Top 5 Online DSW Social Work Programs

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. (

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. (

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.

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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 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. ( 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

#3 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. (

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

#4 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. (

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

#5 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. ( 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

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.