MSW programs can be completed quickly with a full time Advanced MSW, or you can take your time with a part time MSW degree (both versions are available online). Learn about the differences in program length for Master of Social Work programs.

Learn About Different Program Lengths for Master of Social Work Programs

Temple University Part Time MSW

The College of Public Health offers a variety of options to complete an MSW program, including part-time either at the Philadelphia campus or online. 60 total credit hours are needed for the traditional program and can be completed in three to four years. Physical course meetings are generally available throughout the summer and Saturdays in the fall and spring semester on campus.

For this program, students will select both a concentration and specialization along with the foundational coursework that is needed. Two concentrations are based on either clinical practice with individuals or families, or macro-level practice within a community. Specializations can be in Children and Families, Health and Mental Health, or a customized version with a certain grouping of electives.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Part Time MSW

The Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work offers a part-time MSW program with classes that take place on Saturdays on-campus. This can be pursued through the advanced standing format or traditionally and is often completed in two or four years, respectively. Specialization opportunities include gerontology, youth and family, and health and mental health.

Students will not have ability to transfer between the full-time and part-time programs and will need to reapply if desired. Transfer credit is not accepted into this program, but students do have the ability to test out of certain courses if they meet the criteria. Applicants looking to get into the advanced standing format must have completed their CSWE-accredited BSW program in the last five years.

California State University-Northridge Part Time MSW

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers a online program that can be completed in two to three years. While the two-year program is for full-time students, the three-year format is ideal for those that need additional time to complete their studies. Regardless of format, students will follow a cohort model and must complete weekly assignments and quizzes.

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Course lectures will take place once weekly in a live setting with courses between 5:00 PM and 9:00 PM in the Pacific time zone. Students can choose to participate in the live session or view the course on-demand at their convenience. Field education courses are not in an asynchronous format and require attendance for one hour with a small group of students.

MSW Curriculum

When following CSWE standard, the Master of Social Work curriculum will be very similar when comparing university programs. On a traditional basis, there is a foundational year and a specialization year for the student. This specialization will depend on what the college has available, such as emphasizing coursework in gerontology, mental health, youth and families, social policy, or as an advanced generalist.

Here is a list of common courses that students will find when pursuing either the foundational or specialization portion of their curriculum:

  • Foundations of Social Work Practice
  • Diversity and Social Justice
  • Human Behavior and the Social Work Environment
  • Social Work Policy and Advocacy
  • Advanced Practice with Individuals, Groups, or Families
  • Advanced Research Methods
  • Leadership and Management in Social Work

How Long Does it Take to Be a LCSW?

Obtaining a Master’s degree to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker is only the beginning of the process when going through the requirements necessary to gain state licensure. Obligations will depend on the state that the candidate is looking to be licensed as there may be different requests for jurisprudence examination and the need for a background check in the application process.

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While there are opportunities to gain certain licensure after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree, potential candidates will need to go through a post-graduate work session prior to becoming clinically licensed on their own. Regardless of the amount of clock hours needed (often falling between 3,000 to 4,000 hours), there is usually a two-year minimum that individuals must follow in this process. On the opposite spectrum, many states set a varying time limit to complete this work as well.

Typically, candidates can complete other obligations, such as jurisprudence exams and general examination through the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), while completing their post-graduate work. Adding together the graduate program and post-graduate work requirements for LCSW licensure, individuals can expect three to four years at minimum to receive this designation based on their educational background in social work.