Master of Social Work
The mission of the Masters program is: we value scientific inquiry, service, integrity, ethics, competence and the power of justice to educate and co-create a diverse, equitable, and accessible Program focused on human rights and enhanced quality of life for persons and communities, locally and globally.
Our vision is a learner-centered school that develops social work leaders to impact social, economic, environmental, and racial justice through excellence in research and practice.
The goals of the Masters program are to:
- provide a professional education that prepares advanced practitioners to enhance, advocate, and support social, economic, and environmental justice and personal well-being for all people.
- prepare advanced practitioners who demonstrate the knowledge, skills, values, cognitive and affective processes necessary to work effectively with diverse, vulnerable, and marginalized populations.
- prepare advanced practitioners who possess the needed knowledge, embrace social work values, and have the requisite skills needed to formulate and realize a vision of a just society.
- prepare ethical, reflective, and competent advanced practitioners in Clinical Social Work to work with individuals, families, and groups; and in Policy, Planning, and Administration to work with organizations, communities, and institutions within a global and changing environment
- prepare advanced practitioners to effectively engage, assess, and intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and institutions by utilizing evidence-based knowledge and theories and guided by trauma informed, culturally responsive, and anti-racist models of practice.
- prepare advanced practitioners with the knowledge, skills, values, cognitive and affective processes necessary to engage in practice informed research and research informed practice, and the ability to evaluate social work practice at micro, mezzo, and macro system levels.
- prepare advanced practitioners who are grounded in a cultural-bio-psycho-social-spiritual framework, understand the historical roots of the social work profession, and can analyze, develop, and utilize social policy to advance justice policy to advance justice.
You are invited to learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at Western Michigan University by attending a virtual information session, or scheduling an individual session with our Manager of Recruitment and Outreach.
The WMU School of Social Work offers the MSW program in Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Note: While a number of courses are currently offered online due to COVID-19 safety concerns, WMU School of Social Work does not offer an entirely online degree program at this time.
Locations and Pathways
Field education is a significant, impactful and engaging part of social work education. You will 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. Note that most internships require daytime availability.
All program options are now available at all three locations.
Admissions requirements are the same for both the full-time and extended study advanced standing programs. When you apply, you will select a program and location. Our programs operate in cohorts, which means you will traverse your program with the same group, which builds a sense of friendship and community. However, it also means that changing programs or locations can only be considered if space becomes available in another cohort. Requests to change program or location cannot be guaranteed.
Learn more about our program options below:
Standard Master of Social Work (60 Credits)
The graduate professional program in social work at WMU prepares you for direct-service and leadership positions in the field of social welfare. It begins with a 24-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 to choose between 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. In this program, you will complete a 400-hour internship over two semesters, followed by a 500-hour concentration internship over two more semesters.
The School of Social Work admits students once a year, with classes starting each fall. There are two different ways to schedule your program - either full-time (2 years, 12-15 credits per semester) or part-time/extended study (3 years, 6 credits per semester year-round).
Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (39 Credits)
If you received a BSW degree from a Council on Social Work Education accredited school within the last six years, with a minimum GPA of 3.25 (using the most recent 60 credits), you are eligible to apply for the advanced standing program. This 39-credit program builds on the BSW foundation courses, allowing you to complete your MSW faster than students without a BSW.
In this program, you 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 session (July). There are two different ways to schedule the program - either full-time (10 months, 12-15 credits per semester) or part-time (2 years, 6 credit per semester).
Accelerated MSW Program (48 Credits)
(Available to current WMU undergraduate students only). Once a BSW student has obtained 60 credits with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 (either at WMU in the social work major or have obtained 60 credits from an institution that has a shared articulation agreement with the School of Social Work), students may apply to the accelerated MSW program.
This program allows you to take 12 credits of graduate-level foundation social work classes (SWRK 6100, SWRK 6310, SWRK 6330, and SWRK 6400) in place of the traditional undergraduate social work courses. These 12 credits will count toward your BSW and MSW degrees. You must apply to the graduate program by April 1 for dual enrollment in the graduate and undergraduate social work programs the following fall.
- If you are accepted into this program and maintain all standards, you will automatically receive an offer of admission to the MSW program at WMU.
- If you achieves a 3.25 GPA and receives no more than one grade below a “B” in a social work required course, then you will be admitted to the advanced standing program.
- If you maintain a 3.0 but do not meet the 3.25 requirements, you will continue into the accelerated MSW program, which will require 48 graduate credit hours (12 fewer credits than a standard MSW).
This allows you to secure a path to graduate school early in your undergraduate education and provides an opportunity to complete both degrees in a shorter period of time and at a lower cost.
Schedule and location: The program is offered in Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo. Courses may be offered at either location based on the size of the cohort in any given year.
In addition to completing the MSW program application, to enroll in the accelerated MSW program, you must also submit a graduation audit. Follow this checklist for the full process.
Learn more about the application process on the WMU Registrar's website.
Policy, planning and administration
This concentration prepares you for leadership in government, nonprofit and community organizations and empowers you to facilitate changes in the structures and processes of organizations, communities and society to contribute to:
- a just distribution of resources and opportunities.
- the ability of officials and the citizenry to understand and respond appropriately to the human condition.
- 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 you for advanced clinical practice with individuals, families and groups within diverse community contexts. Clinical practice emphasizes transactions between people and environments, preparing you to develop practice knowledge and skill in
- the promotion and enhancement of psychological, social, and biological well-being.
- the amelioration of psychological, social, and biological dysfunction.
- the integration of theory, practice and research knowledge.
Built into your MSW program are nine elective credit hours. You may select any graduate-level courses relevant to your degree, or you can work toward a specialization. Most specializations are only nine credit hours and do not extend the time to graduation.
Clinical practice students may choose any specialization. PP&A students may only choose holistic health specializations because internships required for the other specializations would likely interfere with their programs. Click below to learn more.