DSW - Doctor of Social Work

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Kent School of Social Work rose garden outside of Oppenheimer Hall.The Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) program within the Kent School of Social Work will educate master degreed social workers to become future practitioner scholars in teaching and social service leadership. The DSW program’s overall goal is to offer advanced education, training, and mentoring to master degreed social workers who wish to become teaching faculty in departments/schools of social work and/or leaders managing public or private social service organizations. This addresses the need for competent and well-trained social work professionals in the academic and social service workforce. The DSW program goals are:

  • To educate students on models of social service leadership and teaching and learning
  • To train students to analyze and improve models of social service leadership and teaching and learning
  • To prepare students to implement social service leadership knowledge and skills in practice
  • To prepare students to apply teaching skills and learning strategies in instruction
  • To educate students to ethically practice in leadership and teaching positions
  • To use various modes of scientific inquiry to critically evaluate the practices of social service leadership and teaching and learning

Contact us and attend one of our prospective student information sessions to learn more about the program. Download Program Brochure [PDF]


Program Highlights

DSW Students

  • Geared towards master degreed social workers who wish to become teaching faculty in departments/schools of social work and/or leaders managing public or private social service organizations.
  • 100% online; using both synchronous and asynchronous models
  • 44 hours, Part-time program for the working professional. 2 courses each semester over 6 semesters, 1 course each in the 7th and 8th semesters for a total of 3 years. Two courses are offered sequentially each semester (fall, spring, and summer). Each online course is 8 weeks in duration. 
  • No GRE Required
  • Capstone project for final evaluation

Career Opportunities

In the community, DSW degrees prepare individuals for leadership roles in human service and non-profit organizations, policy and advocacy positions, and community activism. In practice roles, DSW degrees prepare individuals for advanced social work positions in private practice and consulting and training. In academia, DSW degrees prepares individuals for roles as faculty members and administrators. According to the Bureau of  Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for  social workers is expected to grow much  faster than average from 2016 to 2026.  Employment growth will be driven by  increased demand for healthcare and  social services but will vary by specialty. 


Professional Licensure Information

After completing a MSW/MSSW or DSW degree from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), graduates are eligible to apply for licensure as a Certified Social Worker (CSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the state of Kentucky. The University has not determined whether the DSW program meets the educational requirements for certification or licensure outside the state of Kentucky. Applicants are highly encouraged to check with the professional licensing authority in the state where they plan to practice to determine if our DSW program meets the educational requirements for that state.


Accreditation Statement

Currently, DSW and Ph.D. programs are not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). In June of 2020, CSWE approved accreditation standards for the DSW degree which is currently being piloted. The Kent School of Social Work and Family Science DSW program has adopted CSWE’s Accreditation Standards for Professional Practice Doctoral Programs in Social Work. For information about the standards and the current pilot study, please visit the Council on Social Work Education Website.