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Focus on valued leadership skills, preparing you to serve as an advanced practitioner and leader in the field of social work.
The expertise, diversity, and real-world experience of our scholar-practitioner faculty can guide you in your practice and career. All social work faculty members have a doctoral degree.
Apply what you’ve learned in a written project, demonstrating your use of evidence to improve outcomes or resolve a gap in the field.
Learn to think strategically about the use of technology to improve client outcomes.
Enhance the skills you’ve developed in your program coursework through intensive, onsite experiences with students and faculty.
Work extensively on your capstone topic, methodology, application to current theory, and overall project plan starting early in your program.
“As a former job seeker in the field, the DSW qualified me to practice internationally, carry out agency administration, and educate future practitioners in the field. These opportunities were limited or out of my reach prior to obtaining my DSW.”
With over 25 years of experience in online doctoral education, we understand the unique needs of doctoral students, and have designed our programs to meet those needs. We've structured our programs to help you reach your goals and obtain critical skills—with our expert faculty, support teams, and online resources to help guide you every step of the way.
These experts will set you up for success. They’ll help you find the right degree and program, and answer all your questions about Capella.
Our courses are taught by distinguished faculty members who hold top credentials and have hands-on expertise in their fields. They know what you need to know today.
Doctoral programs are specific and challenging. That’s why you’ll have access to expert support at every step along the road to your degree.
For the culminating project of your doctoral degree, you’ll be paired with a mentor who can support and assist you along the way.
A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines.
Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.
If your employer or organization is a partner with Capella, you may be eligible for a tuition discount.
Here is just a sample of the courses you can choose from in the Doctor of Social Work program.
Advanced Social Work Practice: Theoretical Perspectives
Learners in this course assess the role of theory in social work practice at the micro, mezzo, macro, and meta levels. Learners critically appraise selected theories, perspectives, and models for relevance and evaluate the strengths and barriers regarding their application to practice. Through critical self-reflection, learners identify with specific theoretical orientations, as well as demonstrate recognition and respect for others’ theoretical orientations. For DSW learners only. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in SWK8010.
|4 quarter credits|
Leadership and Management in Complex Social Systems
Learners in this course examine and integrate an understanding of leadership principles, skills, and applications in organizational or academic environments. Learners appraise and articulate the importance of cultural and ethical competency within a leadership context as well as a complex, global society. Learners investigate issues they may encounter in the field and determine how to address them through the practice of social work leadership. For DSW learners only. Prerequisite(s): SWK8010; completion of or concurrent registration in SWK8015.
|4 quarter credits|
Advanced Social Work Policy and Practice
In this course, learners develop the ability to advocate for and create public policy, and evaluate how it impacts individuals, families, groups, and the community. Learners examine policies in light of diversity and globalization with emphasis on social justice. Learners also assess ethical concerns; policy analysis; advocacy strategies, including cross-system collaboration; and use of needs assessments. For DSW learners only. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in SWK8020.
|4 quarter credits|
Clinical Theories of Social Work Practice 1
Learners in this course analyze clinical theories of social work based on ethical considerations, client diversity, and best practice as defined by the integration of practice wisdom and scientific knowledge, to ensure proper fit between clients’ needs and intervention. Learners also evaluate practice model(s) for client treatment with a focus on individuals and couples, and begin to apply this knowledge to supervision of colleagues. In addition, learners use research to examine cutting edge and emerging intervention strategies. For DSW learners only. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in PSL7860; SWK8025, SWK8035.
|4 quarter credits|
Advanced Social Work Practitioner as a Leader of Social Change
Learners in this course articulate their individual leadership philosophies, styles, skills, and approaches to effective leadership. Learners evaluate policy, practice, programs, and the use of technology at all levels in the social work field, while evaluating social change strategies and approaches. Learners identify the use of self as they develop professional skills of influence and mobilization for change to better advocate for client groups at all levels. Learners create an individual plan for their continued self-development as leaders in the field of social work. In addition, learners demonstrate knowledge of lobbying, advocacy strategies, program evaluation, and ethical issues and concerns. For DSW learners only. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in PSL7868; SWK8065.
|4 quarter credits|
Earning a DSW can help you prepare as a leader, advanced practitioner, or educator.
Two doctoral programs focused on social work. What are the differences, and which one is right for you?
What does it take to start and grow a career in social work? A Capella faculty member shares her perspective.
Tips on how to keep your industry knowledge up-to-date while earning a DSW.
Your education can help you reach your goals, professionally and personally. Here are some of the jobs and employment settings to consider with a DSW.
*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.
If you're interested in pursuing a career that allows you to help others, our Helping Professions Guide can provide insights into a variety of options to consider.
While the social work field offers a variety of career paths and focus areas, some of the more common paths include:
Work independently in a private practice and provide counsel beyond the office to settings such as primary care, schools, hospitals, or nursing facilities.
Support families and children in the areas of child protection, adoption and foster care, residential treatment, addictions, juvenile corrections, homelessness, working poor, food insecurity, domestic violence, school social work, and counseling.
Support families in focus areas such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work while assisting other professionals and helping clients find benefits or community services.
Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes, and Capella does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, or other career growth.
Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.