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  • Applications for Fall 2025 open 8/15/24! All application fees currently waived.
  • The DSW program is an online program. Courses use a combined synchronous and asynchronous format. Externships are completed in person and local to the student as available and with approval of the program.
  • DSW applicants must hold U.S. citizenship. Preference will be given to residents of California. Applicants from other approved states will be considered as space permits. See this page for the list of approved states.

Clinical Leadership Program

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Online Info Sessions

Join Dr. Kimberly Freeman, DSW Program Director, for one of our monthly online info sessions! Most sessions are held from 6:00-6:30 PM (Pacific time).

At a Glance

  • 83 quarter units leading to a Doctor of Social Work degree emphasizing clinical leadership and dissemination of practice and education innovation
  • 3-year, full-time program utilizing a predominately online modality catered to working professionals
  • Two short-term summer clinical leadership externships at sites assigned by the program
  • Small cohort size for maximum learning experience
  • Diverse faculty and student population
  • Mission-focused learning environment that promotes and integrates social justice and compassionate whole person care

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Program Director

Dr. Kim Freeman


Executive Associate Chair, Social Work and Social Ecology
Professor, Social Work and Social Ecology
Director, Master of Social Work (MSW) and Doctor of Social Work (DSW) Programs

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The full-time 3-year DSW program is designed to meet the needs of post-master's social work professionals in the area of clinical leadership.

Curriculum Guide Course Descriptions

Jared Garcia
Jared Garcia
I have discovered a DSW program at Loma Linda University that is founded on student diversity, advocacy for the expression of our authentic voices, and an innovative curriculum that challenges and deepens our areas of expertise. All of these elements are the center of a ground-breaking framework to prepare us to be the top clinical leaders for significant change in the communities we serve.

Admissions and Application

General Admission Requirements


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 MSW degree. Admission is based on an integrated evaluation of the following criteria:

  1. An MSW (or equivalent, e.g., MSSW) from a program that is accredited by the CSWE.
  2. A minimum of four years' professional social work experience post-receipt of the MSW degree.
  3. A minimum MSW GPA of 3.3.
  4. License to practice clinical social work is preferred.
  5. Structured essay.
  6. Structured oral interview with program.
  7. Curriculum vitae.
  8. Three letters of recommendation (academic and professional)

Please note: The GRE and/or first author publication requirement has been eliminated and is no longer required. This change will be noted in the next catalog update.

Information on international student admissions can be found here.

Admissions FAQ

Application Procedure

Potential applicants may receive general admissions information from the School of Behavioral Health Office of Admissions. Requests for specific information about the program should be directed to the program director.

School of Behavioral Health Office of Admissions

Doctor of Social Work
Dr. Kimberly Freeman, Program Director

Please note: The program is listed as "Clinical Leadership, DSW" in the online application portal.

All applicants must submit their application online. Applicants can also monitor the status of their application online. In addition, the School of Behavioral Health office of admission informs all applicants when their files are complete or if additional information is required. The department's admissions coordinator reviews all completed applicant files and contacts the candidates for an admissions interviews.

Notification of Acceptance

The Doctor of Social Work program admissions committee forwards a recommendation to the dean of the School of Behavioral Health for review and confirmation. All applicants are first notified by the Dean's Office of their admissions status. Accepted students must then acknowledge in writing their intentions to reserve their place in the program.


The mission of our Doctor of Social Work (Clinical Leadership) program is to transform experienced MSW-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 Learning Outcomes

Program learning outcomes supporting this mission are:

  • Conduct systematic inquiry that adheres to scholarly conventions;
  • Use and critically evaluate at an advanced level evidence-based, research-informed, and promising practices;
  • Develop and disseminate clinical practice and educational innovations and knowledge that reflect the inherent values of the social work profession;
  • Demonstrate expertise in behavioral health clinical leadership that advance social work practice and education;
  • Demonstrate expertise in the application of mission-focused learning that promotes and integrates social justice in practice, education delivery, and innovation.
Mariz Cruz
Mariz Cruz
As a DSW student at Loma Linda University, the online program gives me the flexibility to continue to work as a medical social worker while completing my doctoral degree. The professors provide a supportive learning environment as well as the guidance I need to become a clinical leader in the profession.