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 B.S.W. Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
In their first year(s), M.S.W. students complete the foundation curriculum, where they develop the skill base that fosters competencies needed to work in a variety of social work settings. The foundation curriculum includes courses in social work practice, human behavior theory, social policy, social and economic justice, research and agency-based field instruction.
For more information and assistance with school policies or technical standards, refer to the Student Policy Handbook or the Technical Standards and Essential Functions for Social Work Students.
After completing the foundation curriculum, students enroll in specialized courses in the concentrations of 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 Bulletins website:
- Combined M.S.W. and Certificate in Aging Studies
- Combined M.S.W. and Certificate in Gender Violence Intervention
- Combined M.S.W. and Certificate in Nonprofit Management (L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs)
- Combined M.S.W. and certification for school social work practice
- Combined M.S.W. and Juris Doctor
- Combined M.S.W. and Master of Divinity
- Combined M.S.W. and Master of Public Health
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 internship each semester over four continuous semesters, ultimately completing 60 credit hours. 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. Students will complete a total of two practice internships, one in the foundation year and another in the concentration year.
Full-time M.S.W. Program policies
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 internships 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 nights and on weekends due to field placement requirements and daytime scheduling of some concentration courses.
Distance education (four years)
M.S.W. distance education also allows students to earn their M.S.W. degree over a four-year period. With the curriculum delivered through a hybrid of online and in-person instruction, distance education is designed to fit a variety of personal and familial obligations and individual needs. Students enrolled in distance education have the same access to the resources, benefits and services of the M.S.W. Program as other students.
Students must attend two mandatory in-person Saturday classes per semester at the School of Social Work. The only other mandatory in-person requirement is the first-year orientation in August.
In the M.S.W. Program, students have two field placements. In the foundation placement, students are expected to demonstrate generalized professional knowledge, values and skills studied in the foundation curriculum. In the concentration component of the curriculum, students are placed in agencies according to their chosen specialization based on their career interests.
Independent study provides you 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.
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
- Professional and research writing support for all stages of coursework and proficiency
- 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
- Information and assistance with school policies, such as the Student Policy Handbook
Stay up to date by checking the VCU School of Social Work student calendar.
For questions about the M.S.W. Program, documents forms or policies please contact Audrey Johnston, M.S.W. Program director, at email@example.com.