Program Curriculum

Doctorate in Social Work (DSW)

Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) Program Curriculum The DSW is a part-time, online program that is convenient for working professionals.

The core curriculum is designed to provide students with expertise in linking social work practice theory to conducting trauma-responsive practice, utilizing research for policymaking decisions, executive leadership in human service organizations, and the dissemination of practice knowledge to the practice community through scholarship and conference presentation. The program requires a minimum of 50 credits of course-based graduate study, plus a Capstone project. The curriculum consists of 16, 3-credit courses. Upon completion of online courses, students are required to enroll and complete the activities for a 2-credit Doctoral “Practice Advance” Capstone (SW 799) each semester until the completion of all degree requirements. It is expected that students can complete the Capstone in one semester.

Part-time Program

Part-time students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits of online coursework each semester. Two courses are offered each semester. In fall and spring semesters, courses are taken consecutively; in summer semesters, courses are taken simultaneously. Each online course is eight weeks in duration and consist of both asynchronous and synchronous components. Live, synchronous meetings are held on Saturday mornings and attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to complete all requirements and successfully defend their major product within three years from the start of program matriculation.

Curriculum Design

Total Course Credits – 48

Year 1 (18 Credits)

Semester 1

  • This course reviews theoretical models of trauma and resilience and the interdisciplinary empirical evidence that frames our understanding of the prevalence and impact of trauma across the lifespan. Neuro-psychological, cognitive, attachment, and sociological-cultural perspectives are integrated and applied to a framework for development of trauma-informed knowledge and skills for leadership roles in clinical social work practice and social justice advocacy. Students will learn about measurement of empirical constructs and testing of research questions in order to understand the application of trauma and resiliency research to clinical practice, executive leadership, and social justice advocacy. (3 credits)

  • This course builds on the theoretical and empirical foundations of trauma and resilience, emphasizing fundamental concepts of the neurobiology of healing, transformation, and resiliency. This course will focus on the importance of integrating neurobiological research in order to understand a range of social problems, how therapeutic alliances with caring social work professionals change brain structures and functions, and how programs and policies shape brains and behavior. The course will review emerging trends from cognitive neuroscience and brain plasticity research on how these advances can be used by social workers to improve mental health treatment, program development, and policies. In addition, this course will prepare doctoral-level social workers to translate and integrate neuroscience knowledge into their advanced clinical practice, leadership, teaching, and supervisory and research endeavors. (3 credits)

Semester 2

  • This course emphasizes the importance of being an informed and effective consumer of interdisciplinary qualitative research. It focuses on teaching students the skills to identify and effectively understand and utilize existing qualitative research to guide social work practice and policy decision-making. (3 credits)

  • This course emphasizes the importance of being an informed and effective consumer of interdisciplinary quantitative research. It focuses on teaching students to identify and utilize existing best practice quantitative research that pertains to observational and experimental designs, sampling, measurement, and descriptive and inferential statistics. This utilization will guide social work practice and policy decision-making. (3 credits)

Semester 3

  • This course conceptualizes individual presenting problems, family functioning, and community dynamics through the lens of trauma. The course focuses on organizational assessment of trauma-informed systems of care. The art and science of trauma-informed assessment, engagement, and intervention are examined. Students will develop strategies for transformative paradigm changes in service delivery systems. (3 credits)

  • This course examines methods of policy development, evaluation, and policy reform. Students are engaged in activities designed to strengthen their roles as agents of change. (3 credits)

Year 2 (18 Credits)

Semester 4

  • This course advances the intersection of evidence-based cognitive-behavioral and neuro-physiological interventions with practice wisdom to identify, assess, and develop appropriate intervention stations designed to mitigate the manifestations of trauma symptoms. (3 credits)

  • This course explores evidence-based integrative trauma-responsive therapeutic modalities. Students are exposed to variety of integrated therapies, which may include expressive arts, yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and movement. (3 credits)

Semester 5

  • Historically, the two primary goals in social work supervision have focused on protecting the welfare of the client while enhancing the professional growth and development of the supervisee. This course enables supervisors to fulfill these two goals by incorporating contemporary critical and reflective practice theories that are informed by the various ways trauma can impact the worker/client relationship as well as the supervisor/supervisee relationship. (3 credits)

  • This course highlights the essential roles and responsibilities of an executive leader and advances administrative skills in the areas of resource management, marketing and technology, employee and community relations, and strategies to build an effective organizational culture that elevates the vision and mission of the organization. (3 credits)

Semester 6

  • Building on the theoretical, qualitative, and quantitative courses previously taken in this program, students will enter the dual role of both developer and consumer of applied research within the context of clinical and/or administrative roles. (3 credits)

  • Within a historical trauma-informed context, students examine a variety of advocacy interventions and strategies designed to effect change. Utilizing the principles of applied research, students will identify a marginalized population and select and implement an advocacy strategy, such as community organizing, social action, legislative advocacy and/or campaigning to address the prevailing issue. (3 credits)

Year 3 (18 Credits)

Semester 7

  • This course extends the doctoral student’s proficiency beyond the traditional social work classroom to include an understanding of how adult learners learn, how to structure an educational unit, the imperative of competence in digital-based education processes, as well as strategies for success at the traditional academic arena. This course provides theoretical background to enable the doctoral student to better understand and develop competency in social work education teaching tasks, as well as requisite skills for effective presentation of social work practice content. The goal of this course is to prepare doctoral students for leadership roles in social work education as well as practitioners who are adept at training methodologies, curriculum development, and presentation delivery at various levels. The course provides a unique opportunity for engaging with a senior social work education mentor who will assist the student in their development and demonstration of teaching an assigned educational unit through a four-week mentorship that involves classroom practice and discourse around teaching experiences. (3 credits)

  • This residency-based seminar engages students as active participants in contributing to social work research and competency building in scholarly writing and publishing. The course offers various resources to promote successful publications, including editing systems, guidelines for submitting manuscripts, and the ethics and principles of publications in preparation of writing their conceptual draft of a manuscript. (3 credits)

Semester 8

  • Elective (3 credits)

  • This course prepares students for candidacy. Students are expected to have and be prepared to present the first draft of their manuscript. (3 credits)

Semester 9

  • Students work with a Review Panel to finalize their “Practice Advance” manuscript and submit the manuscript for publication. The successful presentation of the manuscript in both written form and oral summary, along with the receipt of the submitted manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal, serve as the final degree requirements for the DSW program. (2 credits)

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