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Online Doctorate in Social Work (DSW)

Become a Leader for Social Change

The University of Kentucky’s DSW degree prepares MSW level practitioners to address the diverse needs of our times.

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At-a-Glance

Format 100% Online

Total Cost $30,051

Program Length 2-3 Years

Total Credits 42

Earn the Highest Degree in Social Work

UK’s Online Doctorate of Social Work Program prepares advanced practitioners to address contemporary practice challenges. Offered in our College of Social Work (CoSW), online students experience a flexible learning environment, esteemed scholar-practitioner faculty, and an enthusiastic community of support professionals.

Specialize your knowledge with a distinctive concentration in Administrative Leadership, Clinical Social Work, Military Behavioral Health, or Social Work Education. Graduates from our CoSW are well-prepared to transition into higher education or advance their careers in higher-level leadership, management, and administrative roles.

Pursue Your Passion for Social Justice

Today, more than ever, DSWs are needed. Sociopolitical events are demanding change and DSWs have the advanced skills and expertise to create positive disruption in communities. Our graduates are leaders in practice, policy, scholarship, and social work education.

With the overall employment rate of social workers forecasted to grow 12% by 2030, DSW graduates are uniquely poised to excel in a competitive job market.1 Additionally, DSWs earn between $20,000 and $25,000 more in median annual salary than a Master of Social Work, according to the National Association of Social Workers.2

What You’ll Learn

UK’s 42-credit Online DSW program can be completed in 2 to 3 years, depending on full-time or part-time status. Featuring four concentrations, our curriculum explores highly relevant, specialized areas to enhance your practice and support your career aspirations. Students gain valuable insight from a capstone project that is embedded throughout coursework and conducted under the supervision of a Capstone Mentor.

Courses are conveniently offered in an asynchronous format to accommodate students’ work-life schedules; the only exception is Residency Week, a 100% online event that is taught synchronously to build community between classmates and faculty. An asynchronous option is offered for those who cannot be in attendance.

Choose from Four Concentrations

Featuring four distinct focus areas, our DSW program gives you the flexibility to choose a concentration that complements your personal and professional goals.

Administrative Leadership

Clinical Social Work

Military Behavioral Health

Social Work Education

Admission Requirements

  • Completed application
  • A Master of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited program
  • 3.0 minimum graduate GPA (above a 3.5 is preferred)
  • Unofficial transcripts from all previous degree granting institutions and all graduate work
  • No GRE or GMAT required
  • Résumé (minimum two years social work/human service practice experience is strongly encouraged, preferably post-MSW)
  • Personal statement
  • Two recommendation letters on letterhead from academic or professional references. If you graduated within the past 5 years, one of your references must be academic.
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Tuition & Financial Aid

Our online DSW program costs $715.50 per credit hour and consists of 42 total credits. We’re here to support you in your commitment to academic excellence and connect you with a variety of forms of financial aid — from federal loans to scholarships and military benefits.

Military Student Support

UK’s CoSW has a long-standing tradition of supporting U.S. military service members. We are proud to offer a variety of benefits to active-duty service members, veterans, and their families, including scholarship opportunities, and exceptional support services. Our faculty have unique expertise working with military members and developing future military social work practitioners.

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Faculty: Learn From Experience

UK faculty understand the theory behind social work and the realities of professional practice in the field — many of them are experienced, licensed professionals who bring their deep passion and social work expertise to the virtual classroom.

Learn from professors committed to justice and equity in social work.

Our Faculty

Why Choose UK Online?

Join the Big Blue Nation

Joining the online DSW at UK means joining a tradition of excellence where you can build your career with confidence—all while learning online at your own pace. With experienced faculty, thoughtfully designed curriculum, and the highest licensure exam pass rate in the Commonwealth, we make sure you graduate ready and exceptionally prepared for real-world practice.

How to Apply

Submit an application to UK’s online DSW in two simple steps:

  1. Create an online account.
  2. Submit your application and supporting documents.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions? Visit our Resource Center to find answers fast.

Resource Center

Full-time students can complete the online DSW program in two years and part-time students can complete it in three years.

The online DSW program offers 25 scholarships. Scholarship applicants are automatically considered for all available scholarship opportunities. You can complete the scholarship application here.

No, there are no entrance exams required. You can learn more about our admissions policy here.

You may transfer up to 9 credits and apply them toward the online DSW program. You can learn more about our admissions policy here.

At this time, there is one start date in summer.

You’ll complete 14 courses to earn the Doctorate of Social Work degree. 3 of the 14 courses are concentration courses. You can learn more about coursework for the program on the courses page.

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