Master of Social Work

MSW information sessions

Join us to learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at Western Michigan University. Meet with advisors and faculty.

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About the Master of Social Work program

The graduate professional program in the School of Social Work at Western Michigan University prepares students for direct-service and leadership positions in the field of social welfare. It begins with a nine-hour foundation curriculum, built on a liberal arts base that has two goals:

  1. To provide students with the knowledge, values and skills leading to an informed perspective on the broad profession.
  2. To prepare students for entry into the concentrations, which are interpersonal practice or policy, planning and administration.

Coursework in human behavior, social policy, research and social work practice makes up the foundation and introduces differential approaches to problem solving. In a field practicum, the student engages in carefully supervised social work practice in a human service setting. 

Students build upon the foundation by choosing one of two concentrations:

Interpersonal Practice focuses on direct practice with individuals, groups and families. Policy, planning and administration focuses on macro-level issues of social work practice. Within either concentration, students can elect to emphasize community practice. The second field practicum supports the advanced study of the concentration.

The 60-hour full-time and extended-study graduate curriculum is highly structured and sequential. In the 39-hour advanced-standing program, students attend two classes before commencing the in concentration courses and field education in the fall and spring semesters.

Field education is considered the pedagogical experience in social work education. Full-time and extended-study students have two field placements and advanced-standing students have one field placement in the area of concentration.

Master of Social Work Program Goals

The goals of the MSW program are:

  1. To provide a professional education that prepares advanced practitioners to enhance, advocate, and support social and economic justice and personal well-being for all people.
  2. To prepare advanced practitioners who demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively with diverse, vulnerable, and underserved populations.
  3. To prepare advanced practitioners who possess critical thinking skills, embrace social work values, and have the requisite skills needed to formulate and realize a vision of a just society.
  4. To prepare ethical, reflective, and competent advanced practitioners in interpersonal practice to work with individuals, families, and groups; and in policy, planning, and administration to work with organizations, communities, and institutions within a global and changing environment.
  5. To prepare advanced practitioners who effectively intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and institutions by utilizing evidence-based knowledge and theories and guided by person-centered ecological models.
  6. To prepare advanced practitioners who possess the knowledge and skills necessary to consume and produce social work knowledge and the ability to actively participate in the evaluation of professional practice.
  7. To prepare advanced practitioners who are grounded in a bio-psycho-social-spiritual framework, understand the historical roots of the social work profession, and can analyze, develop, and utilize social policy.


In addition to WMU’s main campus in Kalamazoo, Mich., the Master of Social Work program is offered at our Grand Rapids and Southwest regional locations. While the requirements are the same, courses at WMU regional locations are tailored toward adult non-traditional students, featuring evening and weekend classes. Check course listings or visit the Extended University Programs website for more information.