Program Overview

ICSW’s doctoral program, offered onsite or distance, is a three year course of study designed for working clinicians.

Our curriculum is strategically designed to blur the lines between the classroom and students’ own practice settings, enabling students to use their own cases as a basis for learning. After completion of coursework, students experience incomparable support at every step of the dissertation process.

Coursework incorporates advanced clinical practice, theoretical study, and research experience.


  • Three years of coursework for full-time students (total of 76 semester credit hours)
  • Six years of coursework for part-time students (total of 76 semester credit hours)
  • Classes meet on alternating weeks
  • Students take courses in a small cohort model
  • Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters

Common Learning Outcomes

Psychodynamic Theory

Students demonstrate a thorough knowledge of psychodynamic principles.

Clinical Practice

Students demonstrate the ability to use the psychodynamic framework in diverse clinical practice settings.

Applied Clinical Scholarship

Students demonstrate written and verbal communication skills necessary to prepare clinical reports necessary for presentation, documentation and consultation in the clinical practice community.

Program Learning Outcomes


Advance the student’s knowledge and capacity for scholarly and critical examination of the theories that inform the psychodynamic tradition of clinical social work practice.


Advance the student’s capacity to apply psychodynamic theories and relevant techniques to the practice of clinical social work and the diversity that it encompasses.

Clinical Practicum

Provide students with an opportunity to explore their own cases in real depth, and over time, with their instructors as experts and individual consultants so that the course work and clinical consultation intersect for the student’s benefit as a clinician.


Develop the student’s capacity to rigorously and ethically conceptualize and critically examine problems/issues relevant to clinical social work, and to conduct and defend an original project of scholarly research.

Research Practicum

Develop and successfully defend a scholarly, original, rigorous, comprehensive, and ethical dissertation that will contribute to clinical social work knowledge and practice.

Distance Learning Option

ICSW offers our accredited PhD in Clinical Social Work program in a Distance Learning format. In the Distance Learning program our students meet in real-time with their fellow classmates and instructors, via live video. Students are also required to come to ICSW’s Chicago campus twice a semester for weekend classes.

Program Details

  • Classes meet online on alternating weeks
  • Twice each semester, distance students attend onsite classes at our Chicago campus
  • Minimum technology requirements: an up-to-date computer system, high-speed internet access, a webcam, and an audio headset


In Their Words

Before coming to ICSW, I felt both stuck and unchallenged in my clinical work with youth and adolescents. Cognitive based approaches and ways of understanding the patient were limiting and I continuously wondered how to make sense of my patient’s interpersonal lives and internal worlds. After attending a seminar on adoption related issues from a psychodynamic perspective in St. Louis, I became curious about how this way of understanding could be applied to my practice. I took a chance and feel forever grateful for this decision.
After starting the first semester of the doctoral program at ICSW, I quickly realized that I was not alone in feeling limited by short-term therapeutic approaches; my cohort members and instructors echoed my same concerns. Each semester thereafter challenged me in ways that are hard to express. I began learning to see the patient from a completely different perspective, listening in a way never before attempted. As I near the completion of my 3rd year of coursework, I am amazed at how different my role as therapist feels. My work across the board has deepened, been enlivened, and refreshed. In my opinion, the doctoral program at ICSW is for clinicians looking to be challenged, strengthened, and above all, enriched.

Huey Hawkins Current Student