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. 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. Learn more about our program here. 


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, built on a liberal arts base that will provide you with the knowledge, values and skills leading to an informed perspective on the profession, and prepare you for entry into one of two concentrations:  Clinical/ interpersonal practice or policy, planning and administration.

Coursework in human behavior, social policy, culture/ethnicity, research and social work practice makes up the foundation curriculum and introduces different approaches to problem solving. Field education provides opportunities for practical experience under careful supervision by a seasoned social work professional in a human service setting. 

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. WMU School of Social Work does not currently offer exclusively online programs.

Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (39 Credits)

Students who have obtained a Bachelor’s in Social Work degree from a Council on Social Work Education accredited school within the last six years and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 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 programs are offered in full time and extended study/part-time schedule options.

If you do not have a Bachelor in Social Work degree or believe the 60 credit hour program would be a better fit, please return to the main menu and select the appropriate application.

Program Schedule Options

Full-time MSW programs include 15 credit hours per semester. Courses generally meet during day time hours. The full-time advanced standing program takes one year.

 Extended Study MSW

Extended Study programs include the same coursework and total number of credit hours as full time programs, but are taken at a pace of 6 credit hours per semester.  These programs are intended for students who are balancing other responsibilities and are looking to take coursework at a slower pace. Generally these courses are offered in the evenings to accommodate students who are working during the day. The Advanced Standing Extended Study program takes two years.

Campus Locations 

  • Full-time Advanced Standing MSW (39 credit hours, 9-15 credits/semester) is offered at the Kalamazoo campus only.
  • The Extended Study Advanced Standing (part-time) MSW (39 credit hours, 6 credits/semester) is offered at the Grand Rapids campus only.

 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.


The School of Social Work offers two concentrations. Extended study 60 credit MSW students will MSW students will begin their concentration courses third year of their studies.

  •  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/Interpersonal Practice
    This concentration prepares students for advanced clinical/interpersonal practice with individuals, families, and groups within diverse community contexts.  Interpersonal 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/Interpersonal 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. The advanced standing students will complete one 500 hour internship. Please note that most internships require daytime availability.