The online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program comprises 24 months of part-time study. Students complete 42 units of coursework focused on two primary content areas: innovation and leadership, and advanced management practice in complex systems.
42 units of coursework
1 capstone project
First Semester Courses
Managing Innovation and Change
As social systems quickly evolve, social workers need to manage change outside and within organizations and design innovative solutions that help bridge the gap between policy, organizational systems, practice and populations. Students must develop the intellectual practice of scanning the outside world and absorbing what others are saying about shifts and trends with a social work lens. This unique course explores the nature of innovation, unplanned change, conflict and collaboration during times of uncertainty and how they impact systems of care, practice and clients.
Students will learn discipline-specific and interdisciplinary ideas and approaches for innovation and change as they address the Grand Challenges for Social Work. Students will leave this course prepared to respond to the fast-paced and evolving organizational environments with skills in strategy development and execution.
Leading Public Discourse
Students in this course learn how to lead public discourse to increase civic engagement and public participation. Students will examine contemporary and historical examples of public discourse in motion, the current state and future direction of social work and the information needs of communities, organizations and American society. In addition, students will analyze public media and the media’s role in transformational change in civil society.
Second Semester Courses
Leading and Managing Large Complex Systems
This course examines large-scale national, state and local social intervention programs that address the Grand Challenges for Social Work, with an emphasis on income security, housing, health, justice and child welfare programs.
Students will analyze the fiscal, political and financial implications that impact and influence successful program execution. This course will prepare students to design and develop social programs while considering key factors such as security, planning, outcome measurement, funding and budget constraints, organizational structure, personnel and staffing, leadership, implementation, marketing and data information systems. Based upon existing large-scale social programs coupled with creative and critical thinking, candidates will design or redesign innovative and responsive programs and policies for the future.
Financial Management for Social Change
In this course, students learn how to design approaches that improve fiscal decision-making by maximizing revenue sources for governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Students will enhance and sharpen their budget planning and financial management skills by examining social program design and the building blocks that develop financial projections and resource reviews. Principles of business, accounting, psychology, sociology, economics and social work are combined to achieve a deeper understanding of the forces that impact budget planning, management, cutbacks and negotiations. The Harvard case method is used extensively in this course to explore the practical application of ideas that strengthen problem-solving skills in complex organizations. Students will apply course concepts to a draft budget for a social program/policy that is intended to impact one of the Grand Challenges for Social Work.
Third Semester Courses
Preparatory Scholarship for Capstone
This course prepares students to write grant proposals and give oral presentations so they can pursue funding for their capstone project.
Innovation Laboratory I
In this course, students test theoretical frameworks and models by simulating a series of real business and organizational scenarios.
During this five-day campus-based residency, students share their innovative ideas and demonstrate their communication skills as they present their capstone project before a panel of DSW faculty.
Fourth Semester Courses
An Introduction to the Science of Innovative Social Work
This course introduces students to doctoral-level research and evaluation, teaching them how to effectively use literature, formulate a problem for research and identify a research or evaluative approach.
Evaluating Innovation and Change
During this course, students use mixed-method research to evaluate programs and assess the impact of rapid, innovative and/or unexpected change.
Fifth Semester Courses
Informatics and Social Innovation and Influence
In this course, students learn how to promote social good through information technology, such as mobile apps, social media, data analytics and big data.
This course prepares students to use quantitative administrative data to identify trends, track performance, evaluate programs and drive decision-making.
Sixth Semester Courses
Grand Challenges Capstone
During this course, students complete a fundable grant proposal that supports their innovative solution to one of the Grand Challenges for Social Work.
Innovation Laboratory II
In this second Innovation Laboratory, students simulate a series of real business and organizational scenarios to test theoretical frameworks and models introduced in previous courses.
Held in Washington, D.C., this five-day residency brings students together for a series of presentations, workshops and interviews with thought leaders in areas related to the Grand Challenges for Social Work.