How Long Does It Take to Complete a MSW Program?
Students that are pursuing a Master of Social Work will experience a different format based on their prior education and if they are enrolled on a full-time or part-time basis.
Overall, they can expect to complete the program in as little as one year with prior coursework in social work and various liberal arts topics, or up to four years taking the entire program on a part-time basis.
Generally speaking, there are three different types of MSW programs that have different program lengths:
- Advanced Standing MSW: 1 to 2 years, ~30 credit hours
- Full Time MSW: 1 to 3 years, ~60 credit hours
- Part Time MSW: 2 to 5 years, ~60 credit hours
In order to obtain state licensure for certification status as a social worker, a Master's degree in social work should be verified by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This accreditation acknowledges the curriculum has met high standards set by the organization and provides the field work necessary to gain state licensure. It also prepares professionals for their thousands of post-graduate work hours needed on the path to gain this licensure.
1. Advanced Standing MSW
Students with prior educational in social work may be eligible for advanced standing when pursuing a Master of Social Work program. Entering into this format eliminates the first half of the full MSW program as the student has already completed the foundational coursework. Only the specialization offered by the institution will be pursued, such as advanced generalist.
Typical Program Length
Many institutions with CSWE accreditation are able to provide this format, and in some instances, this can be pursued online. Depending on how many courses are taken at a given time, the advanced standing pathway is completed in one to two years. Some programs offer a specific pathway for full-time and part-time enrollment.
Number of Credits
The amount of credits needed within the advanced standing format will either be half of the full program (30 credit hours) or slightly higher. This depends on how many credits the school allocates for their foundational work. The amount of field education experience will also vary in a similar way, maybe splitting the requirement in half or needing just a portion of the clock hours.
What Do The Course Schedules Look Like and More
In many course schedules, students are able to complete the program in two or three semesters, counting the summer session within the latter, which can all be done in one year. If the university allows, and in some cases for students that are pursuing the degree online, they can finish the program in less than a year. Typically, a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher is needed from the prior Bachelor's degree in social work.
Consider a Featured Online Social Work Program
|School / Program||Online Program / Entry Reqs||Advanced Standing Availability / Course Information|
|University of Denver||✔ Online
No GRE Required
Advanced Standing Program available. Two online graduate programs: a traditional MSW and an advanced standing MSW.Learn More
|University of Southern California||✔ Online||
Earn a Master of Social Work online in as few as 12 months if you have a Bachelor of Social Work. Doctor of Social Work online can be completed through an accelerated 24 month track (master’s req.).Learn More
|University of Kentucky||✔ Online||
Advanced Standing Program available. MSW program includes options for an advanced-standing program (30 credits) and a 60-credit regular standing program.Learn More
|Ohio University||✔ Online||
No GRE or GMAT required. Complete in as few as 24 months. Adult Mental Health, Child, Family, and School, and Social Policy.Learn More
|Baylor University||✔ Online
No GRE Scores Required
Advanced Standing Program available. 2 Specializations: Clinical Practice or Community Practice. Standard MSW and Advanced Standing MSW.Learn More
|Fordham University||✔ Online||
Advanced Standing Program available. Advanced standing and traditional MSW options. Four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy.Learn More
|Case Western Reserve University||✔ Online
No GRE Required
Advanced Standing available. Earn your online master’s in social work from Case Western Reserve University, a top-ranked school of social work. No GRE required.Learn More