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Master of Social Work

Master of Social Work

Be a force of positive change.

Deepen your level of assistance to vulnerable populations and prepare to take on leadership roles in social work with the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at Sacred Heart University (SHU). This online MSW degree prepares you for generalist and specialized practice with clients who present varying challenges - in less than 3 and a half years.

The program offers concentrations in direct clinical practice or direct community practice, but integrates components of both in each specialization. This allows you to expand your work in social service and responsibility with advanced, comprehensive knowledge.

Earn Your MSW Degree in 20 Months With Advanced Standing Program

Students in the Advanced Standing program* can graduate in as little as 20 months. To qualify as an Advanced Standing student, you need a Bachelor’s in Social Work with a graduating GPA of 3.0 or higher. The BSW must have been earned within the last 6 years from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The Advanced Standing option will be available in the Fall of 2018.

Master of Social Work Curriculum

While grounded in the liberal arts, the MSW curriculum at SHU aligns itself to the tenets of social-work and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition of academic excellence. The principles of service to others, respect for human dignity, dedication to scientific inquiry and social and economic justice are reinforced in coursework throughout the program. Upon completion of this degree, you’ll be well prepared to address the needs of vulnerable and diverse populations in a variety of careers.

The MSW program is also delivered in an on-campus format with regular meeting sessions at our main campus in Fairfield, CT. On-campus coursework is available in a part-time or full-time format. Please visit us here to learn more

Students who qualify for Advanced Standing can complete the program in as little as 20 months.

The duration of the MSW degree is a little over 3 years, which consists of 60 credit hours and offers a concentration in Direct Community Practice or Direct Clinical Practice, integrating components of both in each specialization.

Students will be required to complete 1,100 hours of field practice in order to graduate–after which they may sit for their Licensed Master of Social Work exam.

Advanced Standing students will already have completed approximately half of the field practicum hours in the BSW program and will enter the master’s program at the Specialized Year. The Advanced Standing student will be required to complete a 550 hour field practicum.


Competitively Priced MSW

Sacred Heart's online MSW is one of the most competitively priced among private universities. View current tuition rates here.


Completion of your MSW Degree at SHU qualifies you to take the licensing exams that certify you for industry excellence. Immediately after graduation, you can sit for the Licensed Master of Social Work and start to earn hours towards your clinical practice license (LCSW). You’ll be well prepared to step into leadership roles that extend beyond your current level of assistance and help clients overcome their personal challenges, cope with situational circumstances, and achieve a healthy state of mind.


Earning your Masters in Social work can open doors to leadership roles such as a clinical supervisor, and offer you a strong career path in fields such as healthcare. Though the social work industry is growing at an above average rate of 12 percent, areas such as healthcare and substance abuse have seen rapid growth at a high rate of 19 percent.1

Community Practice Social Worker Careers

  • Social Work Educator
  • Program Administrator
  • Social Work Researcher
  • Community Advocate
  • Community Organizer

Clinical Practice Social Worker Careers

  • Clinical Social Worker For At-Risk Families
  • Trauma Counselor
  • School Social Worker
  • Play Therapist
  • Healthcare Social Worker

Learn more about the career titles available to you when you earn your MSW degree, including average salaries, top-paying industries and the best sectors to find a position as a social worker.


Sacred Heart University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), one of six associations in the United States that accredit schools and colleges.

The Sacred Heart University Masters in Social Work program is currently in the process of applying for Accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).** Candidacy Status was achieved in February 2017—students are considered to have graduated from a CSWE-accredited social work program when they are admitted in the academic year candidacy is achieved.

SHU boasts a reputable BSW Program since 1981, and has fulfilled all accreditation and re-accreditation requirements successfully. It is expected that the MSW Program accreditation will proceed successfully, especially given the leadership, talent of faculty, and the support of the administration.


The faculty at Sacred Heart strive to provide an outstanding educational experience for every student.

They stress the importance of active, engaged learning, which is emphasized with tactics such as group problem-solving, role-playing, case studies, classroom presentations, and interactive exercises, in addition to lectures and lively discussions.

You’ll also find that faculty emphasize a close mentoring relationship as they discuss academics, professional development, career goals, internships, or any topic as it relates to your educational program. They are committed to helping you develop and utilize your own assets, resources, and capabilities in clinical and community practice.

Meet the Faculty

Sacred Heart Online MSW Benefits

  • Top University in the North, U.S. News & World Report, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Institutions with the Best Online Programs, U.S. News & World Report, 2015
  • Best Online Bachelor's Programs, U.S. News & World Report, 2017
  • Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, U.S. News & World Report, 2017
  • The Best 380 Colleges in 2015, 2016, and 2017 The Princeton Review
  • Included in the 2013-2017 Colleges of Distinction guide, among approximately 200 colleges and universities in the country recognized for outstanding student engagement, great teaching, vibrant communities and successful student outcomes.
  • Best Online Colleges in Connecticut for 2015-2016, Affordable Colleges Online
  • Top 10 Best Colleges for Veterans (North region), U.S. News & World Report, 2014, 2016, and 2017
  • A Top Ten Fastest-Growing College in America, Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Top Ten for Graduate Starting Salaries in CT, SmartAsset

To learn more about the unique Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Sacred Heart University and how it helps you to become a well-rounded leader in social work, Learn More or call us toll free: (877)791-7181.

* Advanced Standing option available in Fall 2018.
** CSWE accreditation is a multi-step process utilizing a benchmark framework that includes program self-studies, site visits, and Committee on Accreditation (COA) reviews. The process takes a minimum of three years. The steps in the process are as follows:

Pre-candidacy status: preliminary planning

  1. Candidacy status: approval to begin program and accept students
  2. Full Accreditation: all accreditation requirements achieved
  3. Initial Accreditation covers those students who were admitted in the academic year in which the program was granted candidacy and they are considered to have graduated from a CSWE-accredited social work program

Current program status towards Accreditation:

  1. Licensure by CT State Office of Higher Education: Achieved October 2015
  2. Pre-candidacy status: Achieved May 2016
  3. Candidacy status: Achieved February 2017
  4. Full Accreditation: Anticipated February 2019

Citation Statement References:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Social Workers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm (visited September 21, 2016).

Healthcare http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm (visited September 21, 2016, page last updated March 2016).

Substance abuse http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm (visited September 21, 2016, page last updated March 2016).

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm (visited September 22, 2016).