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Doctor of Social Work Degree (DSW) in Clinical Practice & Leadership Program

The College of Social Work offers a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in Clinical Practice and Leadership that prepares graduates for advanced clinical practice and 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. The 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 the DSW program is that it is a professional practice degree – designed to prepare students for advanced clinical practice and advanced practice leadership – and 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. Courses are taught online through synchronous and asynchronous models. Real-time or synchronous courses will make extensive use of interactive video and instructional media. Asynchronous features of the course will facilitate the use of online learning resources to enable information sharing outside predetermined time constraints.

The DSW degree program at the UT College of Social Work 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.

Our students are engaged in providing services to at-risk populations in a variety of settings. Currently we have students in the program who are practicing in settings such as with 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.

The DSW is an intensive accelerated program that enables students to satisfy all degree requirements in three years, without career disruption. While in the program, students complete two classes per semester across eight continuous semesters. All DSW students come to campus for one week each summer for a period of on-campus focused study. This annual on-campus session:

  • 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.
  • Gives students the opportunity to meet their peers and develop professional networks with other practitioners with similar areas of focus.
  • Allows for a period of intense and clear focus on the program content in an environment that is condusive to learning.

If you are seeking an academic program like this, we encourage you to contact us and talk about your educational and professional goals. Iif you have questions that aren’t answered here on the web site, feel free to contact us.

Contact the DSW Program

For more information, please contact:

Program Director: Sharon Bowland, PhD,

Administrative Specialist I, Sarah Browning.

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

More on the DSW program:

Attend an Online Information Session
Admissions Information
Frequently Asked Questions about the DSW Program
Video on the Doctoral Programs