Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Admission Requirements

To apply to the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program in social work, send the following materials by February 1 to: 

Graduate School
Graduate Admissions
University of Louisville
Houchens Building, Room 105
Louisville, KY 40292

  • Completed Graduate Admissions Application for Admission to the University of Louisville's Doctor of Social Work (DSW) Program offered in the Kent School of Social Work
  • Application fee
  • Official transcripts from each college/university attended, and documentation of the receipt of a master's degree in Social Work, e.g. MSW, MSSW, from a CSWE accredited program or international equivalent.
  • Current Resume or Curriculum Vita
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant's work and/or academic ability and performance such as current or former supervisors and instructors
  • A writing sample demonstrating the applicant's writing and analytical ability responding to the required writing prompt
  • Personal statement of goals for pursuing the Doctor of Social Work degree
  • Two years of post-master's degree social work experience
  • Master's GPA of 3.0 (note: applicants with a master's GPA of below 3.0 showing potential for success as demonstrated in their other submitted application materials and/or in the interview for admission into the Doctor of Social Work program will be given consideration for admission)

The admission process involves the following:

  • DSW Admissions Committee review of application materials 
  • Applicants may be interviewed per DSW Admissions Committee’s recommendations
  • DSW Program recommendation to the Graduate School

Program Requirements

Core Courses
SW 730Social Service Leadership and Teaching & Learning: History, Philosophy & Current Practices3
SW 731Ethics, Equity, and Social Justice: Theory and Practice3
SW 735Program Evaluation3
SW 736Applied Social Service Leadership, Management & Practice4
SW 737Program Planning, Finance, & Budgets3
SW 738 Social Work Teaching & Learning: Theories, Methods & Assessment3
SW 739 Teaching in Social Work: Course Design, Instruction & Evaluation4
SW 740 Policy Analysis & Advocacy: Contemporary Issues3
SW 774Implementation Science, Program Development, & Administration3
SW 775Continuous Quality Improvement, Data Driven Decision-Making and Evidence Based Practice & Manage3
SW 776Research Methods3
SW 777 Integrative Seminar & Qualifying Assessment3
SW 778 Thesis/Capstone project6
Minimum Total Hours44

Practicum Experiences
Students complete two practicum experiences.  In the fall semester of the second year, students complete a leadership practicum concurrently with Applied Social Service Leadership, Management & Practice.  In the spring semester of the second year, students complete a teaching practicum concurrently with Social Work Teaching & Learning: Theories, Methods & Assessment. 

Graduation Requirements

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 at program completion
  • Successful completion of all courses in the curriculum plan
  • Proficiency rating of at least 85% on the qualifying assessment
  • Successful defense of a thesis or capstone project
  • Completion of all school and university requirements for awarding of the degree
  • Completion of the program within four years from the time of passing the qualifying assessment

Doctoral Qualifying Assessment
The qualifying assessment allows students to demonstrate their abilities to apply and integrate their skills and readiness to address complex issues within thesis or capstone projects. After successfully completing the qualifying assessment, students are admitted to candidacy status. 

Doctoral Thesis/Capstone Project
After admission to candidacy, students complete an original thesis or capstone project under the supervision of a faculty mentor and three other faculty members (one of which is from outside the school of social work).  Students will defend their thesis/capstone project.