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About the Doctorate in Social Work

The Tulane DSW program trains students for excellence in advanced social work practice and research.

The only degree program of its kind in the Gulf South, the Tulane DSW develops scholar-practitioners with superior skills in policy analysis, program design and evaluation, and applied research methods. Our graduates produce and disseminate cutting-edge social work knowledge through research, advocacy and direct practice.

The Tulane DSW program focuses on programs, policies and interventions that address the particular needs of populations vulnerable to social injustice, poverty and discrimination, while also exploring a broad range of social work practice areas.

For more information, please read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Program Locations

The DSW program is offered at two Tulane University campuses: New Orleans, LA and Biloxi, MS. Both locations have identical admissions processes and use the same curriculum. Applicants must select one location in which to complete their coursework or apply for the ​online program​.


DSW courses are taught by Tulane School of Social Work faculty. On occasion, nationally prominent social work scholars may teach special offerings. Course assignments vary by semester, according to faculty availability and student interest.


The DSW curriculum emphasizes independent, self-directed study within a small cohort of fellow students. During their first two years, students take two courses a semester during the fall, spring and summer. In their last year, students have a single course per semester and work primarily on their advanced clinical project. Class sessions meet primarily on weekends, with occasional evening sessions following the first year of coursework. Students also work closely with faculty mentors beyond class sessions to develop unique research agendas that correspond with their professional experience.

For more information on courses and sequencing, please see our Curriculum page.

Advanced Clinical Project

The DSW program utilizes an experiential approach to learning that incorporates apprenticeship, mentoring, active learning, and immersion in a community of scholars. In addition to applied instruction, students also engage in advanced clinical research in a practice area of their choice, culminating in a capstone project designed to expand, integrate, and evaluate the existing professional knowledge base for effective social work practice. Students may utilize their current professional position or tackle a new area of clinical focus for their Advanced Clinical Project.

Post-Graduation Employment

DSW graduates are professional leaders who:

  • Apply innovative and critical thinking to pressing social, economic and environmental problems, especially in urban areas.
  • Advance knowledge through research relevant to social work practice.
  • Collaborate with practitioners in an array of related disciplines.
  • Conduct action research in partnership with community organizations and group.
  • Communicate evidence-based social work knowledge through teaching and publication.

With their unique blend of clinical experience and extensive training in clinical practice, DSW program graduates are well-suited for a variety of advanced professional positions, including management of social service programs, and social work instruction at the undergraduate and masters level. A recent study in the Journal of Social Work found that DSW degrees are becoming increasingly competitive with PhDs in Social Work.

DSW graduates also have access to a rich array of professional contacts through fellow students and the School of Social Work's extensive community partnerships and alumni network.