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Lead Change for Today’s Social Work Organizations

Become a high-impact change agent with our Doctor of Social Work Impact Leadership in Social Work Administration specialization. Prepare to help social agencies address complex problems through innovation and problem-solving. Explore strategic program development and implementation, collaborative practices, finance and budgeting, and other aspects of leadership and administration within the context of driving positive social change.

A DSW degree specialization in Impact Leadership in Social Work Administration academically prepares social work professionals to lead practical solutions to pressing social challenges.

Unlock Your Inner Leader

Develop your leadership skill set, build your confidence, and prepare to lead practical solutions to critical social issues.

Be the Change

Use your action research project findings to solve an existing social problem and make a difference for those in your community.

Start Your Capstone Early

Beginning in your first course, you’ll build key doctoral skills to help you start and finish your capstone project successfully.

Practice New Skills

Immersive learning technologies and online simulations allow you to sharpen your leadership skills in a safe environment.

Program Savings

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


Get Started Now

Curriculum

Minimum Degree Requirements

  • 78 quarter credits
  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Foundation course (3 cr.)
  • Core courses (25 cr.)
  • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
  • Research courses (15 cr.)
  • Doctoral Capstone Research Project
    • Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency courses (5 cr.; continuously enrolled in 1 cr. per term for a minimum of 5 terms until completion)
    • Capstone research project (continuous enrollment in 5 cr. per term for a minimum of 3 terms until completion)
  • One 4-day virtual residency

Walden students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.

In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

Please refer to Walden’s catalog for more information about degree requirements.

This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.

Courses

Course Code Title Credits
DRWA 8880G
Doctoral Writing Assessment

This course is part of Walden's commitment to help prepare students to meet the university's expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.

(0 cr.)
SOCW 8002
Foundations of Graduate Study

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Through this course, students gain a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. Course assignments focus on practical application of writing and critical- thinking skills and promote professional and academic excellence. Major assignments include the preparation of the Professional Development Plan and Program of Study.

(3 cr.)
SOCW 8110
Advanced Social Work Theory and Practice

In this foundational doctoral course, students are provided with an overview of the ways of knowing diverse contemporary theories in social work and the social sciences. Students will be able to understand how the assumptions of various epistemological paradigms (i.e., ways of knowing) inform research.  Students will also explore how theories inform social work practice, policy, and research, and they will discuss the role of the social worker in social issues at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. In addition, there is an emphasis on the delivery of culturally sensitive and ethical services.

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8112
Social Work Scholarship

To be responsible scholar-practitioners and stewards in the social work profession, students must understand social problems within the broader intellectual landscape: that is, the social construction of the social problem and the role it plays in the public's perception of the social problem. Additionally, students must be prepared to locate the historical context of the problem and the social welfare responses. Using critical reading and evaluation skills, tools, and techniques, students begin to evaluate the lay and empirical literature of a social problem underlying their future capstone or dissertation topic to prepare for the literature review process.

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 8110W or SOCW 8110

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8110
Research Theory, Design, and Methods

In this research course, students are provided with core knowledge and skills for understanding, analyzing, and designing research at the graduate level. Students explore the philosophy of science, the role of theory, and research processes. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs and data collection methods are introduced. The alignment of research components is emphasized. Students also explore ethical and social change implications of designing and conducting research. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing an annotated bibliography.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • SOCW 8110 or SOCW 8110W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • COUN 8001
  • COUN 8110
  • RESI 8801C

PhD in Social Work

  • SOCW 8110 or SOCW 8110W

All Other Programs

  • RESI 8401

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8601
Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 1

[Under development]

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 8002 or SOCW 8002W

(1 cr.)
SOCW 8750
Leadership Development

Great leadership is enhanced by an understanding of the psychological principles of leader development. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the psychology of leadership and leader development. Topics include psychological theories of leadership, leadership styles, qualities of great leaders, and instruments used to assess leadership and leadership potential. Students apply psychological theories to understanding their own capacity for leadership.

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8117
Diversity and Multiculturalism

As a social work scholar-practitioner, it is important to being prepared to serve populations with different lived experiences is important. Understanding the makeup of society, including undercurrents of prejudice and bias that can influence trauma, while being careful not to make broad assumptions about any individual or group, is a crucial skill for a leader in the social work community. In this course, students use historical and current events to consider how policy, systems, and public opinion influence the ability to meet the needs of diverse and marginalized populations. Students examine intersections of identity characteristics and apply contemporary theory to better understand societal manifestations of power, oppression, access, and opportunity. Additionally, students will consider how to apply their knowledge of diversity and multiculturalism to better lead communities, institutions, employees, and agencies in the continuous pursuit of social justice, fairness, and equity.

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8602
Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 2

[Under development]

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 9001A or SOCW 8601

(1 cr.)
Choose one course from the following RSCH courses:
RSCH 8210
Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • RSCH 8110
  • RESI 8801C

PhD in Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

All Other Programs

  • RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110
  • RESI 8401

(5 cr.)
OR
RSCH 8310
Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students in this research course are provided with the opportunity to develop basic knowledge and skills for conducting qualitative research at the doctoral level. Students explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, how theory and theoretical and conceptual frameworks uniquely apply to qualitative research, data collection procedures and analysis strategy, and how the role of the researcher is expressed in the ethical and rigorous conduct of qualitative research. Students practice collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, and they develop a detailed research topic for conducting a qualitative study.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • RSCH 8110
  • RESI 8801C

PhD in Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

All Other Programs

  • RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110
  • RESI 8401

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8137
Contemporary Issues, Social Change, and Social Policy

How can students prepare for ethical leadership in social work practice, administration, and advocacy? In this course, students can enhance their understanding of the responsibility of social workers in advanced practice to foster social change for their community, clients, and profession through practice, policy, and advocacy. Students can use current research to analyze and evaluate policy and identify how community, national, and international issues affect the social work profession. In addition, students examine opportunities to learn how to influence policy as a response to the changing needs of a diverse population. Students also can gain an understanding of how to ethically initiate advocacy and social change processes.

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 8110 or SOCW 8110W

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8603
Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 3

[Under development]

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 9002A or SOCW 8602

(1 cr.)
SOCW 8752
Executive Leadership With Impact

[Under development]

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 8750W or SOCW 8750

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8138
Program and Practice Evaluation

Using models of evaluation derived from social science and social work theory and research, students can learn to apply research in social work to inform practice, future research, policy, and advocacy. Topics include the history and theory underlying program and practice evaluation, approaches to evaluation, selection of appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative models and techniques used to perform the evaluation, strategies for getting gatekeepers to be invested in the development of the research and in the outcomes, demonstration of program effectiveness, and dissemination of results to stakeholders. Students can gain an understanding of how to address dimensions of diversity (race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, gender, etc.) in their program and practice evaluations in an effort to ensure equity and fairness in program delivery and advocacy.

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 8110 or SOCW 8110W

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8604
Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 4

[Under development]

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 9003A or SOCW 8603

(1 cr.)
SOCW 8114
Advanced Social Work Scholarship Community

[Under development]

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 8752 or SOCW 8752W or SOCW 8574 or SOCW 8574W
  • SOCW 8112W or SOCW 8112

(5 cr.)
Choose one course from the following RSCH courses:
RSCH 8260
Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • RSCH 8210K or RSCH 8310K or RSCH 8210W or RSCH 8310W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • RSCH 8110
  • RSCH 8210
  • CPLB 802L

PhD in Social Work

  • RSCH 8210K or RSCH 8210W or RSCH 8310K or RSCH 8310W

All Other Programs

  • RESI 8402

(5 cr.)
OR
RSCH 8360
Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • RSCH 8210K or RSCH 8310K or RSCH 8210W or RSCH 8310W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • RSCH 8110
  • RSCH 8310
  • CPLB 802L

PhD in Social Work

  • RSCH 8210K or RSCH 8210W or RSCH 8310K or RSCH 8310W

All Other Programs

  • RESI 8402

Note: This course was previously RSCH 8350.

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8605
Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 5

[Under development]

Prerequisites

  • SOCW 9004A or SOCW 8604

(1 cr.)
SOCW 8610
Capstone Research Project

The purpose of this research forum is to assist and guide students in completing the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) capstone project study. Modules 1–3 are individual stages of the doctoral process that are a requirement for the completion of the capstone project. At the beginning of each quarter, students will submit a quarter plan that outlines a proposed schedule for completing the module and the final project. Within this forum, students will engage in regular scholarly discussions with the doctoral study committee and fellow doctoral students. This forum will include resources related to the capstone project, residencies, research, writing, and doctoral program expectations.

Prerequisites

  • All courses and residency completed

(5 cr. per term for a minimum of four terms until completion)
VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses

Students are continuously enrolled in SOCW 8610 for a minimum of three terms until completion of their capstone project with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.

To complete a doctoral dissertation/doctoral study, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation/doctoral study process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

Eight-Year Maximum Time Frame
Students have eight years to complete their doctoral degree requirements. See the policy in the Walden University Student Handbook. Students may petition to extend the eight-year maximum time frame, but an extension is not guaranteed.

Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances.

Tuition and Fees

Curriculum Requirements Cost Total *
Tuition-Coursework 58 quarter credits  $610 per quarter hour for coursework credits $35,380^
Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project  20–130 quarter credits $610 per quarter hour for doctoral study/project credits $12,200–$79,300*
Technology Fee $160 per quarter $1,600–$5,120*
Residency Fee One Residency $1,475 (travel, lodging and other expenses are additional) $1,475
Estimated Range:     2.5-Year 8-Year
 
$50,655*
$121,275*+
(assuming completion in a 2.5-year timeframe) (assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)

These are ranges of what a student can expect in terms of time and tuition cost to complete a degree. It does not include other fees, nor is it adjusted for tuition increases over time. Walden faculty has concluded that generally students who do not complete their program in eight years are unlikely to complete and only allow students to exceed that time frame when a student petitions for an extension and provides good reason for the delay and assurances that obstacles to completion can be overcome. Time is calculated using the time allowed for each semester or unit that the student completes. Students are encouraged to work continuously during the program so as not to extend the time needed to complete the degree as work can become stale and students lose focus. Students who earn two grades of “Unsatisfactory,” who repeatedly drop a course before a semester or unit has been completed, or are unable to complete in the eight year time frame, should expect that they may be dismissed from the program. Walden believes that it is in the best interest of a student who is unable to complete the degree in the stated ranges to strongly consider withdrawal or obtaining a lesser degree.

Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic such as tuition and fee increases and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; writing, research and editing skills; use of external data for their doctoral study/dissertation; and/or individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations; care giving responsibilities or health issues; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; leaves of absence; and/or other personal circumstances.

Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included. Students may incur additional costs for remedial writing assistance, if necessary.

^This assumes students successfully complete their coursework on the first attempt.

Based on a 2.5-year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.

*Tuition and fees will be higher if students petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe or choose to take more expensive elective courses.

+Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition discounts. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-642-0198.

FINANCIAL AID

Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.

*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.

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Program Savings

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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.

Immersive Learning Technologies

With a focus on experiential learning, Walden’s online Doctor of Social Work courses include the use of innovative technologies. You’ll have the opportunity to practice and master important skills in a safe and supportive environment through immersive simulations, online communities, and skills-based exercises. Build confidence as a social work practitioner-scholar while focusing on how to apply your new knowledge and competencies to your current job and future roles.

Doctor of Social Work Capstone

Walden’s online Doctor of Social Work program includes an independent 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. Capstone competencies are integrated throughout your courses—starting from day one—to prepare you for your capstone and your career.

Below are select titles of capstones completed by Walden Doctor of Social Work graduates:

  • System Challenges for Bilingual Clinical Social Work in Forensic Settings
  • Correctional Social Work Practice with Female Offenders in a Midwestern State
  • Trauma-Informed Care for Persons With Opioid Use Disorder in Ohio
  • Military Sexual Trauma Survivors' Experiences and Perceptions of Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Examining Cultural Humility and Intersectionality in Mental Health Treatment
  • Gay-Affirmative Social Work Practice with Homeless Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth

Meet Your Academic Team

  • Lisa Moon

    Lisa Moon

    Dean

    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.

  • Alice Yick

    Alice Yick

    Academic Coordinator

    Dr. Yick has spent the past 17 years in online higher education working with doctoral students. She has taught research methods and epistemology courses and has chaired dissertation committees. Dr. Yick has also served on institutional review boards (IRBs) at various universities.

  • 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.

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