DSW DegreeThe Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) is a specialized program in one of the social work fields that prepares social workers to gain advanced training in research, supervision, and policy analysis. The DSW differs from a Doctor of Philosophy in social work in that it is an applied degree designed to train students for practice settings of social work. The DSW degree prepares students for roles as administrators, trainers, and evaluators. A PhD in social work is a research degree that prepares students for careers in research, teaching, policy development and analysis.
A Doctorate in social work gives you the versatility, leadership qualities, prestige, and recognition to pursue a variety of career options. A DSW will provide the authority to form your own research program as well as a deep understanding of the Clinical Social Work field. Having a Doctorate in Social Work gives you the freedom to work in any social work agency, open an advanced practice, become a professor, work in health care and medical settings, or move directly into management.
DSW vs. PhD: What’s the Difference?The difference between a DSW and a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work lies in the focus. The DSW relies on curriculum centered around the practice of social work in various settings, while the PhD is based more on research and theory. A learner with a PhD in Social Work will likely go into teaching and further research, while someone who holds a DSW may advance in the workforce to leadership roles managing other social workers, creating policy and working in legal services.
For leaders looking to solve large-scale problems and conquer social work issues on a grand scale, a Doctorate in Social Work is a step beyond the MSW. Curriculum includes courses in organizational leadership, managing complex systems, and informatics in social work. A PhD in Social Work, since it prepares students to become educators, researchers or scholars, will include courses such as social policy analysis and ecosystems theory and practice, courses designed more for researchers than leaders.