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Social Work M.S.W. (Hybrid)

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Degree Overview Open Accordion

Earn your MSW degree from CSU

Colorado State University's program features a nationally recognized advanced generalist approach, ensuring you develop a robust skill set during your master's in social work.

Throughout your social work courses, you will learn how to:

  • Use community resources to promote the well-being of all.
  • Address the complexities of people and their interactions through a recognized body of knowledge.
  • Advocate for the welfare of humankind.
  • Lead direct and indirect interventions that are client-centered, problem-focused, and research-based.
  • Integrate research into practice, analyze value and ethical dilemmas, and add greater depth to the provision of services.

Specialize by earning a certificate along with a master's in social work

Simultaneous to earning your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, you can gain specialized knowledge by pursuing one of the following graduate certificates:

Gain applicable social work skills and field experience

The master's in social work provides a solid background in a wide range of social work applications and offers you the opportunity to gain field experience in a social service agency. Through required field placement(s), you will have the opportunity to complete nearly 1,000 field hours. There you will apply the knowledge, values, and skills you learn throughout the program in a social work agency setting.

World-class instruction from experienced faculty

Learn from knowledgeable and respected Colorado State University instructors through a combination of classroom and online coursework. In 2014, the school of social work celebrated two important milestones. The bachelor's program commemorated 40 years of accreditation and the master's program reached the 20-year mark. During this time, CSU's social work faculty have become national leaders in researching and elaborating the concept of “generalist” practice, setting themselves apart from other MSW programs in Colorado and the nation.

A degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education

CSU's MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which enables you to pursue professional licensure upon program completion. Additionally, the Master of Social Work is approved by the Colorado Department of Education for school social work licensure, if you elect to complete the additional course requirement (SOWK 560) or seek our graduate certificate in PreK-12 School Social Work.

CHHS research podcast

Find out how CSU’s research is making an impact by tuning into the CHHS Health and Human Science Matters Podcast, a collection of lively, engaging conversations with members of the college community.

Curriculum Open Accordion

Colorado State University teaches a nationally-recognized advanced generalist curriculum which consists of foundation courses that follow the core areas of:

  • Social work practice
  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Social welfare policy and services
  • Social science research

The foundation courses also feature a field placement in a human service agency, and coursework on social work values and ethics, populations at risk, diversity, and social and economic justice.

Concentration courses build on the foundation courses to include advanced content on:

  • Individual practice
  • Group and family practice
  • Community practice
  • Organizational practice
  • Social welfare policy
  • Organizational research

The concentration courses also include a field placement, which will be secured for you in the community in which you reside.


Year 1

Year 2

Course Descriptions Open Accordion
SOWK 500: Principles and Philosophy of Social Work

Establish larger framework for graduate social work study and beginning professional practice. This course provides an understanding of the nature, history, values, ethics, and practice contexts for social work. Students evaluate their goodness-of-fit with the profession, the knowledge base required, and the diverse people, organizations, and communities served by social work.

SOWK 511: Generalist Practice - Small Client Systems

Foundational practice knowledge and skills for engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation with individuals and families within a systems framework.

SOWK 515: Theoretical Foundations of Social Work

Historical and contemporary theoretical foundations for social work practice. Ecological and systems theories are presented as organizing frameworks and critical thinking is developed as a skill for identifying and challenging assumptions.

SOWK 520: Social Welfare Policy Analysis

Analysis of how social welfare policies affect the well-being of people and the tools that can be used to advocate for social change.

SOWK 530: Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice

Developing anti-oppressive practice with a focus on multiculturalism and social justice advocacy. Critically evaluate personal traits, attitudes and values regarding diversity and identity formation while exploring theoretical frameworks for understanding oppression. Analyze the relationships among power, privilege and oppression. Acquiring strategies for combating injustice.

SOWK 588: Foundation Field Placement

This course includes student placement in a social-work-agency setting, providing integration of knowledge, values and skills within a generalist practice framework. The field placement connects the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practical world of the practice setting.

SOWK 592: Field Placement Seminar

Integration of field placement experiences with foundation year MSW knowledge to enhance skills and shape social work best practices. Each session will focus on integrating students’ field placement experiences with knowledge, values, skills, behaviors, and cognitive and affective processes for professional social work practice.

SOWK 600: Research Methods

Emphasis on delivering evidence-based practice as well as conducting research to improve social work practice and policy by being effective consumers of research for social work practice and understanding diverse research types, study designs, sampling, measures, and research ethics.

SOWK 630: Advanced Generalist Practice with Individuals

Knowledge, values, and skills to engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate individuals using an advanced generalist practice approach.

SOWK 631: Advanced Generalist Practice with Communities

Preparing students to engage in and lead community practice that improves the well-being of individuals, families and communities; positively impacts the availability and impact of services and service delivery systems; and seeks to achieve social, economic, and environmental justice.

SOWK 633: Advanced Practice: Social Welfare Policy

Application of social welfare policy analysis models, normative aspects of policy analysis and assessment skills.

SOWK 634: Advanced Practice with Families and Groups

Apply engagement, assessment, and intervention skills, theoretical models, and evidence-based practice approaches in work with families and groups.

SOWK 688: Concentration Field Placement

This course includes placement in a social service agency that is approved by the CSU School of Social Work. Students are provided the context in which to apply their social work knowledge, values, methods and skills in professional practice. The concentration field experience is comprised of 675 hours of supervised advanced generalist practice experience, over two semesters.

SOWK 698: Social Work Research and Capstone

Applied research project designed and implemented in groups to culminate knowledge and skill application. May be conducted with field agency, a community organization, or in alignment with specific School of Social Work faculty research. Groups will evaluate, research, and/or analyze a topic relevant to social work practice at the micro, mezzo, or macro level.

Career Opportunities Open Accordion

Graduates of the social work master’s program are prepared for roles as administrators, clinicians, supervisors, policy analysts, and social planners, and are able to work with a wide range of clientele, including individuals, families, organizations, and communities. The advanced generalist curriculum allows you to work in countless areas of the social services sector in communities across the nation, including job titles like:

  • Adoption Worker
  • Addictions Interventionist
  • Agency Administrator
  • Case Manager
  • Casework Supervisor
  • Child Care Counselor
  • Coordinator of Geriatric Services
  • Counselor
  • Developmental Disabilities Counselor
  • Director of Social Services for a Nursing Home
  • Director of Volunteers
  • Domestic Abuse Counselor
  • Employee Assistance Counselor
  • Probation Officer
  • Family Court Officer
  • Foster Care Worker
  • Group Home Supervisor
  • Hospice Social Worker
  • Information and Referral Resources Coordinator
  • Managed Health Care Counselor
  • Medical and Mental Health Social Workers
  • Police Officer
  • Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselor
  • School Social Worker *Additional credentialing required
  • Sexual and Substance Abuse Counselors
  • Rape Crisis Counselor
  • Social Service Administrator
  • Researcher
  • Head Start Social Worker
  • Legislator

The curriculum primes you for direct and indirect interventions that are client-centered, problem-focused, and research-based. The Master of Social Work program prepares students for careers in:

  • Transitional living centers
  • Probation
  • Corrections
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Adoption and foster care
  • Child welfare services
  • Family and children agencies (range of services)
  • Residential treatment centers/child placement agencies
  • Courts
  • Legislature/Policy
  • Research
  • Evaluation research Immigration coalitions
  • Community development
  • Community planning/organization
  • Community coalitions
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Veterans
  • Counseling centers
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Services for the homeless/Housing emergency assistance programs
  • GLBTQ services
  • Advocacy centers
  • Crisis centers
  • Schools
  • Public Health
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Geriatrics/Services for older adults
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Mental/Behavioral health addiction
  • Recovery/Substance abuse treatment
  • Hospice
  • Health information and support services (i.e., MS Society and Alzheimer’s Association)
  • Staff development and training

Our MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which enables students to pursue professional licensure upon program completion. Additionally, the Master of Social Work is approved by the Colorado Department of Education for school social work licensure, for those students who elect to complete the additional course requirement (SOWK 560) or seek our graduate certificate in PreK-12 School Social Work.

Learning Experience Open Accordion

Expected workload and field education component

MSW students come from all walks of life and enter the program with a variety of personal and career backgrounds. While the majority of the program content utilizes the flexibility of the online delivery format, it still requires the same amount of work and time as an on-campus program. Depending on your learning and study style, you can expect to spend nine to twelve hours per week on a three-credit course.

While it is possible for students to work full-time while taking courses, it is important to note that many students find the field experience coursework requirements particularly challenging if they have full-time jobs that do not allow flexibility in their schedule. Students should expect to spend 10-15 hours per week in agency-based learning.

Course delivery and learning format

The Master of Social Work is a hybrid program that uses a combination of in-person and online learning. The majority of instruction is delivered in an asynchronous, online learning environment, utilizing discussion forums, assignments, and exams to develop the foundational concepts and theories of social work. In-person instruction is held one weekend per semester, along with one weekend of synchronous (real-time) online learning.

Exams are not used to evaluate learning in this program. Instead, faculty and students focus on real-time practice skills development, application of concepts and skills, problem-solving approaches, critical thinking, and harnessing personal strengths in skill development.

What is the benefit of the hybrid MSW format?

We offer a program that supports independent learning combined with collaborative application. Online coursework prepares students for further content exploration and synthesis during the in-person, weekend class. The ability to lead both direct and indirect client-centered interventions is crucial to success in social work settings, making the student-to-student activities an invaluable learning experience.

Program options and locations

There are two variations of the distance program available, a traditional three-year program and a two-year Advanced Standing option. The three-year program has a spring semester start date, which begins in January and follows the cohort model. The Advanced Standing program is available for those who have their bachelor’s degree in social work and students are admitted to start in January of year two of the three-year program, integrating with the existing three-year program cohort.

Note: Locations vary depending on the cohort.

About the advanced generalist model

Programs following the advanced generalist social work model place emphasis on the knowledge and skills needed for interventions at multiple levels of practice including individuals, families, groups, and communities. Other central themes such as direct services, community and organizational practice, social policy analysis, and social work research as part of practice are integrated into the social work course of study.

The advanced generalist model in CSU’s MSW program provides students with an increased ability to demonstrate advanced generalist competencies; integrate research into practice; analyze value and ethical dilemmas; add greater depth to the provision of services; and provide the skills to function as more independent social work practitioners.

Additionally, the advanced skill level gained through the curriculum allows graduates to engage in interdisciplinary, collaborative public and private partnerships for advocacy, policy, and practice; and for advancing social justice.

Frequently Asked Questions Open Accordion
What type of bachelor's degree is required for admission?

For the traditional three year program:
A four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university is required for our program, though there is no specific major required.

For the Advanced Standing two year program:
A four year undergraduate degree with a major in Social Work from an accredited college earned within the past 7 years is required.

How long is the program?

The traditional MSW program is three-years and the Advanced Standing program is two-years. Both are part-time cohorts that include in classroom experience two weekends per semester and online instruction.

Who teaches in the Master of Social Work program?

Highly qualified faculty teach across programs at the CSU Fort Collins campus and the distance MSW

Can I get financial aid?

Yes, once you have submitted your CSU Graduate School Application (a short form and an application fee) you will be assigned an ID number. At that point you can begin working with CSU Office of Financial Aid to obtain financial aid. Eileen Griego, in that office, works directly with our distance MSW students.

What type of scholarships are available to social work graduate students?

A comprehensive scholarship search tool is available on the College of Health and Human Sciences website.

Do I need to take the GRE?

No, the GRE is not required.

Can I transfer courses?

Due to our accreditation by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), only courses from a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work program have the potential to be transferred. Contact Timothy Frank for more information about transferring into the program.

Can courses be waived?

Generally, courses are not waived. One potential exception is students who have taken research courses that are comparable to Methods of Research I and II. These students can seek an exception and will need to provide the syllabi and final grade from previous research coursework.

What is the GPA requirement for admission?

3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale is required. Occasional exceptions may be made if the applicant demonstrates the ability to be successful in a graduate program. Read the How to Apply page for more information about admission requirements.

When are classes?

Classes are held two weekends per semester on both Saturday and Sunday. Meeting times are generally 8:30 am – 6:00 pm each weekend day.

What if I am absent from a class?

Attendance is critical as each time the class meets face-to-face represents a significant part of that semester's class time and learning activities. Each instructor has the right to set their own individual attendance requirements for the class they are teaching. These requirements typically include deducting points for classes missed, additional assignments for missed classes, and, in extreme cases, a grade of F that would require the student to retake the course.

What are my options if I need to withdraw from the program?

If you withdraw from the program in good standing, you can request to be readmitted in a later cohort. CSU graduate students have ten years to complete their degree.

Are there prerequisite courses for the MSW program?

Yes, there are a number of prerequisites that must be met prior to beginning classes, including:

  • 18 credits in social and behavioral sciences including statistics, human biology, and human life cycle development covering the life span
  • 9 credits in any combination of the following courses: sociology, psychology, economics, political science, anthropology, or history

These courses must be completed and transcripts received by the first day of classes.

What type of computer do I need?

You need a computer with internet access to participate in web-based instruction.

What is the difference between advanced generalist and Advanced Standing?

The term "advanced generalist" refers to the model or focus of our social work curriculum. "Advanced Standing" refers to the level of experience of a student applying to the program. Students who have a bachelor's in social work may be able to start the program with Advanced Standing status.

What is Advanced Standing? Do I qualify?

To qualify for the Advanced Standing program, you must have earned a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) no more than seven years ago. Advanced Standing students skip the first year in the program and join their cohort starting in year two. Additionally, the credit requirement is lower, as is the number of service hours required.

Earned a BSW? MSW credits required MSW service hours required
Traditional No 60 945 hours
Advanced Standing Yes 40 675 hours
What does "advanced generalist" mean? What is the advanced generalist approach?

The advanced generalist model in our MSW program places emphasis on the knowledge and skills needed for interventions at multiple levels of practice, including individuals, families, groups, and communities. Other central themes are direct services, community and organizational practice, social policy analysis, and social work research.

The advanced generalist model in CSU’s MSW program provides students with an increased ability to demonstrate advanced generalist competencies; integrate research into practice; analyze value and ethical dilemmas; add greater depth to the provision of service; and provide the skills to function as more independent social work practitioners. Additionally, this advanced skill level allows graduates to engage in interdisciplinary, collaborative public and private partnerships for advocacy, policy, practice, and advancing social justice.

Generalist social work is regarded both as a perspective and a practice approach because the social worker is taught to recognize the impact, influence, and potential resources available from the context where practice occurs.

Why Choose CSU? Open Accordion

As a student in CSU’s distance social work master’s program, you will receive a degree from a regionally accredited, renowned research institution while taking courses at times and locations that fit your busy life.

Key program benefits

  • Training in Advanced Generalist Practice: Our program’s coursework focuses on preparing social work practitioners for professional and ethical practice as advanced generalists. Through foundational-level generalist social work and advanced generalist social work practice, you’ll be able to take a multimethod approach to supporting social justice and promoting the well-being of individuals, families, groups, and communities in complex, diverse, and dynamic settings.
  • Field Experience Opportunities: Through two* required field placements, totaling 945 hours, you’ll apply the knowledge, values, and skills within the advanced generalist practice framework in a social work agency setting.
  • Hybrid Delivery Format: While the majority of instruction is delivered in the online classroom, you are required to attend a weekend class twice each semester at your cohort’s location in Denver or Boulder. The in-person instruction component is vital in earning a social work degree as it allows you to practice the skills of client-centered interventions with faculty and peers through role play and hands-on activities.
  • Education that Helps You Help Others: Make a difference in the lives of people of all ages by using evidence-based knowledge to advocate for the welfare and empowerment of under-represented and disadvantaged peoples and communities.
  • A Cohort Model: Since the same group of students goes through the program together, this offers a cohesive support structure and built-in professional network.
  • Optional Certificates Provide Specialized Knowledge: You can further specialize by pursuing an Advanced Clinical Behavioral Health or PreK-12 School Social Worker graduate certificate, while simultaneously earning your Master of Social Work. Build your unique skills by selecting applicable elective coursework from your degree curriculum to earn your certificate.

*Advanced Standing students are only required to complete one field placement.

Ranked among the best online social work master’s programs in the U.S.

2022 Best Online Master's Programs

Learn more about CSU's rankings and accolades.

How to Apply Open Accordion

Denver Cohort Application Deadlines

Earned a BSW? Start Date Location Application Deadline
Traditional (3yr) No Spring 2023 Denver July 1, 2022
Advanced Standing (2yr) Yes Spring 2024 Denver July 1, 2023

Fort Collins Cohort Application Deadlines

Earned a BSW? Start Date Location Application Deadline
Advanced Standing (2yr) Yes Spring 2023 Fort Collins July 1, 2022

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1 Review Admission Requirements

Admission to the Social Work (MSW) degree has the following requirements:

  • At least 400 hours of verifiable human service work and/or volunteer experience
  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited institution
    • Minimum of 18 credits of interdisciplinary liberal arts coursework, spanning social, behavioral and biological sciences.
      • Applicants must have completed at least one course in physical and biological sciences and mathematics (examples: biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, or statistics).
      • Applicants must have completed at least three courses in social sciences (examples: anthropology, economics, education, ethnic studies, gender studies, human development, international relations, political science, psychology, social work, or sociology).
    • An applicant must present a plan for completing any missing prerequisites in the above criteria before being considered for admission.
    • These courses may be taken at any accredited college, university, or community college; or by telecourse, by correspondence, by independent study, by CLEP (College-Level Examination Program), or online.
    • These courses must be successfully completed prior to the beginning of classes in order for you to begin the program.
  • 3.0 GPA (4.0 scale) – occasional exceptions may be made if applicant demonstrates ability to successfully complete graduate-level work
  • GRE scores are not required

Advanced Standing Program:

The Advanced Standing program is for applicants who have graduated from an accredited undergraduate social work program within the past 7 years. Advanced students begin our program by supplementing their BSW education with three courses, then go directly into the concentration.

The following are the minimum requirements for admission to the Advanced Standing program:

  • Four-year undergraduate degree in social work earned within the last 7 years from an accredited BSW program
  • 3.0 overall grade point average
  • 3.0 grade point average in social work courses

Note that meeting the minimum department standards does not ensure admission to the program. Admission to Colorado State University graduate programs is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience and the personal statement.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below when you apply online.

  • Three letters of recommendation
    Appropriate sources for references include employers, field instructors, supervisors and university faculty. One reference must be a person who has most recently supervised the applicant in a human service delivery experience (paid, volunteer, or educational).
    Three professional recommendations are required. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form on your behalf.

  • Resume
    This must include a computation of hours worked in each social service setting.

  • Statement of purpose
    In general, you will be asked to discuss your life experience and your professional goals and relate those to social services and the social work profession. Detailed guidelines of specific topics to include in this statement are available in MSW Distance program application.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

Boulder Cohort (Advanced Standing)

  • Select "Social Work (MSW) - Boulder" when choosing the program of study.

Fort Collins Cohort

  • Select "Social Work (MSW) - Fort Collins" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions to help you on your journey.

Nicole Schmidt
Social Work M.S.W. (Hybrid)
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

Online with in-person components in Colorado
Fort Collins – $725 per credit
Degree Awarded
Master of Social Work
Time Frame
Traditional MSW can be completed in 3 years and Advanced Standing MSW can be completed in 2 years.

Application Deadlines

Earned a BSW?Start DateLocationApplication Deadline
Traditional (3yr)NoSpring 2023DenverJuly 1, 2022
Advanced Standing (2yr)YesSpring 2024DenverJuly 1, 2023
Earned a BSW?Start DateLocationApplication Deadline
Advanced Standing (2yr)YesSpring 2023Fort CollinsJuly 1, 2022

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