Social Work Master of Social Work (MSW)

Learning Experience

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.

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