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College of Social and Behavioral Health:
PhD in Social Work

The PhD in Social Work program is designed to prepare experienced social work professionals as leaders, researchers, educators, and supervisors in the field. This program offers students an opportunity to engage in a core body of social work knowledge and processes that focus on the history and development of the profession, contemporary issues in social work, advanced social work theory and practice, program planning and evaluation, and research methods leading to a dissertation experience designed to prepare students for their roles as leaders and advocates for social change in the field.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program are able to:

  1. Synthesize scholarly research and theory to examine gaps in social work knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate the skills necessary to create and implement ethical research designs that take into account cultural factors to expand social work knowledge.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to employ a variety of research approaches to understand or address the etiology and dynamics of social problems and needs.
  4. Evaluate research related to social work interventions, social programs, and the empirical knowledge-base.
  5. Analyze social problems related to the field of social work from a culturally aware, ethical, and empirically-driven perspective.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to advocate for social change.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to use scholarly research to advocate for policies and practices that advance the economic and social well-being of culturally diverse clientele.
  8. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in social work practice and research.

Minimum Degree Requirements

  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Foundation course (3 credits)
  • Core courses (20 credits)
  • Specialization courses (15 credits)
  • Research Courses (20 credits)
  • Completion of Doctoral Capstone
    • Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency (1 credits per term for five terms)
    • Dissertation support course (5 credits)
    • Dissertation (5 credits per term for a minimum of three terms; taken continuously until completion)
    • Quarter Plans
  • Four residencies

Curriculum

Foundation Course (3 credits)

Core Courses (20 credits)

Specialization Courses (15 credits)

These courses are dependent upon the particular specialization. Please see the course list on each specialization page.

Foundation Research Courses (15 credits)

Courses comprising the Foundation Research Sequence are conducted online and require weekly readings, participation in discussions, and assignment completion. Course instructors guide discussions and evaluate discussion and application assignments. RSCH 8110 must be completed prior to Residency 2 of the academic residencies. RSCH 8210 and RSCH 8310 must be completed prior to beginning the dissertation or attending Residency 3.

  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.
  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.
  • Students may take this as a non-degree course.

Advanced Research Course (5 credits)

All PhD students are required to complete one advanced-level research course that mirrors the methodology of their intended dissertations. The university offers three advanced courses; individual programs may have other advanced options. Students should refer to their specific programs of study to determine program-specific requirements.

One of the following three courses is required:  

Residency Requirements

  • Complete Residency 1 as soon as you begin your program; should be completed in Term 1 or Term 2.
  • Complete Residency 2 within 18 months of your start date or linked to your registration for or completion of your first research course.
  • Complete Residency 3 by the end of your third year.
  • Complete residency 4 after your prospectus is approved as follows:
  • Optional: Complete a PhD dissertation intensive (DRWI 8500) during your dissertation. Contact Student Success Advising to register.

Completion of the Doctoral Capstone

Dissertation Writing Courses

Students take this course for a minimum of three quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.

To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the chief academic officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

Specializations Not Currently Accepting New Students

Course Sequence

Students undertake courses in the following sequence.

Quarter Course Credits
Quarter 1

SOCW 8002 - Foundations of Graduate Study

3 credits

SOCW 8110 - Advanced Social Work Theory and Practice

5 credits
Complete Residency 1 as soon as you begin your program; should be completed in Term 1 or Term 2.
Quarter 2

RSCH 8110 - Research Theory, Design, and Methods

5 credits

SOCW 8112 - Social Work Scholarship

5 credits

SOCW 9001A - Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 1

1 credits
Quarter 3

SOCW 8137 - Contemporary Issues, Social Change, and Social Policy

5 credits
Specialization Course 1 5 credits

SOCW 9002A - Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 2

1 credits
Quarter 4

SOCW 8138 - Program and Practice Evaluation

5 credits

RSCH 8210 - Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

5 credits

SOCW 9003A - Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 3

1 credits
Complete Residency 2 within 18 months of your start date or linked to your registration for or completion of your first research course.
Quarter 5 Specialization Course 2 5 credits

RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

5 credits

SOCW 9004A - Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 4

1 credits
Complete Residency 3 by the end of your third year.
Quarter 6 Specialization Course 3 5 credits

RSCH 8260 - Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

 OR 

RSCH 8360 - Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

 OR 

RSCH 8460 - Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis

5 credits

SOCW 9005A - Building Doctoral Socialization and Competency 5

1 credits
Quarter 7

SOCW 8550 - Preparing for Dissertation

5 credits
Quarter 8+

SOCW 9000 - Dissertation

5 credits per term for a minimum of 3 terms; taken continuously until completion

Complete residency 4 after your prospectus is approved as follows:

  • Residency 4 General (RESI 8404) OR
  • Residency 4 Proposal Writing (RESI 8404Q) OR
  • Residency 4 Methods & Data Collection: Qualitative (RESI 8404R) OR
  • Residency 4 Methods & Data Collection: Quantitative (RESI 8404S) OR
  • Residency 4 Publishing & Presenting (RESI 8404T) OR
  • an approved professional conference (RESI 8900 for select programs only. Contact Advising for information.) OR
  • a dissertation intensive (DRWI 8500) during your 9000 course. Contact Student Success Advising to register. You must attend all sessions and advising throughout the entire intensive retreat in order to successfully complete the experience to satisfy residency 4 requirements. NOTE: Intensive Retreats are NOT included in Fast Track tuition.
Optional: Complete a PhD dissertation intensive (DRWI 8500) during your dissertation. Contact Student Success Advising to register.

*Students take this course for a minimum of three quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval. In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation course until they complete their dissertation, and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation course shell.

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Students who start or readmit to doctoral programs at Walden University in the university catalog for academic year 2017 or later will complete the university’s required doctoral writing assessment. Designed to evaluate incoming doctoral students’ writing skills, this assessment aims to help prepare incoming doctoral students to meet the university’s expectations for writing at the doctoral level.

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Students who start or readmit to doctoral programs at Walden University in the university catalog for academic year 2017 or later will complete the university’s required doctoral writing assessment. Designed to evaluate incoming doctoral students’ writing skills, this assessment aims to help prepare incoming doctoral students to meet the university’s expectations for writing at the doctoral level.

8-Year Maximum Time Frame

In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements (see Enrollment Requirements in the student handbook). Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum time frame, but an extension is not guaranteed.