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Reach a new level of professional distinction

Walden’s PhD in Social Work online degree program helps you prepare to practice at the highest level of the social work field as a researcher, college-level educator, or administrative leader. A challenging curriculum enables you to analyze advanced theory and explore some of the most pressing and cutting-edge issues in social work today. Align your studies with your interests by choosing one of eight specializations, such as Addictions and Social Work, Medical Social Work, or Clinical Expertise. Four face-to-face academic residencies support the learning experience by giving you the opportunity to collaborate with professors and colleagues, build your social and professional community, and enhance your ability to effect positive social change.


granter of doctoral research degrees

Learn from the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees in the U.S. 1 Walden has been serving the needs of doctoral learners at a distance for 50 years.

Exceptional Student Support

From in-person residencies to dissertation writing and research guidance, our online program is focused on helping you finish your PhD.

Eight Specializations

Specializations allow you to hone your expertise in a particular area of the field, such as clinical supervision or social work administration, among others.

Social Change

For Walden, social change is not just something we talk about—it’s who we are. Our students, alumni, faculty, and staff are contributing to real change around the globe.

Program Savings

Receive up to a $4,000 grant if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on May 31, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

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Addictions and Social Work

This specialization explores the psychology of addiction and the various interventions available for individuals and families who are dealing with addictive behavior.

Clinical Expertise

Explore majors methods and practices as well as ethical and legal issues that you may encounter as a supervisor working with staff from diverse backgrounds

Criminal Justice

In this specialization, you can focus your research and studies on the factors that can contribute to criminal behavior, such as addiction, homelessness, and unemployment.

Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention

This specialization can help prepare you to conduct research and contribute to the knowledge of effective crisis intervention strategies as well as to analyze current practices in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other challenges faced by victims of trauma.

Family Studies and Interventions

This specialization can help you develop advanced skills to provide culturally sensitive support to children and families.

Medical Social Work

Develop and assess the best possible strategies in practice interventions with individuals and families facing chronic or terminal illness, disability, and issues associated with aging.

Policy Practice

Explore the fundamentals of successful collaboration with legislators and lobbyists to create public policies that generate sustainable change.

Social Work Administration

This specialization is designed to help you gain an in-depth understanding of organizational behavior so that you can better assess the effectiveness of community-based social work organizations.

Admission Requirements

Program Admission Considerations: MSW degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of Walden’s online PhD in Social Work program, you will be prepared to:

  • Utilize current research, best practices, and theory to promote prevention and intervention strategies that address social problems and needs of social groups.
  • Employ various research and statistical tools to gather data used to address the etiology and dynamics of social problems and social needs.
  • Evaluate the role of research and evaluation in social work in improving social interventions and advancing theory development.
  • Critically evaluate the history of social work, its mission, and its core values.
  • Promote social change by collaborating with leaders, agencies, and universities to advocate for policies and programs that advance the economic and social well-being of culturally diverse clientele.
  • Assess the role of diversity in characterizing and shaping the human experience.
  • Apply ethical decision-making and practices in social work.

Career Impact

A PhD in Social Work from Walden is an elite credential that can set you apart in the market and bring new respect from peers, employers, clients, and students. You’ll be prepared to make a difference through influential roles in research, teaching, policymaking, or administration.

Earn a degree that puts you in demand. Employment for social and community service managers is expected to grow by 13% through 2028—much faster than the average for all occupations.2 Jobs for postsecondary teachers are expected to grow at a rate of 11% through 2028.3

A PhD in Social Work can prepare you to pursue career options such as:

  • College professor/educator
  • Researcher
  • Evaluator
  • Agency leader

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

A PhD in Social Work can prepare you to work in settings such as:

  • Universities
  • Community agencies
  • Government
  • Research think tanks


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FAQ About Walden’s Online PhD in Social Work


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