Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.)

Online DSW Learning Objectives:

  • Engage in systematic inquiry that adheres to scholarly conventions. 
  • Use and critically evaluate evidence-based practices. 
  • Develop and disseminate practice-relevant knowledge through a variety of channels, such as teaching, administration, scholarship, professional presentations, and mentoring. 
  • Develop and maintain substantive expertise in teaching and leadership in social work. 
  • Assess the roles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in shaping human experiences and develop intervention strategies. 
  • Apply ethical decision making and professional practices. 

What’s the difference between a D.S.W. and a Ph.D. in Social Work? 
Both are doctoral degrees, both advance an individual in their social work education and careers. The difference lies in the focus of the programs. Ph.D. programs generally focus on quantitative research and are most appropriate for students interested in careers conducting social work research. A D.S.W. is a practice doctorate in social work and the emphasis at Walla Walla University is on teaching and leading. The WWU D.S.W. values practice and research with the aim to engage our students as practitioner scholars.  

Why should you earn a D.S.W. at WWU?
Our online program is focused on teaching in higher education and leadership skills as practitioner scholar. We are the only D.S.W. program in the Pacific Northwest. Study with us to earn your D.S.W. degree and enjoy a low student to faculty ratio. 

The D.S.W. Program at Walla Walla University School of Social Work and Sociology has grown out of a strong undergraduate and graduate program—both accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and by the Northwest Commission on College and Universities (NWCCU). 

At this time, CSWE does not accredit any doctoral program. 

What Walla Walla University DSW students say about the doctoral program

In a world often telling us who we are, who we ought to be, who we should aspire to be, I have found Walla Walla values and honors authenticity, which is a significant part of why I chose Walla Walla for my DSW.
- Jona

Having a cohort with diverse experiences represented is providing valuable depth to my practice and research.
- Dustin

I was most attracted to WWU DSW’s accessibility and the program being ideal for professionals already in the field of social work. Social workers are inherently teachers and change makers. To further my education in both of these areas was what I was looking for at the next stage in my career.
- Stacy

Admission to the Online DSW Program

Application Deadline 

March 1, 2023 for early decision, completed files will be reviewed early with acceptance offered to at least half the cohort size

May 1 final deadline
Admission for summer quarter is dependent on available positions in the program. Eligibility does not guarantee a place in the program due to limited yearly enrollment. You may be placed on a waitlist if accepted. 

Admissions Requirements 

  • Hold a Master’s degree in social work from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or a CSWE recognized international program.
  • Minimum of two years of excellent post-MSW direct practice experience. 
  • Active license in clinical social work preferred. 
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 in graduate education and 3.0 in undergraduate studies. 
  • Professional level skills in the use of technology and reliable internet access. 

Applicants who meet the minimum admissions requirements will then do the following:

1. Submit:

  • Application
  • All transcripts for graduate coursework and transcript showing a conferred bachelor's degree.
  • Current curriculum vitae/detailed resume.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s professional and academic abilities.
  • Professional writing sample. Examples of professional, scholarly writing:
    • Published article or book chapter
    • Master’s thesis
    • Unpublished research report or white paper
    • Term paper written in an upper level graduate course
    • Grant application

2. Complete a criminal background check.

3. Craft an admissions essay that addresses the following:

  • Discuss your professional experiences and the factors that led to the decision to apply to the D.S.W. program at Walla Walla University.
  • Describe a situation that you dealt with in your professional role as a clinician, administrator/manager, or teacher and how you used practice knowledge, skills, and values to intervene successfully.
  • Address your future professional vision and how the pursuit of a D.S.W. degree will aid you in achieving your goals.
  • Discuss an area of in-depth study that you intend to pursue in this doctoral program and how this will aid the field of professional social work.

All materials must be submitted by
May 31.

Important to keep in mind:

  • Application should demonstrate a commitment to teaching and leadership in social work.
  • Personal interviews may be requested by the D.S.W. admissions committee.
  • Residential requirements may include week-long on-campus summer intensive sessions.

Tuition and financial information

Financial Information

  • Tuition is $1,139 per credit hour  (most quarters are 6-8 credit hours)
  • General Fee is $121 per quarter
  • Two Teaching Assistant positions are available to top candidates which will include a teaching stipend and potentially partial or full tuition waivers. These positions require a College Place campus residency year-round. 
  • The Federal Direct Student Loan is available for eligible students, who can borrow up to $20,500 per academic year. There is a cumulative maximum amount of $138,500, including any other prior Direct Loans.
  • The Federal Graduate PLUS loan is available for eligible students who need additional funds beyond the Direct Loan.
  •  For more information regarding student loans, contact WWU’s student loan office at 800-656-2333 or
  • Payment plans are available. The awarded financial aid is subtracted from the quarter’s tuition and fees. The remaining balance is divided into three equal payments. One third is due the Wednesday before the start of classes. The next two payments are due approximately one month apart.  International students are not eligible for the payment plan (except students from Canada).  

Learn more about finances for graduate students 

There are some external funding resources that could be available to you. Below are a few places you may want to explore:

Program Highlights 

  • Online format
  • Teaching and leadership focus 
  • Entry term – summer quarter 
  • No GRE required 
  • Limited Teaching Assistant positions available with tuition waiver and stipend


  • Credits: 17 classes for a total of 64 quarter credit hours 
  • Length: 10 consecutive quarters over 2 years with two summer week-long residencies 

D.S.W. Faculty

Cheris Current, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.A. 

D.S.W. Program Director

Professor of Social Work and Sociology

(509) 527-2903 


  • Ph.D. Washington State University “Expanding the ‘Exile Model’: Race, Gender, Resettlement, and Cuban-American Identity, 1959-1979”
  • M.S.W. Walla Walla University
  • M.A. Washington State University
  • B.A. Southern Adventist University


  • Race
  • Class
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Identity


  • 2011-Present Blue Mountain Action Council
  • 2020-Present Director of the Donald Blake Center
    • 2016-2020 Blake Center Associate Director
  • 2018-2021 Chair, Faculty Development Committee

Faculty Awards

  • 2019 C. Michael and DeLona Lang Bell Outstanding Teaching Award
  • 2017 WWU Community Service Award
  • 2016 Excellence in Academic Advisement Award

Laurellé C. Warner, Ph.D., M.S.W., LCSW

Professor of Social Work and Sociology

(406) 549-1050


  • M.S.W. University of Connecticut School of Social Work, 1989
  • Ph.D., Loma Linda University; Social Policy and Social Research
  • Certificate: Basic Mediation Training, Center for Conflict Resolution, La Sierra University, 2013 
  • Certificate: Research on Spirituality and Health, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, Duke University Medical Center, 2011 
  • Certificate: Addiction, New England Institute of Addiction Studies and Colby College, 1989
  • LCSW, State of Montana, 2016
  • LCSW, State of Connecticut, 1997

Teaching Areas 

  • Practice with Individuals and Field Seminar
  • Practice with Groups
  • Practice with Couples and Families
  • Field Seminar


  • Resilience in the Lives of Black Women


  • Knowing, understanding, and applying theories from various fields; enjoying the beauty of nature


Faculty Awards

  • 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, National Association of Social Workers, California Inland Empire


  • Civically engaged, on a range of committees and fellowship at WWU, pro bono counseling/therapeutic services offered 
  • Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society, NASW member 

Kari Firestone, Ph.D., M.S.

Adjunct Faculty, School of Social Work and Sociology

(509) 527-2462


  • B.S. in Nursing - Walla Walla College - 1994
  • M.S. in Nursing/Nursing Education/Clinical Nurse Specialist - Loma Linda University - 2006
  • Ph.D. in Nursing - Oregon Health & Sciences University - 2016
  • Clinical Expertise: Pediatrics, Pain & Symptom Management, Health Promotion, Public/Community Health

Emily Tillotson, D.S.W, M.S.W, LICSW

Associate Professor of Social Work and Sociology

(509) 527-2705 


  • BSW Walla Walla University, 1997
  • MSW Walla Walla University, 2000
  • DSW University of Southern California, 2020

Teaching Areas
Inequality, race and gender, criminal justice and social work practice

    Race and ethnicity, families and parenting and mental health

      Gardening, cooking, tennis


      Professional Memberships/Affiliations

      • NASW
      • CSWE

      Faculty Awards

      • 2015 Walla Walla University Community Service Award


      • President NASW-Washington Chapter
      • Walla Walla Housing Authority Commissioner

      Neria Sebastien, Ed.D., MST

      Adjunct Faculty, School of Social Work and Sociology


      • Ed.D., Educational Leadership, Concordia University
      • MST, Special Education, Fordham University
      • B.A., Childhood Education, Concentration in Science Education, Brooklyn College
      • A.A., Childhood Education, Concentration in Special Education, Caribbean Union Teacher's College

      Teaching Areas

      • Pedagogy
      • Social Justice
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Preparation


      • Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
      • Educational Leadership
      • Diversity and Inclusion
      • Social Justice
      • Computer Science Education
      • Multimedia Learning
      • Special Education
      • Pre-Service Teacher Education
      • Rural Schools
      • Urban Education


      • Seattle University, College of Education, Faculty Member
      • Walla Walla University, Education & Psychology, Faculty Member
      • Fordham University, Graduate School of Education, Graduate Student
      • Concordia University Portland, Graduate School of Education, Graduate Student

      Shauntina Sorrells, D.S.W., M.S.W.

      Adjunct Faculty, School of Social Work and Sociology


      • D.S.W., University of Southern California
      • M.S.W., California State University of Long Beach
      • B.S., Psychology, Vanguard University of Southern California


      • National Child Trauma Stress Network Trainer
      • Common Sense Parenting Trainer
      • Domestic Violence Advocate

      Teaching Areas

      • Program Evaluation
      • Mental Health


      • Program Evaluation
      • Social Work Grand Challenges
      • Caregiving Relationships
      • Youth and Families
      • Affordable housing


      • California State University, Long Beach