The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Clinical Practice and Leadership

The University of Tennessee Doctor of Social Work (DSW) Program is unique in the country in that it has an advanced clinical social work curriculum focused on evidence-based practice, clinical leadership, clinical science, and applied research.

Part of the unique nature of this program is that we offer this curriculum in an online format where students who are full-time working clinical social workers can continue in their on-going clinical practice while studying to earn their doctorate. Our students are engaged in providing services to at-risk populations in a variety of settings. The program allows those individuals the opportunity to work through their doctoral studies while remaining in clinical practice.

This program spans almost three years during which students complete two classes per semester across eight continuous semesters. Students come to campus for one week each summer for a period of on-campus focused study. There are several reasons for that.

  1. It gives students the opportunity to meet their professors in person to discuss issues of practice and ask questions related to both practice and career advisement.
  2. It gives students the opportunity to meet their peers and develop professional networks with other practitioners with similar areas of focus.
  3. It allows for a period of intense and clear focus on the program content in an environment that is condusive to learning.

Our DSW is the only online program of its kind offered by a major university. We see this as a growing recognition of the importance of practice doctorates, which we see in other fields such as nursing, physical therapy, speech, and audiology. We see the Doctor of Social Work program as a way for social workers to develop as advanced practitioners and leaders in their fields of clinical practice.

Currently we have people in the program who are practicing in a wide variety of settings from veterans and military services to children at risk, from private counseling practices to academic and student counseling centers. What is remarkable about our students is the depth and breadth of their clinical practice experience. On average our students have been out of school for ten to twelve years, with about nine years of practice as LCSWs. They bring to the classroom that wealth of clinical experience, so they are not only learning from the faculty, but they are learning from each other in the encounter with other experienced clinicians who are sharing a profound level of wisdom, experience, and knowledge in areas of practice.

If you are seeking an academic program like this, please contact us.

Program Director:
Dr. David Patterson


Contact the Doctoral Program

Doctoral Program
The University of Tennessee
College of Social Work
313 Henson Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-3333
(865) 974-6481

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


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Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System