Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Social Work Education

Why Choose Walden?

Walden Facts

Master Impactful Teaching

Explore instructional design and adult learning principles and gain practical, hands-on skills for teaching social work students.

Become a Change Agent

Walden’s Education for Good® mission is infused throughout this program, including a DSW capstone with a social change component.

Prepare for Your Capstone

Starting from day one, you’ll have access to the tools and support needed to begin working on your capstone project with confidence.

Get Hands-On Practice

Immersive DSW learning experiences—such as online simulations—empower you to practice and master your teaching skills.

Program Details


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.

For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.

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.

Tuition and Fees

Curriculum Requirements Cost Total *
Tuition-Coursework 58 quarter credits  $635 per quarter hour for coursework credits $36,830^
Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project  20–130 quarter credits $635 per quarter hour for doctoral study/project credits $12,700–$82,550*
Technology Fee   $170 per quarter $1,530–$5,440*
Residency Fee One Residency $1,420 (virtual)
$1,520 (in person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
Estimated Range:     2.5-Year 8-Year
      $52,480* $126,340*+
      (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.

Paying for Your Education

Our Enrollment Specialists can help you outline a plan and find resources for funding your education.

Program Savings

Receive up to a $5,000 Grant if you start this program on May 29, 2023. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

Program Outcomes

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