Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Wayne State University is dedicated to the education of world-class MSW practitioners who commit themselves to serve effectively those individuals who are vulnerable or oppressed, to achieving social and economic justice, and to improving the quality of life of individuals, families, groups and communities.

The School of Social Work at Wayne State University offers full-time and planned part-time study programs leading to the Master of Social Work. The full-time degree program consists of four semesters of study in which field work is concurrent with class work. Students spend two full days each week in the field and two days in classes for two consecutive years. Required classes in the full-time program may be offered during the day or evening, on Saturdays, and online.

The planned part-time program permits students to complete degree requirements over a three- or four-year period. Part-time study is open only to students who have been formally admitted to the program by the Admissions Director.

The first year of graduate study is called the "Core Year" and, as mandated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), provides a foundation of basic social work knowledge and skills for all students. The core curriculum stresses fundamentals of social work practice as they relate to individuals, families, small groups, organizations and communities. In field education, theory is translated into practice and includes experiences for students in interpersonal practice and practice in organizations and communities.

The second year of graduate study is designated the "Advanced Year." Students select their concentration area toward the end of the Core Year or as they enter the Advanced Year. The advanced curriculum builds on the knowledge, values and skills gained in the core curriculum, with the objective of increasing students' competence to deal with greater complexities of social work practice through a focus on areas of social concern. This advanced portion of the MSW degree program is designed to provide specific knowledge and practice skills in the concentrations of Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership (ICPL) or Interpersonal Practice (IP).

Concentration Booklet 2020 - 2021

The application deadline is April 1. MSW Advanced Standing students begin in the summer term and Core students begin in the fall term.

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Degree Options

MSW students are offered full- and part-time program options with day, evening, weekend, and online classes to fit their schedules. Classes are offered on the main Detroit campus and at our Macomb and Schoolcraft centers. Additionally, students have the option to select from dual-title or joint degree and specialty options noted below. 

Wayne State BSW students interested in obtaining an MSW degree may also choose to save time and money via AGRADE and Senior Rule. AGRADE and Senior Rule participants take courses that apply to both degrees at the lower undergraduate tuition rate, providing them the opportunity to enter the job market faster and for less money. 


Applicants must have earned a minimum 2.75 undergraduate grade point average (GPA), hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and be admissible to the WSU Graduate School. Applicants must have also completed 30 semester credits in academic work, distributed in the social and biological sciences and in the humanities, and demonstrate suitability and fitness for the profession and the ability to undertake successfully graduate professional education in social work.

  • CORE: Applicants who hold an undergraduate degree in a field other than social work or hold a baccalaureate degree from an undergraduate social work (BSW) program accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) that was received over 5 years prior are admitted as "Core" students. 
  • ADVANCED STANDING: Applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree from an undergraduate social work (BSW) program accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) within the last 5 years may be admitted with advanced standing. Students admitted with advanced standing are required to complete eight graduate credits toward the MSW degree during the summer term following admission, and subsequently, an additional 30 credits in the advanced curriculum of the graduate program, as prescribed within the student's concentration.

Program requirements

MSW Core students are required to complete a total of 60 graduate credits and Advanced Standing students are required to complete a total of 38 graduate credits. All students are also required to complete at least 450 field education clock hours. Students are required to achieve and maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 throughout the classes and field experience. 

Students must show suitability and fitness for the profession of social work. Any breach of the values and ethics of the profession embodied in the Code of Ethics established by the National Association of Social Workers may result in termination from the MSW program.


The Master of Social Work requires a minimum of 60 credits of graduate course work or 38 credits of graduate course work for those who hold advanced standing, completed in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and the School of Social Work. The program includes a foundation (core) curriculum at the first level. At the second level, it includes one of two concentrations: Interpersonal Practice or Innovation in Community, Policy and Leadership. The core curriculum provides the foundation for the advanced curriculum. Learn more

  • CORE: The foundation (core) curriculum provides a knowledge base for later study of advanced practice in the concentration. The core curriculum has content in the five major curricular areas: social work practice, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, research, and field education. The core curriculum stresses fundamentals and knowledge of social work practice as they relate to individuals, families, small groups, organizations, and communities. During the foundation (core) year, students declare their interest in an advanced curriculum concentration. Students must complete the core curriculum (32 credits) before enrolling in advanced curriculum courses.
  • ADVANCED STANDING: Students admitted with advanced standing are required to complete eight graduate credits toward the M.S.W. degree during the summer term following admission but before enrolling in courses in the advanced curriculum, and subsequently an additional 30 credits in the advanced curriculum of the graduate program, as prescribed within the student's concentration (total 38 credits). Students may waive one or more of the summer courses by successfully completing a waiver exam. Contact the Office of Admissions and Student Services for information. 

Field education

Field education takes place in a wide variety of social service agencies and students may work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, or communities. Emphasis is placed on working in urban areas with the poor and oppressed, persons of color, and at-risk populations representing a variety of ethnic, racial and cultural groups. Field work stresses both amelioration and prevention of personal, interpersonal, and social problems, as well as improvement of the human condition.

Field education in the MSW Foundation year requires students to learn the fundamentals of social work, which prepares them for their Advanced Year with the program, where students specialize in a chosen interest area. Foundation Year students complete 16 hours per week of field work totaling 450 clock hours. Advanced Year students (traditional or advanced standing) may opt to do field work for 24 hours each week (totaling 676) instead of the traditional 16 (totaling 450). This is often called a "three-day placement" and is an option for students in place of some elective credits.


The Wayne State University School of Social Work BSW program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). WSU M.S.W. program assessment of Student Learning Outcomes - form AS-4 (M)


Naelah Burks
Academic Advisor II for Core Students 

Lawrence Robinson Jr., LLMSW
Academic Advisor II for Advanced Standing Students

Shirley Thomas, PhD
MSW Director and Assistant Professor, Clinical

Career insights

This tool provides a broad overview of how major selection can lead to careers and is provided without any implied promise of employment. Some careers will require further education, skills, or competencies. Actual salaries may vary significantly between similar employers and could change by graduation, as could employment opportunities and job titles.