2022–2023 Walden University Catalog (March 2022) 
    Sep 27, 2022  
2022–2023 Walden University Catalog (March 2022) [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. Identify social work practice gaps through the use of theory, current research, and best practices.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to employ a variety of research approaches to understand or address social work practice problems.
  3. Synthesize research related to social work interventions, social programs, and the social work practice knowledge base.
  4. Critically evaluate social problems and social work practice gaps from a culturally aware, ethical, and empirically driven perspective.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to advocate for social change.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to advocate for policies and practices that advance the economic and social well-being of culturally diverse clientele.
  7. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in a specialized area of social work practice.

Minimum Degree Requirements

  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Foundation course (3 cr.)
  • Core courses (25 cr.)
  • Research courses (15 cr.)
  • Specialization courses (15 cr.)
  • Completion of Doctoral Study
    • Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency (1 cr. per term for five terms)
    • Doctoral Study Action Research Project (5 cr. per term; taken continuously until completion)
    • Quarter Plans
  • One residency


Specialization Courses (15 cr.)

These courses are dependent upon the particular specialization. Please see the course list on each specialization page. Changing specializations may increase a student’s expected time-to-degree completion and cost.

Residency Requirements

  • Complete one residency as soon as you begin your program; required before you begin your second research course (RSCH 8210 OR RSCH 8310).

Completion of the Doctoral Capstone Research Project

Course Sequence

Students undertake courses in the following sequence.

Quarter Course Credits
1    3 cr.
   5 cr.
  Complete the residency between your second and fourth term; required before you begin your second research course (RSCH 8210K or RSCH 8310K).  
2    5 cr.
   5 cr.
   1 cr.
3 Specialization Course 1 5 cr.
   5 cr.
   1 cr.
4   OR    5 cr.
   5 cr.
   1 cr.
5 Specialization Course 2 5 cr.
   5 cr.
   1 cr.
6 Specialization Course 3 5 cr.
  OR    5 cr.
   1 cr.
7+   5 cr. per term for a minimum of 3 terms; taken continuously until completion

*Students take this course for a minimum of three quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval. In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation course until they complete their dissertation, and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation course shell.

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Students who start or readmit to doctoral programs at Walden University in the university catalog for academic year 2017 or later will complete the university’s required doctoral writing assessment. 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.

8-Year Maximum Time Frame

Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements (see Enrollment Requirements). Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum time frame, but an extension is not guaranteed.

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