About DSW

The Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) prepares practitioners to navigate the complexities of a contemporary practice landscape by providing practitioners with education and experiences congruent with advanced practice proficiency among specialized populations.  Social workers with DSW degrees are often leaders in the profession in areas of practice, policy, and scholarship and are well-qualified to serve in higher-level administrative positions.  Many also assume academic positions and make substantive contributions to the knowledge base of the profession. 

The DSW at the University of Kentucky was conceptualized with practitioners in mind. This high-quality, rigorous program is aimed at ensuring that practitioners are ready for the contemporary practice realities of the social work profession. 

Program Description

Our DSW program utilizes an innovative Core Plus model that offers students a flexible, affordable, and efficient way to earn their degree.  Courses are taught online through asynchronous models with the exception of residency week during the summer which is taught synchronously. The Core Plus approach offers flexibility, allowing learners to progress through the program at their own pace, while the cohort model and residency week foster support via concentrated time with classmates and faculty. Beyond the core curriculum, students will select one of three concentrations:  Administrative Leadership, Clinical Social Work, or Military Behavioral Health.

From start to end, students can complete the DSW degree full-time in two years, or part-time in three years. The preparation will contribute to fostering the development of a cadre of practitioners adeptly trained to address social challenges in the Commonwealth and beyond. 

DSW Curriculum Overview

The DSW program is 42 hours and includes our Core Plus sequence. Courses in this sequence focus on advanced social work theory, practice, and evaluation research.  After completing the core curriculum, students will select one of three concentrations:  Administrative Leadership, Clinical Social Work, or Military Behavioral Health.

The first summer orients students to the rigor and expectations of doctoral work and sets the stage for the first year which consists of core foundation courses applicable to all advanced social work practice.  In the second year, students choose their concentration which allows a greater degree of specificity related to the professional practice.  The second year starts in the summer semester with the first course in the concentration and a colloquium designed to orient students to the scholarship products that are essential to successfully completing the program. The final year of the DSW allows students to apply their knowledge and demonstrate skills through the assignments and expected outcomes of the courses. In contrast to the first year, the second year outcome products are expected to be disseminated as scholarly products.


Year 1

Summer I Virtual Residency

SW 752: Intro to Doctoral StudiesSW 753: Contemporary Social Work Concepts
Fall 1Spring 1
SW 755: Supervision, Ethics & Professional Practice SW 760: Program Evaluation Methods
SW 756: The Science of Social WorkSW 764: Advanced Policy for Social Work Practice
SW 759: Statistics for Social WorkersSW 765: Foundational Theory

Year 2

Summer II Virtual Residency

Concentration 1 CourseSW 792: Colloquium I
Fall 2Spring 2
Concentration 2 CourseSW 768: Justice Informed Social Work Practice
Concentration 3 CourseSW 794: Colloquium II