Why This Matters


    According to O*NET, 92% of healthcare social workers surveyed said that a master’s degree is needed to be successful in this profession.


    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the need for social workers is projected to rise 13% by 2029.


    The BLS states that the average social worker in the United States earned $51,760 per year as of May 2020. The top 10% of earners in this profession earned more than $85,820.

Our Research

This list features the best online doctorate programs in social work. These programs typically award a PhD or a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) to their graduates. To create this list, we reviewed a broad range of online programs that are delivered both synchronously and asynchronously.

There are several organizations that accredit programs in this field, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the WASC Senior College and University Commission. These accreditations ensure that credits earned in your Doctor of Social Work program can be easily transferred to other institutions.

  • 77 hours to write this article
  • 45 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 89 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Doctorate in Social Work Programs

Best Online Doctorate in Social Work Programs Badge
loader Image

What You Should Know About This Degree

As you explore your options for post-graduate education, you may be considering the differences between a master’s degree and a doctorate. When comparing, consider your ultimate career goal. While a master’s degree will better prepare you to work directly with families and individuals, a doctorate can prepare you to take on social work at a leadership level.

The Office of Postsecondary Education provides a database of accredited postsecondary programs across the country. Use this database to confirm schools’ accreditation before you apply.

Once you complete your doctorate in social work program and earn your degree, you’ll be qualified to take on a variety of careers in this field. Options available to you include healthcare social worker, professor of social work, school social worker, advanced practice social worker, and nonprofit director.

Before you embark on a career in social work, you’ll be required to obtain licensing from your state. This typically involves passing an examination from your state’s social work board and renewing your license regularly.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online doctorate in social work programs:

  • How long does it take to complete this degree online? Earning your doctorate in social work online typically takes between three to five years, depending on whether you study full-time or part-time.
  • What licensing or certifications are required? After you’ve completed your degree, you’ll need to obtain a Licensed Social Worker designation by passing an examination with your state’s regulatory board.

There are several other important steps to take while researching online doctorate programs. Be sure to note any important information about the application process, such as application deadlines, required documentation, and payment deadlines.

Be sure to also note any deadlines for applying to the Federal Student Aid program. If you plan to supplement student aid by applying for local and national scholarships, grants, or bursaries, you should research them early, apply within the designated time frame, and submit all essays and documentation according to provided guidelines.