Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Programs Guide

Social workers provide resources, counseling, and support that help people live healthier, happier lives. Working in areas ranging from behavioral health to child welfare, social workers support communities and promote social justice in a wide variety of roles and settings. Those with extensive training, such as the education gained through an accredited online PhD program, qualify for leadership positions and advanced roles in education and research.

Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Overview

Online social work PhD programs might be excellent options if you’re determined not to be limited by a master’s degree as your terminal degree. Doctorates in social work will not lead to higher licensure, but they can prepare you for positions such as administrators or directors. 

Is an Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Right for Me?

Social workers typically earn master’s degrees as their terminal degrees, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider online social work PhD programs. You might wonder whether a PhD in social work is right for you. It could be a good choice if you want to make a difference in your community and society, if you enjoy research, or if you’d like to teach in your field at the university level. 

Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Benefits

As you break into the field, the online social work PhD programs in social work offer significant benefits. When you pursue an accredited PhD in social work online, your educational pursuit is even more affordable and convenient. Here are a few of the top benefits. 


Accredited online PhDs are more affordable when you select the online version. Instead of paying for a brick-and-mortar university’s operating costs, you can take classes where you live. So, you’re saving money on the costs of the program and the costs of moving and other housing costs you would incur if you attend a university far from home. 


If you’re already working as a social worker, you can continue working while you attend classes. Also, your employer may agree to give you time off or even supplement the cost of pursuing your accredited online PhD in social work. 

Career Options

Accredited online PhDs in social work allow students to create policy, manage agencies, conduct research, and lead social work programs. The role of a professor or teacher is also an option, which allows you to support the development of new social workers as they decide what path to take. 

Make an Impact

You can contribute more to policy and decision-making with an online social work PhD. Teaching, publishing books and articles, and contributing more fully to social work debates and public discourse, can all be enhanced through higher social work education. 

Pursue a Career You Care About

Helping people is probably one of your passions. You can directly impact the communities you care about by working with high-risk youth, offering children and families mental health support, and counseling couples through difficult times. You can do so much to support your community by earning your accredited online PhD in social work. Beyond this impact opportunity, you can contribute your skills and expertise to your work in a way you would not otherwise be able to do. 

What is the Difference Between an Online DSW and an Online PhD in Social Work? 

An online social work PhD differs from a social work doctorate (DSW) in specific ways. DSWs are oriented toward practice, while online accredited PhDs in social work are oriented toward theory. During a DSW program, you’ll study the practice of social work, the supervision of social workers, and applied research in social work. Research and scholarly work, however, are central to online social work PhD programs.

What Can You Do With an Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program?

Obtaining a PhD in social work opens up a wide range of employment opportunities. You can conduct independent or collaborative research in many areas of nursing, public health, health sciences, and other social and racial justice issues. You can become a graduate teaching assistant through a PhD in social work program, which may offset some of your tuition. Developing a social work curriculum and optimizing strategic approaches allow you to be better prepared for whatever career trajectory your social work education takes you.

What Is the Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Salary and Job Outlook?

Accredited online PhDs in social work earn an average salary of $86,720. By 2029, the number of social worker opportunities is expected to grow by 13%. Some people decide to pursue a Ph.D. because the healthcare industry is becoming increasingly complex and requires more education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earning potential can improve by as much as 21% with a doctoral degree. 

How Much Does an Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Cost?

The cost of any type of degree program can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including your starting point. With a bachelor’s degree, your PhD program will take longer and be more expensive than if you have a master’s degree in social work, for example. Another factor to consider: private universities typically charge more for online social work PhD programs than public universities. Be sure to compare total tuition and fees when looking for accredited online PhD in Social Work programs.

Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Scholarship Information 

A variety of scholarship options are available if you wish to pursue an accredited online PhD in social work. You may qualify for grants, financial aid, and loans depending on your income, family, job, and military duty status. Each program’s level of scholarship funding differs, so you should check with the institution for more information. Here are a few options that might be right for you and your financial aid requirements. 

These are just a few scholarships available as you pursue your online PhD in social work. Reach out to financial aid officers at a university you’re interested in to get information about scholarship opportunities. 

Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Requirements 

Despite the differences between various accredited online PhD programs in social work, the basic components remain the same. To qualify for the program, you typically must have the following. 

  • Master of Social Work (MSW) or Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) from an accredited school 
  • Official transcripts from every institution you’ve attended
  • Completed application, including a personal statement or essay
  • Scholarly article or writing sample that proves you have critical thinking and analytical skills 

An accredited online PhD in social work program may require you to meet additional requirements depending on the institution, the program, and your area of specialization. 

Common Courses in Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program

The courses for an accredited online PhD in social work often involve social change strategies, research practice, and methodology. Here’s a partial list of classes you might need to take depending on your program and career goals. 

  • Leadership and advocacy
  • Quantitative research in social work
  • Research practice and methodology
  • Social change
  • Social methods
  • Social work data analysis
  • Statistics and social sciences
  • Theories of social work

Each program will vary, but you’ll likely need to take coursework in leadership, social work theories, and other research-related classes as well. 

Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program Accreditation 

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) extends institutional accreditation for those programs with a Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) and a Master’s in Social Work (MSW). With accredited online programs, you can understand the real-world problems in your community while directly interacting with the populations most directly affected by the studies you’re pursuing. You can solve the issues and respond to those in need as your studies continue as you explore the theoretical basics for your social work and earn your accredited online PhD.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Accredited Online PhD in Social Work Program?

You might wonder what you can do with an accredited online PhD in Social Work, particularly given how long it takes to complete. The accredited online PhD in Social Work typically takes three to five years to complete, depending on whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. 


“Education Pays.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2022, 

“Social Work – Ph.D..” Sacred Heart University, 2 Sept. 2022,–programs/social-work—phd/. 

Walden University. “Difference between a Psychology Degree and a Social Work Degree.” Walden University, Walden University, 23 June 2022, 

Walden University. “The Benefits of Earning a Phd in Social Work.” Walden University, Walden University, 30 June 2022, 

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