Master of Social Work (MSW)

The programs of the Boston University School of Social Work are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. We offer Charles River Campus programs (full-time, part-time, and advanced standing); off-campus part-time programs; and a part-time online program.

Full-Time Study

The full-time program includes two years of full-time study on the Charles River Campus in Boston. The usual program in the foundation year includes 27 semester credits in coursework and 6 semester credits in field education. The advanced-year program includes 24 semester credits in coursework and 8 semester credits in the field. To view sample full-time program plans, please visit Educational Program Plans.

Part-Time Study

The School offers an extended part-time program on the Charles River Campus. Part-time students fulfill the degree requirements in either three years (plus summers) or four years (without summers). Students take two to three courses per semester.

The first year of part-time study consists of academic coursework only. (Most foundation courses offer a class section scheduled in the 4 to 6 p.m. and/or 6 to 8 p.m. time blocks.) In subsequent years, two field placements are required in conjunction with the academic course curriculum. Students must have time available during the regular workweek for the field placement and coursework. Students must be available (during regular weekday hours) for 16 hours a week for their first field placement and 24 hours a week for their second placement. (For their second placement, students may choose the option in some field settings of a 16-hours/week placement for a full year.)

If there is sufficient interest (this fluctuates from year to year), part-time students who have had previous social work experience and for whom the plan is considered educationally sound may meet the requirements of the first field experience in a summer block placement after their first year.

To view sample part-time program plans, please visit Educational Program Plans.

Advanced Standing

The School offers an Advanced Standing program for graduates of an undergraduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. A minimum undergraduate academic average of 3.0 (B) is required for admission. The Bachelor of Social Work must have been received within six years before entry into the program.

Advanced Standing students are given credit for 24 academic credit hours upon admission to the program. The additional 41 credits required for graduation (or 38 credits if the student passes the Research I Waiver Exam) must be taken at the School of Social Work or as part of a School of Social Work-approved course of study. No additional transfer credits will be accepted toward the MSW degree.

All full-time Advanced Standing students begin the program in September and are in the field 24 hours a week until the end of the following August.

Part-time students also begin taking classes in September, and start their advanced field placement for a minimum of 16 hours per week the following June. Part-time Advanced Standing students develop an individual program plan with the School’s Director of Student Services.

All Advanced Standing students complete 1,000 hours of fieldwork.

Summer school tuition is not included in the academic year tuition (September to May). It is separate and additional.

For selected prospective students with extensive background and experience, a special request to pursue advanced standing and dual degree programs in public health, education, or theology will be considered. Special requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and require approval of the director of the Dual Degree Program for which the student is applying, as well as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Applicants interested in learning more about the Advanced Standing and Dual Degree Programs should contact the director of the appropriate dual degree program to discuss their application. Persons interested in the Advanced Standing program should contact the Admissions office for detailed information on the application procedure. More information can be found at:

Persons interested in the Advanced Standing program should contact the Admissions office for detailed information about the application procedure at School of Social Work Admissions. To obtain more information about the Advanced Standing program and sample program plans, go to Advanced Standing.

Boston University School of Social Work’s off-campus programs (OCP) offer a graduate clinical social work education in a nontraditional structure. These part-time, weekend programs are located in Bedford (Merrimack Valley), Fall River, and Cape Cod (Barnstable). 

Students have two options to complete the MSW degree depending on educational background:

  • Traditional Program Plan—8 semesters, 2 field internships, 65 credits
  • Advanced Standing Program Plan—6 semesters, one field internship, 40–43 credits (this option is available at the Bedford and Fall River campuses)

The School of Social Work has more than 30 years of off-campus teaching experience using the cohort model of graduate education. Students complete the entire program at the off-campus location. Courses are taught by Boston University faculty who are committed to providing leadership and mentorship, and to share their expertise and current research initiatives in the Master of Social Work Program. These programs are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and provide the same quality education as the programs offered at our main campus.

Off-Campus Program Highlights

  • Major in Clinical Social Work Practice
  • Rigorous and dynamic curriculum taught by world-renowned Boston University faculty
  • Classes held on Friday evening (6–9 p.m.) and Saturdays (9 a.m.–1 p.m.)
  • Courses taken sequentially and completed in four weekends
  • Classes in session less than 40 weekends per year
  • Field internships on weekdays within students’ communities
  • Supports tailored to adult learners
  • Expand knowledge and skills, advance professionally and earn eligibility for social work licensure

Traditional Program Plan students enroll in a foundation field placement (16 hours/week for a total of 480 hours) during the second year in the program, and an advanced field placement (16 or 24 hours/week for a total of 720 hours) during the third year in the program.

Advanced Standing Program Plan students enroll in a single 1,000-hour field internship in their second semester of the program.

Although classes are held on weekends, the field internships occur during the week during agency hours. Field internships are available throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont.

Off-Campus Program Locations: Bedford (Merrimack Valley), Fall River, and Cape Cod

Additional information regarding off-campus programs is available at Off-Campus Programs.

Please note: Admission and degree requirements for the off-campus programs are the same as those for the Charles River Campus in Boston. Applications for the Bedford (Merrimack Valley) and Fall River campuses are accepted each year. Applications for the Cape Cod Campus are accepted every other year, on even years. The Advanced Standing plan is available at the Bedford and Fall River campuses.

The Online MSW Program option at Boston University School of Social Work allows applicants interested in a graduate social work education to earn an MSW degree by enrolling in our innovative online program. This part-time course of study in Clinical Practice or Macro Practice offers three options to complete the MSW (see Requirements section below).

Utilizing a convenient online learning format, the program allows individuals to earn an MSW degree while continuing to live and work in their own communities. Students take the required and elective courses online; and complete one or two field internships (depending upon relevant work experience) within or near their geographic area.

Courses are taught by Boston University’s faculty who are committed to continue to provide leadership, mentorship, and to share their expertise and current research initiatives in the online Master of Social Work Program.

Requirements

Applicants who have a minimum of two years of supervised human services experience may apply to be considered for the Human Service Experience (HSE) Track. Applicants with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and meet the requirements, may apply for the Advanced Standing Option.

Other applicants are eligible to apply for the Traditional MSW Track (TT).

The requirements for our online MSW program are the same as those of our other MSW programs on the Charles River Campus in Boston and in off-campus sites near Boston. Applications for the Online MSW Program are accepted each semester. Applicants can apply to enter the online program in September, January, or May, with the exception of Advanced Standing applicants which are only accepted for September admission.

  • A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (B) is required for all undergraduate study. A liberal arts undergraduate background that includes coursework in the behavioral, social, and biological sciences is preferred.
  • Applicants with at least two years of social work or human services experience must complete a verification of their employment and have positive performance evaluations.
  • Advanced Standing candidates must have been received their degree within six years of entry into the program and a copy of the final field evaluation from senior year is required.
  • A telephone or online (Skype) interview with the applicant may be required.
  • The online program is available for applicants living in the USA except those from Maryland, New Hampshire, and US territories. Please note: State Board of Education requirements and state licensing requirements for social workers differ from state to state. Please be sure to research your state’s Board of Education and social work licensing requirements.

Online Program Structure

The BUSSW Online Program offers three options to complete the MSW degree:

  • Traditional MSW Track (TT): The Traditional track can be completed in 9 consecutive semesters and consists of 65 credits and two field internships totaling 1,200 hours.
  • Advanced Standing Track: The Advanced Standing Track is for graduates of an undergraduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This option can be completed in 6 semesters and consists of 40–43 credits and a single 1,000-hour field internship.
  • Human Service Experience (HSE) Track: Applicants who have a minimum of two years of supervised human services experience may apply to be considered for the Human Service Experience (HSE) track. This option can be completed in 9 semesters and consists of 65 credits and a single 1,000-hour field internship.

Students fulfill all the requirements for the MSW degree by taking courses online which are delivered asynchronously and via Live Classroom, and enrolling in field internship(s). This part-time online program can be completed in 6–9 consecutive semesters depending on the track. Courses are taken sequentially, each lasting for seven weeks. The first year of study consists of coursework. Although classes are held online, field internships occur during the week. Field internships are available within the students’ communities.

MSW Degree Requirements

Boston University confers the degree of Master of Social Work on candidates recommended by the faculty of the School of Social Work and approved by the President and Trustees of the University. The faculty’s recommendation is based on the candidate’s development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes essential for social work practice and on the student’s commitment to the values and the ethical base of the social work profession.

A degree candidate must complete 65 semester credits (or 40–43 credits if Advanced Standing) as indicated below. For students not continuously enrolled, all degree requirements must be completed within six years of initial enrollment.

Field Education

Traditional Track students must complete 14 semester credits in field education (480 hours in the first placement and 720 hours in the second placement). Students enrolled in the Human Services Experience track complete a single, 1,000-hour field internship (12 credits) and a 2-credit Field Education capstone project. Advanced Standing students complete a single, 1,000-hour (10 credits) field internship.

To view sample program plans, please visit Educational Program Plans.