Mission Statement of the DSW Program

The DSW Program at The University of Alabama is designed to increase specialization, independence, and leadership of social workers across systems and agencies in underserved communities. The program prepares advanced practitioners to lead efforts in promoting social and economic justice through service, advocacy, teaching and research. 


The DSW program can be completed in three years and consists of 45 credit hours of coursework. Students will choose a concentration in clinical or organizational leadership. The clinical concentration includes coursework in advanced practice theory and techniques, research methods and clinical supervision and practice. The organizational leadership concentration curriculum hones students' leadership and management skills for organizational and community settings. Both concentrations include courses on teaching social work. 

DSW Program Concentration

The DSW Program has two concentrations that students may select from, based on their current and future social work interests. The advanced clinical concentration offers coursework on advance clinical theory and interventions, as well as advanced clinical supervision. The organizational leadership concentration offers coursework on advance administrative theory and interventions, as well as health and human service management. Students in both concentrations will have coursework on: social justice and advocacy for individuals, groups and larger populations; social work research and evaluation methodologies; policy related to health and human services; and social work education and pedagogy.

The DSW Program builds on a base of professional knowledge and practice in social work. Students are provided with in-depth study of practice, policy, and research methods; the design, development, and evaluation of interventions; data collection, management, and analysis; and writing for publication. In addition, students take substantive courses in theory and other topics and elective courses. As soon as students enter the program, they are assigned to a PhD/DSW faculty advisor for program planning and guidance.

Throughout the student’s academic program, faculty members mentor students outside of the classroom setting, which may include research collaboration, co-authorship of manuscripts and conference presentations, networking at a variety of conferences. The UA DSW program is designed to fit the needs of social work practitioners from a variety of settings or field specialties.

Learning Outcomes for the DSW Program

Upon completing the DSW Program, graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate advanced social work practice skills in assessment, intervention and supervision at the micro, mezzo, and/or macro levels.
  • Play an independent/leadership role in integrating advanced knowledge and theory on the social, economic, political, and philosophical conditions into health and human service delivery.
  • Integrate knowledge about research methodology with social work practice knowledge to develop and lead strategies for continued evidence-based practice, practice evaluation, and scientific knowledge-building.
  • To disseminate complex information about social work evidence, practice skills, scholarship, and interventions clearly and creatively to professional and academic audiences in written and oral formats.
  • Identify, evaluate, and implement innovative and cutting-edge strategies to address complex social and health conditions.
  • Lead teams to develop and implement social work advocacy and policy practice strategies to advanced clinical practice or organizational leadership, especially within the context of services for vulnerable and underserved communities.
  • Independently develop, implement, and evaluate innovative interventions into practice that are theoretically and evidence-based.

Advanced Clinical Concentration graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge about new and advanced therapies and clinical assessment techniques with disadvantaged populations.
  • Articulate the roles that institutional and societal discrimination have impacted clinical issues affecting disadvantaged populations.

Organizational Leadership Concentration graduates will be able to:

  • Leverage evidence, human and organizational resources to design and implement new and innovative services for complex, disadvantaged client populations.
  • Describe and implement ethical, effective, and innovative approaches to developing and managing community and organizational resources.

The Goals of the DSW Program

The DSW Program has several goals: 

  • To provide a rich, supportive environment that enables a diverse group of students to pursue and attain their academic, professional, clinical and/or leadership goals.
  • To prepare students to integrate theory, evidence, and critical thought to develop innovative solutions for complex challenging issues experienced by agencies and populations at the local, regional, national, and/or global levels.
  • To prepare graduates to be innovative and successful educators of future social workers.
  • To prepare practitioners to use social work research methodologies to evaluate practice and translate evidence-based interventions into practice settings.
  • To prepare advanced practitioner-scholars to incorporate theory, research, practice, and policy to contribute to existing knowledge on social work practice and advance social justice.
  • To develop stewards of the social work profession within interprofessional settings who apply and enforce ethical standards and address ethical dilemmas in health and social service systems.
  • To prepare advanced social workers to be effective and ethical managers within clinical, administrative, and/or community settings.
  • To prepare students to communicate evidence-based social work knowledge through teaching, scholarship, and professional writing.