The University of Tennessee, Knoxville



Frequently Asked Questions for DSW Students

The DSW differs from other social work doctorates in that it is a professional practice degree, designed to prepare students for advanced clinical practice and advanced practice leadership. Geared toward working professionals, the DSW is an intensive accelerated program that enables students to satisfy all degree requirements in three years, without career disruption.

Number One

Is the program accredited?

In social work, the Council of Social Work Education accredits MSW and BSW programs. There is however, no accreditation process for either PhD or DSW programs. That said, the quality of programs is typically dependent on the quality of the school or college of social work in which they reside. The UT-CSW DSW program is a member of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (GADE) in Social Work.

Number two

Do I apply to the Graduate School too?

Yes, actually you start with the graduate schools application and that will automatically lead you into the College of Social Work application. Here is the link to the UT Graduate School application.

What is the cost of the program and is financial aid available?

Information about the tuition, fees, and financial aid is available at
At present we do not have graduate assistantships. Students can apply for financial aid. If you reside in one of the southeastern states, you may be eligible for Tennessee in-state tuition through the Southern Regional Education Board's (SREB) Academic Common Market. Log onto and click on your state on the top, right hand side of the page to find contact information for your state. A link to UT-CSW DSW listing on SREB's Electronic Campus is available here.

Number four

Are out-of-state students charged out-of-state rates for online courses?


Number five

When is the application deadline?

Applications are accepted from early October until April 1st for the following fall semester. The DSW Admissions Committee begins reviewing applications in early December. Applications are reviewed through the spring until we admit no more than 25 highly qualified applicants. Students seeking admission to the program are encouraged to submit their application materials as early as possible.

Number six

When will we know if we're accepted?

If accepted, you will receive correspondence from the UT Graduate School. Acceptance notifications are sent after the reviews conducted by the DSW Admissions Committee, which generally occur each month after December. Please note that your admission to the DSW Program is contingent upon your attendance at the on-campus, mandatory 3-day New Student Orientation June 18-20, 2017.

Number seven

In reference to how the curriculum is delivered, what does "synchronous and asynchronous models" mean?

Synchronous sessions require the instructor and students to be online at the same time. Synchronous class sessions are offered using Blackboard Collaborate, which enables two-way video and audio class instruction and discussions. Asynchronous classes or class modules are composed of lectures, readings, discussion boards, and quizzes that students can access anytime.

Number eight

Is this considered a full-time program?

Yes. Full-time study in the DSW program is defined as six credit hours per semester.

Number nine

Can I attend part-time?


Number ten

How many credits are needed to graduate?

Students in the DSW take two, three credit hour courses per semester for a total of six hours per semester over the course of eight continuous semesters, including summer, for a total of 48 hours of doctoral study.

Number eleven

Can I transfer credits from another school?

The DSW Committee will consider accepting hours from other social work doctoral programs on a case-by-case basis.

Number twelve

Can I pick and choose which courses I want to take each semester?

No, the program is very carefully structured with classes being offered in a very deliberate order. The list of classes and the order they are to be taken can be found on our website.

Number thirteen

Can you mail me an application packet?

Applications are only accepted by electronic submission. Here is the link to the UT Graduate School application.

Number fourteen

How do I get more information?

Visit our webpage at You can email the program director, Dr. David Patterson, at or call 865-974-6481 for more information.

Number fifteen

If I graduated from UT do I need to reapply?

Yes, it is necessary for UT graduates to apply for re-admission to the UT Graduate School and admission to the DSW program.

Number sixteen

How late can I take the GRE?

Above, you will find information on our review process and time frame. We cannot make a final decision on an application until we receive the applicant's GRE scores.

Number seventeen

What is the minimum GRE score you accept?

We do not specify a minimum GRE score. We take a holistic approach to the review of application materials, treating GRE scores as one element in an applicant's portfolio of clinical experience and capacity to excel in graduate school.

Number eighteen

Is the time flexible when you come for the summer week on campus?

Students in the DSW program take two classes during the first session of summer school, culminating in a week of intensive study on campus during the last week in June. All students are required to attend this week on campus during the specified time period.

Number nineteen

What counts as two years of postgraduate experience?

Applicants must have two years of post-MSW/MSSW clinical experience. This is understood to mean two years of supervised direct practice experience with an at-risk population.

You are welcome to contact the program director if you have questions about this requirement or your specific postgraduate clinical experience.

Number twenty

When will the next class start?

The next cohort of DSW students will begin their course of study in the upcoming fall semester.

Number twenty-one

How large are the classes?

Classes are limited to no more than 25 students.

Number twenty-two

Is a seating fee required?

Yes, a $500 seating fee is required within two weeks after notice of acceptance into the program.

Number twenty-three

What is a seating fee and how does it work?

A seating fee is a deposit paid to hold the position until the applicant registers for class and pays tuition. At that time the seating fee is applied to the applicant's tuition.

Number twenty-four

What if I change my mind, is the seating fee refundable?

Yes, if you notify the director of the DSW program in writing 60 days before classes start.

Number twenty-four

What's the difference between the DSW and PhD programs?

Our DSW program is a doctorate in social work with emphasis on clinical leadership. This program is an online program with the requirement that you have to come to the Knoxville campus 2 times during the program once in each of the two summer semesters for a week at a time, usually the last week of June. This is designed as a part-time program with the student taking two courses per semester. The program runs 8 consecutive semesters and is designed for the working professional as not to disrupt his/her career, each class meets once a week in the evenings. Applicants for this program must have taken the GRE with in the last 5 years, have 2 years post MSW experience and be actively working in a clinical environment.

Our PhD program is a doctorate of philosophy with emphasis on research, critical thinking, and expanding the knowledge base, for those interested in pursuing research and teaching in higher education. It is an on campus program and is structured as a 3 year program. It requires the student to be a full-time student taking classes during the day for 2 full years and then a year to complete his/her dissertation. The time to complete the dissertation may vary from student to student depending on the student's interest and research area. Applicants for this program must have taken the GRE within the last 5 years and have a MS in social work or closely related field. This program has a very structured class curriculum yet provides the student with the opportunity, encouragement and support to explore his/her research interests.


Prospective Students contact::
Susan Bryant, Coordinator of Student Recruitment


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