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Master of Social Work: Direct Community Practice Specialization

Program overview

Provide skilled counseling to your community.

Harness social work’s unique ability to address societal issues with advanced community practice skills. You’ll bring all your learning together with a research study and hands-on community practicum.

Harness social work’s unique ability to address societal issues with advanced community practice skills. You’ll bring all your learning together with a research study and hands-on community practicum.

Quick Facts


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Fill out the form below and a skilled and knowledgeable Admissions Representative will get in touch to answer your questions and help with the application process.

An Online CSWE-Accredited Education for the Community Social Worker

Maximize the impact of your service and help your future community clients face the complex issues of modern life with an online Master of Social Work (MSW) from Sacred Heart.

The Sacred Heart University MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This means you can be confident the education you’re receiving represents the gold standard for social work.

An advanced standing option for expedited program completion is available for students with a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited institution, among other requirements. Please see our admissions requirements for more information.

Career Outlook: Growth in Advanced Care

There are many factors contributing to high job growth in social work, including the advancement of progressive attitudes on issues like mental health and chemical dependency and an aging baby boomer population.

Advanced practice jobs requiring licensed social workers are seeing enormous growth, with community health workers growing in demand by 17.9 percent over the next decade and personal caregivers growing by an enormous 38.6 percent.1

Senior Social Worker:


As a senior social worker, you could be a leader on the frontlines of confronting a variety of complex social work issues, including child welfare, domestic violence, gender and race injustice and other critical problems.2

Behavioral Health Specialist:


As a behavioral health specialist, you’ll help people living with challenges such as chemical dependency, physical disability and mental conditions that impact quality of life.3

Careers and Salaries

Curriculum: Learn to Work Among Diverse Communities

Receive a comprehensive education on social welfare, human behavior, social justice and research methods, as well as an understanding of how policy impacts social work. Additionally, complete a course on direct community social work practice and a 1,100-hour community practicum.

You’ll graduate prepared to pursue licensure. Be sure to review licensure requirements ahead of time, as students are responsible for understanding the requirements of the state in which they intend to practice.

Course Spotlight: SW 587 – Social Work Direct Community Practice

Build knowledge on applying the generalist practice framework to community systems at the specialized level. Examine the interaction between person and environment in order to better meet the needs of diverse populations. Learn strategies for engaging stakeholders in capacity building, problem-solving, and decision-making. Consider trends in the political, economic and social environment that impact community change.

Preview Courses

Course Spotlight: SW 566 – Social Welfare Policy and Services

Gain an understanding of social policy and the process through which it’s formulated, implemented and analyzed. Examine the inequalities in social welfare as policy manifestations of institutionalized racism and sexism. Discover the impact of policy on service delivery networks and social service structures.

Focus Your MSW With a Specialization

Master of Social Work (MSW): Direct Clinical Practice

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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

There are 1,100 field hours required for four courses, and hours can be completed in your community. All clinical hours start the last semester of the first year of the program.

The MSW does prepare you for licensure. License requirements vary by state. Though students are responsible for verifying license requirements in the state in which they plan to practice, our friendly admissions team is ready to answer questions and guide you through this process. Reach out to them at 877-791-7181 or

Yes, the curriculum for the online MSW includes a specialization. Choose from:

If you have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work with a 3.0 GPA within the past six years, you’re eligible for our Advanced Standing program and can graduate within 20 months. If your undergraduate degree is focused in a field other than social work, you can complete the online MSW at Sacred Heart within 3.5 years.

You may take up to six years to complete the program.

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  1. Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insightâ„¢. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  2. Payscale (n.d.). Average Senior Social Worker Salary. Retrieved October 1, 2019, from
  3. Payscale (n.d.). Average Behavioral Health Specialist Salary. Retrieved October 1, 2019, from