Social work doctorate

WWU to offer doctor of social work degree

A doctor of social work degree (D.S.W.) will be offered by the Walla Walla University Wilma Hepker School of Social Work and Sociology beginning June 2020. Applications for the program are being accepted at

The 2.5-year online program will provide a focus on teaching in higher education and preparation for leadership positions in the social work profession. The program will be interactive and is designed to be accessible for working professionals. Classes will be taught in real-time using videoconferencing, online asynchronous coursework with a learning management system, and weeklong summer residencies. 

“One of our goals for this program is to train scholars who will change the landscape of professional social work practice through research, education, and leadership,” said Susan Smith, WWU professor of social work and sociology and director of the D.S.W. program. 

The mission of the D.S.W. program is to develop experienced social work practitioners into outstanding educators and leaders who engage in the dissemination of scholarly knowledge to invigorate social work practice and advance social justice. 

Students in the D.S.W. program will benefit from the 41-year history of excellence in social work instruction in the WWU School of Social Work and Sociology. The doctoral program will build upon the WWU bachelor of social work and master of social work programs, which are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. WWU offers bachelor of social work and master of social work degrees on its main campus in College Place, Washington, and a master of social work degree in Missoula, Montana; and Billings, Montana. 

Some of the core requirements for the D.S.W. degree will include Ethics and Social Responsibility; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Leadership Theory; Innovations in Social Work Education; Strategic Management; and a capstone research project. The program at WWU will be the only D.S.W. program in the Pacific Northwest and one of only two D.S.W programs on the West Coast. WWU will be one of only a handful of institutions across the country to offer a faith-based D.S.W. program. 

“As socially conscious members of a faith-based institution, all of our students are called to think critically about the role that spirituality, religion, and faith play in their lives and in the lives of those around them as they serve others and pursue justice,” said Smith. 

To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit

Posted April 7, 2020. 

female teacher sits and smiles with student
The Walla Walla University Wilma Hepker School of Social Work and Sociology has been accredited since 1979 by the Council on Social Work Education.