In this article, we profile the top 20 most affordable online DSW degrees (doctor of social work) or related disciplines for 2016.
An online DSW degree can open doors of opportunity that lead to advanced careers in social work. In fact, professionals with a doctoral degree in social work, or related fields, often land high-level positions in academia, government, or private sectors.
We reviewed 65 accredited institutions that offered online doctoral degree programs in social work or related disciplines like clinical psychology, counseling psychology, general counseling, or counselor education. We then narrowed the pool to only those schools ranked with major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, or U.S. News and World Report. Among these recognized schools we chose 20 that offered the most affordable tuition prices published by NCES College Navigator, and listed them in order of affordability. The school with the cheapest graduate tuition and fees is listed in our #1 spot.
Below are the 20 most affordable online doctoral degree programs in social work or related fields.
20 Most Affordable DSW Online Degree Programs – 2016 Ranking
#20 – University of St. Thomas
Online Doctorate in Social Work
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $32,200
The online DSW degree offered by the University of St. Thomas is among the first of its kind to focus on preparing social work faculty for university-level teaching or leadership roles in higher education. The program is delivered entirely online so that professionals living throughout the country may take advantage of this unique and flexible opportunity. Typical courses required in the program include curriculum development with mission and purpose, engaged scholarship, inter-professional education in social work education, obligations of the professoriate, and social work education. The institution is nationally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as the 115th best national university. Also, the graduate social work school ranks #71 in the country.
#19 – Baylor University
Online PhD in Social Work
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $30,150
Professional educators and individuals looking for social work doctoral programs online will find an accredited option at Baylor University. Baylor's online PhD in social work program uses online curriculum and virtual classrooms, with limited on-campus meetings. The program requires a total of 60 credit hours, with 45 course hours, 6 elective course hours, and 9 dissertation course hours. Required courses include advanced qualitative research, measurement in social work, qualitative research for social work, and social policy and the religious sector. Baylor is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 72nd best national university. Also, the graduate social work school ranks #84 in the country.
#18 – California Southern University
Online Doctor of Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $29,700
The School of Behavioral Sciences at California Southern University offers an alternative to online DSW degrees. According to the program website, one of the most popular degree programs at CalSouthern is the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). The unique online degree is clinically focused and emphasizes counseling and therapy as opposed to the traditional research-based PhD. Also, instead of a dissertation, students complete a doctoral project. This project is generally community-based action research, or a clinical application assignment. Sixty-six credits are required for program completion. These online classes include advanced theories of personality, ethical and professional issues, history and systems of psychology, physiological psychology, and statistical methods and analysis.
#17 – The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Online PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $25,296
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a PhD in applied behavior that is an alternative to other social work doctoral programs online. The program takes approximately three years to complete at the full-time enrollment level. Sample courses include critical analysis of research in verbal behavior, experimental analysis of behavior, and supervision and consulting in applied behavior analysis. Aside from classes, students are required to complete a dissertation, which must be data-based with original contribution to published literature. Students participating in the five-year post-baccalaureate program must also complete a thesis or a non-thesis option known as the advanced applied project.
#16 – Argosy University
Online Doctor of Education in Counseling Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,760
Argosy University offers an online doctoral degree in counseling psychology that is similar to various social work doctoral programs also found online. A master's in the mental health field with a counseling practicum is required to pursue this accredited online degree. Core courses include advanced individual counseling, diagnosis and treatment planning, ethics in practice, group counseling theory and practice, marriage and family therapy, models of clinical supervision, and teaching in higher education. Electives may include clinical consultation, special topics in counseling, or techniques of child and adolescent counseling. A 12-hour dissertation course sequence is required, as well as the completion of certain doctoral research components. According to U.S. News and World Report, Argosy's clinical psychology graduate school has received recognition, but the ranking remains unpublished at this time.
#15 – Nova Southeastern University
Online Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,454
The College of Psychology at Nova Southeastern University offers an alternative to online DSW degrees. Students with advanced degrees in psychology, counseling, or related fields of study may earn an online Psy.D. in clinical psychology. The program is accredited by the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation American Psychological Association. The five-year program includes courses like adult psychopathology, assessment of adult and older adult intelligence, history and systems of psychology, and professional issues and ethics. A clinical practicum, competency examination, and internship are required. Nova Southeastern is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks it among the best national university in the country. Several of the school's graduate programs, including doctorate psychology programs, are also ranked.
#14 – University of the Rockies
Online Doctor of Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,398
Students in search of an affordable online doctoral degree in psychology, or related field of study, may choose the online PsyD from the University of the Rockies. The program is delivered entirely online and offers nine different areas of specialization. Some of the specializations include business psychology, educational leadership, health and wellness psychology, mental health administration, and sport and performance psychology. The course schedule is flexible, with the option of taking one class at a time. Most courses are offered in an accelerated six-week format, and materials may be accessed 24 hours a day. While the program is online, three short residencies are required in Denver. The program and school are accredited.
#13 – Northcentral University
Doctorate of Marriage and Family Therapy Online
Prescott Valley, Arizona
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,171
Students interested in online DSW programs in social work may select the online doctorate of marriage and family therapy offered at Northcentral University. This affordable 60-credit doctoral program is designed for students with a master's in counseling or related field. According to the program website, all courses are 100% online and there is no residency requirement. Students may choose from various degree specializations, including couple therapy, mental health administration, or therapy with military families. The program has also received WASC regional accreditation, which is one of the same accreditations received by top-ranked institutions. Also, the psychology graduate school is ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
#12 – Capella University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,175
Capella University offers one of the most affordable online DSW degrees on our list. The program includes four integrated components: online courses, in-person writer's workshop, a research course, and dissertation. Required courses include advanced knowledge of social work, contemporary issues in social work, leadership in social work, methods of inquiry in action research, and technology in social work. As part of the program, students must attend one dissertation writer's workshop or retreat in addition to the online classes. The university is accredited and has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as having one of the best graduate psychology schools in the country.
#11 – Oregon State University
Online PhD in Counseling
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,722
While there are not many online DSW degrees that are both affordable and accredited, Oregon State University offers a related program through its E-Campus. The online PhD in counseling is designed to equip students with the skills needed to work as advanced practitioners, clinical supervisors, and counseling educators in both clinical and academic settings. The program is considered a hybrid option, requiring both online instruction and face-to-face meetings that take place twice each quarter. Required course topics include advanced theory and practice, career counseling, consultation, diversity and social justice, group counseling, and supervision. Not only is OSU an accredited institution, but U.S. News and World Report ranks it as the 135th best national university. Also, the psychology graduate school ranks #101 in the country.
#10 – Walden University
Online PhD in Social Work
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,609
One of the most affordable social work doctoral programs online is found at Walden University. Walden's online PhD in social work program is designed to prepare professionals to work at the highest level of social work as researchers, administrators, and college educators. Students interested in the doctoral degree program must hold a master's of social work (MSW). To cater to the interests and career goals of its students, eight specializations are available. Some of the these specialties include addictions and social work, clinical expertise, family studies and interventions, medical social work, and social work administration. The university is accredited, and recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the graduate social work school is ranked among the best.
#9 – University of Tennessee
Online DSW in Clinical Practice and Leadership
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,356
One of the most affordable online DSW degrees in the country is found at the University of Tennessee. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is designed to prepare graduates for advanced clinical practice. Successful degree candidates earn a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) in clinical practice and leadership. Required courses include clinical leadership, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, neuroscience for clinical practice, and trauma-focused interventions. The University of Tennessee is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 103rd best national university and the 47th top public school. The graduate social work school ranks #32 in the country.
#8 – Hampton University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,298
Hampton University offers an alternative to online DSW degrees with its doctorate in counselor education and supervision. The program is designed for licensed counselors who want to cultivate clinical and supervisory skills. The accelerated program is offered entirely online and requires 64 credits of online coursework. Required classes include analysis of behavioral data, counseling leadership and advocacy, ethics and legal aspects of counseling, quantitative methods, and theory and practice of counseling education. Hampton is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as the 18th best regional university in the South and the 16th best college for veterans.
#7 – Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,219
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania's online DSW program is designed to prepare academicians who want to lead and advocate for social justice. All coursework is delivered online, and face-to-face learning components (one weekend per session) are required at one of two locations. The program is delivered on a part-time, eight-session level so that students may balance work and life obligations conveniently while in graduate school. Required courses include leadership and teaching praxis, qualitative research, research methodology, social work leadership, and the social work teacher-scholar. A dissertation is also required. Kutztown is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 131st best regional university in the North and the 45th top public school. Also, the graduate social work school ranks #198 in the country.
#6 – Grand Canyon University
Online Doctorate in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,124
Students in search of affordable online DSW degrees may choose the online doctor of philosophy in general psychology program at Grand Canyon University. The program is delivered entirely online and offers an emphasis in cognition and instruction that appeals to professionals who are interested in working in school systems or other instructional settings. Required online courses include behaviorism, introduction to advanced graduate studies and scholarship, human learning and cognition, social cognition, and theories of inquiry. Classes begin frequently and allow students to learn anywhere, anytime. Grand Canyon is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as among the best regional universities in the West.
#5 – Liberty University
Online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,000
One of the more affordable social work doctoral programs online is found at Liberty University and is designed for students who want to work as advanced clinical practitioners, scholars, and supervisors. The program is delivered entirely online and requires a dissertation and internship. Required courses include advanced group counseling, advanced theory application, instruction in counselor education, issues in integration, qualitative research, and supervision and consultation. Liberty University is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as the 80th best regional university in the South and the 58th best college for veterans.
#4 – Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,657
Florida Atlantic University offers one of the first online DSW programs in social work in the state of Florida. The program is offered as a hybrid model, with a mix of online classes and traditional in-classroom meetings. The program is designed to accommodate working professionals, so most classes are scheduled during evenings and weekends. Required courses include clinical social work research and statistics, evidence-based informed practices with families and couples, exploring current developments in social work, and social work pedagogy. Florida Atlantic is accredited, and ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Also, the graduate social work school ranks #141 in the country.
#3 – University of the Cumberlands
Online Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,970
The University of the Cumberlands offers social work doctoral programs online that emphasize a broad and general approach to clinical psychology. Students may earn an online doctorate in clinical psychology by gaining advanced training in mental health treatment and clinical psychology. All courses are delivered online, with evening options to ensure working students have the flexibility needed to balance life obligations and schooling. Required courses include cognitive and personality assessment, fundamentals of clinical interviewing and psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, supervision and management in social work, and special topics in clinical psychology. The University of the Cumberlands is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 87th best regional university in the South and the 61st best college for veterans.
#2 – University of West Georgia
Online Doctor of Education in Professional Counseling and Supervision
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,958
Educators who want to earn an online DSW may decide on an alternative degree. The University of West Georgia's College of Education offers a fully online doctorate in professional counseling and supervision. The program is CACREP accredited and designed to equip professional students with the skills needed to work in advanced counseling and supervisory roles. Required courses include directed doctoral research, qualitative methods in school improvement, quantitative research, and special topics in professional counseling and supervision. A dissertation and internship are also required. The University of West Georgia is ranked as the 87th best regional university in the South by U.S. News and World Report and the 42nd top public school.
#1 – Regent University
Online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $1,167
Current licensed counselors in search of online DSW programs may choose the online PhD in counselor education from Regent University. All classes are delivered online with three required one-week residencies. The program is designed to train individuals with the highest level of competency in the field of counseling. Required courses include advanced assessment, advanced marriage and family counseling consultation, dissertation proposal seminar, qualitative research methodology, and supervision and consultation. Regent is accredited, and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national university. Also, the school offers the most affordable online doctoral program in social work, or related field, on our list.
This concludes our ranking of the top 20 most affordable online DSW degrees (doctor of social work) or related disciplines for 2016.