Doctor of Social Work: Curriculum Overview

As a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) student, you will complete 42 units of coursework focused on three areas:

  • Problem definition within the Grand Challenges for Social Work
  • Innovative design
  • Executive leadership in human service organizations and community contexts


The DSW program can be completed in 9 semesters, or 36 months. Students focus on the Capstone Project for the last 3 semesters.

Program Goals

The following goals shape all decision-making about the Doctor of Social Work program’s curricula, admissions, assignments and policies. They also serve as a basis for devising measurable objectives for evaluating the program’s success.

  • The foundation for the Doctor of Social Work curriculum and student academic products rests on three pillars:
  • Student academic work culminates in a substantive advance in practice or policy related to one of the Grand Challenges.
  • Aligning with the goals for a science of social work, the curriculum is multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary and reflects diverse public- and private-sector perspectives on social innovation and organizational problem-solving in complex systems.
  • Courses emphasize bold action leading to scaling of programs, disruption or other changes that promote social justice and human potential.
  • Graduates will emerge as effective leaders in social work or allied fields, prepared to excel in senior executive management roles or social entrepreneurship.
  • Graduates will emerge as capable public intellectuals who exemplify the core values, ethical principles, and standards of the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics.