Reach a new level of professional distinction with Walden’s PhD in Social Work program.

Make crucial contributions to your profession—and to society—with our online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program. The challenging curriculum prepares you to practice at the highest level of the field and address today’s most pressing social work issues. A PhD in Social Work degree qualifies students to pursue high-level roles as researchers, educators, policymakers, and administrators.

Why Pursue Your PhD in Social Work With Walden?

  • Learn from a leader: Walden is the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees.1
  • Benefit from exceptional student support: From in-person residencies to dissertation writing and research guidance, our online program is focused on helping you finish your PhD. You’ll have access to extensive support from the first day of your program.
  • Pursue your passion. Tailor your PhD in Social Work coursework to what matters most to you. Specializations allow you to hone your expertise in a particular area of the field, such as clinical supervision or social work administration, among others.
  • Choose a university that’s as committed to social change as you are. For Walden, social change is not just something we talk about—it’s who we are. Our students, alumni, faculty, and staff are contributing to real change around the globe.

Dissertation Support From Day One

Earning your PhD in Social Work is the ultimate intellectual feat, and Walden’s online learning environment is designed to facilitate your success. From start to finish, get access to a wealth of student resources that can help you reach that finish line. These include:

  • Writing and research assistance
  • Statistics and methodology design support
  • Four face-to-face residencies, all focused on dissertation preparation
  • IRB (Institutional Review Board) office hours
  • Doctoral Research Coach app

A PhD in Social Work Program for Your Busy Life

At Walden, we understand that you likely work full time and may care for children or other family members. Explore our support services designed to help you balance family commitments with your work and school responsibilities. We’re all in this together.

Choose the Specialization That’s Right for You

Clinical Expertise

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This specialization can prepare you to serve as an expert in clinical social work practice by providing an opportunity to focus on advanced clinical supervision. Gain the knowledge to supervise or mentor Master of Social Work students or advance your current clinical practice.

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Impact the Field at a Higher Level

You have a curious mind, a compassionate heart, and a penchant for problem-solving. In Walden’s online PhD in Social Work program, you’ll gain the advanced credentials and expertise to take your talents further than you ever imagined. Move forward as a researcher, educator, or administrator in social work and or a related discipline. Impact your profession at a higher level.

Meet Your Program Director

Dr. 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.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of Walden’s online PhD in Social Work program, you 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 gather 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.
  • Assess the role of diversity in characterizing and shaping the human experience.
  • Apply ethical decision-making and practices in social work.
Walden Social Community

Change Your World—and the World Around You.

Imagine hearing the words “Dr. ____” for the very first time. Elevate your influence with a credential that matters. From dedicated faculty to exceptional support services, you’re never alone on your doctoral path—Walden is here to help you reach the finish line. Find out more about our online PhD in Social Work program today.

Career Outlook

A PhD in Social Work from Walden is an elite credential that can set you apart in the market and bring new respect from peers, employers, clients, and students. You’ll be prepared to make a difference through influential roles in research, teaching, policymaking, or administration.

Earn a degree that puts you in demand. Employment for social and community service managers is expected to grow by 13% through 2028—much faster than the average for all occupations.2 Jobs for postsecondary teachers are expected to grow at a rate of 11% through 2028.3

A PhD in Social Work can prepare you to pursue career options such as:

  • College professor/educator
  • Researcher
  • Evaluator
  • Agency leader

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.


A PhD in Social Work can prepare you to work in settings such as:

  • Universities
  • Community agencies
  • Government
  • Research think tanks

Interesting Facts

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$1
According to PayScale, the average salary for a senior researcher is $94,624.1
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+1%
Social and community service manager jobs are expected to grow by 13% through 2028—much faster than the average for all occupations.2

Meet Our Students and Faculty

A Social Worker’s Charge

Adrien Green
PhD in Social Work student Adrian Green shares her insight on struggles and opportunities within child protective services.

Practicing with Purpose

Renata Hedrington-Jones
Social work is often described as challenging and frustrating, but it's also rewarding to see the difference social workers make in people's lives and communities.

A Passion for Special Needs Kids

Kailee Bauman
MSW student Kailee Bauman hopes to advocate for and raise awareness of special-needs kids.

Testimonials

Bernadette Marson

Bernadette Marson

PhD in Human Services Graduate
I hope that with the degree I’ve obtained from Walden I can help individuals, organizations, and policymakers develop policies and plans to benefit children and youth.
I knew from earning my master’s degree that Walden fit my schedule as an intervention counselor, trainer, and single parent.
I knew I wanted to attain a PhD so that I could teach at the university level, and I have a passion for forming competent and informed social workers.
Mildred Peyton PhD in Human Services Graduate
Mildred Peyton
Tomica Buford MS in Mental Health Counseling Graduate
Tomica Buford
Warren Miller PhD in Social Work graduate

FAQ About Walden’s Online PhD in Social Work

1Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Database (IPEDS). Retrieved July 2018; includes 2017 preliminary data and all classifications of instructional programs (CIP) codes. A doctoral research degree is a PhD or other doctoral degree that requires advanced work beyond the master’s level, including the preparation and defense of a dissertation based on original research or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement. Some examples of this type of degree may include EdD, DMA, DBA, DSc, DA, DM, or others, as designated by the awarding institution.

2Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social and Community Service Managers. National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, do not guarantee actual job growth, and are subject to change.

3Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Teachers. National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, do not guarantee actual job growth, and are subject to change.

4Source: PaySscale, Senior Researcher Salary.

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Questions about our PhD in Social Work?
Questions about our PhD in Social Work?
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