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This professional doctorate, designed around national social work education guidelines, is one of very few online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree programs. It also features face-to-face learning experiences, including a week-long, intensive dissertation writing retreat and a course that requires participatory research. The curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, action research, and the integration of theoretical knowledge with practical experience. There is a strong focus on the growing use of technology to advance the practice of social work, build awareness of important social issues, and expand the reach or effectiveness of social service programs. This DSW is designed to be completed in three years, with all courses taken in sequence, allowing you to learn and build professional relationships with the same cohort of students.

Outcome goals and graduates' proficiency levels

Each doctoral program and specialization is designed around expected learning outcomes (see Expected Program Outcomes below). End of program performance is determined during the comprehensive exam and dissertation process. Because the work is unique to each learner's dissertation or research topic and the criteria for evaluation are aligned to that work, we do not collect data on proficiency levels for doctoral programs.

Quality and Professional Relevance

  • Capella is one of the few universities offering an online DSW program. This allows social work practitioners and educators an opportunity to seek a professional doctoral degree online without relocating or putting their careers on hold.
  • Capella's DSW program is designed around national social work education guidelines and includes input from social work faculty and practitioners with current knowledge of the field.
  • For the dissertation, learners will develop an action-based research project that contributes to the solution of a recognized problem in the field.

Expected Program Outcomes

  • Advocate for social justice and policy change for the betterment of humanity.
  • Act ethically and professionally within the field of social work.
  • Provide leadership that promotes sustainable change in social service programs and practice to improve the quality of the field of social work.
  • Apply theory, knowledge, and research and develop innovative approaches to social issues.
  • Effectively communicate to diverse audiences in multiple formats.
  • Use technology to further advance practice within the field of social work.
  • Build awareness of the implications of social issues in global and diverse societies.

Doctoral Counseling, Social Work, and Human Services Degree Program Graduates

Data from graduates across select counseling, social work, and human services doctoral programs have been combined for these Career Outcomes results.

The graphs below show some key findings from Capella's Alumni Outcomes Survey. We use this information to help improve our courses, programs and services and to give you an idea of how alumni are using their degrees.

Career Preparation
  Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

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Career Preparation
Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

The skills and knowledge have been immediately applicable to my career: 68%

My degree has positioned me to achieve my professional ambitions: 53%

Capella's competency based curriculum has prepared me for the needs of my profession: 57%

Percentage of respondents who answered "strongly agree" or "agree"
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q3 2017 - Q1 2018.

Career and Professional Accomplishments

Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

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Career and Professional Accomplishments
Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

Made a significant contribution to my profession: 53%

Successfully changed jobs and-or-careers: 44%

Assumed leadership responsibilities: 41%

Received a salary increase: 50%

Received a promotion: 47%

Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes, and Capella does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, or other career growth.

Percentage of respondents who indicated they had accomplished each item.

Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q3 2017 – Q1 2018.

Doctoral Counseling, Social Work, and Human Services Degree Program Graduates

Data from graduates across select counseling, social work, and human services doctoral programs have been combined for these Student Experience results.

The graphs below show some key findings from Capella's Alumni Outcomes Survey. We use this information to help improve our courses, programs and services and to give you an idea of how alumni feel about Capella and what general skills and abilities they gained.

Satisfaction With Capella
Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

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Satisfaction with Capella
Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

I have or intend to recommend Capella : 43%

I am satisfied with my Capella education : 74%

Capella gave me the most efficient direct path to completing my degree : 72%

Percentage of respondents who answered affirmatively.
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q3 2017 – Q1 2018.

Skills & Abilities
Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

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Improvements in Skills & Abilities
Counseling, Social Work, and Human Service Doctoral Degrees

Write clearly, accurately, and professionally; use sources appropriately : 76%

Communicate thoughts and ideas in varied settings : 82%

Show ethical conduct reflecting values and beliefs of discipline : 80%

Show knowledge of field; respect contributions of other fields : 88%

Analyze theoretical issues or investigate real-world phenomena, create knowledge : 82%

Locate, evaluate and communicate information; address legal, professional, other issues : 82%

Critically examine, analyze, and evaluate thinking using intellectual standards and creativity : 75%

Critically evaluate, select, and use discipline-appropriate technology : 82%

Show appreciation for group and individual differences : 88%

Demonstrate effective leadership in diverse environments : 72%

Apply the specialized knowledge associated with professional practice area : 88%

Percentage of respondents who rated themselves as "proficient" or "exceptional" on ability to demonstrate the skill or ability on the job.
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q3 2017 – Q2 2018.

Expense, completion, & career information (Gainful Employment)

Capella believes in being clear about the real cost, time, and value of a Capella degree The Gainful Employment disclosures, required by the US Department of Education (ED) (under 34 CFR 688.6), provide some information about completion, expenses, and occupations. Most of our students are part-time so they might not take a full course load or attend all 4 quarters each year. We took that into account in calculating these data. For example, we define program length for certificates and master's and doctoral degrees as the number of calendar quarters it takes a typical student to complete a program. The ED has defined time to complete for a bachelor's degree as 4 years. Program cost is based on the specific pricing structure for each program which is either a cost per credit or a cost per active quarter.

Other related information may be found on the Learning Outcomes, Career Outcomes, and Student Experience tabs on this page.

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See Gainful Employment data

Earn Your Doctoral Degree

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Become an expert in your field. Enroll in an online PhD, PsyD, or EdD program at Capella.

"I'm able to talk to victims of domestic violence about how to reduce their likelihood of being a victim. This is a real-world application of the Scholar-Practitioner Model and I am honored to be a part of it."

Jesse Collins, PhD

2010 Graduate

School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Specialization in  Psychology