Doctor of Social Work

Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)

The Doctor of Social Work Program aims to create a collaborative learning community that fosters scholars who are 1) leaders in anti-oppressive social work in both agency and community contexts, 2) experts in translational and implementation science, and 3) world-class teachers and mentors. An emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion provides context for the classes and serves as a central component of course content. The program is centered on developing leadership and administrative skills, while simultaneously preparing graduates capable of engaging with communities and translating the research base of the profession in order to help agencies to understand and implement the best practices found in the social work and social science literature. Finally, recognizing that many students pursuing a DSW wish to teach, a significant percentage of our courses are devoted to the theory and practice of teaching, enabling graduates to enter clinical faculty roles prepared to conduct their own classes, contribute to curricular development, and serve as skilled mentors and advisors to students.

Program Highlights

  • A focus on leadership, teaching, and implementation science.
  • An advanced social work degree that builds skills designed to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive programs and communities.
  • The development of a sophisticated understanding of best practices in social work and how to apply them in real world contexts.
  • Courses that build an understanding of advanced social work practice in agency and community settings.
  • Collaborative learning environments in a fully online setting.
  • The development of relationships with student colleagues from diverse geographic areas of the US and beyond.
  • Advising and mentorship from admission to program completion.
  • Creative and applied Capstone Projects which serve as final projects for the doctorate.

Consider Our Program

The online D.S.W. program gives current social workers the opportunity to further advance their skills with coursework of practice at the leadership or management level. While earning your D.S.W. at KU, you will build a framework of leadership best practices, develop a deep understanding of research implementation, and takeaway critical learning theories to the social work classroom.  The program offers an affordable doctorate in social work that will allow working professionals the opportunity to become leaders in their field and is designed to allow students the capacity to maintain their employment throughout. Job prospects for D.S.W. applicants in higher education and in agency and government leadership are strong and predicted to grow.


D.S.W. courses prepare students as practitioner-scholars leadership and pedagogy skills, and the ability to translate scientific research into practice at various levels.

  • The Advanced Practice course grounds students in an understanding of the D.S.W., their own identity as an advanced leader, and the practice contexts D.S.W. level practitioners encounter in their work lives.
  • The Leadership courses build skills and knowledge in program development and design, program budgeting and finance, leadership and management, and community engaged macro social work practice.
  • The Pedagogy courses teach students about adult centered learning, the development of syllabi, classes, assignments, and courses as well as an understanding of how to teach, mentor and advise students from diverse backgrounds and with diverse learning styles.
  • The Research and Inquiry classes teach students about the basics of applied social research design, how to understand and utilize the best practice literature to solve problems and design programs and how to translate and implement scientific practices and knowledge in real world settings.