Walden’s Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program is one of the few programs of its kind offered online. Created to help you change your world and the world of others, the DSW program can prepare you to become a recognized leader in your field and help you gain the skills to develop sustainable solutions for today’s most pressing social issues.

This doctoral program prepares you to be an authoritative advocate for social justice. Enhance your ability to address societal challenges and make an even greater difference in the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The Doctor of Social Work program includes eight specializations so you can align your studies with your personal interests.

Featuring a curriculum based on the latest research and best practices in social work, Walden’s DSW program provides ample opportunity for relevant, hands-on learning. As a Doctor of Social Work student, you participate in a six-day residency that gives you the chance to expand your clinical capabilities, network and socialize with peers, and meet one-on-one with Walden faculty. The culmination of your studies is an action research project in which you put your knowledge and skills to work to address a real-world problem in your agency or community.

The DSW program at Walden allows you to expand your practice to new populations and pursue leadership roles in social work agencies and organizations. With this degree, you can advance your career while making a significant and positive impact on public welfare in various settings, including schools, government agencies, and mental health organizations.

A Master of Social Work (MSW) is a prerequisite for Walden’s DSW program.

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Find detailed information for this program, including possible occupations, completion rate, program costs, and median student loan debt.

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  • "Walden will inspire you to do something that will impact your world." - Mark Maxwell

  • “Graduates of Walden’s DSW program will emerge with the skills to address some of society’s most compelling social issues. The opportunity to participate in action research while working toward the degree is an invaluable experience that allows students to engage in a foundational element of designing and implementing effective social work programs.”

    Sally M. Brocksen, Ph.D.
    Program Director Social Work

  • About the School

    Learn more about the school community and meet the people who you'll work with in your program.

  • Transfer credits for you doctoral program

  • Curriculum

  • Tuition and Fees

  • Career Options

  • Highlights

  • Learning Outcomes

  • Learn More

Walden’s Doctor of Social Work program offers a variety of specializations to help you meet your personal and professional goals:

Find out more about the DSW program now.  Request Information

Addictions and Social Work

Addiction affects people of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and lifestyles. This specialization can help you learn to identify the needs of families, individuals, and communities whose lives have been affected by addiction. You will begin by studying best practices in addictions treatment and case management. Subsequently, you can apply your knowledge to develop effective prevention and intervention strategies to support clients whose lives are directly or indirectly impacted by substance abuse or addictive behaviors.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

 

 

Clinical Expertise

An advanced social work practitioner can make a positive impact in the community on many levels. This specialization can prepare you for a career as an expert in clinical social work practice. You will have the opportunity to focus your studies in supervision, treatment of forensic populations, and addictions case management. You can gain the knowledge to supervise or mentor Master of Social Work students or advance your current clinical practice.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

 

 

Criminal Justice

Social issues such as economic decline, substance abuse, and a lack of educational or employment opportunities can all contribute to criminal behavior. With this specialization, you can study best practices related to traditional forms of intervention for both offenders and victims, including individual and group therapy. You will also explore recent developments in the legal system such as restorative justice. This program is designed for social work professionals involved in public safety fields including law enforcement and rehabilitation.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

 

 

Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention

For individuals and populations, one traumatic event can trigger a series of profound coping challenges. This specialization focuses on intervention strategies that can help you address the immediate and long-term needs of trauma victims and their caregivers. As a student, you will study crisis intervention theories and models for working with a wide range of populations. You also will be able to examine best practices for counseling victims in the aftermath of natural or man-made crises. By designing proactive crisis plans, you can gain experience preparing for future emergencies.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

Family Studies and Interventions

As a social worker, you work with children and families from various backgrounds and in different life stages. This specialization can help you develop advanced skills to provide culturally sensitive support to children and families. You will discover specific resources and instruction for working with couples, children, and adolescents. By examining various prevention, intervention, and consultation strategies, you will be able to tailor your approach to address the distinct needs of these groups in advance of, or in response to, critical concerns for children and families.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

 

 

Medical Social Work

Disability, advanced age, and chronic illness can present a unique set of challenges for individuals and families. This specialization is designed to help you extend your knowledge and competencies as a medical social worker. The program helps you cultivate a better understanding of the resources and support services available for vulnerable populations, including those who are terminally ill, disabled, or dealing with acute or chronic illness. You can use your knowledge to collaborate with other healthcare professionals as part of a care team in a hospital, nursing home, or other healthcare setting. 

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

 

 

Policy Practice

Effective policy and sustainable change are the result of successful collaboration with legislators, lobbyists, grass-roots organizations, and other groups and individuals. This specialization can help you advance social welfare by identifying community needs and learning best practices for working with key stakeholders on today’s most pressing social policy issues. You will have the opportunity to analyze the key factors that influence decision making related to positive social change and learn how to engage with local, state, and federal governments.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

 

 

Social Work Administration

Strong leadership, strategic program development, and effective implementation can enhance an agency’s ability to serve its target populations. This specialization helps you focus on these and other aspects of administration within the context of advancing social welfare. The curriculum is designed to help you gain insight into organizational behavior, staff development, internal and community relations, and management. You can apply your knowledge to help social work agencies develop effective strategies for improving the well-being of the individuals and groups they serve.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (36 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Clinical seminar (6 cr.)
    • Action research project (20 cr.)
    • One 6-day residency
Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Curriculum

 

 

Curriculum Component Requirements  Cost  Total* 
Tuition 77 total quarter credit hours  $540 per quarter hour $41,580
Books and Materials Estimated costs Included in tuition $0
Residency Fee One 6-day residency $1,645 (travel, lodging, and other expenses are additional) $1,645
Technology Fee  Per quarter $120 $1,560
    Total $44,785
    Transfer up to 20 credits  $11,206
    Total with Maximum Transfer Credits $33,579

*Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.

Maximum transfer credit total includes reduction in technology fee as related to reduced number of courses over time.

Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Call 1-866-492-5336 for information about a full range of options for:

Transfer credits for you doctoral program

With a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) from Walden, you can gain the skills needed to become an advanced practitioner. This doctoral degree program can also prepare you to become a leader in designing, implementing, and assessing social welfare programs and policies.

Enter a High-Growth Field

  • Opportunities for social work professionals are expected to grow by 25% from 2010 to 2020—faster than the average for all other occupations.*
  • Career opportunities for healthcare social workers are projected to grow at a rate of 34% through 2020.*

Expand Your Career Options

A DSW can prepare you to pursue roles at the forefront of the social work profession:

  • Leader in agencies and organizations
  • Program director
  • Evaluator of social work practice and agencies 
  • Supervisor in social work organizations

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012–13 Edition, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/Social-workers.htm/#tab-6 (viewed online June 28, 2013). National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual employment.

Aligned with Walden University’s mission of social change, this program allows you to:

  • Develop expertise in a particular area of social work, such as addictions or medical social work, among others.
  • Use research to advocate for changes that support your clients and community through an action research project. This project enables you to focus on an everyday problem or unmet need within your community (e.g., long wait times in your local hospital’s ER or access to medical care for people with heart disease) and develop a plan for remediating the issue.
  • Conduct effective analyses of social welfare policies.
  • Gain skills for designing and implementing social welfare programs.

Find out more about what defines Walden’s DSW program:

Doctor of Social Work (DSW) Residency

The Doctor of Social Work (DSW) residency provides an opportunity for you to interact with your peers and faculty to expand your clinical skills and create strategies for developing your action research project. These experiences are designed to enhance your development as both a social work clinician and a scholar-practitioner so that you can create positive social change.

For your convenience, the DSW residency is scheduled several times throughout the year and is held in a variety of locations in the United States.

The six-day DSW residency offers you an opportunity to:

  • Participate in sessions with small groups of other students who share your professional and research interests.
  • Enhance your skills in clinical work, research, information literacy, critical thinking, and scholarly writing.
  • Network and socialize with peers to strengthen your scholarly and professional community.
  • Meet one-on-one with faculty members, academic advisors, and student support staff members.

Residency Timing and Content

  • DSW students will participate in their residency in the sixth quarter in conjunction with the Clinical Seminar II course. Students must complete their DSW residency before they begin their action research project.

DSW Residency

  • Goals: Socialization into Walden, community building, and continued development of clinical skills
  • Components: Orientation, colloquia on professional identity, team building, interviewing and listening skills, and scholarly writing
  • Format: Seminars, small groups, and co-teaching with doctoral-level faculty
  • Focus: Action research methods and skills, teaching and supervision in clinical social work practice, and advanced clinical skills

Which Program Is Right for You?

When exploring Walden’s Doctor of Social Work and Ph.D. in Social Work programs, consider which features are right for your learning style and career aspirations.

Which Progam is Right for you?

Career options may require addition experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

Graduates of this program will be prepared to:

  1. Utilize current research, best practices, and theory to promote prevention and intervention strategies that address social problems and needs of social groups.
  2. Employ various research and statistical tools to find data used to address the etiology and dynamics of social problems and social needs.
  3. Evaluate the role of research and evaluation in social work in improving social interventions and advancing theory development.
  4. Critically evaluate the history of social work, its mission, and its core values.
  5. Promote social change by collaborating with leaders, agencies, and universities to advocate for policies and programs that advance the economic and social well-being of culturally diverse clientele.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to assess the role of diversity in characterizing and shaping the human experience.
  7. Apply ethical decision making and practices in social work.

For assistance in deciding which online specialization fits your goals, request information or speak with an enrollment advisor by calling 1-866-492-5336. A list of international toll-free phone numbers is available for students outside the United States.