The Master’s in Social Work (MSW) typically requires two years of full-time graduate study in combination with two years (900-1200 cumulative hours) of internship, also referred to as field practicum, education, or experience. Many MSW programs provide BSW graduates with an advanced standing option, allowing them to complete an MSW in a shorter period of time (typically 1 year).
Most MSW programs allow students to choose a clinical or direct practice track, which focuses on direct practice with clients, or a macro practice track, with a focus on political advocacy, community organizing, policy analysis and/or human services management. While the clinical track tends to be more popular, there has been a resurgence in community practice concentrations recently. There are also opportunities at many universities to obtain joint degrees, such as an MSW and a Public Administration degree, MSW and Public Health, or MSW and Law. The MSW practice scope has broadened in recent years to include the specialty practice areas of geriatrics and work with veterans. In some schools the curriculum is based on a generalist model which integrates the facets of the various practice areas within social work.
Understanding Advanced Standing
Essentially, advanced standing gives you credit for course credits earned in your Bachelor’s in Social Work program. It means that you have demonstrated an understanding of social work’s basic tenets and are ready to move into the more practical applications of those theories. In some ways, it’s like transferring into the Master’s in Social Work program with half your degree earned already.
What Are the Benefits?
Advanced standing saves you time and money and puts you one giant step closer to starting your social work career. Even though you earn your MSW in half the time, your degree is still fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which is something you will definitely want when it comes time for licensure.
How Do I Know if I Qualify?
BSW recipients generally qualify for advanced standing in the MSW program if they meet the following requirements:
- A bachelor’s degree in social work from a social work program, including BSU’s, accredited by CSWE.
- Meet the applicant university’s minimum undergraduate GPA requirements – this varies by college but is generally a 3.0 or higher.
- Provide positive evaluations from your undergraduate field experience – specifics vary by college.
- Some colleges require that you participate in a personal interview.
Some Things to Know About Advanced Standing
- Be sure to read all the information available on your college’s advanced standing option. Some schools have different application deadlines for students with advanced standing.
- Some universities require that you apply for advanced standing if you hold a BSW.
- Your BSW faculty and field supervisors will get to sing your praises during the application process, so be sure to stay in touch and keep copies of your evaluations.
- Students who earned their BSWs outside the US may have their transcripts evaluated to determine whether they qualify for advanced standing at some universities.
- If your program allows students to select multiple areas of concentration (say you’re interested in both criminal justice and addictions) you can devote the time and money you would have spent on your first year of the MSW program toward additional electives in those areas and still graduate on time.