Within social work, there are a number of graduate degrees. Many students know what the Master of Social Work is, but what about the MSSW or MSSA? What is the difference between all of these different graduate level social work degrees? Read on to find out the key differences of each degree program.

What is the Difference Between the MSW, MSSW, and MSSA Degrees?

What kinds of courses are offered at each program?

In addition to concentrations and specializations, the courses and graduation requirements for MSW, MSSW, and MSSA programs are also quite similar. In order to be well-prepared and competent social workers, students are required to complete courses that align with the social work competencies outlined by the CSWE. These include foundational courses, such as research, social justice, policy, and human behavior.

The clinical/advanced courses offered at each program may also be similar to one another. For example, common introductory clinical courses include clinical practice with individuals, clinical practice with groups, and psychopathology. Clinical electives may vary by institution, program, and program track. For example, students enrolled in the MSW full-time program at Boston College School of Social Work may take courses on trauma practice with children and Dialectical Behavior Therapy . The MSSA program at Case Western Reserve University offers advanced elective courses such as Social Work with Child Abuse & Family Violence.

In addition to courses, students are also required to complete a specified number of field education hours during the program. This is a requirement by the CSWE, which means that students enrolled in MSW, MSSW, and MSSA must fulfill this requirement in order to graduate.

What are the graduation requirements for each program?

Across all three programs, students generally must complete a combination of foundation courses, advanced courses, elective courses, and field education in order to graduate. Students must also maintain a specific cumulative GPA during the program.

Specific credit amounts and GPA requirements can be found on each program’s website or by contacting each program’s office of admission,