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Grand Valley State University    
2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  Aug 25, 2019
2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Master of Social Work


Regular Standing MSW Degree

The School of Social Work offers a 60 credit hour Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree program on both a full-time (two years) and part-time basis (three or four years).

Advanced Standing MSW Degree

The School of Social Work recognizes strong academic and professional performance by students who have graduated from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate social work program within five years prior to enrollment in the MSW program. Advanced standing students are exempt from the 19 hours of foundation courses and may accelerate their graduate study by completing the remaining 41 credit hours of MSW course requirements. The Advanced Standing M.S.W. program can be completed full-time (three semesters) or part-time (five semesters).

MSW Program Mission

The mission of the GVSU M.S.W. program is to prepare advanced generalist social workers who enhance and sustain the welfare and wellbeing of the individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities of West Michigan, the state, the nation, and the world; and who further the goals of the university and of the social work profession in this region and beyond. This is accomplished through professional leadership, advancement of the social work field’s knowledge through research and evaluation, and a focus on diversity, social justice and human rights.

MSW Program Goals

The MSW program’s goals are derived directly from its mission statement and are designed to meet the social service needs of its program locations and beyond. The program goals are:

  • To provide a foundational MSW curriculum and an advanced generalist social work curriculum that prepares MSW graduates for autonomous social work practice that promotes social, economic and environmental justice and endeavors to address poverty and other social problems within individual, organizational and community contexts within, but not limited to, West and Northern Michigan and the state of Michigan.
  • To award the graduate degree to individuals who are skilled practitioners who adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics, incorporating diversity into their practice and are capable of assuming leadership and scholarly professional roles in the community, region, state, national and global communities.
  • To contribute to the ongoing development of professional social work knowledge and practice through research and scholarly inquiry that employ state-of-the-art technology.
  • To prepare students for continued professional development opportunities throughout their careers, including doctoral education.

The Advanced Generalist Model

This Advanced Generalist model is built on a liberal education foundation that promotes critical thinking and the conscientious application of advanced practice social work knowledge, skills, values, ethics, and cognitive and affective processes. The features of this model are designed to:

  • enhance the depth and breadth of practice in a multi-method, multi-level, and theoretically grounded perspective;
  • refine and shape advanced practitioners through acquisition of professional competencies to assess, intervene, and evaluate within all systems and within all practice environment;
  • affirm that human problems derive from a complex interplay of psychological, social, cultural, economic, political, biological and physical forces;
  • prepare students to effectively intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities;
  • expand, extend and enhance the foundation of generalist social work core competencies with advanced knowledge and practice behaviors; and
  • promote the development of advanced knowledge, skills, values and affective and cognitive processes in leadership, collaboration, administration, advocacy, assessment, problem solving, intervention, cultural competency, communication, collaboration, community building, program evaluation, organizational management, policy analysis, and scientific inquiry.

The integration of professional practice skills within the advanced generalist curriculum model culminates in the mastery of social work’s core competencies, so that MSW graduates are proficient in a wide range of settings, with a broad diversity of populations at all levels of professional practice in any geographic location.

Accreditation: The Master of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

M.S.W. and M.P.A. Degree Programs

The School of Social Work and the School of Public and Nonprofit Administration offer prospective students the option to pursue both graduate degrees offered by these units (M.S.W. and M.P.A.). This entails taking coursework in both disciplines in order to be well prepared to seek middle- and upper-level management positions in either public or private human service organizations. Those earning the two degrees will attain the knowledge, skills, values, and cognitive and affective processes of the social work profession with the advanced administrative and technical expertise developed through the study of public administration to become leaders in their organizations and communities.

For additional information about admission and curriculum regarding this combination of degrees, please visit our website online at

Requirements for the M.S.W.

The M.S.W. degree consists of a minimum of 60 credit hours.

Primary Foundation (all required)

*See your advisor: Not required for students with CSWE accredited B.S.W. undergraduate degrees or child welfare grantees. If waived, students take an SW elective in place of SW 601.

** Test-out exam available.

Social Work Program Description

Click here for the program description.