Home CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Programs

CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Programs

A Doctor of Social Work (DSW) is an advanced degree option for individuals with a related bachelor’s or master’s degree. What is a DSW degree? Explore online DSW programs to see if one may be the right decision for your career.

CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Overview

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits social work programs at the doctoral level. A doctorate in social work online is an advanced training opportunity typically available to graduates of master’s degree programs in social work.

As a doctoral student of social work, you’ll not only train in the practical skills of caring for individuals and communities but will also refine your leadership abilities. Doctoral programs offer terminal degrees, so graduates are considered experts in their fields. While there are many on-campus programs and non-accredited options, an accredited online DSW offers distinct features.

CSWE Accreditation

The Commission on Accreditation develops accreditation standards to ensure CSWE-accredited online DSW programs meet quality standards. In order to receive this accreditation, a program must verify that it provides competency-based education that focuses on learning outcomes and stays relevant with changes in the field.

Admission Requirements

Every school has its own admissions requirements to enroll in a DSW degree online. Typically, these are the admissions requirements for a doctoral degree:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • GRE test scores
  • Transcripts from bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work or a related field
  • Admissions essays

Not every program has these requirements. Some, for example, don’t require you to take the GRE test. Others allow you to enroll in a Ph.D. program with only a bachelor’s degree.

DSW vs. Ph.D. in Social Work

A DSW is one option for a doctorate degree. Students can also receive a Ph.D. in social work for advanced training, leadership opportunities, and research expertise. When comparing a DSW vs. Ph.D., it’s important to consider your career goals. What is a DSW degree and will it offer more opportunities than a Ph.D.?

A DSW typically focuses more on practice and leadership. While still a terminal degree, a Ph.D. highlights the research, theory, science, and teaching aspects of the field. Compare Doctor of Social Work salary estimates with DSW social work salary estimates to determine which career path offers the salary and work environment you desire.

Online DSW Programs With No GRE Requirements

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) standardized exam is a significant part of the application process for many doctoral programs. If you’re nervous about taking this extensive test, consider online DSW programs with no GRE requirements. You can still apply to a program and earn a doctorate in social work online without taking this test or submitting scores. Be sure to read the admissions requirements thoroughly to find out what is required of the program of your choice.

CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Program Benefits

Doctorate in social work online programs offer flexibility, improved salary opportunities, an improved application for career advancement, and greater expertise in your field. Explore each of these benefits of DSW degree programs to see if this is the right choice for you.

Flexible Learning Environment

Many programs are now offered fully online. This means that you can enjoy flexibility in your education in a number of ways. First, you can apply to schools across the country without making plans to relocate and study in a new environment.

Second, you can attend lectures and class discussions in the comfort of your home, local coffee shop, or coworking space. Finally, some universities offer asynchronous classes. This means that you can choose to watch lectures, prepare for your dissertation, and complete assignments at your own pace, rather than during set class times.

Increased Salary and Career Advancement Potential

In some cases, earning an advanced degree may lead to a raise or new career opportunities with higher salaries. According to PayScale, the median salary for a Bachelor of Social Work degree holder in May 2022 was about $52,000 per year. For Master of Social Work degree holders, the median annual salary was approximately $56,000 in the same period. Doctorate degree holders, however, earned a median salary of about $76,000 as of September 2021.

PayScale doesn’t offer salary estimates of DSW degree holders to compare DSW vs. Ph.D. salaries, but many of the positions still accept applications from professionals with a DSW. Online DSW programs with no GRE requirements may also help you become certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Field Experience

There are many unique benefits of a DSW degree compared to other social work degree options. What can you do with a doctorate in social work? This advanced, hands-on learning opportunity can prepare you for a career in administration, clinical social work, or education, though a Ph.D. may be a better choice for a career as a professor. Gain practical skills in the clinical application of social work through residencies, capstone projects, and other training to become an expert in your field.

How Much Does a CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Program Cost?

The cost of online doctorate in social work programs varies widely depending on the institution, length, and available grants or scholarships. 

Explore teaching assistant or research assistant opportunities to receive partial or full tuition coverage. These assistantship programs can even come with a stipend to cover living expenses during your doctoral program.

Common Courses in CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Programs

DSW degree online coursework covers a broad range of social work issues. One of the benefits of a DSW degree, however, is the ability to focus on a specialized area of the discipline. Here are some common courses you may select from as you prepare to complete a program:

  • Public policy issues in social work
  • Complex organizations and systems
  • Leadership and management
  • Financial management
  • Social work history and theory
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Psychopathology

Most programs include elective opportunities for you to focus on your area of interest. In a doctoral program, you typically need to complete a dissertation and/or capstone project to demonstrate your expertise in the field. Consider the available coursework and the interests of the professors in an institution as you decide which online course you wish to choose.

How Long Does It Take To Complete a CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Program?

It’s important to know the time commitment before you apply for a program. How long does it take to get a doctorate in social work? The length of a DSW program depends on the curriculum, school of choice, and pace of learning. Typically, you can earn a degree in two to five years.

Career Options and Job Outlook for CSWE-Accredited Online DSW Program Graduates

What can you do with a doctorate in social work? Online DSW programs with no GRE requirement and programs that require the GRE both offer competitive training for new career possibilities. As a DSW graduate, you may have the skills and qualifications to apply for one or more of the following career options.

Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers can earn a DSW degree online to work closely with individuals and communities. You may be able to work as a clinical social worker with a bachelor’s or master’s degree but a DSW may open new possibilities to advance in your career and earn a higher income.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for social workers in 2021 was $50,390. The number of social workers is expected to increase by 12% between 2020 and 2030. You may be able to compete for a Doctor of Social Work salary range that is higher than the average for bachelor’s and master’s degree holders.

Clinical social workers work in a broad range of roles to apply theory and clinical practice. As a licensed clinical social worker, you can work in mental health facilities, schools, substance abuse facilities, hospitals, or other areas. Some social workers specialize in direct client care while others focus on administrative tasks.

Social and Community Service Manager

CSWE-accredited online DSW programs can also prepare graduates for roles in administration and management. As a social and community service manager, you can coordinate programs and support organizations that provide key services to communities in need. These positions are available in for-profit companies, non-profit companies, and government agencies.

The 2021 median salary, according to BLS data, is $74,000 for these positions. They’re expected to have a job growth of 15% between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than the average job growth levels.

Social Work Professor

While Ph.D. programs offer more training in theory and preparation for a career as a professor, all doctorate in social work online programs can qualify you to become a postsecondary teacher. Professors earn a salary that’s competitive with most DSW social work salary estimates, with the median in 2021 being $71,010 per year according to BLS. The job outlook for all postsecondary teachers is a 12% increase from 2020 to 2030.

Professors can still work as clinical social workers or conduct research in the field. Consider this career path if you wish to blend research, teaching, and serving your community.