Academic Programs Catalog

College of Social Science

Graduate Study

Our fully accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program prepares students for advanced and more specialized social work practice. Students select either Clinical Social Work or Organization and Community Leadership as an advanced concentration. The Clinical Social Work track prepares students to engage in professional practice with individuals, families, and small groups, using many different intervention techniques. The Organization and Community Leadership concentration trains students for work in policy, advocacy, community development, and administrative positions. 

The school emphasizes access to social work education, and we have developed a wide range of options to meet the diverse needs of students. The school offers full MSW programs in Flint, Saginaw, and Oakland County in addition to our East Lansing campus. We also operate a Weekend MSW program in Lansing, and a Statewide Blended program that that utilizes a mix of online courses, videoconferencing, and small group face-to-face education to provide MSW access across Michigan. For all of these options, students can complete their field placements near where they live or work. 

The school offers both regular and advanced standing MSW program options. The regular program requires 57 credits for degree completion. Students admitted after having completed the equivalent of the first year of this program at another university must complete a minimum of 31 credits in the MSW program at Michigan State University. A maximum of 26 credits of graduate level work in another Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program may be applied to the credit requirements under the MSW degree. 

Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the CSWE may apply for admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program. The Advanced Standing program requires a minimum of 38 credits for the MSW degree, and may be completed with full-time study over one year or part-time study over two years. 

Students enrolled in the MSW degree program may complete an optional degree certificate program in areas including school social work, law and social work, advanced clinical practice with families, social work with older adults, substance abuse, social work and health, or trauma-focused social work practice.

Students who are enrolled in the Master of Social Work degree program in the School of Social Work may elect specializations in Infancy and Early Childhood. For additional information, refer to the statement on Interdepartmental Graduate Specializations in Infancy and Early Childhood.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Social Work, which is open to students who have earned an MSW degree, emphasizes the development, analysis, and application of social work knowledge, and is designed to prepare social workers for research and teaching positions in the academy and/or applied research settings. 

 

Social Work - Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work degree program includes extensive required courses and course sequences in social work. Only Plan B (without thesis) is available.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission to the Master of Social Work Degree Program

All students, with the exception of those applying for the Blended Statewide Clinical program and the Weekend Program with a major in organization and community leadership, begin the Master of Social Work degree program in the fall semester to align their enrollment with the sequencing of required courses. Therefore, applicants should seek admission during the previous fall semester.  Applicants interested in the Blended Statewide Clinical program should apply for summer admission because it begins in a summer session. Students wishing to be considered for admission must submit the application materials requested on the School of Social Work Web site at www.socialwork.msu.edu. Although an undergraduate major or concentration in the social sciences or in social work may be helpful, it is not required.

To be considered for admission to the Master of Social Work degree program, a person must have:

  1. A bachelor's degree from a recognized institution.
  2. A grade–point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) during undergraduate study or in 14 or more credits of graduate study.  The grade-point average in the last 60 credits or their equivalents of undergraduate course work is primarily considered.
  3. Prior academic record including at least 19 credits in liberal arts.

Applicants will be evaluated on a combination of factors:

  1. Grade–point average in undergraduate study or in 14 or more credits of graduate study.
  2. Evidence of personal qualities considered important for the practice of social work.
  3. Judgments by the faculty of the candidate’s commitment to social work and suitability for the  profession, based on a reading of the application.
  4. Length and type of work and volunteer experience.
  5. Three letters of reference.

In addition to these requirements, applicants to the Blended Statewide Clinical program must:

  1. Live more than 50 miles from both the East Lansing and Flint campuses.
  2. Have regular access to high-speed internet service.
  3. Have at least two years of full-time experience, or equivalent, in human services during the last  five years, generally after completion of the bachelor’s degree.
  4. Complete an online assessment and orientation program on how to learn effectively in the  online environment.
  5. Participate in a personal interview.

 Requirements for the Master of Social Work Degree Program

The student must complete 57 credits in specified instruction in social work. Detailed plans of study are available in the Master of Social Work Manual which is available at www.socialwork.msu.edu. Required course work for both the Clinical Social Work major and the Organization and Community Leadership major are taken in the following areas:  social work practice methods, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, research methods, and field education.

Admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program

Persons who hold a recent bachelor’s degree in social work from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) may apply for admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program.

Students are admitted only for summer session. Applicants should therefore seek admission during the previous fall semester. Students wishing to be considered for admission must submit all the application materials available on the School of Social Work website (www.socialwork.msu.edu), as well as the application to the university for Graduate Study.

To be considered for admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program, a person must have:

  1. A bachelor’s degree in social work from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and was granted within the last six years.
  2. A grade-point average of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) during undergraduate study. The grade-point average in the last 60 credits or their equivalents of undergraduate course work is also considered.

Applicants will be evaluated on a combination of factors:

  1. Judgments by the faculty of the candidate’s commitment to social work and suitability for the profession, based on a reading of the application.
  2. Length and type of work and volunteer experience.
  3. Two letters of reference and a field/practicum employment evaluation from the undergraduate faculty or agency practicum instructor or from the most recent social work agency at which the applicant was employed.
  4. Evidence of personal qualities considered important for the practice of social work.

Persons who are admitted to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program must have successfully completed an undergraduate course in statistics or an approved equivalent at the time of matriculation.

Requirements for the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program

The student must complete 38 credits in specified instruction in social work. Detailed plans of study are available in the Master of Social Work Manual which is available at www.socialwork.msu.edu. Required course work for both the Clinical Social Work major and the Organization and Community Leadership major are taken in the following areas:  social work practice methods, social welfare policy, research methods, and field education.

Residence

One year of residence consisting of two consecutive semesters and involving at least 7 credits of graduate course work each semester is required. If students attend part–time, the residency requirement must be met in the year that the advanced methods and practicum courses are being completed.

Part–Time Students

Both the Master of Social Work program and the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program are available on a part–time basis.

At the time of admission, students must apply for either part–time or full–time study. Students may not transfer between part–time and full–time study without approval of the school.

Part–time students must progress through a plan of study as specified by the school. All students must meet their residence requirements during the year in which they are enrolled in the advanced practice and field instruction courses.



Social Work - Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work is an interdisciplinary program rooted in the historical, epistemological, and philosophical bases of social work. It is designed to prepare social workers for leadership positions in the profession as educators, researchers, policy makers, and/or administrators. It places emphasis on the development, analysis, and application of social work knowledge related to professional practice, and is designed to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the social work profession and field of social welfare.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

The doctoral program in social work invites applications from experienced social workers who hold a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited graduate program. Applicants must provide evidence of outstanding professional competence, academic excellence and a capacity to develop concepts and articulate issues related to the social work profession, and an interest in advanced social work research, education, and practice. Applicants with outstanding academic records may be admitted to the program provisionally and permitted to make up deficiencies on a collateral basis.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Social Work

The program requires 21 credits in post-master’s social work education, including the completion of a research internship. Students must also take 18 credits of course work outside the School of Social Work including 6 credits of statistics and 12 credits in a social science discipline or focused cognate. In addition, students must complete a comprehensive examination administered by the student’s guidance committee, complete 24 credits of dissertation research, and successfully defend the dissertation.