Program director
Kimberly Freeman

Prior to the end of the 1990s, two doctoral degrees (the Ph.D. and original D.S.W.) were viewed as interchangeable modes of advancing the scholarship of the social work profession. However, flexibility in the articulation of discipline-specific Ph.D. programs led to preference for the Ph.D. doctorate over the D.S.W. degree, finally resulting in the complete elimination of the D.S.W. degree in the United States.  Over the last decade, there has been growing recognition by social work professionals and educators that a practice doctorate for social work addresses the expansion of much-needed applied scholarship in ways not being achieved by social work Ph.D. programs. Thus, the role, importance, and a new vision of the practice doctorate in social work has been articulated and follows the journey seen in other fields such as nursing, physical therapy, speech, and audiology. As such, the D.S.W. degree in its re-articulated content provides a pathway for M.S.W.-level social workers to further their development as scholar practitioners, providing leadership and innovation in applied social work practice.

Mission statement

The mission of the Doctor of Social Work program is to transform experienced M.S.W.-level social workers into scholar practitioners capable of advancing clinical social work practice knowledge and innovation through applied scholarship, leadership, education, and the promotion of social justice in support of whole-person care in an increasingly diverse and global practice environment.

Program goals

The goals of the D.S.W. program are to:

  1. Prepare doctoral-level social work scholar practitioners with expertise in clinical leadership.
  2. Equip students with the understanding and skills needed to develop, implement, and disseminate knowledge and innovation in behavioral health practice and social work education.
  3. Equip students to be transformative leaders in the integration and promotion of social justice in behavioral health services and social work education.

Program learning outcomes

By the end of the program, the graduate should be able to:

  1. Conduct systematic inquiry that adheres to scholarly conventions.
  2. Use and critically evaluate—at an advanced-level—evidenced-based, research-informed, and promising practices.
  3. Develop and disseminate clinical practice and educational innovations and knowledge that reflect the inherent values of the social work profession.
  4. Demonstrate expertise in behavioral health clinical leadership that advances social work practice and education.
  5. Demonstrate expertise in the application of mission-focused learning that promotes and integrates social justice in practice as well as education delivery and innovation.

Financial assistance

Students who are accepted into the D.S.W. degree program may apply for work-study with the Department of Social Work and Social Ecology. Students may also apply for need-based financial aid, such as a loan or other work-study programs on campus. Students accepted into the D.S.W. degree program are eligible for and encouraged to apply for the CSWE minority fellowships. See for information.

For information regarding funding opportunities, see Student Aid in the financial polices section of this CATALOG.

All doctoral degrees at Loma Linda University fall under the institution’s accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). D.S.W. degrees are not currently accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Albeit the Council has approved standards for accreditation and is beginning to pilot the standards prior to engaging in the formal accreditation of D.S.W. programs. Loma Linda’s D.S.W. program is committed to the accreditation standards currently published by CSWE and is following the minimum program criteria to be eligible for consideration of future accreditation by CSWE. The D.S.W. program at Loma Linda University has been designed to meet these criteria from inception and will apply for CSWE accreditation once available.

Open to California Residents Only.

Applicants must meet Loma Linda University and School of Behavioral Health admissions requirements, and give evidence of academic ability, professional comportment, and mature judgment. The Doctor of Social Work degree curriculum represents advanced study over and above the M.S.W. degree. Admission is based on an integrated evaluation of the following criteria:

  • M.S.W. degree or equivalent (e.g., M.S.S.W.) from a program that is accredited by the CSWE
  • A minimum of four-years professional social work experience post receipt of the M.S.W. degree
  • A minimum M.S.W. G.P.A. of 3.3
  • Writing assessment, GRE general test: The analytical writing section score must equal 4.0 or higher, or applicant can demonstrate proficiency in professional writing as evidenced by first authorship on a professional publication. Due to issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the GRE General Test is waived for all 2022-2023 applicants to doctoral programs in the School of Behavioral Health. Please do not submit GRE scores through ETS or report your scores in any application materials as they will not be taken into consideration.
  • License to practice clinical social work is preferred
  • Structured essay
  • Structured oral interview with program
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation (academic and professional)

Pre-entrance clearance:

  • Health clearance

Anti-discrimination policy:

The Doctor of Social Work program adheres to the policy of the university. 

Theory, analytical analysis, and social justice
SPOL 610Diversity Theory and Global Perspectives3
SWCL 615Comparative Social Work Practice, Evidence-based Practice and Social Justice3
SPOL 658Advanced Policy Analysis and Research3
Clinical interventions
SWCL 620Clinical Interventions I: Advanced Theories and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Interventions3
SWCL 630Clinical Interventions II: Emergent Methods for Complex Conditions3
SWCL 640Clinical Interventions III: Trans-modular Methods for Complex Systems3
SWCL 650Neuroscience, Resiliency and Trauma-Focused Global Practice3
Clinical leadership, management and program development
SWCL 670Clinical Leadership I3
SWCL 680Clinical Leadership II3
CFSD 624Program Development for Families and Communities3
CFSD 625Grant Writing3
CFSD 626Program Design, Evaluation and Monitoring3
Academic leadership and practice
SWCL 604AIntegrative Seminar: Academic Practice1
SWCL 604BIntegrative Seminar: Academic Practice1
SWCL 604CIntegrative Seminar: Academic Practice1
SWCL 605Digital Design: Curriculum and Course Development2
Applied clinical leadership and academic practice 1, 2
SWCL 785Externship I: DSW Project Portfolio Development2
SWCL 786Externship II: DSW Applied Project Development2
Spirituality, ethics, and whole person care
RELE 5__Graduate-level ethics studies3
RELR 540Wholeness and Health 33
RELT 5__Graduate-level theological studies3
CFSD 601Statistics I4
CFSD 602Statistics II4
SPOL 654Research Methods I4
SPOL 655Research Methods II4
SWCL 660Translational Research, Design and Testing2
Applied doctoral project
SWCL 690Applied Project I1
SWCL 691Applied Project II2
SWCL 692Applied Project III2
SWCL 693DSW Project I2
SWCL 694DSW Project II2
SWCL 695DSW Project III2
Total Units83

Courses in this section are not taught online.


Previous life, work, or academic practicum experiences cannot not be used to meet this requirement. Externships are developed and assigned by the program faculty.


Fulfills service learning requirement.

Non-course requirements

The Doctor of Social Work degree is awarded upon completion of all required coursework and the following non-course requirements:

  • An oral defense and the A=applied D.S.W. project
  • Submission to the Program and School of Behavioral Health the final approved copy of the applied D.S.W. project document(s).

Normal time to complete the program

Three (3) years (eleven [11] academic quarters) — based on full-time enrollment including two summer externships


SWCL 604A. Integrative Seminar: Academic Practice. 1 Unit.

The first of three seminars focusing on the art and science of social work education, developing a teaching philosophy, instructional teaching methodologies, grading, educational ethics, and student assessment.
Cross-listing: SPOL 604A.

SWCL 604B. Integrative Seminar: Academic Practice. 1 Unit.

The second of three seminars on careers in social work education. Focuses on course subject and curriculum development and participating in social work accreditation.
Cross-listing: SPOL 604B.

SWCL 604C. Integrative Seminar: Academic Practice. 1 Unit.

Third of three seminars on careers in social work education. Examines preparation for career opportunities in social work education, and role of faculty in institutional, school, and program engagement and governance. Discusses scholarship expectations, student advising, and mentoring. Guidance on applying and interviewing for positions.
Cross-listing: SPOL 604C.

SWCL 605. Digital Design: Curriculum and Course Development. 2 Units.

Digital education pedagogy and assessment for designing and implementing effective clinical social work curriculum and courses. Techniques for leading discussions, constructing successful group assignments, and dealing with difficult subjects addressed.

SWCL 615. Comparative Social Work Practice, Evidence-based Practice and Social Justice. 3 Units.

Comparative approach to examining philosophical and historical practice perspectives to address social justice and ecological well-being. Examination of evidence-based, research-informed and promising practices.

SWCL 620. Clinical Interventions I: Advanced Theories and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Interventions. 3 Units.

Examine advanced clinical theories that guide predominate interventions used in behavioral health. Emphasis on understanding foundational underpinnings of cognitive behavioral therapy as basis for interventions related to specific diagnosis and conditions.

SWCL 630. Clinical Interventions II: Emergent Methods for Complex Conditions. 3 Units.

A review and exploration of emergent and cutting-edge clinical intervention methods that address the needs of persons with complex diagnoses, including comorbidity of addictions and/or life-threatening acute and chronic diseases.

SWCL 640. Clinical Interventions III: Trans-modular Methods for Complex Systems. 3 Units.

Innovative trans-modal evidence-based practice applications supporting services for populations with compound needs in hard to service communities and systems. Impact on consumer outcomes and health disparities addressed.

SWCL 650. Neuroscience, Resiliency and Trauma-Focused Global Practice. 3 Units.

Examines neuroscience framework and bio-ecological research that underpin resiliency and trauma-informed methods. Emphasis on identifying intervention models that are ethno-racial adaptive and provide evidence of transformative sustainable results.

SWCL 660. Translational Research, Design and Testing. 2 Units.

Introduces methods used in designing, testing and implementing practice innovation in complex and fast-moving interdisciplinary clinical settings. Emphasizes identifying interdisciplinary champions and sustaining clinical, administrative and research team engagement.
Prerequisite or concurrent*: CFSD 601, CFSD 602*; SPOL 654, SPOL 655.

SWCL 670. Clinical Leadership I. 3 Units.

Knowledge and skills for effective management of clinical systems, supervision, management and evaluation of clinical teams, and educational andragogy.

SWCL 680. Clinical Leadership II. 3 Units.

Examines principles of executive leadership in highly charged and large-scale outcome environments, including role and methods of guiding strategic planning, financial management and judgement, cost/benefit analysis, resource development; and informatics.

SWCL 690. Applied Project I. 1 Unit.

Orientation to the requirements of the applied DSW project. Development of applied project topic and objectives.
Prerequisite or concurrent*: CFSD 601*;SPOL 654, SPOL 655.

SWCL 691. Applied Project II. 2 Units.

Development of the literature review and methodology sections of the project proposal. Prerequisites: SWCL 690.

SWCL 692. Applied Project III. 2 Units.

Completion and successful defense of the Applied DSW Project proposal.
Prerequisite: SWCL 690, SWCL 691.

SWCL 693. DSW Project I. 2 Units.

Requires conducting a program evaluation or continuing with design and development of a program, as determined by applied DSW project objectives.
Prerequisite: SWCL 690, SWCL 691, SWCL 692.

SWCL 694. DSW Project II. 2 Units.

Analysis of data collected as determined by applied DSW project objectives. Requires draft of publishable paper following standards set forth by relevant refereed journal.
Prerequisite: SWCL 693.

SWCL 695. DSW Project III. 2 Units.

Finalize publishable paper, revise applied DSW project proposal document as needed, and successfully defend applied DSW project.
Prerequisite: SWCL 694.

SWCL 785. Externship I: DSW Project Portfolio Development. 2 Units.

Requires students to engage their organizational and professional learning networks to support the development of their DSW Applied Project Portfolio.
Prerequisite: Completion of Year 1 of DSW Program.

SWCL 786. Externship II: DSW Applied Project Development. 2 Units.

Provides experiential learning designed to support students' completion of IRB processes, initiation of data collection, or proposed program design.
Prerequisite: SWCL 785.