Visit Request Info Apply

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

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 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. 

Admission to the DSW Program

Application Deadline 

March 1, 2022 for early decision, completed files will be reviewed early with acceptance offered to at least half the cohort size
April 1 final deadline

All admission documents must be in to guarantee a place in the program if eligible. 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
April 1.

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 $1,074 per credit hour  (most quarters are 6-8 credit hours)
  • General Fee is $87 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 

  • Teaching and leadership focus 
  • Enrollment now open each summer quarter 
  • No GRE required 
  • Two paid Teaching Assistant positions are available 


  • 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

Darold Bigger, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.Div.


Professor Emeritus of Social Work and Theology

(509) 527-2389


  • B.A. & M.S.W. Walla Walla College
  • M.Div. Andrews University 
  • Ph.D. Claremont Theology and Personality
  • ACSW
  • LMFT


Susan B. Smith, Ph.D., M.S.W., LICSW, LCSW

D.S.W. Program Director

(509) 527-2443 


  • B.S. Southern College
  • M.S.W. Florida International University
  • Ph.D. Andrews University
  • LCSW

Teaching Areas

  • Leadership
  • Social Work Education
  • Mental Health
  • Social Work Practice


  • Mental Health
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Assessment in Higher Learning


  • Travel and Reading



  • Board of Directors and Volunteer, REACH, Tacoma, Washington
  • Board of Directors, Housing Groups Board, Walla Walla, Washington
  • Mental Health First Aid Community Training

Professional Memberships/Affiliations

  • Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education
  • Council on Social Work Education
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • Pi Lambda Theta – Honor Society in Education
  • Phi Alpha—Honor Society in Social Work

Faculty Awards

  • NASW-WA Social Worker of the Year Award 2019
  • National Academic Advising Association, Outstanding Faculty Advisor, 2011
  • Walla Walla University Excellence in Advising Award, 2010
  • Walla Walla University Community Service Award, 2010
  • NASW Washington Chapter, Educator of the Year Award, 2007

Cheris Current, Ph.D., M.A. 

Professor of Social Work and Sociology

(509) 527-2903 


  • Ph.D. 
  • M.A.

Josefer Montes, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Adjunct Faculty, School of Social Work and Sociology


  • Ph. D. University of Southern Mississippi, 2010; International Development
  • M.B.A. Florida Metropolitan University, 1994; Business Administration
  • B.B.A. Southern Adventist University, 1992; Accounting

Teaching Areas

  • Business Administration
  • Strengthening Markets, Systems, and Processes
  • Sales and Marketing Management
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures
  • Advancement and Fundraising
  • Higher Education
  • Healthcare
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Professional Affiliation

  • Vice President for Marketing and Communications, and Chief Inclusion Officer at Kettering Health Network
  • Former Dean and Professor at Walla Walla University's School of Business

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

Ann Szalda-Petree, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.A., LCSW

Associate Professor of Social Work and Sociology

(406) 721-2075


  • M.S.W. Walla Walla University, 2005
  • Ph.D. University of Montana, 1993; Psychology
  • M.A. University of Montana, 1992; Psychology
  • B.S. Seattle University, 1988; Psychology
  • LCSW

Teaching Areas

  • Advanced Individual Practice
  • Advanced Group Practice
  • Advanced Family Practice
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Solution Focused Approaches
  • Research Methods
  • Advanced Clinical Evaluation
  • Clinical Issues in Relationships

I am beginning an investigation into the relationship between attachment and belief in conspiracy theories. I am currently conducting research on decreasing recidivism among people going through pre-release programs. I frequently read about the use of humor in psychotherapy.

Spending time with family and in the outdoors, running, radio and podcast production, music writing and production, bicycling and reading


Professional Memberships/Affiliations


  • President of the Board of Directors at KFGM Missoula Community Radio 105.5 FM, streaming at
  • Radio show host and producer for KFGM and the Community Radio Network of Montana

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 

Event Details

Shown in {{ }}