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.
Charles River Campus—Boston
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.
The School offers an on-campus and three off-campus, extended part-time program options to incoming students each year and a part-time Online Program that accepts students three times a year. 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 (Online Program students in the Human Services Experience track complete a single 1,000 hour field internship). 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.
Boston University School of Social Work’s off-campus programs (OCP) offer a graduate clinical social work education in a nontraditional structure. Part-time, weekend off-campus program sites are located in Chelmsford, Fall River, and on Cape Cod (Barnstable). The off-campus sites are geographically situated to provide accessible, more affordable graduate education to individuals within their communities. Students complete their Master of Social Work degree in three years at the off-campus sites.
The School of Social Work has more than 30 years of off-campus teaching experience using the cohort model of graduate education. These programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and provide the same quality education as the programs offered at our main campus. Consistent with the School’s urban mission, the programs’ goals are: to further social and economic justice in the urban environment, to offer opportunities rooted in each community, to provide internships in students’ geographic areas, and to deliver support tailored to adult learners.
Off-Campus Program Structure
Classes are held on Friday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Courses are taken sequentially, each lasting for four to five weekends. The first year of study consists of academic work. Students have a foundation field placement (16 hours/week) during the second year in the program, and an advanced field placement (24 hours/week) during the third year in the program. Although classes are held on weekends, the field internships occur during the week. Field internships are available throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont. Students can fulfill all the requirements for the MSW degree by taking courses at the off-campus sites and doing the field internship within their communities.
Off-Campus Program Sites: Fall River, Chelmsford, and on Cape Cod
Students from southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island can pursue a Master of Social Work degree in Clinical Social Work Practice at the Fall River campus. This program was established in 1982 and is housed in the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Professional and Continuing Education Center in Fall River. Both the standard program plan and the Advanced Standing program plan are available at this site.
The program at the Chelmsford campus is ideal for individuals who live and work in northeastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Established in 1985, this program is located near Routes 3 and 495, and the Lowell connector, and is minutes from Lowell, Massachusetts, and Nashua, New Hampshire. Both the standard program plan and the Advanced Standing program plan are available at this campus.
The School’s Cape Cod off-campus site was established in 2002 to serve under-resourced communities on the Cape and the Islands. Courses are offered at Cape Cod Community College in Barnstable.
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 Fall River and the Chelmsford campuses are accepted each year. Applications for the Cape Cod Campus are accepted every other year, on even years. Also, the Advanced Standing option is not available in the off-campus program.
Online MSW Program
The Online MSW Program option at Boston University School of Social Work allows applicants interested in a graduate clinical social work education to earn an MSW degree by enrolling in our innovative online program. This part-time course of study in Clinical Social Work Practice offers two options to complete the MSW (see requirements 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.
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. Other applicants are eligible to apply for the Traditional MSW Track (TT). Applications for the Online MSW Program are accepted each semester and applicants can apply to enter the online program in September, January, or May.
- 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.
- A telephone or online (Skype) interview with the applicant may be required.
- 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.
- To better serve our students and communities the online program is available for students residing outside the Massachusetts Route 128 corridor.
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.
The Advanced Standing option is not available in the Online Program.
Online Program Structure
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 eight consecutive semesters. 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.
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.
Students accepted for advanced standing are given credit for 24 credit hours. The additional 43 credits required for graduation (or 40 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.
All full-time Advanced Standing students begin the program in May by taking courses and beginning a field placement during the Summer Term. Full-time clinical students will take three 2-credit intensive clinical courses in the summer and full-time macro students will take two required courses along with the field placement. All full-time Advanced Standing students are in the field 24 hours a week from June until the following May. Part-time students begin taking classes in the Fall Semester and start their advanced field placement for a minimum of 16 hours per week the following summer. All Advanced Standing students complete 900 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 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:
- Dual Degree Program in Social Work and Education (MSW/EdM, MSW/EdD)
- Dual Degree Program in Social Work and Public Health (MSW/MPH)
- Dual Degree Program in Social Work and Theology (MSW/MDiv, MSW/MTS, MSW/DMin)
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.
Please note that the Advanced Standing Program options are not available for Off-Campus and Online Program students.
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 as indicated below. For students not continuously enrolled, all degree requirements must be completed within six years of initial enrollment.
Students must complete 51 semester credits in classroom coursework, including the following required courses:
- Social Welfare Policy I and II (6 cr)
- Human Behavior in the Social Environment I (3 cr)
- Research I and II (6 cr)
- Racial Justice and the Culture of Oppression (3 cr)
- Social Work Practice Ethics (3 cr)
- Methods (concurrent with fieldwork) (15 cr)
- Required electives (9 cr)
- Guided electives (6 cr)
Students must complete 14 semester credits in field education (480 hours in the first placement and 720 hours in the second placement). Online Program students enrolled in the Human Services Experience track complete a single, 1,000-hours field internship (12 credits) and a 2-credit Field Education capstone project.
To view sample program plans, please visit Educational Program Plans.