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Explore our DSW Social Work Administration specialization

Strong leadership, strategic program development, and effective implementation can enhance an agency’s ability to serve its target populations. This specialization helps you focus on these and other aspects of administration within the context of advancing social welfare. The curriculum is designed to help you gain insight into organizational behavior, staff development, internal and community relations, and management. You can apply your knowledge to help social work agencies develop effective strategies for improving the well-being of the individuals and groups they serve.


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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Minimum Degree Requirements

  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Foundation course (3 cr.)
  • Core courses (25 cr.)
  • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
  • Research courses (10 cr.)
  • Elective course (5 cr.)
  • Doctoral Capstone Research Project
    • Capstone research project (continuous enrollment in 5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 terms until completion)
  • One 4-day face-to-face 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.


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 8802

Clinical Seminar I

Doctoral students taking this first clinical seminar receive a comprehensive overview of the history, development, and evolution of clinical social work knowledge and practice with individual and family clients.  

(5 cr.)
SOCW 8117

Diversity and Multiculturalism

This course is designed to prepare students to provide leadership to communities, institutions, employees, and agencies to address social justice, fairness, and equity for diverse, vulnerable, and marginalized populations. Students examine the intersections of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, ability, and socioeconomic status to understand individuals', communities', and families' experiences of oppression, power, access, and opportunity in society. In addition, students can engage in extensive self-awareness activities to address how their own values, attitudes, and beliefs will impact their ability to practice, advocate, and collaborate around social work, welfare, and policy.

(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.

(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.

(5 cr.)


SOCW 8152

Human Services Administration

Diminishing resources are compounding the societal challenges facing human services agencies today. In this course, students will examine the core competencies that human service administrators need in order to address these challenges and make a greater difference in the communities they serve. A broad range of skills and innovative approaches will be discussed, including cross-agency collaboration, stakeholder communication, supervision of people and processes, creation and implementation of policies, and strategic planning and management. Through course discussions, applications, and critical literature reviews, students can demonstrate knowledge and skills that are directly translatable to their current work environment.

(5 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 8786

Strategic Context of Public Management and Leadership

Public policy implementation can take place in either a public, private, or nonprofit organization or a combined or networked one. Students are engaged as learners in a collaborative study of the changing strategic context of public administration as they apply a strategic planning and management approach to the implementation of public policy. Learners are introduced to planning, general management, financial management, performance management, and contracting processes in organizations whose purpose is to implement public policy.

(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. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8401.)

(5 cr.)

Choose one course from the following 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. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RESI 8401.)

(5 cr.)
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. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RESI 8401.)

(5 cr.)


Students choose a course to support their capstone research project


Complete one residency face-to-face as soon as you begin your program; required before you begin your capstone research project.


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.

(5 cr. per term for a minimum of four terms until completion)

Students are continuously enrolled in SOCW 8610 for a minimum of 4 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.

8-Year Maximum Timeframe
Students have 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements. See the policy in the Walden University Student Handbook. Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe, 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
(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.


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.

Find Ways to Save


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.

Get Started Now

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.


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