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 the early bird deadline December 1st. The next priority deadline is February 1. Later deadlines are not guaranteed but will be advertised on the Online Learning page here.  All materials should be directly submitted in the online graduate admissions portal, or mailed to:

Graduate School
Graduate Admissions
University of Louisville
Houchens Building, Suite 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 and Family Science.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Three years of post-master's degree social work experience
  • 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. The personal statement is expected to be between 2-3 pages, single spaced using 12pt Font.
  1. What is your purpose for pursuing the Doctor of Social Work (DSW)degree at this point in your career?
  2. What have you learned from your past academic and social work practice experience for you to be successful in the Doctor of Social Work (DSW)program?
  3. What are the primary challenges you anticipate and supports you will need from the DSW program to successfully complete the online program?
  4. The Kent School of Social Work strives for diversity, equity, and inclusion and is actively committed to becoming an anti-racist organization. What contributions, if any, do you see yourself making to these efforts as a DSW student in the Kent School of Social Work?

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
DSW 700Social Service Leadership and Teaching & Learning: History, Philosophy & Current Practices3
DSW 701Ethics, Equity, and Social Justice: Theory and Practice3
DSW 702Implementation Science, Program Development, & Administration3
DSW 705Program Evaluation3
DSW 706Applied Social Service Leadership, Management & Practice4
DSW 707Program Planning, Finance, & Budgets3
DSW 708Social Work Teaching & Learning: Theories, Methods & Assessment4
DSW 709Teaching in Social Work: Course Design, Instruction & Evaluation3
DSW 704Research Methods3
DSW 710Policy Analysis & Advocacy: Contemporary Issues3
DSW 711Integrative Seminar & Qualifying Assessment3
DSW 712Capstone Project I3
DSW 713Capstone Project II3
DOCT 600Doctoral Candidacy0
Minimum Total Hours41

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 typically in the student's place of employment.  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 capstone projects. 

Doctoral Capstone Project
After admission to candidacy, students complete an original capstone project under the supervision of a faculty mentor and other content expert mentors.  Students will defend their capstone projects.