Online PhD in Social Work

Join a PhD in Social Work program that prepares you for your dissertation right from the start.
Join a PhD in Social Work program that prepares you for your dissertation right from the start.

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Fill out the form and we will contact you to provide information about furthering your education.

Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.

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PhD in Social Work

Ready to Get Started?

Fill out the form and we will contact you to provide information about furthering your education.

Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.

  • Current 01 Step 1: About You
  • 02 Step 2: Contact Information

Why Choose Walden?


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


Starting with the first course, you’ll be focused on your dissertation topic and the tools you need to proceed with confidence.


Along with dedicated faculty and dissertation chairs, we have experts in two academic centers who are focused on your success.


Immersive learning technologies and online simulations empower you to sharpen your skills for real-life career scenarios.


The Walden Doctoral Degree Coach™ helps you find the right support when you need it and stay on track throughout your journey.


Program Details

Admission Requirements

Program Admission Considerations: An MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program.

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.

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?

A smiling woman wearing a graduation gown.


A Personalized Guide to Completing Your Doctorate

Earning your online PhD in 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.


Program Outcomes

Earn a Distinguished Degree in Social Work

Walden’s online PhD program in social work is a different way to earn your doctorate. Instead of waiting until the end of your studies to start your dissertation work, you’ll have the structure and support you need to move forward from the very start. Early courses will help you develop essential dissertation skills and choose a research topic . Every step of the way, our faculty are here to help as you navigate the process and lay the foundation for a compelling dissertation.

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.




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.


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PhD in Social Work FAQs

What can I do with a PhD in Social Work?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment in the field of social work is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations from 2018–2028.1 This growth is projected to include a variety of positions within a variety of industries. Those who earn their PhD in Social Work often pursue careers in research and academia; however, there are many options available to professionals who obtain this degree, including:

  • Postsecondary social work education
  • Human resource management
  • Community and social services management
  • Employee training and development management
  • Policy analyst
  • Social work agency leader


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

Should I get a PhD in Social Work or a DSW?

While both degree paths can help prepare you for a career devoted to making a difference in people’s lives, it’s helpful to look closer to determine which program better aligns with your interests and goals. If you’re looking to pursue a career in academia, a PhD in Social Work program allows you to focus on advancing your skills as a researcher and educator. If you would like to focus more on how research can be applied to social work programs and policies, as well as gain key leadership and management skills needed to improve your practice, a DSW program is the better choice. Put simply, a PhD can better prepare you to teach, whereas a DSW can prepare you for a professional career in the field.

What is National Social Work month and when is it celebrated?

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has designated March as National Professional Social Work Month, a celebration that highlights the important contributions of social workers. Social work professionals make a meaningful impact on nearly every aspect of society as advocates for the vulnerable and underserved. Dr. Barbara Solomon, namesake of Walden University’s Barbara Solomon School of Social Work, exemplifies this tradition of service. A longtime Walden University board member and respected leader in the field, Dr. Solomon is recognized by the NASW as a Social Work Pioneer and is an inductee in the California Social Work Hall of Distinction. Walden is proud to count Dr. Solomon as a member of our community and celebrates the outstanding accomplishments of our social work students and alumni.

Is it worth getting a PhD in Social Work?

Furthering your education is often a good idea, but it’s important to find a degree program that aligns with your personal and professional goals. If you’re looking to pursue a social work career that centers on conducting research and/or teaching, then a PhD in Social Work is the best choice for you. Walden’s PhD program is designed to give you skills and knowledge that can be applied to a career in academia immediately, whether as a scholar, researcher, or university professor. Whether you want to work in the public or private sector, a PhD in Social Work from Walden can prepare you to make a difference wherever you go.

1Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers, Job Outlook. Retrieved January 2021 using SOC Code 21-1020. 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.

2Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Database (IPEDS). Based on the most recent year of completions survey data available, using all classifications of instructional programs (CIP) codes (retrieved January 2021). A doctoral research degree (Award Levels 17 and 19) 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.