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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Program overview

Defend the dignity and well-being of others.

Our Master of Social Work prepares you to support vulnerable populations with a deeper understanding of modern social work theory and practice models, all from a perspective of truth and justice.

Our Master of Social Work prepares you to support vulnerable populations with a deeper understanding of modern social work theory and practice models, all from a perspective of truth and justice.

Quick Facts


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Accredited Excellence, Online Flexibility, Human Touch

As a social worker, you’ve got to be ready for anything—and ready to work with people of all ages and backgrounds. Having the advanced skill set of a master’s-educated professional can make all the difference to your career and the success of your clients.

Sacred Heart University’s Master of Social Work offers specializations in either clinical or community practice, allowing you to serve wherever your passion lives. Whichever you choose, you’ll receive components of both tracks, ensuring you graduate with comprehensive knowledge.

This program is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) and founded on SHU’s values of social justice, diverse viewpoints and the educational enrichment of mind, body and soul.

Career Outlook: Evolving Norms Mean Increased Need

Born only a century ago from the fight against poverty, social work has come to play a vital role in improving quality of life for people from all backgrounds. The profession has waged a “revolution of mercy,” based on justice and dignity for all.

That revolution is only expanding. The profession as a whole is projected to grow 11 percent over the next 10 years — and growth in some advanced practice areas is expected to be even higher.1 Healthcare social workers, for instance, are expected to see a 17 percent growth in opportunities over the next decade.2 Wherever you’re career takes you, you’ll be prepared to meet your clients’ needs.

two social workers that earned their MSW online help to clean up a park

Curriculum: Advanced Capabilities Through Active Learning

Our master’s of social work program is built on the tenets of social work, the Catholic intellectual tradition and a belief in experiential learning. Graduate with an understanding of advanced topics, such as:

  • Social welfare and the impact of socioeconomic and political trends
  • Human identity formation and how it’s affected by diversity and our environment
  • Addressing inequities in social services due to institutionalized racism and sexism
  • Social policy is formulation, implementation and analysis
  • Coursework experience in substance abuse and addiction, aging and gerontology, grief, and working with children and families

Learn online, remain in your current role and begin applying the most in-demand skills right away. Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work with a 3.0 GPA within the past six years are eligible for our advanced standing program—an accelerated version of the program that takes just 20 months.


Program Outcomes: Expanded Impact in Service to Others

You’ll complete this program ready to:

*Students are responsible for understanding the licensing requirements in the state in which they plan to practice.

Available Specializations

Focus your education with one of two MSW specializations, featuring practicum-related coursework relevant to either a clinical or a community practice setting.

MSW: Direct Clinical Practice Specialization

Learn to assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, chemical dependency, youth counseling, chronic illnesses and domestic conflicts.

MSW: Direct Community Practice Specialization

Explore social welfare, human behavior, social justice and research methods, and gain an understanding of how policy impacts social work.

Admission Requirements

To apply for the Master of Social Work from Sacred Heart University, you’ll need:

Advanced standing applicants must meet additional requirements, which can be found on the admissions page.


Tuition Details

This 60-credit-hour program costs $795 per credit hour. Affordability and transparency are priorities at SHU. We want you to have everything you need in order to make a decision about investing in a high-quality education.


Faculty: Leaders in the Field

Our award-winning faculty come from diverse backgrounds, having worked in areas such as social and economic justice, social policy, child welfare, trauma, grief, parenting, addiction, adoption, homelessness and hospice care.

Why Learn Online?

Accommodate your busy schedule and learn when and where it’s convenient for you. As an online student, you’ll work with the same accomplished faculty, receive one-on-one support and benefit from the same opportunities as our on-campus students.


Financial Aid

At Sacred Heart University, we strive to keep our programs affordable and encourage you to explore all of your financial aid options, including federal aid, military benefits and available scholarships.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question we don’t cover here, request more information or call 877-791-7181.

Possibly. However, there are very few opportunities to do internships during evening and weekend hours.

Maybe. The Employment-Based Placement requirements must be met. The agency must provide you with assignments and a MSW supervisor from an accredited university that differ from those associated with your employment. This ensures new learning that meets the objectives of the field education component of the curriculum.

A student may apply to have one of their two placements in their place of employment. To be eligible to apply, you must have been employed by the agency for at least six months and successfully completed the probationary period. The proposed field supervisor must have been employed by the agency for at least one year. Discuss this with your field liaison.

No. All of the internships begin in the fall and correspond with the course seminar that runs concurrently.

No. We make a commitment to the organization and the client population that we are working with to be there for a predetermined amount of time.

Up to 15 transfer credits are allowed with university approval.

Yes. You will take SW 579 and SW 581 in the Fall and Spring of your Generalist Year, which is a seminar course. These courses correspond with SW 578 and SW 581, respectively, which is the actual internship. In the Specialized Year, you will take the seminar courses SW 679 and SW 681, along with SW 678 and SW 680 in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Additional courses may be required by individual plan of studies. Speak to your advisor.

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019 September 4). Social Workers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved October 1, 2019, from
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019 September 4). Social Workers: Job Outlook. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved October 31, 2019, from