Student resources

M.S.W.

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The Master of Social Work program will provide you with the mastery of the knowledge, skills and values necessary for advanced social work practice. After one year of foundational study, students enroll in specialized courses in the concentrations of clinical social work practice or social work administration, planning and policy practice.

The VCU School of Social Work M.S.W. Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

The program

In their first year(s), M.S.W. students complete the generalist curriculum, where they develop the skill base that fosters competencies needed to work in a variety of social work settings. The generalist curriculum includes courses in social work practice, human behavior theory, social policy, social and economic justice, research and agency-based field instruction.

The VCU Bulletin has additional information about M.S.W. degree requirements and course descriptions.

To access the VCU School of Social Work Student Policy Handbook, the Technical Standards and Essential Functions for Social Work Students or other programmatic or office documents or forms, check out the School of Social Work documents and forms archive on the student resource site.

For assistance with student policies, or technical standards or any documents or forms, contact the Office of Student Success at sswinfo@vcu.edu.

After completing the generalist curriculum, students enroll in courses in the areas of specialization either clinical social work practice or social work administration, planning and policy practice. The clinical social work practice curriculum focuses on key evidence-based interventions, including how to solve problems, resolve emotional and interpersonal conflicts, develop and use social networks and resources, and maintain achieved capacities and strengths. The social work administration, planning and policy practice curriculum prepares graduates to become leaders skilled in formulating, implementing, analyzing and evaluating policies, plans and programs for complex and ever-changing local, state, national and international environments.

You can combine an M.S.W. degree program of study with other programs to earn special certificates or additional degrees. Learn more about each of these programs on the VCU Bulletin website:

Program formats

The M.S.W. Program offers multiple enrollment options to best meet your needs and goals.

Regular standing options

On-campus full-time (two years)

The on-campus full-time format entails that students enroll in four three-credit courses and one three-credit field placement each semester over four continuous semesters, ultimately completing 60 credit hours. After one year of generalist study, students enroll in courses in the areas of specialization of clinical social work practice or social work administration, planning and policy practice. Students will complete a total of two field placements, one in the generalist year and another in the specialization year. 

On-campus part-time (three to four years)

The part-time format gives students the flexibility to complete their degree requirements over a four-year period, with six credits taken each semester. Part-time students complete the two required field placements during the second and fourth years of study, making full-time employment during this time very difficult. The part-time program cannot be completed entirely at night or on weekends due to field placement requirements and daytime scheduling of some specialization courses.

Distance education  full-time - online (two years)

The M.S.W. distance education full-time format entails that students enroll in four three-credit courses and one three-credit field internship each semester over four continuous semesters, ultimately completing 60 credit hours.  The curriculum will be delivered through asynchronous and synchronous instruction. After one year of generalist study, students enroll in the clinical area of specialization. Students complete a total of two field placements, one in the generalist year and another in the clinical area of specialization year of study.

Distance education part-time - online (three to four years)

M.S.W. distance education also allows students to earn their M.S.W. degree over a three or four year period. With the curriculum delivered through asynchronous and synchronous classroom activities, distance education is designed to fit a variety of personal and familial obligations and individual needs.

Field experience

In the M.S.W. Program, students have two field placements. In the generalist placement, students are expected to demonstrate generalized professional knowledge, values and skills studied in the generalist curriculum. In the specialization component of the curriculum, students are placed in agencies according to their chosen specialization based on their career interests.

Independent study

Independent study provides students the opportunity to create your own specialized learning experience and to pursue educational goals outside of the M.S.W. Program curriculum through intensive study in an in-depth, faculty-mentored opportunity. Learn more about M.S.W. independent study policies and how to apply.

Student supports

Juggling coursework, financial concerns and everyday life can seem overwhelming at times. The Office of Student Success can help each student navigate these demands and thrive through an expansive support network and services that include:

  • Student success advisers who will serve as a sounding board and referral source for academic and personal issues, with flexibility and, above all, empathy
  • M.S.W. peer mentors who can help other students adapt to and take advantage of all of the opportunities VCU and Richmond have to offer inside and outside of the School of Social Work
  • VCU Student Success Writing Center, providing in-person appointments, online consultations and workshops
  • Welcoming and engaging academic and social experiences throughout students’ time with us
  • Connection to special interest workshops, lasting friendships and professional networks through our student associations
  • Information and assistance with financial resources such as scholarships
  • Career and job preparation workshops and networking activities
  • Assistance with school information, such as school policies and the technical standards and essential functions for social work students

Student calendar

Stay up to date by checking the VCU School of Social Work student calendar.

Contact

For questions about the M.S.W. Program, documents, forms or policies please contact the M.S.W. Program mswprogram@vcu.edu.