According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of social work is growing much faster than average. An aging population and an increased awareness for mental health services are among some of the contributing factors behind this surge in demand for qualified social workers.
A doctorate in social work is a terminal degree that qualifies professionals for the most advanced and lucrative positions in the burgeoning field of social work. Traditionally, though, the application process for admission into these postgraduate programs has been arduous. Fortunately, no GRE online doctorates in social work have become increasingly popular, enabling students to earn this sought-after credential without unnecessary hassle.
In this ranking, we explore the top 10 great value online doctor of social work programs with no GRE requirement.
- Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
- Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
- Net Price Below $18,000: 2 points
- Net Price Below $20,000: 1 point
Student to Faculty Ratio
- Less than 20:1: 1 point
- Less than 15: 1: 2 points
- Less than 10: 1: 3 points
Return on Investment (ROI) According to Payscale.com
- Top 500: 1 point
- Top 300: 2 points
- Top 150: 3 points
Flexibility of the Program (asynchronous course delivery, hybrid options, part-time/full-time schedule, etc. ) – 1 point per item
Online Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, etc.)— 1 point per item
Concentrations/Specializations – 1 point per item (5-pt cap)
Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item
“Wow” Factor – 1 point
Rating and Ranking the Top 10 Online No GRE Doctor of Social Work Programs
To compile this ranking, our editors first identified the 13 online doctor of social work degree programs without a GRE requirement. We then used data from Payscale.com and College Navigator as well as information from each program’s website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In cases of a tie, the more affordable school was awarded the higher ranking.
#10—Grand Canyon University
Online EdD in Organizational Leadership: Behavioral Health
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
The no GRE doctor of social work offering from Grand Canyon University is a unique online Doctor of Education (EdD) in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Behavioral Health. The 60-credit hour program includes core courses such as Psychopathology, Behavioral Assessment, and Interventions; Behavioral Health Management; and Consultation for Behavioral Health Professionals. A formal doctoral dissertation is also required prior to graduation. Students must attend campus twice during the program for doctoral residencies. The program is designed to prepare graduates for advancement opportunities in the field of social work and behavioral health. Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award this online social work doctorate. U.S. News & World Report has ranked GCU among the top national universities in the country.
Net Price: $20,912
#9—Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Doctor of Social Work Online
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
The no GRE online doctoral program in social work from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is offered through the school’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Social Work. The curriculum for the program focuses on both leadership and education in social work and features course titles such as Social Work Leadership, The Social Work Teacher-Scholar, and Intervention Research, for example. A formal doctoral dissertation is also required prior to graduation. This online DSW with no GRE is technically considered a hybrid offering since a weekend residency is required each semester. Most students complete the program within three years. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the university among the top 50 public schools in the nation.
Net Price: $20,278
Student to Faculty Ratio: 22:1
The DSW online program with no GRE requirement from Capella University is offered through the university’s School of Public Service Leadership. The curriculum is crafted around the guidelines set forth by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and includes 16 core courses. Students follow a prescribed sequence as they enroll in classes like Leadership and Management in Complex Social Systems, Advanced Social Work Practitioner as a Leader of Social Change, Grant Writing and Administration, and Advanced Social Work Practice: Disaster and Crisis Management. A doctoral capstone is also required. Though most of the program can be completed online, some in-person residency requirements must also be met. Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award this online no GRE Doctor of Social Work degree.
Net Price: $15,667
#7—Our Lady of the Lake University
San Antonio, Texas
Online PhD in Social Work
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
The no GRE online PhD in Social Work is a new offering from the university’s Worden School of Social Service. The curriculum for the program is prescribed and includes courses such as Introduction to Pedagogy, Epistemology and Theories, and Mixed Methods Research, for example. A formal doctoral dissertation is also required. Course delivery is a blend of synchronous and asynchronous elements, and a single week-long residency is required during the summer. Our Lady of the Lake University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award this online doctorate in social work. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top 75 regional universities in the West.
Net Price: $18,469
#6—Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
Doctor of Social Work Online
Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1
The online DSW with no GRE requirement from Florida Atlantic University is a hybrid program offered through the university’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work. The program follows a cohort model and is designed to be completed in three years of part-time study. Students follow a prescribed, sequenced curriculum, taking courses such as Advanced Clinical Social Work Research and Statistics, Qualitative Research in Clinical Social Work, Emerging Theories and Methods in Clinical Social Work Practice, and Interpersonal Neuroscience and Advanced Clinical Social Work. A capstone research project is also required prior to graduation. Florida Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award this online doctor of social work. U.S. News & World Report has placed the school among the top national universities in the country.
Net Price: $10,100
#5—University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Online Social Work Doctorate
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
The unique online no GRE DSW from the University at Buffalo emphasizes human rights and takes a trauma-informed approach to the social work discipline. The 39-credit hour curriculum for the program is mostly prescribed and features course titles such as Evaluating and Utilizing Evidence-Based Practice in Social Work, Models of Translational Social Work Practice: Populations and Problems, and Professional Development and Advanced Professional Learning Networks in Direct Practice. Course delivery is a blend of synchronous and asynchronous elements. Although all required coursework can be completed online, a four-day orientation on campus is required. The University at Buffalo is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to award this online doctoral degree in social work. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top 100 national universities in the country.
Net Price: $16,120
#4—Arizona State University
Online Doctor of Behavioral Health
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
The online doctor of social work no GRE program from Arizona State University is a Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) program with an emphasis in Management. Offered through the university’s College of Health Solutions, the program requires 64 credit hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree. Students will enroll in core courses such as Behavioral Health Entrepreneurship, Population-Based Health Management, and Healthcare Systems: Organization, Delivery, and Economics. They will also take classes in the Management concentration like Financial Management in Healthcare, Behavioral Healthcare Management, and Models of Integrated Primary Care. Other requirements for the degree include an applied project and an internship. ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award this online DBH. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top national universities in the country as well as the best colleges for veterans.
Net Price: $12,947
#3—University of St. Thomas
Online Doctor of Social Work
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
The University of St. Thomas offers a no GRE online doctorate in social work designed to be completed in just three years. The comprehensive 45-credit hour curriculum for the program features course titles such as History of Social Work and Social Work Education, Social Work Theoretical Perspectives, Pedagogies in Social Work Education Theory and Practice, and Teaching Social Work. Summer residencies are required in addition to online coursework. St. Thomas University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on colleges to award this online DSW with no GRE requirement. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top 30 regional universities in the West and the top 10 best value schools in the country.
Net Price: $19,221
#2—University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
Student to Faculty Ratio: 9:1
The University of Southern California offers a no GRE online Doctor of Social Work from its renowned Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The program emphasizes social change and innovation and includes 42 units of coursework. The curriculum is prescribed and features course titles such as Financial Management for Social Change, Leading and Managing Large Complex Systems, Data-Driven Decision Making in Social Services, and Communication and Influence for Social Good. A capstone project is also required. The program is meant to be completed on a part-time basis and takes approximately 24 months to finish. Students are required to attend two on-campus residencies prior to graduation. The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the top 25 national universities in the country.
Net Price: $32,892
#1—University of Pennsylvania
Online Doctorate in Clinical Social Work
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
The University of Pennsylvania offers an online doctorate in social work with no GRE requirement designed to be completed in two to three years. Course delivery for the program is a blend of synchronous and asynchronous elements, and two five-day campus residencies are required. The curriculum for the program is mostly prescribed and features core course titles such as Trauma-Informed Theory and Interventions for Individuals and Organizations, Applied Social Statistics, Substance Use Interventions, and Teaching Social Work Practice. Students can choose from a limited number of elective classes as well, including Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, Ethics in Mental Health Care, and The Neurobiology of Trauma. The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to offer this online no GRE doctor of social work degree. U.S. News & World Report has placed the school among the top 10 national universities in the country as well as the top 15 best value schools nationwide.
Net Price: $24,539
About Online Doctor of Social Work Programs with No GRE Requirement
Traditionally, students who wanted to advance their careers in social work by pursuing a postgraduate degree would be required to take the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE. This high-stakes standardized test requires hours upon hours of preparation and costs hundreds of dollars in registration fees.
As more flexible options in higher education began to emerge, including hybrid and online graduate programs, many colleges and universities began to reevaluate their admissions requirements. Some determined that expensive and time-consuming admissions tests like the GRE were no longer necessary and were actually an impediment to their prospective students’ success.
Today, there are numerous options for students who want to pursue a graduate degree from an accredited college or university entirely online and with no admissions test required. This includes opportunities to earn an online no GRE doctoral program in social work.
Admissions Requirements for Online No GRE Doctoral Social Work Programs
Don’t let the lack of GRE requirements convince you that these online doctoral programs in social work are a breeze to get into, though. Like any other types of accredited degree programs, they do set standards for admissions that you’ll be required to meet if you want to gain entry.
The exact admissions requirements will vary from school to school and program to program, so check with an admissions counselor for specific details. In the meantime, be prepared to submit the following at a minimum:
- Official transcript from your master’s degree program
- Personal statement or essay
- Completed application
Again, these are the minimum requirements you will be expected to meet for admission into an online no GRE doctor of social work program. There may be other requirements, depending on the college or university you choose to attend. For example, some programs may require that you have proof of several years of work experience in the field before applying to an online doctoral program in social work.
Types of Online Social Work Doctorates with No GRE Required
Although the most common online no GRE doctorate program in social work is the online Doctor of Social Work, or DSW, there are other types available as well. Below, we include a brief description of each of these different types of degree offerings including what differentiates them from one another.
Doctor of Social Work (DSW): A Doctor of Social Work (DSW) is a practice-oriented degree. This means that graduates of this type of degree program intend to practice social work as their primary career focus.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work: A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work is a research-oriented degree. Graduates of this type of doctoral program usually pursue careers in social work research and/or teaching upon graduation.
Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH): A Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) degree is a doctoral-level degree in social work that prepares students to practice in a healthcare setting. Graduates of these types of degree programs often go on to work as consultants, clinicians, educators, or managers in behavioral health.
Program Delivery for Online No GRE Doctoral Programs in Social Work
All online doctor of social work programs are flexible in their own ways, but they’re not all the same. To determine which type of program delivery option is best for you, you first need all of the information about these different offerings. Below are the details:
Fully Online Vs Hybrid Online Doctor of Social Work Programs
Students looking for an online doctorate in social work with no GRE program must choose between a fully online program versus a hybrid program. Whereas fully online programs require no campus visits, hybrid options include a blend of online courses and on-campus meetings. While fully online programs may be more convenient, hybrid programs add an element of interactivity that’s hard to match online. To make the choice, you’ll need to weigh your need for flexibility against your desire for face-to-face interactions with classmates and professors.
Asynchronous Vs Synchronous Online Social Work Doctorates
Even fully online doctor of social work programs differ from one another. While some are fully asynchronous, others have synchronous elements as well. What’s the difference? Asynchronous course delivery enables students to complete course assignments and log in to their learning platforms at their convenience. On the other hand, synchronous course delivery requires that students attend online class meetings at predetermined times throughout the week. While asynchronous programs may be a better fit for busy students, synchronous programs may facilitate more engagement.
Frequently-Asked Questions About No GRE Online Doctor of Social Work Programs
Q: What type of no GRE online doctorate in social work should I pursue?
A: As we mentioned, there are three main types of online doctorates in social work. The one you choose to pursue should be aligned with your academic interests and perhaps more importantly, your career goals.
Q: Are online doctor of social work programs with no GRE requirement credible?
A: Yes, for the most part. The best thing to do in order to determine whether or not an online no GRE doctor of social work program is legit is to look for their accreditation documentation.
Q: How long does it take to complete an online doctorate in social work?
A: Doctorate in social work online programs typically take between three and four years to complete. Some accelerated programs may allow you to earn your credentials more quickly, though.
Q: Can I pursue an online doctoral degree in social work while working full-time?
A: Yes. Most of the no GRE doctor of social work online offerings we found are designed for working professionals.
Q: Are part-time no GRE online doctor of social work programs available?
A: Yes. Part-time and full-time programs are available. This could vary depending on the specific program and school you choose, though.
No GRE Online Doctorate of Social Work Concentrations
An Addictions concentration within a no GRE online doctor of social work program will prepare social workers to work with populations affected by addiction, including the addict and their families. The curriculum for such a program will address intervention strategies, best practices, addiction prevention, and case management, for example. Classes may include the following titles:
- Introduction to Addiction
- Theories, Treatment, and Case Management of Addictions
- Rethinking Addiction Treatment
An online doctorate in social work with a concentration in Criminal Justice explores the relationship between social issues and criminality. Programs of this kind probe topics like victimology, rehabilitation, substance abuse, and more. Specific courses comprising the curriculum for a postgraduate criminal justice social work program may include:
- Historical and Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice
- Policy Analysis in the Criminal Justice System
- Diversity and Social Justice
Medical Social Work
A Medical Social Work concentration within an online doctorate in social work program prepares graduates to provide social services and counseling to individuals affected by medical issues such as chronic illness and disabilities, for example. Some courses students in this type of program may encounter include:
- Contemporary Gerontology/Geriatric Psychology
- Medical Social Work I and II
- The Role of Clinical Social Work in Bioethics
Social Work Administration
An online doctor of social work program with a concentration in Social Work Administration prepares graduates to take on leadership roles in social welfare organizations. This type of program will cover topics in social work management such as staff development, organizational behavior, human resources, community relations, and more. Specific course titles may include the following:
- Human Services Administration
- Strategic Context of Public Management and Leadership
- Issues in Clinical Administration
Career Questions for Online No GRE Doctor of Social Work Degrees
Q: What can I do with an online doctorate in social work?
A: Most online doctor of social work graduates pursue advanced roles in clinical practice, research, or higher education.You may be qualified for other top positions in social work as well, but check with your school about specific career information related to the program you choose.
Q: How much will I make after receiving my online doctor of social work degree?
A: Salaries for doctor of social work degree holders vary depending on a number of factors. These include your specific degree, employer, and years of work experience, for example. Payscale.com reports the average salary for professionals with this credential to be $68,000 per year. The BLS reports that postsecondary social work instructors make a mean annual wage of $68,300.
Q: Is there a demand for professionals with a doctorate in social work?
A: Yes! Jobs for social workers are growing much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These means there’s a large demand for leadership in the field as well as for postsecondary social work educators.
Q: What professional organizations can I join with an online doctor of social work degree?
A: Many professional organizations exist for social work professionals, including those with an online doctorate in this discipline. Some of the most popular associations are listed below:
- The National Association of Social Work
- Society for Social Work and Research
- Clinical Social Work Association
- International Federation of Social Workers
- Council on Social Work Education
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