The 15 Best Schools for a Doctorate in Social Work in 2021 - Best Value Schools

    The 15 Best Schools for a Doctorate in Social Work in 2021

    March 2, 2021 | Staff Writers

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    If you are interested in going back to school to complete your degree, you may want to consider a doctorate in social work. A doctorate in social work can be continued from a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, depending on the school, and it may be able to be completed in as little as two years. The programs vary significantly, but the jump in pay from the master’s degree to the doctorate may make it worth the extra schooling. Some of the schools feature both a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) and a PhD in Social Work. The PhD is a research degree and the Doctorate of Social Work is an advanced practical degree, similar to an EdD or a PsyD.

    Why Choose a Doctorate of Social Work?

    A doctorate of social work is the perfect degree if you want to be a licensed clinical social worker, non-profit director, human services administrator, social work administrator or other type of clinical social worker. Social work PhD programs are significant enough that graduates can expect to earn over $85,000 annually on average, with some making well over $150,000 annually.

    Doctorate of Social Work Degrees

    Doctorates in social work are expected to be helpful to students in the future, as there is an 11% projected growth in employment for social workers expected between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A PhD in social work is expected to pay an average of $86,073, but the top 10% of social work professors make $152,622 on average.

    Rank School Location
    1Aurora UniversityAurora, Illinois
    2University of TennesseeKnoxville, Tennessee
    3Arizona State UniversityTempe, Arizona
    4Barry UniversityMiami Shores, Florida
    5Simmons UniversityBoston, Massachusetts

    Top 15 Schools for a Doctorate in Social Work

    We have selected 15 of the top schools for degree-seeking students to get humanities degrees. These are ranked based on tuition cost for in-state students and the overall teacher/student ratio.

    1

    Aurora University

    • Aurora, Illinois
    • Graduation Rate: 57%

    The Doctor of Social Work at Aurora University is a four-to-five-year program made up of 64 credit hours. Courses meet on the weekends, and the cohort model encourages relationships between peers and the faculty. A 12-hour internship is required.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $12,600
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 19 to 1
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    2

    University of Tennessee

    • Knoxville, Tennessee
    • Graduation Rate: 68%

    The University of Tennessee offers a PhD in Social Work that focuses on extensive training and advanced research methods. The program requires a mentorship and comes with four years of complete funding, including the student’s health insurance, a stipend and tuition. The total program is 34 credit hours with nine additional credit hours in electives in the social and behavioral sciences.

    The university also offers a fully online Doctorate in Social Work.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $11,468
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 17 to 1
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    3

    Arizona State University

    • Tempe, Arizona
    • Graduation Rate: 67%

    Arizona State University offers social work PhD programs for full-time students. The school requires applicants to hold at least 60 credit hours of their initial Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree program before beginning.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $11,720
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 20 to 1
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    4

    Barry University

    • Miami Shores, Florida
    • Graduation Rate: 62%

    Barry University offers a Doctor of Social Work that is available online and is designed to be available to people who are already working in their fields. The Doctorate in Social Work program can be completed in three years, with a total of 48 credit hours. Students are expected to complete all requirements and successfully defend their major product within five years from the start of program matriculation. Barry University School of Social Work also offers an in-person PhD program.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $17,820
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 12 to 1
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    5

    Simmons University

    • Boston, Massachusetts
    • Graduation Rate: 76%

    Simmons University’s School of Social Work is the oldest clinical social work school in the country. It offers an online Doctorate of Social Work that can be completed in just two years. Clinical practice is required for the online course.

    The school also offers a PhD in Social Work program in person. It is a part-time program with the majority of courses offered on Thursdays. The program, including the dissertation, is normally completed within four to six years. This course appears to have 54 credit hours across five years.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $21,654
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 8 to 1
    Visit School Website

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    6

    University of St. Thomas

    • Saint Paul, Minnesota
    • Graduation Rate: 76%

    The PhD in Social Work at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul is a 45-credit program with a three-year curriculum. The program uses the cohort model, which means that students work together to complete their doctorates as a group. There is online and on-campus learning available.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $24,766
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 14 to 1
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    7

    Boston College

    • Newton, Massachusetts
    • Graduation Rate: 93%

    Boston College offers a PhD in social work. The project only allows for full-time students to study and requires a three-year residency. The school focuses on preparing students for the GRE exam. The entire course is made up for 33 credit hours and 12 elective credits. It’s expected to take four years.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $30,600
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 13 to 1
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    8

    Baylor University

    • Waco, Texas
    • Graduation Rate: 74%

    Baylor University offers a PhD in Social Work that is designed to train graduates to work in academic research or to work in government, private and teaching posts. The program is a 10-semester curriculum that is primarily available online. Students are expected to finish the program within three to four years and contains 60 credit hours.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $32,130
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 13 to 1
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    9

    University of Pennsylvania

    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Graduation Rate: 95%

    The University of Pennsylvania has a Doctorate of Social Work program that is available in person or online. It starts in the fall and students must have a master’s degree in social work from another accredited social work degree program. The program takes just three years, and two in-person residencies must be completed if the online program is used.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $36,254
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 6 to 1
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    10

    Adelphi University

    • Garden City, New York
    • Graduation Rate: 68%

    Located in New York, Adelphi University offers a doctorate in social work that requires students to complete 48 hours of classwork. The PhD program is designed as either a part- or full-time program that students may participate in while still working.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $41,920
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 11 to 1
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    11

    Bryn Mawr College

    • Pennsylvania
    • Graduation Rate: 83%

    Bryn Mawr College offers a PhD in social work and has done so since 1920. The curriculum is available for full- or part-time students. Four semesters of classwork are required to obtain the degree. Students are expected to pass 12 courses, two of which are electives.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $45,240
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 9 to 1
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    12

    University of Southern California

    • Los Angeles, California
    • Graduation Rate: 92%

    The University of Southern California offers the Doctorate of Social Work as an online course. The course begins in either spring or summer semesters. Students who would like to take part in this program can start on campus with the Master’s degree of Social Work and then move on to the PhD.

    The program’s standard track takes 42 units over six semesters. The accelerated track can be completed in seven semesters with a capstone project during the last three.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $46,272
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 9 to 1
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    13

    Case Western Reserve University

    • Cleveland, Ohio
    • Graduation Rate: 90%

    The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University offers a PhD in social welfare. Founded in 1952 as one of the first doctoral programs in social welfare in America, the PhD program is designed to develop leaders in social work research, policy and teaching. The program is a cornerstone of the school, offering doctoral students the unrivaled opportunity to engage with world-renowned faculty, cutting-edge research and a creative curriculum—all within a supportive environment committed to student success. In response to the different needs and interests of our students, the Mandel School offers both full-time and part-time formats with applications opening in the fall. The program requires 37 total credit hours, 18 hours of dissertation credits, and the completion of a dissertation. Full-time students complete required coursework in two years before starting their dissertation.

    Full-time students are given a tuition scholarship of 100% for four years as well as a $18,000 Fellowship that requires them to work with their faculty about 20 hours a week. The scholarship covers 100% of required and elective courses and 6 of the 18 hours for their dissertation work.  Graduate Studies allows students to petition to take up to 8 Fellowship course, aside from the required and elective courses (37 hours) to increase their knowledge or skills in other areas of interest to them. The school covers the cost of their student health care premium until they graduate as long as they are enrolled. Full-time students take 5.5 years on average to finish their doctorate. Overall, the school provides 87% of the cost of the doctorate for full-time students. Part-time doctoral students are given a 75% tuition scholarship through the entire program and they take 6.5 years on average to finish their doctorate.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $1,997 per credit hour
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 8 to 1
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    14

    Brandeis University

    • Waltham, Massachusetts
    • Graduation Rate: 89%

    At Brandeis University, students can receive the Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy degree. This program includes two years of coursework as well as a doctoral seminar, which must include a dissertation. Students need to complete a comprehensive exam and defend their dissertation in under six years.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $51,940
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 10 to 1
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    15

    Boston University

    • Boston, Massachusetts
    • Graduation Rate: 87%

    Boston University offers a PhD in Social Work that begins during the fall semester. The program is a 63-credit plan with the coursework designed to be completed in just two years. Twenty-seven hours are required to be taken in research methods courses, 16 hours are to be spent in core social work courses, 12 hours are spent in the student’s specialization and 8 hours are for teaching methods and training.

    School Overview

    Tuition (in-state): $54,720
    Student-to-teacher ratio: 10 to 1
    Visit School Website

    Ranking Specifications

    In this article, we looked at graduate tuition rates and the current overall student-to-teacher ratios to determine which program would be ranked higher or lower on the list. While all attempts have been made to provide up-to-date information, the rankings that are above are subject to chance and cannot be guaranteed.

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