School of Social Work

Master’s degree (MSW)

The Master of Social Work (MSW) prepares competent, effective and ethical social work professional leaders for social change. The program emphasizes a commitment to enhancing human well-being by alleviating social problems, embracing diversity and promoting social and economic justice with systems of all sizes through advanced clinical social work practice and policy planning and administrative social work practice.

Whether you already have a social work degree or are switching careers, MU has a variety of program options, concentrations and delivery methods (including a part-time 100% online option) to meet your needs.

Black male counselor with youth

Program options

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program has a full-time on-campus option and a part-time online option offered through Mizzou Online.

The Advanced Standing MSW program is tailored to students who already have a recent BSW degree. Those who have a bachelor’s degree in another area should consider the Regular Standing option.

The Advanced Standing option is a 39-credit-hour program. This degree is for students who:

Aside from meeting the general admission requirements, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA overall or your last 60 credit hours of undergraduate course work.

The curriculum content is the same for online and on-campus courses. The only significant difference is in course delivery. All classes in the online MSW program (except practicums) are delivered online.

The Regular Standing program is a 60-credit-hour program. This degree is for students who earned a bachelor’s degree in an area other than social work.

This option takes a minimum of four semesters of full-time study to complete.

The curriculum content is the same for online and on-campus courses. The only significant difference is in course delivery. All classes in the online MSW program (except practicums) are delivered online.

ProgramStart date
on-campusfall semester (August)
onlinesummer semester (June)

The Missouri Online MSW program was created in response to rural communities in the Midwest that are in need of social work practitioners.

The part-time, online program is offered to residents of:

  • Missouri
  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee

Our online MSW program is structured so that you can maintain a full-time job while taking classes toward your degree. Classes have a specific start and end date, and weekly assignments track your progress. While you are not expected to meet online at a specific time for class, you are expected to log in to course sites multiple times each week to view lectures, complete course activities, and participate in discussions. As a cohort based program, students take courses together each semester and develop meaningful, collegial relationships as members of intentional learning communities. Instructors and advisers are accessible for assistance and mentoring using web conferencing technology. Students gain important professional practice skills using a variety of emerging technologies for completion of assignments.

During the application process, it is important to consider if you will reside in our region during the three year period required to completing the online MSW program. Student must reside within our region to maintain eligibility for the online MSW program. While final practicums can be completed with a variety of agencies in or outside of the region, regular standing students must complete their 7971 practicum at an agency within our region. Moving out of region prior to the final practicum will result in delayed graduation or program withdrawal. It is also important to note that practicums must be completed Monday through Friday during normal work day hours (not evenings or weekends). If you have questions about how we can work with you to meet these requirements, please let us know.

Program length

  • Regular Standing – two classes most semesters for three years (nine semesters)
  • Advanced Standing – two classes most semesters for two years (six semesters)

Start date

Regular standing begins in the summer semester (June) and advanced standing begins in the fall semester (August).

Program concentrations

MSW students focus on one of two concentrations.

Those who choose Clinical Social Work Practice are interested in practicing social work with individuals, families, small groups and communities. This concentration prepares social workers for clinical practice in social services organizations. Clinical Social Work Practice graduates serve in a variety of professional roles, such as:

  • counselor
  • team leader
  • employee assistance specialist
  • diagnostician
  • therapist
  • educator
  • social broker
  • community advocate
  • consultant
  • case manager

Those who choose Policy, Planning and Administration are interested in social work at the macro-system level. This concentration prepares social workers for management, policy making and advocacy practice in social services organizations, foundations and political and government settings. Policy, Planning and Administration graduates serve in a variety of professional roles, such as:

  • program administrator
  • program director
  • evaluator
  • researcher
  • policy analyst

MSW/MPH dual degree

As a student of the MSW/MPH dual degree program, you will earn a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health with an emphasis in health policy and promotion.

MSW/PhD joint degree

The MSW/PhD joint degree program was designed for individuals who already have work experience in the human services. This combined degree program prepares students for a career conducting social work research.

Course work

The MSW curriculum is divided into three levels: foundation (21 credit hours), concentration (39 credit hours) and a required crossover course (3 credit hours).

If you are an Advanced Standing student, you will skip the Foundation level, with the exception of taking a research course, as you already learned the knowledge and skills being taught at the BSW level. You will start taking Concentration courses during your first semester in the program.

Concentration requirements include electives that allow you to shape your own graduate education. The final phase of the Concentration curriculum consists of a field practicum course.

Student handbook

Curriculum requirements

Learn about required courses and other program requirements.

Field practicum

Field instruction at the MU School of Social Work is a key component of the graduate program and involves actual work experience in the field, as well as instruction.


Each student is assigned a faculty advisor to assist them with many aspects of their educational plan. Advisors are also excellent resources for questions about field placement, career development, and job opportunities. Students can contact their faculty advisor by e-mail to set up an appointment. To learn who your faculty advisor is, contact the main office at 573-882-6206.

Admission and application

Get admission requirements and application instructions.

Cost and financial aid

The School of Social Work does not charge an application fee, however, Graduate School application fees may apply.


The School of Social Work has been continually accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1919. Graduation from a CSWE accredited program is required for a social work license at the bachelors and masters level. See the University of Missouri Provost’s Office website for professional licensure disclosure information.