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 PhD in Social Work program can help you enhance your role as an advanced social work scholar, researcher, and leader in the field.*

Why earn your PhD in Social Work from Walden?

Walden’s PhD 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 PhD 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 PhD in Social Work program.

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.

Learning Outcomes

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.

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

*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program. Find detailed information for this program, including possible occupations, completion rate, program costs, and median student loan debt.


Earn Your PhD While Balancing Priorities

At Walden we understand that you likely work full time and may care for children or other family members. Explore our support services  designed to help you balance family commitments with your work and school responsibilities. We’re all in it together.


Walden Facts


Almost 95% of Walden alumni responding to our survey say that their program helped them to advance positive social change.*


More than half of Walden doctoral graduates who responded to our survey say their degree contributed to earning a pay raise.*

Source:; % calculated on total number of respondents to our 2014 survey.


Bernadette Marson

Bernadette Marson

PhD in Human Services Graduate
The amount of support, resources, and assistance available to students is phenomenal.
I hope that with the degree I’ve obtained from Walden I can help individuals, organizations, and policymakers develop policies and plans to benefit children and youth.
I knew from earning my master’s degree that Walden fit my schedule as an intervention counselor, trainer, and single parent.
Kahla D. LaPlante PhD in Health Services Student
Kahla LaPlante
Mildred Peyton PhD in Human Services Graduate
Mildred Peyton
Tomica Buford MS in Mental Health Counseling Graduate
Tomica Buford
Man researching online education on laptop
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