Master of Social Work

Named a top 50 School for Social Work in 2023 according to U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School ranking, the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program excels at preparing world-class practitioners committed to achieving social and economic justice, assisting vulnerable or oppressed individuals and to improving the lives of individuals, families, groups and communities.

At Detroit's Social Work School, you will be an active member of the community you seek to serve. With a unique mix of education, research and community engagement, you will develop professional competence and be prepared to uphold the core values of our profession. Our immersive field experience will allow you to put classroom knowledge into community action at an organization geared towards your desired field of practice.

Best graduate school, social work 2023


  • The MSW Program application deadline has been EXTENDED until June 1.

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. MSW students select from two concentrations: Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership (ICPL) or Interpersonal Practice (IP) and seven optional focal areas to develop knowledge and skills within a particular practice area or population of clients. Additionally, students have the option to select from the following specialty degree options: 

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 can apply for Core (fall term start) or Advanced Standing (spring/summer term start). Core is for students who have a non-social work undergraduate degree and Advanced Standing is for students who have earned a BSW degree within the last 5 years from a CSWE accredited school. Additional details below. 


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 36 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.

Students are responsible for informing themselves of all Academic Regulations noted in the WSU Bulletin, including the Academic Credit and Work/Life Experience which notes that no academic credit for life experience or previous work experience will be awarded in the BSW or MSW degree programs, in whole or in part, in lieu of the field practicum or of courses in professional foundation areas.


The Master of Social Work requires a minimum of 60 credits of graduate course work or 36 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 six 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 36 credits). 

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