Schools With Masters in Social Work (MSW Degrees)

Are you searching for CSWE-accredited colleges & universities that offer Campus MSW Programs? Looking for MSW schools in a specific city, state or country? Earn a Masters ...

in social work in a traditional, face-to-face teacher and peer learning atmosphere. How to choose a graduate school for your MSW degree? Read on to make sure you are on track for continued success.

MSW Schools

About MSW Schools

Many graduate schools of social work with on campus MSW programs offer courses in the evenings and/or weekends to accommodate students currently working in human services occupations. Prospective applicants to a Masters in Social Work program may have earned a Bachelor of Social Work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or come from a related undergraduate major such as a Bachelors in human services, Bachelors in counseling psychology or Bachelors in public affairs.

DID YOU KNOW? 24,576 Master’s degrees in social work were awarded in 2014[i]

How Long Might It Take to Earn an MSW Degree?

Some schools have different MSW degree program options such as dual degrees, full-time, part-time (days), part-time (week-ends) and advanced standing MSW programs, so you might choose just how much time to devote to your studies. Time to completion varies between schools, however, as a guideline and estimate:

  • Full-time MSW programs: about two years
  • Part-time MSW programs: about two and a half to three years
  • Advanced standing MSW programs: per school guidelines, an option typically available to students who have earned their BSW from a CSWE-accredited program

Applying to Campus MSW Programs

Each university determines when they accept and process applications into their campus MSW programs. A completed MSW application might include:

  • Your career goals in a statement of purpose
  • Your experience (e.g. volunteer work)
  • Resume
  • Official transcripts
  • Written recommendations

About the Masters in Social Work Degree

The MSW is considered the terminal practice degree in social work. A Masters in social work might prepare students with the clinical assessment or administrative skills to work in their chosen specialty. An MSW degree is also one of the requirements for becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), and licensed masters social worker (LMSW) since most states have licensure requirement for nonclinical social workers as well.[ii] The Master of social work is also the prerequisite education for both the PhD in social work and the Doctor of Social Work (DSW).

Potential Concentrations Within Campus MSW Programs

Some campus MSW programs may offer a broad and comprehensive social work education, which may suit students who earned an undergraduate degree in a related field. Other Master of social work programs may allow students to fine-tune their area of interest, such as:

  • Public health
  • Mental health
  • Trauma
  • Addictions and substance abuse
  • Community service management
  • Geriatrics
  • Veterans
  • Children and families
  • Troubled teens

What Should I Look for in an MSW School?

On initial glance, it may look like all campus MSW programs and graduate schools offer the same things, however, they may each have a unique set of features. So how do you find and choose a Masters in social work program? Broadly, you want to examine three things:

  • Accreditation
  • Your curriculum needs
  • Location

Find CSWE-Accredited Campus Programs:

Top of your list should be MSW program accreditation by the Council of Social Workers (CSWE), as they set quality standards, and in turn recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, there were more than 500 bachelor’s degree programs and more than 200 master’s degree programs accredited by the CSWE.[i]

Professional programs, such as the MSW typically have two or more accreditations; a regional accrediting agency or some other entity recognized by the Department of Education accredits the grad school itself. What this process does is it ensures that the school isn't a diploma mill, and that a graduate will be recognized as a graduate. On top of that, MSW program accreditation ensures that an academic program adequately prepares candidates for practice in some recognized profession.

Campus MSW Programs: Potential Curriculum

There are a few components to a campus MSW program that prospective students should contemplate. These are;

  • Field placement
  • Course curriculum, research, continued education
  • Location

Field placement is a large component of an MSW program, and often you might meet your internship requirement in your own community (hospital, school, mental health clinic) or agency. This is something to factor into your search for campus MSW programs in a specific location. You might find out where a prospective MSW school offers these field placements. Perhaps there is an agency whose mission statement appeals to you close to one of your choice schools.

Course Curriculum, Research, Continued Education: One of the nice things about earning your Masters degree in social work on campus is that you get your information in real-time, and might receive a lot of individual attention, especially if you are in a smaller program. In terms of coursework, you might learn how to be an advocate for individuals, families and the disabled. Coursework might also cover the prevention and management of social problems such as child abuse and drug addiction. Other course topics might include:

  • Human behavior and social environment
  • Social work practice/theory and assistance
  • Social policy and justice

Make sure you read an MSW school’s syllabus to see whether your learning needs might be addressed, or whether the faculty is involved in a research project that might be meaningful to you. You may also want to consider whether there are any social work certificate programs offered in an area of emphasis that you are passionate about.

Location: Are you searching for campus MSW programs in California? A specific city? Do you hope to earn your MSW degree abroad? Use our on page navigation to filter your results by location, wherever that may be or just browse sponsored listings, find the program first and the location second.

Why Earn a Masters in Social Work on Campus?

When it comes down to choosing how you want to pursue your MSW degree – at graduate school or via online format, ultimately it is a personal choice. While online study is mainstream and may work for some, there may be a few potential advantages to earning your Masters of Social work on campus:

  • Social work is about "person in the environment"
  • Being on site means interactions, networking potential
  • Interactions might build interpersonal, communication and problem solving skills, all essential to the practice of social work
  • Access to all the facilities (libraries, laboratories, gym, social services, tutoring)
  • Campus programs offer demonstrations, may foster collaboration
  • You may have access to more campus-based MSW degree choices 

Take the next step

Choosing a campus based Master of social work program is more than finding a CSWE- accredited program with courses you like. Find a grad school that makes you feel comfortable, and inspires the motivation to go to class, learn and excel. Browse our sponsored campus MSW programs to find the college or university with a Masters in Social Work degree program that aligns with your goals. Then use our on-page navigation to request info; the next enrollment period may be just around the corner!


sources:[i] datausa.io/profile/cip/440701/ |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm