Which Universities Offer a Doctoral Degree in Social Work Online?

A doctoral degree in social work prepares graduates for careers as social welfare administrators, university professors, researchers, therapists and mental health counselors. Although online options for such programs are rare, there are a few schools offering online doctoral degree studies in social work. The following article explores social work doctorates in-depth and provides further information about online degree options. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Social Work Doctoral Degree Overview

Those who are already social work practitioners often pursue a doctoral degree in social work to enhance their career opportunities. Some may be seeking to re-focus their social work practice to theoretic realms such as teaching or consultation. Social work programs at the doctoral level focus on research methods and policy analysis. Those enrolled learn to apply existing theories of social work and to develop their own. Program curriculum emphasizes quantitative and qualitative analysis methods. Coursework addresses group counseling, child welfare, family counseling, substance abuse treatment, probation, employment services and disability assistance.

For those with a bachelor-level background in this field, it is much more common to transition to a Master of Social Work (MSW). Many colleges and universities offer this program online. A doctoral option is much more scarce both on-campus and online. Programs may result in either a Doctor of Social Work or Ph.D. in Social Work; these represent the same educational foundation and share similar completion requirements.

Important Facts about an Online Social Work Doctoral Degree

Specializations Options may include addictions and social work, medical social work, and clinical expertise
Online Availability Although most coursework can be completed online, some in-person coursework is typically required
Capstone Dissertation is typical for Ph.D. programs; DSW programs may required a clinical research study and/or a publishable scholarly paper
Possible CareersSocial work professor, social work consultant, clinical director, senior social worker
Median Salary (2018) $49,470 (for social workers)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 16% (for social workers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Institute for Clinical Social Work is a private, not-for profit center that offers a Ph.D. in Social Work. The program can be completed in four years, with most coursework completed online. However, to qualify for this program, students must live outside a 150-mile radius from downtown Chicago. They must also have an up-to-date computer system with a cable modem, audio headset and built-in computer camera. Software is given to students upon enrollment. Classes cover clinical, research and conceptual foundations of social work. Students may specialize in child and adolescent social work, psychodynamic psychotherapy or military and veterans social work. The online doctoral degree in social work shares the same curriculum and instructors with its on-campus counterpart.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Besides one week of intensive studies conducted on-campus, the Doctor of Social Work program at University of Tennessee in Knoxville is presented entirely online. The program is designed for those holding a Master of Social Work and who have the desire to advance their understanding of clinical and leadership practices. Classes have both synchronous and asynchronous components. Required courses address cognitive behavioral therapy, clinical research, psychopharmacology, neuroscience, interpersonal psychotherapy and interventions for various mental disorders including addictive behavior. Students will be required to write and defend a paper in each of the program's two capstones.

Two More Universities Offering an Online Doctoral Degree in Social Work

  • Walden University: Ph.D. in Social Work
  • Capella University: Doctor of Social Work

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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