Social Work Education Online PhD in Social Work

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Social worker speaking to a family.

Social Work Education Online 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?


Gain the practical skills and confidence you need to become an influential social work educator.


Beginning with the first course, you’ll focus on your topic and the tools required to start and finish your dissertation with confidence.


Along with dedicated faculty and dissertation chairs, our knowledgeable academic staff are here to help guide your success.


Walden’s commitment to effecting positive social change is woven throughout this specialization’s courses and projects.

Program Details


Minimum Degree Requirements

  • 83 quarter credits
  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Foundation course (3 cr.)
  • Core courses (25 cr.)
  • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
  • Research courses (20 cr.)
  • Completion of the Doctoral Capstone
    • Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency courses (5 cr.; continuously enrolled in 1 cr. per term for a minimum of 5 terms until completion)
    • Dissertation writing courses (continuous enrollment in 5 cr. per term for a minimum of 3 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.

For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 1-866-492-5336.

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.

Tuition and Fees

CurriculumRequirementsCostTotal *
Tuition-Coursework63 quarter credits $650 per quarter hour for coursework credits$40,950^
Tuition-Dissertation 20–130 quarter credits$650 per quarter hour for dissertation credits$13,000–$84,500*
Program Fee $175 per quarter$1,750–$5,600*
Residency FeeFour Residencies$1,420 (virtual)
$1,520 (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
Estimated Range:  2.75-Year8-Year
   (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.

Paying for Your Education

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


Looking to reach your potential with a doctoral degree? We want to support you by making your goals more achievable. Receive up to a $5,000 grant when you start this program. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

Program Outcomes

Immersive Learning Technologies

Walden’s online PhD program in social work incorporates cutting-edge technologies to enhance the delivery of course content and improve your learning. Practice and master critical skills in a safe and supportive environment through immersive simulations, online communities, and skills-based exercises. Build confidence as a social work scholar-practitioner while focusing on applying your new knowledge and competencies to your research, current job, and future roles.

PhD in Social Work Dissertation

Walden’s online PhD in Social Work program culminates in an independent capstone project, or dissertation. The dissertation allows you to contribute original research to the field while demonstrating your critical thinking, data analysis, and academic writing skills. Doctoral competencies are integrated throughout your courses—starting from day one—to prepare you for your capstone and your career.

Below are select titles of dissertations completed by Walden PhD in Social Work graduates:

  • Child Welfare Workers’ Perceptions of Their Competencies at Detecting and Reporting Abuse of Foster Children

  • Understanding the Young Adult African American Male’s Perceptions of Civic Engagement

  • Examining the Efficacy of a School-Based Mental Health Program in Iowa

  • Methamphetamine Screening and Brief Intervention in a Hospital Heart Failure Program

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patients’ Sociological Resilience, Self-Determination, and Decision-Making for Life-Sustaining Treatments

  • Mental Health Professional Perceptions of Barriers to Fidelity for Empirically Supported Treatments

  • Exploring the Use of Familismo to Manage Depression Among Elderly Latino Women



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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.