Master of Social Work

Learn More!

You are invited to learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at Western Michigan University by attending a a virtual information session, or scheduling a one-on-one session with our Manager of Recruitment and Outreach.

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Regional Locations

The WMU School of Social Work offers the MSW program in Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.


All program options are now available 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.

While a number of courses are offered online right now due to COVID safety concerns, WMU School of Social Work does not currently offer exclusively online programs.

Standard Master of Social Work (60 Credits)

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 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. The School of Social Work admits for this program once a year, with classes starting each fall semester. Both a full-time (2 year, 12-15 credits per semester) and a part-time/extended study (3 year, 6 credits per semester year round) are available.  

Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (39 Credits)

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. The School of Social Work admits for this program once a year, with classes starting each Summer 2 semester (July). Both a full-time (10 month, 12-15 credits per semester) and a part-time (2 years, 6 credit per semester) schedule are available.


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 Social Work
    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.


Built into your MSW program are nine elective credit hours. Students  may choose to apply these elective credits to any graduate-level course relevant to their degree, or apply them towards a specialization. Most specializations fit within the 9 credit hours of electives and do not extend time to graduation (with SPADA being the exception).  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.