Inquiry

#6 Millersville University

Millersville University offers an online DSW Social Work program that prepares the academician that is able to lead, and leaders who can teach. Students can focus on their passion for social justice with the enhanced leadership skills taught in this four-year doctoral program. (Millersville.edu). No GRE required for program admission.

Most of the coursework in this program is offered online, with one-weekend residency required each semester. The accredited social work program is available to both bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates and is an ideal way to advance your social work career.

Required classes in Millerville University’s program are:

  • Social Work Leadership I
  • Social Work Teach-Scholar I
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Qualitative Analysis
  • Intervention Research
  • Leadership Teaching Praxis
  • Research Methodology
  • Leadership Teaching Praxis II
  • Social Work Leadership II

#7 The University of Tennessee – Knoxville

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville offers an online Doctor of Social Work in Clinical Practice and Leadership that prepares students for leadership and advanced clinical practice. This is an accredited and accelerated program that allows graduates to satisfy their degree requirements in three years without having to stop working.

Most of the students in this program have been working in the field for at least 10 years, bringing to the remote classroom years of clinical experience. This means students are learning not just from the professors but from each other.

Required classes include:

  • Research for Social Work Practice
  • Critical Thinking for Science and Research
  • Critical Review of Research Literature
  • Professional Development for Social Work Scholars
  • Research Practicum
  • Advanced Quantitative Research Methods

Two classes are completed per semester across eight semesters. All students are required to visit the campus for one week each summer for a focused social work study program.

  • Institution type: Public, non-profit
  • Delivery method: Online
  • Headquarters: Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Accreditation: CSWE
  • Degrees offered: Doctor of Social Work
  • Expected total tuition: $639 per credit hour in-state, $714 out of state
  • Prerequisites: Master’s Degree in Social Work
  • Visit school: Click here

#8 Simmons University

Simmons University offers an online Doctorate of Social Work that offers the premier level of clinical training to social work professionals who want to be leaders in contemporary social work education, thought, and practice. This two-year program empowers every doctoral student in advance in the social work field through a focus on inclusive leadership, advanced clinical practice, and teaching and education.

Clinical social workers created this accredited program who each have doctoral degrees. The curriculum focuses on a range of advanced social work areas while keeping clinical practice at the forefront.

Required classes include the following:

  • Seminar in Ethics and Social Justice
  • Power, Passion, and Social Change
  • The Research-Informed Practitioner
  • Interdisciplinary Social Work

There is a full time and part-time track available. Full-time students can finish the program in fewer than two years, while part-time students can complete the degree in less than three years.

  • Institution type: Public, non-profit
  • Delivery method: Online
  • Headquarters: Boston
  • Accreditation: CSWE
  • Degrees offered: Doctor of Social Work
  • Expected total tuition: $54,480
  • Prerequisites: Master’s Degree in Social Work
  • Visit school: Click here

#9 Southern Connecticut State University

Southern Connecticut State University offers an online Doctor of Social Work that is appropriate for professionals who MSW holders who work in agency leadership or academic settings. This accredited, online program is offered in a part-time, three-year format that allows each student to get their doctorate.

The CSWE-accredited program features a self-designed externship of 180 hours that allows you to focus on advanced clinical practice, university teaching, or leadership and management. This is the only university in New England to offer a doctorate in social work.

Required courses include:

  • Evidence-Informed Practice
  • Historical and Contemporary Analysis of Social Policy
  • Paradigms, Epistemology, and Heuristics in Social Work
  • Emergent Models and Critical Issues in Clinical Social Work Practice
  • Therapeutic Relationships; Advanced Clinical Practice
  • Education for Social Work

To be admitted, students must have at least two years of outstanding clinical or management and leadership practice in social work.

  • Institution type: Public, non-profit
  • Delivery method: Online
  • Headquarters: New Haven, Connecticut
  • Accreditation: CSWE
  • Degrees offered: Doctor of Social Work
  • Expected total tuition: $3,837 per semester in-state, $9,884 out-of-state
  • Prerequisites: Master’s Degree in Social Work
  • Visit school: Click here

#10 Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University offers an online/hybrid Doctor of Social Work that is 83 quarter hours and three years long. It was created to meet the diverse needs of post-master’s social work professionals who want to advance their careers in clinical leadership and practice innovation.

The internationally respected faculty at this accredited university will guide you in the DSW program to become a highly accomplished social work practitioner and scholar. After graduation, you will be able to practice innovation and knowledge through applied leadership, scholarship, education, and social justice promotion.

  • Institution type: Private, non-profit
  • Delivery method: Hybrid
  • Headquarters: Loma Linda, California
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Degrees offered: Doctor of Social Work
  • Expected total tuition: $845 per credit
  • Prerequisites: Master’s Degree in Social Work
  • Visit school: Click here

DSW Summary

The need for social work professionals is rising. You can enhance your professional standing and job qualifications for social work leadership positions in nonprofits, academia, and private practice by earning your online Doctor of Social Work today.

*Indicates school is a Featured Partner. Click here for disclosure on Featured Partners.