Explore our PhD in Social Work Policy Practice specialization
Explore the fundamentals of successful collaboration with legislators and lobbyists to create public policies that generate sustainable change. In this specialization, you can analyze the economic, governmental, and legal factors that influence decision making on policy related to social welfare. You will study ways to help shape legislation by identifying community needs and working with key stakeholders to address issues affecting the welfare of the community. Apply your new skills as a leader, educator, or researcher in social policy.
Minimum Degree Requirements
- Doctoral Writing Assessment
- Foundation course (3 cr.)
- Core courses (25 cr.)
- Specialization courses (15 cr.)
- Research courses (20 cr.)
- Completion of the Doctoral Capstone
- Dissertation writing courses (continuous enrollment in 5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 terms until completion)
- Four PhD residencies
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 1-866-492-5336.
DOCTORAL WRITING ASSESSMENT
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.
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.
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.
History and Development of Social Work
This course is designed to provide a doctoral foundation in the history and philosophy of clinical social work and social welfare. Students can explore the strengths and weaknesses of the social work delivery systems. They can review the origins of the profession as well as its various responses to the changing needs of society. Students can begin to develop their identities as leaders, researchers, and best-practices informants in the area of social work through critical literature reviews related to research, policy, and practice; discussions about social work and contemporary society; and course assignments. Students in this course also focus on the competencies and ethics of social work and social welfare professionals.
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.
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.
Preparing for Dissertation
The focus of this course is specifically on the process of writing the dissertation prospectus. Students will use their preliminary research plan, developed previously, and develop a problem statement, to be used in the dissertation. They will further refine the problem statement and carry out the planning and the library research that will bring them to the formulation of a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus is a brief paper, typically 15–20 pages in length, that lays out the background for the problem statement; the problem statement itself; a survey of the relevant literature, typically 25–75 references; and a research, implementation, and evaluation plan for the solution of the problem.
Public Policy Analysis
Public administrators today work in a hypercharged, partisan environment with unprecedented access to public policy data. This challenging environment affords public administrators both extraordinary opportunities and severe constraints. Students in this course examine, in detail, the key stakeholders and actors in the public policy process with particular attention devoted to understanding the functions, impacts, and constraints of these stakeholders upon policy development and the policy-making process. In addition, students explore professional ethics related to the role of the policy analyst and consider the significant social outcomes of public policy. This course is an introduction to the theories and strategies used by policy-makers and policy analysts to develop, implement, execute, evaluate, and promulgate public policy. Students explore the impact and consequences of public policy and consider and evaluate policy in a social justice framework. Students craft a policy memorandum to a decision maker of their choosing that examines and evaluates competing alternatives regarding a current public policy problem.
Strategic Planning: Collaboration, Cooperation, and Coordination
In an increasingly complex world, leaders and managers in public and nonprofit organizations need to be strategic in their planning to fulfill the organizational mission and enhance stakeholder satisfaction. Students in this course explore the role and process of strategic planning with an appreciation for collaboration, cooperation, and coordination as they relate to the strategic planning process. Students will apply these concepts to real-life situations and organizations and develop a strategic plan.
Fundamentals of Law and Public Policy
Legal decisions and the law have an impact on the creation of public policy. Students in this course explore the relationship between law and public policy and the significance of court decisions on law and public policy. Students examine the role of administrative agencies in the creation and execution of law and public policy and the role of the courts in resolving challenges to agency rule-making; conflicts between executive and legislative branches of government; and conflicts between and among federal, state, and local laws. Students apply fundamental legal concepts and processes to the creation and execution of law and public policy.
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.)
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.)
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.)
Choose one course from the following courses:
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. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 and RESI 8402.)
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. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8402.)
Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis
Students build upon knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8210 - Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis and RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis for more specialized knowledge and skills to design mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. Students are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for designing mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. They gain an understanding of the types of mixed-methods designs and how to select the most appropriate approach for the research question(s). The emphases of this course are on integrating quantitative and qualitative elements into true mixed-methods studies, practice in data analysis, and integration of qualitative and quantitative data within a research write-up. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a mixed-methods research plan that incorporates qualitative and quantitative elements appropriately. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RSCH 8210 or RSCH 7210 or RSCH 6210, and RSCH 8310 or RSCH 7310 or RSCH 6310, and RESI 8402.)
Doctoral students are offered the opportunity to integrate their program of study into an in-depth exploration of an interest area that includes the completion of a research study in this course. Students complete the dissertation independently, with the guidance of a dissertation supervisory committee chair and committee members. Students complete a prospectus, proposal, Institutional Review Board application, and dissertation. Once students register for SOCW 9000, they are registered each term until successful completion of the dissertation.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a dissertation, 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 process in the Dissertation Guidebook. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8100, RSCH 8200, and RSCH 8300.)
|(5 credits per quarter for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)|
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
Students are continuously enrolled in SOCW 9000 for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion of their capstone project with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.
To complete a doctoral dissertation, 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 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
|Tuition-Coursework||63 quarter credits||$610 per quarter hour for coursework credits||$38,430^|
|Tuition-Dissertation||20–130† quarter credits||$610 per quarter hour for dissertation credits||$12,200–$79,300*|
|Technology Fee||$160 per quarter||$1,760–$5,120*|
|Residency Fee||Four Residencies||
$1,475 (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
|(assuming completion in a 2.75-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 2.75-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
Program Admission Considerations: A master's degree or higher.
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.