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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 online 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 online DSW program provides ample opportunity for relevant, hands-on learning. As a Doctor of Social Work student, you participate in a four-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 online 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 DSW 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.

Aligned with Walden University’s mission of social change, this social work doctoral 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.

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

Program Savings

Receive up to a $4,000 grant if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on May 31, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

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

Addictions and Social Work

Learn to identify the needs of families, individuals, and communities whose lives have been affected by addiction

Clinical Expertise

This specialization can prepare you for a career as an expert in clinical social work practice.

Criminal Justice

With this specialization, you can study best practices related to traditional forms of intervention for both offenders and victims, including individual and group therapy.

Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention

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.

Family Studies And Intervention

Develop advanced skills to provide culturally sensitive support to children and families.

Medical Social Work

This 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.

Policy Practice

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.

Social Work Administration

This curriculum is designed to help you gain insight into organizational behavior, staff development, internal and community relations, and management

Admission Requirements

Program Admission Considerations: MSW degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be prepared to:

  • Utilize current research, best practices, and theory to promote prevention and intervention strategies that address social problems and needs of social groups.
  • Employ various research and statistical tools to find data used to address the etiology and dynamics of social problems and social needs.
  • Evaluate the role of research and evaluation in social work in improving social interventions and advancing theory development.
  • Critically evaluate the history of social work, its mission, and its core values.
  • 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.
  • Demonstrate the ability to assess the role of diversity in characterizing and shaping the human experience.
  • Apply ethical decision making and practices in social work.

Academic 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
  • Timing: DSW students can participate in their academic residency as soon as they begin the program. Students must complete their DSW academic residency before they begin their action research project.
  • Location: For your convenience, the DSW academic residency is scheduled several times throughout the year and is held in a variety of locations in the United States.

The Doctor of Social Work (DSW) academic 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.

The four-day DSW academic 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.

Career Impact

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.1
  • Career opportunities for healthcare social workers are projected to grow at a rate of 34% through 2020.1

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.


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