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Lead Social Change With Walden’s Doctor of Social Work Program

How do you want to impact the social work field? With three distinct specializations, Walden’s Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program gives you a focused path to becoming the influential leader or educator you were meant to be.

Designed for the working professional, our program enables you to develop key doctoral skills from day one. Master the tools and resources you need to be successful in your program—and in your social work practice. Be empowered to make a difference with a curriculum grounded in social change.

A Doctor of Social Work degree academically prepares social work professionals to advance into administrative leadership, social work education, or entrepreneurship.

Pursue an Education for Good

Walden’s commitment to positive social change is woven throughout the program’s coursework and projects.

Prepare for Your Capstone

Starting with the first course, you’ll build research and writing skills to help you kick off your capstone project with confidence.

Choose Your Focus

Featuring three specializations, our DSW program gives you the flexibility to align your coursework with your career goals.

Build Practical Skills

Immersive learning technologies and online simulations allow you to sharpen your leadership and teaching skills.

Program Savings

Speak with an Enrollment Specialist to learn about our current tuition savings.

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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.

Advanced Clinical Practice and Supervision

Prepare to take your practice to the next level or supervise practitioners in social work and other related fields.

Impact Leadership in Social Work Administration

Gain insight into organizational behavior, staff development, internal and community relations, and management.

Social Work Education

Prepare to become an impactful educator who can effectively prepare the next generation of social workers.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for this program, you must:

  • Currently hold a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from a CSWE-accredited program with 3.0 GPA.
  • At least 3 years full time and equivalent practice experience beyond the master’s degree. Resume will be required to document experience.

To apply, please submit your 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.

Your Doctoral Journey

At Walden, we’ll guide you every step of the way with a comprehensive suite of support resources designed to help you confidently pursue the finish line, including our Doctoral Degree CoachTM. Are you ready to reach a higher level in your field?

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A Personalized Guide to Completing Your Doctorate

Earning your online Doctor of Social Work requires commitment, perseverance, and hard work. You can do it, and Walden is here to help—with our Doctoral Degree Coach™.

  • Map and Track Milestones: Break your research down into manageable, sequential steps. See where you are, what’s ahead, and what you’ve already accomplished—all in one place.
  • Meet Weekly Targets: No more guesswork. Set prompts based on your to-do list and receive reminders and updates directly to your inbox.
  • Connect With Faculty: Stay on the same page and keep your progress on track. With shared access to your dashboard, your chair can easily guide you through your checklists, goals, and timelines.
  • Access Helpful Resources: Quickly find support from the right person at the right time. Our comprehensive resource guide points you in the right direction—no more frustrating searches.

Go Boldly Forward With Our DSW Program

Walden’s Doctor of Social Work online program provides an immersive and engaging learning experience that fosters your growth as a social work leader. Build a powerful doctoral skillset you need to complete your capstone with confidence. At every step, our faculty are here to support you based on more than 50 years of serving doctoral learners at a distance.

Program Directors/Faculty – Doctor of Social Work

  • Lisa Moon

    Lisa Moon


    Dr. Lisa Moon has worked in the field of social work for more than 30 years, with a professional background that encompasses child protection, medical social work, and mental health. Her research interests include mental health services for children, issues related to caring for the elderly, simulative education, and accreditation for social work programs.

  • Debora Rice

    Debbie Rice

    Program Director

    Dr. Rice brings experience from her nearly 28 years as a clinical social worker to Walden’s doctoral social work programs. She serves as a family violence consultant to rural communities and advises church personnel on individual and community development strategies.

  • So`Nia Gilkey

    Core Faculty

    Dr. Gilkey has taught as a social work educator since 2004 and has been an active social work clinician/practitioner since 1992. Her areas of practice and study include child and family trauma, mental health and mental disorders, child welfare and family resiliency, and homelessness.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of our DSW program, you will be prepared to:

  • Identify social work practice gaps through the use of theory, current research, and best practices.
  • Demonstrate the ability to employ a variety of research approaches to understand or address social work practice problems.
  • Synthesize research related to social work interventions, social programs, and the social work practice knowledge base.
  • Critically evaluate social problems and social work practice gaps from a culturally aware, ethical, and empirically-driven perspective.
  • Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to advocate for social change.
  • Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to advocate for policies and practices that advance the economic and social well-being of culturally diverse clientele.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in a specialized area of social work practice.

Academic Residency

The Doctor of Social Work academic residency gives you an opportunity to interact with your peers and faculty, build your clinical skills, and strategize for 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’re empowered to create positive social change.

During the four-day DSW program academic residency, you’ll be able to:

  • Critically assess research.
  • Use critical thinking skills expected of doctoral students
  • Demonstrate an understanding of appropriate research problems that can be utilized for the capstone process.
  • Effectively communicate with others
  • Effectively communicate research ideas.
  • Conceptualize capstone research studies that have the potential to contribute to positive social change
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the steps required to conduct a DSW capstone research study.

For your convenience, the academic residency is scheduled several times throughout the year. They are held in a variety of locations in the United States and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can participate in the residency as soon as you begin your Doctor of Social Work program, and it must be completed before you begin your action research project.

Career Outlook

Social workers help empower those who may be struggling, stand up for social justice, and make a profound impact on people’s lives. With a Doctor of Social Work degree, you can help create real, sustainable change for your clients and community.

Whether you want to start your own non-profit organization, move into leadership, or get to the next level as a practitioner, earning your DSW can light your way forward. Expand your career options while commanding new respect from employers and peers.

Demand for social work professionals is expected to increase


by 2029—faster than the national average.1
Walden is the

No. 1

granter of doctoral research degrees.2


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