Change your world and the world of those around you as you reach a new level of achievement in your career and make significant contributions to your profession and to society. Walden’s online Ph.D. in Social Work program can help you enhance your role as an advanced social work scholar, researcher, and leader in the field.*

Walden’s Ph.D. in Social Work program prepares you to practice at the highest level of the social work field as a researcher, college-level educator, or administrative leader. A challenging curriculum enables you to analyze advanced theory and explore some of the most pressing and cutting-edge issues in social work today. Align your studies with your interests by choosing one of eight specializations, such as Addictions and Social Work, Medical Social Work, or Clinical Expertise. Four face-to-face academic residencies support the learning experience by giving you the opportunity to collaborate with professors and colleagues, build your social and professional community, and enhance your ability to effect positive social change.

As a graduate of the online Ph.D. in Social Work program, you can become a lifelong contributor to the profession through research, scholarly writing, and thought leadership.

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

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

Tuition Savings Available

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

Sign Up for a Free Information Packet
  • "My degree means that now I am viewed as an expert. I feel I can do anything." - Jennifer Leach

  • “Walden’s Ph.D. in Social Work is designed to prepare students for their roles as leaders and advocates for social change. The program focuses on contemporary issues in social work, as well as advanced social work theory and practice, which allows students to immediately apply what they learn to their roles in the field.”

    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.

  • Getting Recognition for Your Research

    Tony Cappello, Ph.D.A Walden Ph.D. in Public Health graduate offers advice about how doctoral students can gain more exposure for their research.

    View this article

  • Curriculum

  • Tuition and Fees

  • Career Options

  • Highlights

  • Learning Outcomes

  • Learn More

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

Find out more about the Ph.D. in Social Work now.  Request Information

Addictions and Social Work

Addiction includes substance abuse and compulsive behaviors that result in detrimental activities such as excessive gambling, hoarding, and self-harm. This specialization explores the psychology of addiction and the various interventions available for individuals and families who are dealing with addictive behavior. Apply your knowledge to advance your research or teach college-level students about effective prevention and consultation strategies for addictions.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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

In the Clinical Expertise specialization, you can enhance your skills as a supervisor or advanced clinician. You will explore major methods and practices as well as ethical and legal issues that you may encounter as a supervisor working with staff from diverse backgrounds. Through extensive self-awareness activities, you can gain an understanding of how your own attitudes and beliefs can affect your ability to advocate for individuals, lead change in communities, and reform policy for the greater good. A challenging curriculum will allow you to build your knowledge in areas such as supervision, treatment of forensic populations, and addictions case management. These skills can help you practice at the highest level in your discipline.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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

The criminal justice system faces numerous challenges as it works to combat crime in our communities. Adept social work professionals can help address some of these issues to improve the well-being of society. In this specialization, you can focus your research and studies on the factors that can contribute to criminal behavior, such as addiction, homelessness, and unemployment. Through dedicated research, you can explore current forms of intervention and help pave the road for advances in individual and group psychotherapy and processes such as restorative justice. Use this knowledge to inform your role as a scholar, educator, policy analyst, agency leader, or researcher.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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

Examine the psychological impact that terrorism, natural disasters, and other crises can have on individuals and communities. This specialization can help prepare you to conduct research and contribute to the knowledge of effective crisis intervention strategies as well as to analyze current practices in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other challenges faced by victims of trauma. You will design a crisis plan to prepare for future emergencies and apply your knowledge in a leadership role related to supporting individuals and communities after a disaster or crisis.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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, families, children, and adolescents. By examining prevention, intervention, and consultation strategies, you will be able to tailor your approach to address the distinct needs of your clients in advance of, or in response to, critical concerns for children and families.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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

The medical social worker plays a vital role in caring for individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, or other treatment facilities. This specialization helps you develop and assess the best possible strategies in practice interventions with individuals and families facing chronic or terminal illness, disability, and issues associated with aging. Coursework provides opportunities to create, analyze, and extend knowledge of methods used by medical social workers to address the needs of clients and families, particularly the aging population.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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

Explore the fundamentals of successful collaboration with legislators and lobbyists to create public policies that generate sustainable change. In this specialization, you can analyze the economic, governmental, and legal factors that influence decision making on policy related to social welfare. You will study ways to help shape legislation by identifying community needs and working with key stakeholders to address issues affecting the welfare of the community. Apply your new skills as a leader, educator, or researcher in social policy.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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

Effective management and planning can enhance a social work agency’s ability to improve outcomes for its target populations. This specialization is designed to help you gain an in-depth understanding of organizational behavior so that you can better assess the effectiveness of community-based social work organizations. Through coursework that focuses on program development and implementation, leadership, community relations, and staff development and training, you can develop the skills that are needed for a career as a postsecondary educator, researcher, evaluator or advisor to social work agencies.

Completion Requirements

  • 77 total quarter credit hours
    • Core courses (42 cr.)
    • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
    • Dissertation (20 cr.)
    • Four Ph.D. residencies

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 Four 4-day residencies
(Residency 2 and Residency 4 may be virtual)
$1,160 each (travel, lodging, and other expenses are additional)
Virtual: $1,260 each
$4,640
Technology Fee  Per quarter $120 $1,560
    Total $47,780
    Transfer up to 20 credits  $11,206
    Total with Maximum Transfer Credits $36,574

*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

Walden University’s online Ph.D. in Social Work program can help you gain the skills needed to address social issues through research or to teach in a university setting. Whichever path you choose, this doctoral degree program will prepare you to work in a variety of professions in the public or private sectors.

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.*
  • Employment opportunities for college professors are expected to grow by 17% between 2010 and 2020.

Expand Your Career Options

A Ph.D. in Social Work can provide you with greater opportunities to move your career forward as a:

  • Social worker
  • Researcher
  • Evaluator
  • Agency leader
  • Policy analyst
  • Educator/professor/faculty member
  • Supervisor in the social work field
  • Program director

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 June29, 2013). National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual employment.

†Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012–13 Edition, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-6 (viewed online June 29, 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:

  • Learn from nationally recognized experts in the profession.
  • Focus your studies in a relevant area that aligns with your interests, such as addictions, medical social work, or clinical expertise.
  • Gain strategies and skills for publishing and presenting research.
  • Enhance your professional development by participating in a residency program.
  • Acquire an understanding of how diversity shapes the human experience.
  • Design, implement, and analyze your own research related to the social work profession.

Find out more about what defines Walden’s Ph.D. in Social Work program: 

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.

Getting Recognition for Your Research

A Walden Ph.D. in Public Health graduate offers advice about how doctoral students can gain more exposure for their research.

View this article

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 gather 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.