Master of Social Work

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Come Visit!

You are invited to learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at Western Michigan University by attending an informational event at one of our three campus locations; Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids or Southwest

About the School of Social Work

The Western Michigan University School of Social Work is a Council on Social Work Education accredited school offering BSW and MSW programs. The MSW program was first accredited in 1969, with the BSW program following close behind in 1975. This year the school proudly celebrates 50 years of preparing students to promote economic, social and environmental justice. The school is housed in the College of Health and Human Services to promote inter-professional collaboration and a holistic approach to care.

Western Michigan University's School of Social Work educates social workers to advocate for social and economic justice and personal well-being for all people. The faculty provides leadership on a local, national and international level through research, scholarship, community service and partnerships, and other creative activities relevant to the profession.


In order to best fit the needs of our students, WMU offers a number of program plans in three locations. Please note that not all schedules are offered at all locations. While admissions requirements are the same for both the full-time and extended study advanced standing programs, students will be accepted into the program and location that they indicate on their application and will be expected to complete their program at that site. Requests for location or program transfers will be considered only if space becomes available in that cohort, and cannot be guaranteed. WMU School of Social Work does not currently offer exclusively online programs.

Standard Master of Social Work (60 Credits)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The graduate professional program in social work at Western Michigan University prepares you for direct-service and leadership positions in the field of social welfare. It begins with a twenty-four-hour foundation curriculum, including classes on human behavior, social policy, culture/ethnicity, research and social work practice and introduces different approaches to problem solving. This foundation will prepare you for entry into one of two concentrations:  Clinical practice or policy, planning and administration. Field education provides opportunities for practical experience under careful supervision by a seasoned social work professional in a human service setting. Standard MSW students will complete one 400 hour internship over two semesters, and one 500 hour concentration internship over two semesters.

SCHEDULES & CAMPUS LOCATIONS: The Full-time 60-credit hour MSW program is offered only in Kalamazoo. The Extended-study MSW program is offered at all three campuses; Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Southwest Campus (Benton Harbor).

Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (39 Credits)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Students who have obtained a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree from a Council on Social Work Education accredited school within the last six years and have a minimum GPA of 3.25 (calculated using the most recent 60 credits) are eligible to apply for the Advanced Standing program. This 39 credit program builds on the BSW foundation courses, allowing students to complete their MSW in a shorter period of time than those without a BSW. Advanced Standing students will complete one 500 hour internship over two semesters.

SCHEDULES & CAMPUS LOCATIONS: The full-time 39 credit hour Advanced Standing program is only offered in Kalamazoo. The Part-time Advanced Standing program is offered only in Grand Rapids.


The School of Social Work offers two concentrations.

  •  Policy, Planning, and Administration
    This concentration prepares students for leadership in government, nonprofit, and community organizations. The PP&A Concentration seeks to empower practitioners to facilitate changes in the structures and processes of organizations, communities, and society to contribute to (a) a just distribution of resources and opportunities, (b) the ability of officials and the citizenry to understand and respond appropriately to the human condition, and (c) the provision of opportunities and resources to troubled or disadvantaged people to help them cope with personal and social barriers to the betterment of their condition. 
  •  Clinical Practice
    This concentration prepares students for advanced clinical practice with individuals, families, and groups within diverse community contexts.  Clinical Practice emphasizes transactions between people and environments, preparing students to develop practice knowledge and skill in the following areas: (a) the promotion and enhancement of psychological, social, and biological well-being; (b) the amelioration of psychological, social, and biological dysfunction; and (c) the integration of theory, practice and research knowledge.

Specialization Options 

Students can choose a more focused track to enhance their learning, practice skills, and employability. Specializations are entirely optional and may take longer than the MSW alone. For specializations requiring specific internship experiences, spaces may be limited. Please indicate interest in these programs on your application. All specialization options are available to Clinical Practice students. Only Gerontology and Holistic Health are available to Policy, Planning and Administration students, due to the nature of the required internships for the other specializations. Click on the hyperlinks below to learn more.

Within the School of Social Work

College of Health and Human Services Collaborative Specializations

Field Education

Field education is a significant, impactful and engaging part of social work education.  It is where students practice the knowledge, skills and values of the social work program, and learn to be a professional social worker in practice. This intensive focus on field education is unique in social work education, and is what makes it our signature pedagogy. Please note that most internships require daytime availability.