Online Social Work PhD Programs

Social Work Doctorate Degrees by Distance Learning

Online social work PhD programs are designed for students who want to expand on the clinical practice and research methodologies of lower degrees and work in clinical research or become professors in colleges and universities.

Positions in academia are growing for social work professors, as are positions consulting with mental health and substance abuse clinics. Other related fields of study include corrections social work, as well as public policy and the impact of politics on social work.

Most online PhD in social work degree programs require that students have experience in social work practice, a graduate masters degree in social work (MSW) or a related masters or bachelor's degree in social sciences or counseling.

Coursework focuses heavily on research and statistical analysis, as well as classes on developing qualitative measures of success and public policy. Duration of the online social work doctorate program differs, but like other doctoral degree programs, results in a dissertation of the student's choosing that is defended before faculty.

Featured Colleges with Online Social Work Programs

Capella University

  • DSW - General Social Work
  • PhD - Social and Community Services

Walden University

  • PhD in Human Services - Clinical Social Work
  • PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision - Counseling and Social Change

What can you do with a PhD in Social Work?

Holders of a PhD in Clinical Social Work often find work in the departments of universities, preparing the next generation of social workers to work with various populations. They may also perform research work with governmental healthcare and public policy initiatives. Doctoral degree graduates in social work may also supervise other social workers in various agencies at all levels of government, and provide counseling services as needed provided they are certified by the state in which they work. Work may involve assisting hospitals with substance abuse cases, or research on a new policy to reduce homelessness.

Salaries and Career Opportunities

If a graduate with a social work doctorate chooses to enter academia, the prospects for career growth are generally good due to a large number of retirees. A social work graduate with a PhD can begin with a salary of roughly $40,000 and increase with seniority or supervision of the department. PhD in Clinical Social Work degree holders who work in public service may see a variety of compensation options, making anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000, reports the National Association of Social Workers. The upper end of the salary range tends to be reserved for those who engage in consulting work or those who have become the head of social work organizations.

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