Best Online Schools for Doctoral Degrees in Social Work

doctor of social work

There are three types of doctoral degrees in Social Work: an Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), which is designed to train students to be high-quality instructors in higher education institutions; a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) which is a research-focused path; and a Doctor of Social Work, in which students specialize in clinical practice. Social Work is a crucial area of the mental health field that assists individuals with a variety of issues to function as a normal part of society. These ten institutions give individuals state-of-the-art online coursework in the social work discipline.

Methodology:

  • All information is cited from the unbiased, independent NCES.gov’s College Navigator
  • To ensure our rankings methodology cannot be duplicated without our knowledge, we have withheld some aspects of the calculations. Please contact us at the email address provided below for more in-depth calculations and criteria
  • Our sponsored schools are paid advertisements that are not affiliated with our site’s individual school rankings.  They are clearly defined with the word “SPONSORED” as to not confuse our readers with what has been methodologically researched and ranked by our site editors and researchers as compared to the independently sponsored schools that pay for their placement on our site. For more information regarding our rankings or our sponsored schools, please email us at LINDA.WEEMS210@GMAIL.COM

UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE KNOXVILLE

Program Standouts:
Revered as one of the finest and most popular online Doctor of Social Work programs in the nation, the University of Tennessee Knoxville offers a degree focused around Clinical Practice and Leadership. The program is designed for working professionals and engages students in providing services to at-risk populations in a variety of settings.

Campus Location: Knoxville, TN

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400
  • Council on Social Work Education

Acceptance Rate: 76%

Retention Rate: 85%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended including a Master in Social Work representing a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, GRE scores, and three references. Applicants must demonstrate information technology skills. TOEFL scores are required from applicants who use English as a second language.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Neuroscience for Clinical Practice
  • Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I and II

Degree Outcomes:
This DSW from UTK involves intensive accelerated coursework that enables students to satisfy all degree requirements in three years, with minimal impact on their time. Students gain highly enhanced methods of practice in clinical social work and develop an even stronger network of peers and professionals throughout their experiences as a UTK student.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE KNOXVILLE ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________

UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS

Program Standouts:
The University of St. Thomas’ online Doctor of Social Work is another of the most celebrated in the entire country, and the school’s popularity is reflected in their impressive retention rate. The curriculum is designed to “fill a gap in social work doctoral education as the first to focus on preparing social work students for university-level teaching.”

Campus Location: Saint Paul, MN

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400
  • Council on Social Work Education

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Retention Rate: 89%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended including a Masters in Social Work degree representing a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a personal statement.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Social Work Education
  • Pedagogies in Social Work Education: Theory and Practice
  • Career Development Practicum

Degree Outcomes:
Graduates from this outstanding online program are prepared to: engage in transformative teaching, develop an identity as a scholar-practitioner, write for publication, and pursue social justice through service and leadership. This collaborative program with St. Catherine University gives students only the most excellent opportunities and resources.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Program Standouts:
According to the program website, which can be found below, the University of Southern California is “the first among elite research universities to offer a Doctor of Social Work degree online!” The coursework prepares scholar-practitioner students to develop innovative solutions that solve real-world problems.

Campus Location: Los Angeles, CA

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400
  • Council on Social Work Education

Acceptance Rate: 16.5%

Retention Rate: 96%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended including a Master in Social Work degree representing a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and GRE or GMAT scores.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Managing Innovation and Change in Social Work
  • Leading Public Discourse in Social Work
  • Informatics and Social Innovation

Degree Outcomes:
This coursework is specifically designed for students who are looking to significantly impact their practice. Graduates are positioned to participate in and lead conversations on sweeping topics such as gun violence, foster care, and homelessness. These individuals have the ability to formulate strategic plans and pitch ideas to panels of experts.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

Program Standouts:
The University of Pennsylvania is an incredibly successful school, which is reflected in their outstanding, nearly 100% retention rate, as well as their challenging acceptance rate. This curriculum prepares all manner of social work professionals for leadership in advanced social work practice and teaching.

Campus Location: Philadelphia, PA

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Retention Rate: 98%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended including a Masters in Social Work degree representing a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, three letters of recommendation, and an application essay.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Social Work Theory
  • Applied Statistics
  • Clinical Practice I, II, and III

Degree Outcomes:
UPenn graduates are sought after social work doctors who are highly trained and respected experts, educators, and leaders in the field. The coursework further prepares social work professionals to engage in a fulfilling, rewarding career path and make important research and practice contributions to the profession.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA ONLINE DOCTORAL PROGRAM

______________________________

WALDEN UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:
Walden University is an incredibly successful online school that produces some of the finest distance education programs in the country. The online Doctor of Social work prepares students to become authoritative advocates for social justice and develop the ability to affect positive social change and address numerous challenges within the field.

Campus Location: Minneapolis, MN

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400
  • Council on Social Work Education

Acceptance Rate: unavailable

Retention Rate: unavailable

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended including a Master’s in Social Work degree.

Program Options:

  • Addictions and Social Work
  • Clinical Expertise
  • Criminal Justice
  • Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention
  • Family Studies and Intervention
  • Medical Social Work
  • Policy Practice
  • Social Work Administration

Degree Outcomes:
Depending on their area of specialization, Walden graduates go on to achieve many different accomplishments in the field of social work. Alumni have gone on to work as leaders in agencies and organizations, program directors, evaluators of social work practice and agencies, and supervisors in social work organizations.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WALDEN UNIVERSITY ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________

BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:
Baylor University offers online students a Ph.D. in Social Work that is designed to develop leaders and educators who can “lead visionary social work education or service programs and conduct original research addressing complex social issues.” There is a specific focus toward integration of religion and faith.

Campus Location: Waco, TX

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 44%

Retention Rate: 89%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended including a Masters in Social Work degree, GRE scores, a personal statement, a sample of scholarly writing, a current résumé or CV, and three letters of recommendation.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Theory and Model Development for Social Work Practice
  • Christianity, Ethics, and Social Work
  • Qualitative Research for Social Work

Degree Outcomes:
Graduates from Baylor University have the education and skill to serve in academic research and teaching positions in social work programs; and serve as leaders in the movement and private agencies around the world! Alumni have a keen understanding of the ethics, values, and practices of the social work profession.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BAYLOR UNIVERSITY ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________

FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:
The Florida Atlantic University online Doctor of Social Work is intended to train “Scholarly Clinicians” in preparation for practice-oriented clinical leadership and critical thinking at the doctoral level. This highly accommodating and experience-rich curriculum works well with individual schedules while providing the highest level of education.

Campus Location: Boca Raton, FL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Retention Rate: 78%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended including a Masters in Social Work degree representing a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, GRE scores, a personal statement, a sample of scholarly writing, a current résumé or CV, three letters of recommendation, and a criminal background check.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Clinical Social Work Research and Statistics
  • Evaluating and Interpreting Social Work Research
  • Clinical Social Work Supervision, Management, and Administration

Degree Outcomes:
Graduates from FAU have gone on to assume leadership positions in a variety of roles and setting such as academia, clinical practice, and administration. A wide selection of coursework prepares alumni for the myriad roles involved within careers in social work.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY ONLINE DOCTORAL PROGRAM

______________________________

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:
Liberty University is one of the most popular and highly-regarded online schools in the country, offering a unique and exciting Ed.D. in Community Care and Counseling with several specialization options. Liberty University curricula are founded on the mores and tenets of Christianity, giving students access to faith and religion in their coursework.

Campus Location: Lynchburg, VA

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Retention Rate: 69%

Acceptance Rate: 20.2%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended, and a statement of purpose. TOEFL scores are required from applicants who use English as a second language.

Program Options:

  • Marriage and Family
  • Pastoral Care and Counseling
  • Traumatology

Degree Outcomes:
Graduates from this program have the training and preparation to become social workers, outpatient therapists, trauma counselors, church counselors, and marriage and family counselors. Through Liberty University challenging coursework, these doctoral students have the knowledge and skill to become social justice advocates!

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________

THE INSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK

Program Standouts:
This online program is revered as one of the finest Ph.D. in Social Work degrees available and is supported by an institution whose sole mission is to provide education in this particular field of study. Coursework incorporates advanced clinical practice, theoretical study, and research experience.

Campus Location: Chicago, IL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: unavailable

Retention Rate: unavailable

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended with a Masters in Social Work degree representing a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, a current résumé and CV with relevant experience, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and proof of current licensure.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Clinical Process and Technique: The Therapeutic Situation
  • Perspectives on Trauma and Neuropsychology
  • Traditions of Inquiry in the Social Sciences

Degree Outcomes:
Graduates of this program have an incredibly solid understanding of psychodynamic theory, clinical practice and various frameworks, and applied for a clinical scholarship. Each individual sharpens and enhances verbal and written communication skills to prepare for clinical reports necessary for presentation, documentation, consultation, and publication.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________

KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:
The Kutztown University online Doctor of Social Work coursework prepares leaders and teachers through enhanced leadership and the transformative opportunity to explore and develop themselves as scholars and practitioners. The program is focused around preparing leaders and educators for career advancement.

Campus Location: Kutztown, PA

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois, 60614-1413
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7400

Acceptance Rate: 82%

Retention Rate: 73%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from all accredited colleges and universities attended with a Bachelors or a Masters in Social Work degree, a current résumé and CV with relevant experience, a statement of purpose, and a five-page statement addressing the current state of knowledge.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Leadership/Teaching Praxis I and II
  • The Social Work Teacher-Scholar I and II

Degree Outcomes:
Both undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to this superb online program that keenly develops individuals’ skills in instruction and leadership. The coursework was designed around working professionals so that students can actively improve their careers through scholarly research and practice.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY ONLINE DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAM

______________________________