10 Advanced Standing MSW Programs (and How You Might Be Able to Earn Your Master of Social Work in Less Time)

Advanced Standing MSW Programs may be perfect for you if you’ve already earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree and are hoping to prepare for enhanced professional goals in social work. Since MSW advanced standing programs are aimed at those who have prior education in the field of social work, these degrees may be earned in less time than a standard Master of Social Work program.

Ready to dive right in? Check out our advanced standing MSW programs list to find a program that may be perfect for your goals. Or, keep scrolling to learn more about what advanced standing programs are and whether you might want to apply.

10 Advanced Standing MSW Programs You Should Know About

Ready to delve deeper into the field of social work, building on what you learned in your BSW? Check out these 10 Master of Social Work (MSW) advanced standing programs online and on campus, and learn more about their requirements.

Remember that criteria for admissions into an advanced standing program vary by school and may be subject to change. Check with your program of interest to learn more.

1. Our Lady of the Lake University

Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) was founded in 1895 by the Congregation of Divine Providence. It is a coeducational institution offering over 30 undergraduate majors and minors, 14 master's programs and two doctoral programs. Students may study in San Antonio, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and online

About the Advanced Standing MSW: OLLU’s Worden School of Social Service offers an MSW program with both regular (57-credit) and advanced (30-credit) tracks. Students can also enjoy the flexibility of studying full time or part time, as well as either online or on campus. Eligible candidates may earn the advanced standing degree in as few as 12 consecutive months of accelerated study.

2. Walden University

Walden University is an accredited institution of higher education that focuses on serving adult learners. They offer online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as certificates, in career-focused fields that promote positive social change. These include health sciences, counseling, human services, nursing, public administration, and, of course, social work.

About the Advanced Standing MSW: Walden University’s CSWE-accredited Advanced Standing MSW program requires 55 total quarter credits, comprised of core courses, electives, and field experience. The program is online but requires a six-week hybrid class, during which you’ll spend four days participating in a face-to-face experience.

3. Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is a private university committed to enriching lives through research and scholarship. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, they offer undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs through eight schools and a college. The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences has been educating social work students since 1915.

About the Advanced Standing Program: Case Western Reserve University offers a Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA), which is equivalent to an MSW or Master of Social Work. Eligible Advanced Standing students may be able to receive up to 24 credits toward the MSSA degree, potentially allowing them to earn the degree in 36 credit hours. Among other requirements for the Advanced Standing track, you must have earned your BSW within the last seven years.

4. Fordham University

Fordham University is a Jesuit, Catholic university based in New York City. They offer a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs designed to foster wisdom, experience, morality, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving. Fordham University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

About the Advanced Standing MSW: Eligible students who have earned an approved BSW are considered to have completed the first, foundational year of their MSW at Fordham. Generally, 33 credits from your BSW may be transferred to the 66-credit degree MSW degree. Among other requirements, you must have earned your BSW within the past five years.

5. Boston University

Boston University is a private research institution serving over 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world. They offer over 250 programs of study in areas spanning everything from the arts and sciences to social work. In fact, BU’s School of Social Work has roots dating back to 1918.

About the Advanced Standing MSW: At Boston University, students eligible for the Advanced Standing Program receive credit for their foundation year of the MSW program. They must then earn the additional 43 credits required for graduation. The Advanced Standing Program may be available at the Charles River, Fall River, and BU North-Bedford campuses, as well as online.

6. Simmons College

Simmons College is a small, private college based in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to offering undergraduate programs with a liberal arts focus, they are home to graduate programs in areas like nursing and health sciences, education, liberal arts, management, communications, social work, and more.

About the Advanced Standing MSW: Students who have earned a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) within the last five years might be eligible for the 12-month MSW Advanced Standing Program at Simmons College. The program offers a one-semester seminar that focuses on the integration of theory and practice, the chance to choose one of four advanced clinical specialization areas, and other features.

7. Widener University

Widener is a private university located in Chester, Pennsylvania. They offer over 40 undergraduate majors and 50 minors, as well as doctoral, master’s, and certificate programs in areas ranging from business administration to social work. Some programs may be offered online or in flexible formats.

About the Advanced Standing MSW: Qualified applicants who have earned a BSW from an accredited program within six years may be eligible for the Advanced Standing program. This 39-credit degree may be earned in as little as one year (full time) or two years (part time). Advanced Standing students begin their coursework in the summer session, which starts mid-May.

8. Tulane University

Tulane University is a private research university based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 1834 as a medical college, the university has expanded to offer over 70 majors in areas like science and engineering, architecture, business, liberal arts and public health. The Tulane University School of Social Work focuses on culturally-relevant social work education designed to build relationships and help students serve their communities.

About the Advanced Standing MSW: Students meeting certain requirements, including earning an accredited BSW within five years with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or better on a 4.0 point scale, may be eligible for Tulane’s advanced standing program. Within the advanced standing track, the MSW degree may be earned in as few as three semesters of full-time study.

9. University of Louisville

The University of Louisville is a public university in Louisville, Kentucky. They offer 204 programs across twelve colleges and schools, plus 16 online programs. The university’s Kent School of Social Work has been around since 1936, helping future social workers prepare to promote social justice and positive change.

About the Advanced Standing Program: The Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville offers an online Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program. Students who qualify for the Advanced Standing track may earn their MSSW in 30 credit hours. This track has two starts per year: summer and fall.

10. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Edinboro University is a public university based in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1857, the university is now the northwestern Pennsylvania region’s largest institution of higher education. In addition to undergraduate and certificate programs, they offer 16 graduate degree programs, including a Master of Social Work (MSW) program.

About the Advanced Standing MSW: For students who meet the requirements for the Advanced Standing program, Edinboro University typically waives the first semester (12 credits) of study. Further course waivers may depend on your educational background, and whether your prior social work courses are deemed equivalent to Edinboro University’s curriculum.

Advanced Standing Definition: What Is It, and Might I Qualify?

There may be multiple pathways to pursuing a graduate education in social work, depending on the choices you made as an undergraduate. Once such path is pursuing an advanced standing MSW program, which is an accelerated program designed for students who have already earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). Since advanced standing MSW degrees build on your prior learning, they may require fewer credits and can often be earned in as little as a year of full-time study.

Advanced standing MSW requirements may vary, but here are some typical criteria for admissions:

  • You must have earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)–accredited program.
  • There may be a minimum GPA requirement, often at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • It may matter when you earned your BSW, often no more than five or six years before pursuing your MSW.

What if you did not earn a BSW? In that case, you’ll need to pursue a regular MSW program, not an advanced standing program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a regular master’s degree in social work (MSW) typically requires about two years of full-time study and may not require your bachelor’s degree to have been in a particular field. Check with the graduate social work program you’re interested in to learn more about admission and program requirements.

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