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Online Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

The online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) is designed for experienced social workers to become practitioner scholars in teaching and leadership and take on roles such as faculty members in social work programs and program directors, administrators, policy practitioners, and other organizational leadership positions within social service organizations.

UofL’s Doctor of Social Work program can help you make a real difference in your community and the world. If you’re an experienced social worker ready to make a difference, the expertly-designed DSW curriculum will help you develop the skills you need to educate, innovate and implement just practices that promote academic, organizational and community change.

The Doctor of Social Work is offered by the CSWE-accredited Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville.

This program is currently pending Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education approval. We encourage you to submit the Request for Information if you’re interested in earning your DSW. We will notify you as soon as the application is open and keep you informed of any steps you can take to prepare your application in the meantime.

How Much Will I Pay?

Tuition & Aid    


  • Experience the advantage of earning your degree from an R1 research institution.
  • Gain hands-on experience by completing a teaching practicum as well as a leadership practicum.
  • Complete your DSW in as little as 3 years (or 8 semesters).
  • Set yourself up for a successful career—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Social worker employment is expected to grow 16% between 2016 and 2026.
  • Take advantage of the flexibility and convenience of 100% online classes and 24/7 access to learning tools.
  • Learn from world-class, experienced Kent School faculty, who have extensive teaching and leadership experience.


Stronger cultural knowledge and stronger base to work from—available fully online.


Earn your graduate certificate in just 14 courses (44 credit hours).


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Social worker employment is expected to grow 16% between 2016 and 2026.

Online learning  - Online Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

"This program transforms experienced professionals into scholars, teachers and organizational leaders positively impacting vulnerable and marginalized populations."


Application Deadline* Term Start Date
August 1 (Preferred) Fall August

Steps to Apply

  1. Complete graduate application (available upon program approval)
    • Contact Christine Payne, Doctoral Program Coordinator, at christine.payne@louisville.edu to get started on your application prior to official program approval
    • This program is currently pending Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Approval and will begin accepting applications in July
  2. $65 non-refundable application fee
  3. Submit official college transcripts from all previous institutions
  4. Submit personal statement of goals for pursuing the DSW degree
  5. Submit Current Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  6. Submit 3 letters of recommendation**
    • From individuals familiar with the applicant’s work and/or academic ability and performance such as current or former supervisors and instructors
  7. A writing sample demonstrating the applicant's writing and analytical ability**

Note: Electronic transcripts are only accepted directly from the institution(s). Please have electronic transcripts sent to adetran@louisville.edu.

* The preferred deadline helps you complete the application process on time, be notified of acceptance and enroll before the term begins. We recommend you work on and submit your complete application in advance of the preferred deadline, as some application materials may take more time.


Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree in Social Work
    • Master’s GPA of 3.0 (applicants with a master’s GPA of below 3.0 showing potential for success as demonstrated in their other submitted application materials and/or in the interview for admission into the DSW program will be given consideration for admission)
  • 2 years of post-master’s social work experience
  • An interview after review of submitted application materials

** Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 2 letters of recommendation are required now and the writing sample is currently waived.

The online Doctor of Social Work is a 44 credit hour program that requires 6 credit hours of thesis/capstone coursework (2 courses, completed during the third, final, year of the program).

Year Semester Course List Hours
1 Fall SW 800: Social Service Leadership and Teaching & Learning: History, Philosophy & Current Practice 3
SW 801: Ethics, Equity, and Social Justice: Theory & Practice 3
Spring SW 802: Implementation Science, Program Development & Administration 3
SW 803: Continuous Quality Improvement, Data Driven Decision-Making, and Evidence Based Practice and Management 3
Summer SW 804: Research Methods 3
SW 805: Program Evaluation 3
2 Fall SW 806: Applied Social Service Leadership, Management & Practice 4
SW 807: Program Planning, Finance and Budgets 3
Spring SW 808: Social Work Teaching & Learning: Theories, Methods & Assessment 3
SW 809: Teaching in Social Work: Course Design, Instruction & Evaluation 4
Summer SW 810: Policy Analysis & Advocacy: Contemporary Issues 3
SW 811: Integrative Seminar & Qualifying Assessment 3
3 Fall SW 812: Thesis/Capstone Project 3
Spring SW 812: Thesis/Capstone Project 3
Minimum Required Credit Hours 44

Course Descriptions