Master of Social Work

Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work (MSW) is a master's degree in social work.


United States

In the United States, MSW degrees must be received from a graduate school that has been approved by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The MSW requires two years of graduate study, in combination with two years (900 hours) of internship, also called field experience. While some students obtain a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) before pursuing a Master's, most MSW programs accept applicants with undergraduate degrees in a broad range of liberal arts degrees.

Most MSW programs allow students to choose a clinical or direct practice track, which focuses on direct practice with clients, or a macro practice track, with a focus on political advocacy, community organizing, policy analysis and/or human services management. While the clinical track tends to be more popular, there has been a resurgence in community practice concentrations recently. There are also opportunities at many universities to obtain joint degrees, such as an US MSW and a Public Administration degree, MSW and Public Health, or US MSW and Law. The MSW practice scope has broadened in recent years to include the specialty practice areas of geriatrics and work with veterans. In some schools the curriculum is based on a generalist model which integrates the practice of social work.

The MSW is considered a terminal practice degree in the field of social work. The DSW (Doctorate of Social Work) or Ph.D in social work are the final degrees offered in the field of social work. The DSW is considered the professional doctoral degree, while the Ph.D in social work is viewed as the research or academic doctoral degree. There are few DSW programs in the United States.

Though Master of Social Work is by far the most common degree title used by graduate social work schools in the United States, it is not universal. For example, Columbia University School of Social Work offers an M.S. degree in social work, the School of Social Service Administration of the University of Chicago confers an M.A. degree, and the University of Texas confers the MSSW (Master of Science in Social Work) degree. The Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University confers the MSSA (Master of Science in Social Administration) degree.

Clark Atlanta University's Whitney M. Young School of Social work is also credited with creating the administration of social work from the "Afro-centric" perspective. Clark Atlanta's school of social work has also had various stalwarts in the profession affiliated with it such as W.E.B. DuBois, Dorcas Bowles, Whitney Young, Hattie Mitchell, Naomi Ward and Rufus Lynch.


In Canada, the MSW is considered a professional master's degree and is offered through a number of different universities. Most schools are accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (C.A.S.W.E).

All students entering an MSW program are required to have a recognized bachelor degree in a related field. Generally, students with a Bachelor of Social Work would enroll in a 1-year program, whereas those with other undergraduate degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, etc.) would enroll in a 2-year program.

The oldest social work program in Canada is offered at the University of Toronto through the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. Social work students at the UofT choose from a number of specializations (i.e. gerontology, children and their families, mental health and health, social service administration, social justice and diversity), and have opportunities to pursue their MSW's with a variety of collaborative programs, such as Addiction Studies, Sexual Diversity Studies, and Asia-Pacific Studies, to name a few.[1][2] Students could also pursue their MSW degrees in combination with either a Master of Health Science or a Juris Doctor.[3]

Canadian Universities that offer the MSW:

See also


External links

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