District of Columbia PhD in Social Work On-campus Programs

Looking for graduate schools with Doctor of Social Work and PhD in social work on-campus programs? Some universities and graduate schools for social work offer on campus doctoral programs in social work, where students can earn a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) or a PhD, so identifying your needs before you begin may help you find an appropriate program.

phd in social work schools

About DSW and PhD in Social Work On-campus Programs

Some DSW and PhD social work on-campus programs prepare graduates to advocate for social justice and possibly lead public policy or changes on social issues. Others emphasize critical thinking, action-based research, and the integration of theoretical knowledge with practical experience.

If you have a Masters in Social Work, experience in the field, and want to continue to assist individuals and communities, an advanced degree in Social Work could be an appropriate next step. Earning a doctorate degree in social work typically takes three to six years to complete. The two types of doctorate degree programs are the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and the Doctor of Social Work (DSW).

How Do I Apply to a Doctor of Social Work Program?

The PhD and DSW application process may be different, although not necessarily less competitive at each graduate school. While some doctorate programs allow graduates who have earned a Bachelor’s degree, this is not usually the case with either the PhD in Social Work or the Doctor of Social Work. Admissions may be accepted during a specific time frame and prospective candidates may be required to submit:

  • Transcripts, have graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited school
  • Maintained a (school-specific) GPA in undergraduate and graduate study
  • Have a certain amount of work experience
  • Write a personal statement
  • Include professional resume
  • A writing sample

About the Doctor of Social Work

The Doctor of Social Work or DSW has traditionally been considered a clinical practice doctorate or the degree used to prepare graduates to build and lead social services programs, Although the master of social work (MSW) degree is commonly accepted as a terminal professional degree in the field, the doctor of social work (DSW) is a professional doctorate in social work, most often presenting advanced training in a professional area of practice. The DSW degree tends to develop scholar-practitioners who use research, advocacy or direct clinical practice to distribute their findings on topics such as poverty, social justice or specific practice areas within social work.

Potential DSW Curriculum

Some DSW curriculums may emphasize self-directed study within a cohort system of students. While program lengths and curriculums vary, a DSW program might involve:

  • The first years may be devoted to about 56 hours of coursework (e.g. research methodology)
  • The last year may be primarily devoted to an advanced clinical research project in the student’s choice of area.
  • Following the completion of a core curriculum, each student must typically pass qualifying examination
  • Successful defense of clinical research project

About the Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work

The Doctor of Philosophy or PhD in Social Work is intended mainly to produce scholars who might contribute to the field through teaching, research, policy development and analysis, or administration. PhD graduates leave school to potentially become professors, researchers, policy-makers in governmental and non-profit organizations, and top administrators for human services organizations.


“Although the first doctoral degrees in social work were PhD programs (note those offered by Bryn Mawr and the University of Chicago in 1920), a new degree, the doctorate in social work (DSW) emerged in the late 1940s. The earliest DSW degrees were offered at Catholic University in 1947 and, in 1948, at the University of Pennsylvania and Smith College”[i]

Why Earn a DSW or PhD Social Work on Campus?

Many DSW and PhD social work on-campus programs are catering to the needs of their busy working professional students, so that they might earn their degree without career disruption. They may do this through evening, weekend or even some online courses. Some graduate schools for social work might also offer an accelerated or part-time DSW or PhD in Social Work, so it may be worth considering traditional learning delivery: in person, face to face campus-based programming for a number of reasons:

  • INTERACT: Social work is a human-centered discipline that evaluates the person in the environment. Social workers must be skilled listeners and communicators in addition to being able to perceive and be aware of other’s reactions. These interactive and interpersonal skills may be best cultivated through onsite learning.
  • RESEARCH: Some PHD Social Work schools have research institutes where you might develop your own research competencies while working towards solving social problems.
  • LEARN IN REAL TIME: Campus programs allow for implicit and explicit learning. While you cannot hit the pause button during a live lecture, one could argue that staying present might help to foster critical thinking and active listening.
  • ACCESS: If you attend university, you gain access to all the facilities, might be able to just walk to the library after class, join some lively dialog, use the career counseling services and generally participate in group learning activities.
  • MEET WITH YOUR MENTOR: DSW and PhD students may have frequent meetings with their mentors outside the classroom setting to develop research agendas
  • ACCREDITATION: The Council on Social Work Education maintains a database of accredited MSW programs. Check the regional accreditation status of any schools for DSW and PhD social work on-campus programs
  • TEACH: Some graduate students gain experience teaching in the grad school they are attending. If you aspire to teach, studying on campus may give you the best learning input for this outcome.

Find PhD in Social Work Schools

Everyone has different needs, so you should figure out whether these centers around the actual DSW and PhD social work on-campus program, curriculum, the tuition costs, whether you like the faculty…all these might be components of your choice of graduate schools. For many students, the location of a university or college is important. GradSchools.com makes your search easy by providing tools to choose DSW and PhD social work on-campus program by area – use the city, state or country tabs to generate listings.

Many DSW schools and PhD Social Work schools have clearly defined windows for enrollments. Browse our directory of sponsored listings for DSW and PhD social work on-campus programs, then use the on-page ‘request info’ setting to contact prospective schools. Take the next step today so you stay on top of deadlines and make sure you have all your admission requirements in place

[i] cswe.org/file.aspx?id=59954 |

  • Accredited online university.
  • Capella University offers doctoral programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession.
  • Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundational knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
Find Schools