As you move forward with your interest and career in social work, earning your online Doctor of Social Work degree will afford you many opportunities for advancement. But, what’s the first step in earning your doctorate degree?

First, you should make sure that you have fulfilled all prerequisites. Most schools have similar requirements; however, you will need to check each school’s website for specifics. Often, entry into a doctorate degree program can be competitive to get in, so, be sure to adhere to all requests and deadlines in a timely manner to help you get into the school you desire.

Generally, you need to have already completed a master’s degree program, however, some schools may accept you with a bachelor’s degree, depending on your academic performance through your undergraduate studies. Most schools will require excellent Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. If your test was administered before entering a master’s program, your scores may be sufficient for entry into a doctoral program, as well.

Most schools will request three or more references to get into their school. Choose these individuals carefully, for their opinions of you, personally and professionally, can help put you in front of other applicants when program entry is limited. In addition, your personal statement can also be a compelling reason to put you ahead of another applicant. State, in earnest, your reason for applying to their school, about your passion to help others and your future intentions and professional goals. They are also generally interested in what you expect from their program.

Most adults at this stage, have professional experience as well. You will need to provide a carefully constructed resumé outlining your work experience, internships and any volunteer work projects you have been involved in. They will also like to see any publications you have produced or may require you to submit a new writing sample signifying your dedication to research and your commitment to the field of social work.

Your online Doctor of Social Work program will prepare you to advance in your area of interest, you will learn how to conduct advanced research, gain a comprehensive understanding of social work policy, as well as, gain significant, advanced knowledge and skills to use in everyday practice. Coursework will include Social Work Intervention, Statistics, Theory Development, Social Policy Analysis, Social Welfare History, Qualitative and Quantitative Research & Methodology, Child Abuse Prevention and Causes, Theories of Trauma, Social Influences on Behavior, as well as, Diversity in the Workplace, among many other pertinent topics. A dissertation will be required.

Are online doctorate programs available? Social work requires huge amounts of one-on-one interaction; therefore, 100% online doctorate degree programs may be hard to locate. However, most schools do offer hybrid formats. In this type of program, you can complete a majority of your coursework online through virtual classrooms in which you can have a front row seat to lectures through video streaming. You can also interact with students and faculty through classes offered synchronously. Asynchronous classes may also be available, to offer you flexibility, therefore, you can attend when it is convenient for you.

In hybrid style programs, occasional on-campus meetings are required. This allows you to work closely with fellow students and faculty on projects and to also assist you with the dissertation process. In addition, mentors and school advisors are always available by phone or through e-mail. Your program may also require an internship or residency; however, today’s technology allows some programs to offer a virtual field experience through the ability to watch streaming videos of professionals performing social work. Then, the professional will explain their theories used in the process to the students viewing the video.

As a doctoral degree percipient, you will have the incredible distinguished experience of owning the highest level of education that one can achieve. Your doctoral degree program will provide important and advanced coursework that will provide you with many opportunities for promotions, management positions or advanced clinical practice options. If you would like to learn more about this field, please see our choices for the Best Online Schools for Doctor of Social Work degree programs.