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Doctorate DSW Programs

The Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree is a full doctorate, similar to a PhD in educational scope but different in focus. DSW programs are designed for students who are interested in becoming social work practitioners. The PhD, as in many academic disciplines, is meant for people who want to remain in an academic environment devoting the career to research and teaching. The curriculum and research involved in completing a DSW focuses on advanced clinical practice, centering primarily on mental health. The assumption is that DSW graduates will assume administrative or leadership positions, so there is a management component to the degree as well.

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1. Capella University includes the Online DSW as one of the online graduate social work programs offered by the Harold Abel School of Social & Behavioral Sciences. The program includes some field experience work and a week-long dissertation writing retreat. In 2011 there are six such retreats located in six different states across the country. The program design features course modules that are designed to be completed in sequence and can be finished in three years.

2. Walden University offers an online PhD in Human Services, a term that in many schools applies to social service careers of several types. At Walden the degree has several areas of specialization, similar to a MSW, which include Clinical Social Work, Counseling, Family Studies & Intervention Strategies, Public Health, Human Services Administration, and Social Public Policy.

3. Northcentral University offers an online Doctor of Marriage & Family Therapy that is designed for a counseling career similar to those undertaken by clinical social workers. There are five areas of specialization available which include Couples Therapy, Child & Adolescent Therapy, General Family Therapy, Medical Family Therapy, and Therapy with Military Families.

4. New York University PhD in Clinical Social Work has a similar curriculum design to the DSW in that it focuses on the practice and management of clinical social work at the service delivery level. While there is extensive academic work in the theory of contemporary social work practice and on policies designed for social problem management, graduates nevertheless have the option of an academic career or clinical management.

5. Loyola University of Chicago offers the PhD in Social work as a forty nine credit hour academic program that can be completed in two years by a MSW graduate. That course of study is followed by the research and writing of a dissertation, however, which takes many students a year or more. Classes are held on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings to accommodate working social work professionals.

6. University of Illinois offers a PhD in Social work that is designed to train career researchers and academicians but also expects some of its graduates to assume leadership roles in social work programs worldwide. The University at Champaign/Urbana is home to the Children & Family Research Center which is the focal point of much of the graduate research.

7. Boston University has an interdisciplinary PhD in Sociology & Social work that applies social theory to studies in either social policy or clinical research. Students have some research options among topics such as poverty, child welfare, health services, and aging. There is also a set of social science specializations that can be meshed with the social work area of concentration.

8. University of Pennsylvania DSW in Clinical Social work is open to MSW graduates with at least two years' work experience. This degree is focused in clinical practice, clinical leadership, and teaching. Because it is geared towards working professionals the curriculum design should allow students to complete the academic work and dissertation with minimal professional disruption in about three years.

9. University of Southern California has a PhD in Social Work degree that maintains a global focus throughout the forty seven credit hour curriculum. There is an interdisciplinary element to the program as well; students are asked to develop an area of concentration from another academic area such as gerontology, sociology, psychology, preventive medicine, business, policy, planning & development, or political science.

10. University of Delaware offers a PhD in Human Development & Family Studies designed to develop scholars or professional leaders in the field of human services. Studies focus on risk &resilience, multi-cultural issues, disabilities, prevention, and intervention - all of which are clinically oriented fields. Human Development also provides a wide academic scope for the theory and structure of social work programs.

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