Earning Your Doctor of Social Work Online

Online DSW programs turn students into effective leaders of social welfare and justice, where they’ll create real change in their communities and beyond. Learn more about this advanced degree, get familiar with the online learning experience, and find schools that offer DSW programs online.

Best Online DSW Programs for You in 2020

You’re interested in moving up into the top echelon of your profession, and you’ve determined you need a DSW degree to do so. You also think that getting your Doctor of Social Work online may be the best way to get there. But how do you know which online program is right one for you?  Take a look at our list of the best online DSW programs for 2020. You can search for programs by price, curriculum, program length, and more, so that you can quickly narrow down your options to those programs that best suit your unique needs.

About the Ranking  

Narrow By
Sort By

About the Ranking  

School Rank Number School Name City, State PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs Get Info School Information AmeriCorps match Top Peace Corps School Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students Institutional Aid Total Cost (In-State) Median Earnings 10 Years Post-Entry
1 New York University New York, NY ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

NYU is a private non-profit institution located in New York City. The school serves approximately 3,400 online students and offers one of the top Doctor of Social Work programs for hybrid learners. The program follows a blended, executive-style structure with online and in-person components, which allows students to continue working full-time positions outside of school. Students take 19 classes and workshops for eight semesters over a three-year span. Instead of a traditional dissertation, DSW students at NYU complete a graduation portfolio that consists of two publishable academic papers. In order to graduate, doctoral students also need to present their work at a professional academic conference. Prospective students need a master's degree in social work with a 3.5 or higher GPA. Additionally, NYU expects applicants to possess at least two years of post-MSW practice experience.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchYes ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolYes ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students3,372 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid43% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$61,900 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
2 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Students at UPenn can earn an online DSW in a hybrid format. Learners engage with real-time, online, interactive video instruction and occasional on-campus in-person classes. Online classes meet two evenings a week for two hours. UPenn's video technology creates a lifelike classroom experience with all students visible and audible. Prospective students interested in pursuing a DSW at UPenn must possess a master's degree in social work from an accredited college and have at least two years of post-MSW work experience. Applications need to include three letters of recommendation and an application essay. During the program, students are required to write an original dissertation and pass a dissertation defense. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as two years, although it takes most students about three years.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchYes ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students524 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid47% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$85,900 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
3 Millersville University of Pennsylvania Millersville, PA ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Millersville University of Pennsylvania is a public liberal arts institution established in 1855. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the school serves approximately 550 online students. Students in the online DSW program complete most coursework online, coupled with weekend residency in-person meetings once a semester. Faculty have designed the program to serve professionals with rigorous schedules. Millersville's DSW program focuses on leadership and education skills and prepares graduates for innovative positions working in social work theory, education, and practice. This outcome-based curriculum includes coursework, residencies, and praxis exams. Prospective students need to submit a graduate application and possess an MSW degree from an accredited program. Applications also need to include three letters of recommendation, a personal essay, personal statement, and resume. Millersville expects applicants to possess at least two years of post-MSW practice experience before applying.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchYes ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students1,324 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid34% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$43,500 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
4 Capella University Minneapolis, MN ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs2 Get Info

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Capella offers an online doctor of social work program for distance learners. Following the curriculum guidelines established by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), this doctoral degree readies students to become advanced practitioners, educators, and leaders in the field. DSW students need to complete two professional doctorate research seminars that include classroom work and a four-day residency. Residencies take place at alternating hotel conference centers throughout the U.S. In total, DSW students need 71 total quarter credits for graduation. Required courses include advanced social work practice, leadership and management and complex social systems, clinical theories of social work, leadership and social change, and a doctoral capstone course. Prospective students need a master's degree from an institution accredited by CSWE. Applications must include official transcripts from previous graduate work and reflect a 3.0 or higher GPA. Capella does not require applicants to submit their GRE or GMAT scores for consideration.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students36,284 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid50% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$63,600 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
5 University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Established in 1846, the University of Buffalo is a public research university with campuses in Buffalo and Amherst, New York. The school holds regional accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and offers an online part-time Doctor of Social Work program in social welfare. In total, students need 39 credits for graduation. The program best fits experienced social workers who currently have access to a client base and wish to advance their current practice. UB prides itself on its trauma-informed and human rights perspectives, implementation of scientific strategies, and its use of state-of-the-art digital technologies. Depending on the course, faculty deliver synchronous or asynchronous sessions with live video class sessions or flexible assignments within the prescribed timeline, respectively. In most cases, degree seekers complete the DSW in three years as part-time learners. Applications need to include GRE scores, a resume, academic transcripts, proof of a social work license, academic writing sample, and three letters of recommendation.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students6,522 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid65% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$52,600 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
6 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville, TN ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Established in 1794, UT Knoxville is a public research university with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school's college of social work offers a Doctor of Social Work in clinical practice and leadership. This accelerated, intensive program is designed for working professionals to complete the program in approximately three years without disrupting their careers. As a professional practice degree, the training prepares DSW students for advanced clinical practice and leadership roles in the field. Instructors deliver synchronous and asynchronous courses online using interactive video and instructional media. DSW students typically complete two, three-credit classes per semester, for eight continuous semesters, and need a total of 48 credits for graduation. Students need to attend an on-campus, one-week session each summer. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited institution with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Applicants also need to submit their GRE scores that have been taken within the last five years. In lieu of a dissertation, students complete two capstone papers, both of which require an oral defense conducted online or in-person.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students9,072 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid48% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$45,100 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
7 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

USC is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and offers an accelerated online Doctor of Social Work program. Students can complete this program in as few as 24 months. Unlike schools focused on clinical practice or social work in education, DSW students at USC develop practical and critical-thinking skills that apply to large-scale social challenges affecting vulnerable and marginalized populations. Students complete a capstone project for graduation that addresses critical societal issues as defined by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. With this training, alums typically move on to careers that address family violence, homelessness, social isolation, extreme economic inequality, equal opportunity and social justice, and technological uses for social good. In total, DSW students need 42 units of coursework for graduation which they normally complete over the span of six semesters. Degree seekers also need to attend two in-person residencies in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students7,608 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid58% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$74,000 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
8 Barry University Miami, FL ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Barry is a private Catholic institution located in Miami, Florida. The school offers a part-time, hybrid DSW program that is convenient for working professionals. Most requirements are available online except for two 20-hour residencies that take place on-campus during the third and sixth semesters. This curriculum combines social work practice theory with practice-outcome research. Students focus on developing modern policy-making decisions skills, leadership methods for human service organizations, and effective way of disseminating social work scholarship through publications and conference presentations. In total, degree seekers need 48 credits for graduation and complete intensive classes in qualitative and quantitative research, trauma-informed interventions, social policy analysis and change, and executive leadership and administration. Applicants need at least two years of work experience and a master's degree with a 3.5 or higher GPA. Applications must also include three letters of recommendation, a personal narrative, and a professional resume. Barry does not require GRE scores for consideration.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students1,091 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid99% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$45,800 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
9 Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Tulane offers an online doctorate in social work that helps students prepare for executive-level positions and leadership roles in human services organizations. Students focus on areas such as social welfare policy and services, the design and improvement of social services, applied research, clinical program management, university-based teaching, and nonprofit leadership. Required courses include qualitative and interpretive approaches to human inquiry, portfolio planning, leadership in social work in evidence-informed practice, and community advocacy and participatory research for applied practice. While DSW students can complete most requirements online, Tulane requires a four-day summer residency. Applicants need an MSW from an accredited institution and work experience before applying. Tulane does not require prospective students to submit the GRE for consideration. Full-time students can complete this DSW program in as few as seven semesters or three years. The school is regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students1,194 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementYes Institutional Financial Aid71% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$61,700 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
10 Walden University Minneapolis, MN ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Established in 1970, Walden is a for-profit online university located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school offers a wide variety of remote degree options, including an online Doctor of Social Work program. Distance learners choose from eight specialization areas to tailor the degree to fit their personal and academic needs. Available specializations include clinical expertise, criminal justice, social work administration, policy practice, medical social work, and family studies and interventions. In addition to online coursework, DSW students participate in a four-day residency that offer a chance to expand upon their skillset and network with classmates and faculty. DSW students complete 58 quarter credits of coursework and 20 to 180 quarter credits while working on their dissertation. Some students can finish this program in as few as two and a half years. In some cases, DSW students take up to eight years to complete the degree. Prospective DSW students at Walden need an MSW and at least two years of related work experience.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students49,680 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementNo Institutional Financial Aid0% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$50,100 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.
11 University of St Thomas Saint Paul, MN ONLINE DSW PROGRAM INFORMATION Total online programs1 Get Info

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), UST is a private Catholic, liberal arts institution located in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Established in 1885, the school today serves approximately 10,000 students. Remote students can take advantage of its online Doctor Social Work program. The doctoral degree seekers focus on preparing for university-level teaching careers and leadership roles in academic institutions. Most full-time students need three years to complete the 45-credit curriculum. Required courses include teaching in social work, social work theoretical perspectives, ready for publication, research methods and scholarship, and pedagogies in social work education. Students need to attend a two-week on-campus residency during the summer semesters while the spring and fall semesters consist of two successive eight-week online sessions. Prospective students need an MSW degree from an accredited school with a 3.0 or higher GPA. The university also requires applicants to have at least two years of post-MSW work experience and prefers that incoming students have college teaching experience.

School Information AmeriCorps MatchNo ×Participates in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program. Gives a minimum of $1,000 in matching financial aid or other benefits to at least one AmeriCorps alumnus each year. Top Peace Corps SchoolNo ×Ranked among the highest-producing colleges of Peace Corps volunteers in 2018. Online Students999 Academic CounselingYes Career PlacementNo Institutional Financial Aid96% ×Percentage of students with scholarships or fellowships awarded and funded by the college. Only applies to full-time, first-time undergraduates. Total Cost
(In-State)$$$$ ×Tuition and fees charged per academic year to full-time students qualifying for in-state residency.
Post-College Earnings$56,800 ×Median earnings of former students 10 years after entering the college. Only represents earnings of students who received federal financial aid.

Why Earn a Doctor of Social Work Online?

Social Work

The DSW degree is designed for driven professionals interested in entering the most advanced levels of social work practice and, more importantly, doing so through leadership and administrative roles that allow them to influence and shape organizational structures and practice policies. Therefore, if you’re interested in being a leader in the social work profession, obtaining a DSW should be a strong consideration.

The main advantage of obtaining a DSW online is convenience. Many DSW students earn their degrees while maintaining full-time practice. That means fitting in coursework around already busy practice schedules. Online DSW programs understand the absolute necessity of study flexibility for their students, designing curriculums that combine synchronous classes at times best suited to professional work demands with asynchronous courses that can accessed at anytime. Simply put, there’s no easier or more efficient way for the working professional to earn a DSW degree than online.

Inside Look at the Online DSW Curriculum

DSW curriculums vary somewhat from program to program, each with its own unique academic focus and philosophy. Some programs additionally offer specialization options that affect curriculum subject matter. Nevertheless, virtually all DSW degree programs have a similar course structure and learning outcomes, which are covered in more detail below.

Primary Learning Objectives

The purpose of the DSW degree is to prepare graduates for top practice, leadership, and administrative roles in the social work profession. DSW programs are designed to meet a variety of primary learning objectives, including:

  • Providing advanced practice knowledge and skills beyond those obtained at the master’s degree level, with pronounced emphasis on differential theoretical approaches.
  • Preparing students to create and implement innovative solutions to large-scale social challenges, such as homelessness, domestic violence, and economic and social inequality.
  • Teaching students to drive public discourse and policy on important social issues at community, regional, national, and international levels.

Popular Courses in DSW Programs

DSW didactic coursework places an emphasis on the subjects of advanced clinical theory and practice, social policy and discourse, and institutional and public leadership. Online programs commonly offer all or most classes in a fully-online format. Below is a sampling of courses commonly offered by online DSW programs:  

Advanced Social Work Policy and Practice

Social work professionals with advanced degrees often encounter situations where they must know social public policies and how they relate to individuals and groups, as well as the community at large. In this class, students focus on creating and evaluating policies emphasizing social justice, diversity, and global impact. Specific topics covered include policy analysis and advocacy, and the role of ethics in shaping public social policies.

Advanced Social Work Practitioner – Leader of Social Change

Students in this course are taught to develop and articulate their own unique approaches and styles of social work leadership. Components of the class include an evaluation of various leadership philosophies, styles, skills, advocacy strategies, and available technologies. Students additionally create individualized plans for continuing their development as social work leaders following completion of the course.  

Grant Writing and Administration

Leadership and Management of Large Complex Systems

Leadership in Public Discourse

Psychopharmacology

On-Campus Residencies

On-Campus Residencies

Online DSW students are commonly required to complete in-person residencies during the course of their studies. During these residencies, students attend seminars, meet with program faculty, and network with peers. Some programs use residency time for student planning and presentation of capstone projects. Residencies are most often presented at the school’s main campus, but some are available at satellite campuses or at other convenient locations. Most programs require attendance at two residencies, typically offered during summer sessions. Residency lengths vary from four days to two weeks each, depending on the particular program.

Capstone Project

Most online DSW programs require the completion of a capstone project, with a select few requiring a dissertation instead. Capstone projects typically take the form of a written, publishable paper that identifies, analyzes, and offers solutions to a current social work-related problem. Content of the project is derived from the student’s personal practice experience and immersion in applicable research literature. In-person oral presentation and defense of the capstone project is required. Students may have the option of presenting and defending their projects online in lieu of an on-campus, face-to-face presentation.

Answering Your FAQs About Online DSW Programs

DSW degree programs are a major time and money commitment, so it’s crucial that students have a full understanding of this type of education before enrolling. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about online DSW degree programs.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Doctor of Social Work Online?

Online DSW programs vary substantially in length depending on a range of factors, including the number of courses taken per semester and specific dissertation/capstone project requirements. Some accelerated programs may be fully completed in as little as 24 months, while others may allow up to five years or more. However, most online DSW programs are structured for three years (six semesters) of study for completion.

What’s the Difference Between an Online DSW and a PhD in Social Work?

Both DSW and PhD in Social Work degrees are available through online colleges and university programs, and it’s important that prospective students understand the fundamental differences between them. The DSW degree is practice-focused and meant for social work professionals interested in advancing their careers into leadership, management, and policy-shaping.

In contrast to the DSW, the PhD in Social Work is designed for professionals in the social work field seeking to advance their careers into academic research and teaching. While some DSW programs include coursework in education and feature themselves as preparing graduates for education careers, the PhD in Social Work is the preferred degree for those interested in pursuing teaching positions, particularly on the graduate and post-graduate levels.

Choose the DSW if you … seek a career in advanced clinical practice, especially in the areas of leadership and administration.

Choose the PhD in social work if you … Seek a career in academic research or teaching.

Learn more about the social work PhD by visiting our dedicated page on PhD programs in social work.

Do You Need an MSW to Enroll in a DSW Program? What Are Other Admissions Criteria?

A previously-earned Master’s in Social Work awarded by a CSWE-accredited program is a prerequisite for admission into most online DSW programs, but not all. Students applying to programs not requiring an MSW, however, must possess a master’s degree in a closely-related field, such as business administration, education, marriage and family therapy, nursing, public administration, or public health. Specific degree majors accepted vary by program.

In addition to an MSW or other professional master’s degree, most online DSW programs require the following for admission:

  • GPA: Virtually all programs mandate a minimum cumulative grade point average for all previous graduate coursework. Minimums of 3.0 to 3.5 are common.
  • Professional practice experience: Previous clinical practice experience is a requirement of almost all DSW degree programs. Minimum practice lengths vary, but two to three years or more is not unusual.
  • GRE: Some programs require submission of competitive scores on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination.
  • Other requirements may include a professional resume, personal statement, writing sample, and/or letters of recommendation. International students may be required to prove English proficiency, as evidenced by acceptable TOEFL or similar exam scores.

Are Online DSW Programs Accredited?

Programmatic accreditation of social work degree programs in the United States is administered by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE is currently in the process of establishing accreditation standards for DSW degree programs, but has yet to begin accrediting such programs. There are, however, a number of things prospective DSW students can do to establish their confidence in the quality of the degree programs they are considering:

How Much Does an Online DSW Degree Cost?

The total cost of an online DSW degree varies significantly from program to program, due to factors such as whether the school is public or private, and whether the student is required to pay out-of-state tuition rates. The chart below provides examples of tuition costs for several online DSW programs. Keep in mind that these figures are based on per-credit rates, and that additional annual, course, and per-credit fees may apply. Students should also factor in the cost of books and supplies when determining the total bill for earning their degree.

School NameNo. of CreditsCost/CreditTotal Cost
 Tulane University54$1,134*$61,236*
University of Pennsylvania12 Course Units$6,924** (2019-2020)
$6,554.33** (est. 2020-2121)
$78,986** (includes dissertation fees for 2 semesters)
University of Southern California42$1,928$80,976
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota45$1,131$50,895
University of Tennessee – Knoxville48$700*** in-state
$775*** out-of-state
$33,600*** in-state
$37,200***out-of-state

* Includes academic support service fee
** Includes general fee
*** Includes online support and library fees

What Can I Do with an Online DSW Degree?

Leadership is the key word when it comes to career opportunities for DSW degree holders. The DSW degree expands career options for social work professionals into executive and administrative positions throughout all areas of the social work and human services fields, and all sectors (private, government, non-profit) of the economy, both in the U.S. and internationally. Common job titles for DSW program graduates include:

  • Advanced Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Non-Profit Organization
  • Clinical Director
  • Director of Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Executive Director of Human Resources

While a PhD in Social Work is considered the preferred degree for academic research and education occupations, establishing successful careers in these fields by DSW graduates is far from unheard of.

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in social work.