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Simmons University Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) Online

Reach the highest level of clinical training in social work thought, education, and practice.

About the program

  • Part- and full-time options: Learners can complete the online DSW program in less than two years full time, or in less than three years part time.
  • Diverse career paths: The online DSW equips learners with advanced practice methods and a clinical perspective, so they can pursue various social work career paths in teaching, private practice, leadership, consulting, and more.
  • Modern program, clinical legacy: Since 1904, Simmons has trained social workers with progressive values. Today, this training extends to aspiring social work leaders across the country through the online DSW offering.

About Simmons University

Simmons University was founded in 1899 with one mission: to prepare women to earn independent livelihoods and lead meaningful lives through educational opportunities. This vision, rooted in progressive values, led to the founding of the School of Social Work — the nation’s first school of clinical social work — in 1904. Today, the mission continues through the online Doctorate of Social Work program, which prepares the next generation of social work leaders to reach the highest level of clinical training in the profession.

Tuition and fees

Tuition and fees are subject to change and may increase each academic year. Tuition does not include student fees, technology platform licensing, or support services. Learners are also responsible for travel and accommodation costs related to any in-person immersions or residentials.

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Curriculum — three areas of focus

The 48-credit online DSW curriculum was designed by doctorally prepared clinical social workers, for clinical social workers. The expansive curriculum allows learners to explore a range of social work competencies and develop their professional identities, all while keeping clinical practice at the forefront. Guided by social justice values, learners will prepare to advance social work through three areas of focus:

  • Leadership: Gain an advanced understanding of leadership theory and practical tools for promoting inclusivity at all levels of an organization.
  • Advanced clinical practice: Learn emerging practices that aim to support diverse clients, and prepare to implement novel approaches in social work agencies or in private practice.
  • Teaching and education: Develop advanced knowledge in learning theory, evidence-based pedagogy, responsive teaching and classroom practices, and knowledge dissemination.
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Simmons seeks learners who are eager to advance in their social work careers. All applicants must have a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from a CSWE-accredited institution, and three years of relevant practice experience following the completion of their MSW. To complete an application, you will need to submit:

  • Online application

  • Résumé

  • Transcripts from each institution attended

  • Two recommendation letters

  • Statement of professional and educational intent

DSW capstone


The DSW curriculum culminates with the capstone project. The capstone provides the opportunity for learners to explore a real-world topic or problem. The capstone can apply to any or all of the three curricular focus areas and challenges learners to synthesize what they have learned throughout the program. 

Learners will receive support and feedback from classmates and Simmons’ faculty through:

Capstone seminars: Learners attend capstone-specific classes with a small group of peers as they explore their topics and produce their projects. 

One-on-one faculty meetings: Learners work closely with and receive mentorship from a Simmons faculty member. This faculty member serves as a guide throughout the capstone experience.  

In the final semester, learners present their capstone to classmates and DSW faculty to assert their expertise and establish their identities as DSWs.

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