A PhD in social work or doctorate in social work (DSW) leads to careers in training in research and policy analysis in social work, social services, and human services. DSW or PhD degrees prepare students to conduct research or focus on policy analysis in academic and non-academic research centers. Overall, there difference between a DSW and a PhD in social. The only difference is that some social work graduate schools simply prefer one term to the other.
Social Work Education and Training
Doctoral degrees in social work are primarily developed for experienced social work and human services practitioners who wish to enhance their social services careers by increasing their knowledge and training in research and policy analysis as it relates to the profession. Typically, doctoral degrees in social work take two to four years beyond the masters in social work (MSW) in order to earn the Doctor of social work degree. Social work practitioners who choose to complete doctoral degrees are usually seasoned professionals who are interested in moving into research and teaching arenas.
The PhD in social work degree program prepares students in the practice of social welfare administration and counseling, and other areas which focus on the study of organized means of providing support services for vulnerable populations and individuals.
This includes instruction in social welfare policy, case planning, social counseling, case intervention strategies, social work administrative procedures and regulations. Social work courses address specific areas like child welfare, family services, probation and rehabilitation services, employment services, and disability counseling.
The social work curriculum is organized around courses that focus on the philosophy of science and practice of social work, advanced research methods, analysis of human services policy, as well as important trends and issues. Candidates choose to specialize ingerontology, children and families, mental health. Some programs require candidates to complete an internship as part of their program.
Some advanced courses that students in the PhD in social work program take are:
- Statistics and Data Analysis
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Understanding Human Behavior, Development, and Change
- Clinical Practice
- Integrating Public Policy issues and Outcomes Into Social Work Research
Certification and licensure varies by state an in individual cases, this requires a master’s degree in social work plus 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience upon graduation. One must then take the required state exam (Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS).
As with most doctoral programs, the online PhD in social work is a research degree, where students are required to write conduct original research and write a dissertation as well as which extensive research projects that take more than a year to complete. Much of the coursework in DSW and PhD programs emphasizes quantitative and qualitative research methodology and analysis.
Social Work Careers
Some social work jobs include working in foster care, rape crisis centers, working with probation officers, suicide hot lines etc. Caseworkers are in direct contact with their clients. Many social workers are certified to work in counseling, while many counselors are licensed to do social work.
The main difference between the two is that counselors are usually more specialized in talking and working through tough issues with individual patients, while social workers often work with populations, in more community-based situations.
You work directly with counselors and healthcare managers, nurses, etc to provide social services. Social Workers provide support, counseling and advice to people with depression, disability, substance abuse and homelessness. With a career in social work, you provide people the support and practical tools by specializing in:
- Child Social Work
- Clinical Social Work
- Family Social Work
- Medical Social Work
- Substance Abuse Social Work
- Social Work Policy Maker
- School Social Work
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
According to the United States Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS), the social workers entry income is around $32,500. A mid level social worker with some years of experience earns about $47,5000 and those with extensive experience earn $52,500 to $56,700 as of 2008.
The median annual wage of social workers was $42,480 in 2010 (BLS). The lowest 10% earned below $26,710 while the top 10% earned more than $70,390. Examples of some areas of employment and income levels were as follows for 2010:
- $47,230 – healthcare social workers
- $40,210 – child, family, and schools social workers
- $38,600 – mental health and substance abuse social workers
- $51,500 – other social workers
The employment of social workers is expected to grow by 25% between 2010 and 2020. Graduate with an online PhD in social work or Doctor of Social Work can expect to earn more.
Social Work Programs
- Earn a Master of Social Work degree online from the top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
- MSW@USC is a CSWE-accredited program
- The program features live, online classes and hands-on field experiences near your community.
- GRE scores are not required to apply
- You can complete your degree in two years or less. Bachelor's degree required.
- Doctor of Social Work
- Online MBA program ranked 6th in the USA by CEO magazine.
- In a university-sponsored survey, 4 out of 5 alumni reported being satisfied with their experience.
- #1 Online School for military veterans according to Military Times.
- 75,000+ graduates across all industries offer extensive networking opportunities.
- My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.) lets students watch, view, read, or hear content.
- Smartphone app available for on-the-go learning.
- Doctor of Management - Environmental and Social Sustainability (Executive Format)