What is the difference between a PhD and DSW?

The DSW program prepares social work and human service professionals who want to pursue leadership or management roles. DSW candidates pursue innovative ways to apply known research and theory to practice. The DSW program is centered around a practice-oriented scholarly capstone project involving a Grand Challenge for Social Work.

The PhD program prepares academics and scientists focused on the discovery of new knowledge through research. PhD candidates are interested in a career in academia, teaching or other research-intensive environments. A PhD program is centered around pursuing an original research project that culminates in a dissertation based on the original research and contribution to social work theory.

How many days a week are live classes?

Live classes take place two days per week.

Can the program be completed completely online?

Yes, all coursework is completed 100% online.

Are students required to come to campus?

Students in the DSW program are not required to visit the USC campus, but they are always welcome to visit as part of the Trojan family.

Can I continue working full-time while pursuing the DSW at USC?

Yes, most students in the DSW program work full-time.

How long does it take to earn your DSW degree? 

36 months or 9 semesters

Is the DSW program accredited?

CSWE is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to accredit baccalaureate and master’s social work degree programs in the United States and its territories.

The accreditation of professional practice doctoral programs is currently being piloted and it will be quite some time before accreditation of these programs is the norm. Piloting accreditation processes is standard practice among accreditors and is required by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. All stakeholders, including licensing boards, are aware of and understand that this is a standard and intentionally incremental process.

Until accreditation of professional practice doctoral programs is fully implemented, and all existing professional practice doctoral programs have had a chance to seek accreditation, a professional practice doctoral program’s CSWE-accredited status should not be a determining factor in selecting which professional practice doctoral program to apply to. 

At all other degree levels of social work, looking for a program that is accredited by the CSWE is important. However, DSW programs are not accredited by the CSWE because the organization focuses on accreditations that prepare students for professional social work practice, which extends to the master’s level. Still, students can assess the quality of programs through the Commission on Educational Policy (COEP) and Commission on Accreditation (COA), both of which are affiliated with the CSWE and have worked to develop a framework for evaluating DSW programs.

Prospective students should search for a regionally accredited school with a strong reputation. Additionally, while it is not an accrediting organization, the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) is an organization that has created procedures and policies that programs should follow. GADE membership alludes to the rigor and processes of the DSW program, and many schools choose to affiliate themselves with GADE. Students can use GADE’s website to see which schools are affiliated.  https://www.gadesocialwork.org/dswprograms

What is the expected cost of the entire program?

The total estimated cost of the program is $93,156.

How soon can I apply for my desired semester?

We only open one application cycle at a time. You must wait until the application for the term you are interested in becomes available. However, you may start preparing the required materials which include your current resume, 3 letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and transcripts.

I want to apply, but I don’t know if I’ll get in. How do I know if I will get accepted?

Our admissions team is happy to answer any questions you may have about your application. We can help ensure that a strong application is presented for review!

How many starts are offered per year?

The DSW program offers 3 starts per year — Spring, Summer, and Fall. 

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