Berrac Strode, online Master of Science in Social Work student.
Berrac Strode, online Master of Science in Social Work student.

As online education flourishes, the University of Louisville is launching its first completely-online terminal degree: the Doctor of Social Work (DSW), a program that prepares social work professionals for advanced practice in leadership and teaching.

“Students pursuing the DSW through the online platform can satisfy all degree requirements in three years without disrupting their careers,” said David Jenkins, dean of the UofL Kent School of Social Work. “This program transforms experienced professionals into scholars, teachers and organizational leaders positively impacting vulnerable and marginalized populations.”

UofL’s online programs portfolio has grown to more than 50, including bachelor’s, master’s and certificates, with nearly 70 total programs expected by Spring 2022. UofL’s online learning experienced more than 40% growth from 2019 to 2020, enrolling 1,534 students in Fall 2019 and increasing to 2,156 students in Fall 2020.  

“Our online programs deliver the same renowned education and degree as students would receive in-person, developed and taught by UofL faculty,” said Gale Rhodes, vice provost and executive director of the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning. “Online students walk away with the same pride in their degree, ready to take the next step in their life and pursue career progressions.”

UofL entered the emerging field of fully-online education 20 years ago with the launch of three master’s degrees in 2001. Since then, online education at the university has made a significant impact on the communities of Louisville and beyond.

Online programs allow UofL to reach beyond Kentucky, with 36% of students living outside the Commonwealth, excluding the reciprocity Indiana counties. Military-connected students make up 20% of online learners, making higher education attainable even while students are deployed overseas. Military-connected designation encompasses Active-Duty, Coast Guard, Reserve, National Guard, veteran or dependent.

“As we move into 2021, the non-traditional student population remains a high priority for the university. Our focus is to reach these students and provide them the opportunity to receive high-quality, market-driven online education that aligns with employer demands,” Rhodes said.

In academic year 2020-2021, UofL launched 13 new programs in market-demand areas including analytics, business administration and health administration. UofL’s MBA program became available as a completely-online option in 2019. 

Online education is appealing to non-traditional learners and working professionals, as it allows them to balance work, life and education without having to deprioritize the things that matter most.

“I needed flexibility, there’s no way I could earn an education in-person. I needed a program where I could also go pick up my son from daycare or go to work,” said Sasha Hill, UofL online engineering management student.

The doctor of social work program is awaiting final approval by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and will begin accepting applications in July. Learn more about online social work programs through this video.