2016-2017 Walden University Catalog (September 2016) 
    May 27, 2022  
2016-2017 Walden University Catalog (September 2016) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

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The Doctor of Social Work (DSW) is a postgraduate program designed to prepare students as advanced practitioners who employ action research to design, implement, and assess social work and social welfare programs and policies for suitability for the diverse needs of families, communities, and society. This program may prepare students to design culturally and contextually relevant social services; mentor others in their efforts to provide social services to individuals, communities, and society; and provide leadership and advocacy in the social work profession regarding needs of individuals and communities with schools, governments, health services, criminal justice systems, and mental health organizations.

The DSW program specifically differs from the PhD in Social Work because the development and training in the DSW is focused on providing advanced development for the practitioner-scholar. The PhD program is focused on developing scholar-practitioners for service as researchers, agency leaders, policy analysts, and educators.

Learning Outcomes

 At the end of this program, graduates will be able to:

  1. Apply current research, best practices, and theory-based prevention and intervention strategies to address social problems and needs of social groups.
  2. Address etiology and dynamics of social problems and social needs by using research in the field.
  3. Apply results from research and evaluation to improve prevention and intervention strategies in social work practice.
  4. Critically examine the history of social work, its mission, and its core values.
  5. Promote social change by collaborating with clients, various professional agencies, organizations, and communities to advocate for the needs of culturally diverse clientele.
  6. Design and implement culturally-responsive prevention and intervention strategies.
  7. Apply ethical decision making to social work research and practice.

Degree Requirements

  • 77 total credits
  • Foundation course (1 cr.)
  • Core courses (41 cr.)
  • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
  • Doctoral Study Action Research Project (four terms, each 5 cr. = total 20 cr.)
  • 3 years estimated time to completion (based on individual student progress)
  • One face-to-face residency


Specialization Courses (15 cr.)

These courses are dependent upon the particular specialization. Please see the course list on each specialization page.

Residency Requirement

  • Complete one residency face-to-face as soon as you begin your program; required before you begin your action research project.

Doctoral Action Research Project (20 cr.)

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Students who start their doctoral program at Walden University in 2016 will complete the university’s required doctoral writing assessment on a rolling basis. Designed to evaluate incoming doctoral students’ writing skills, this assessment aims to help prepare incoming doctoral students to meet the university’s expectations for writing at the doctoral level. For more information, click here.

Program Data

Walden is committed to providing the information you need to make an informed decision about where you pursue your education. Click here to find detailed information for the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program relating to the types of occupations this program may lead to, completion rate, program costs, and median loan debt of students who have graduated from this program.

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