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Master of Social Work: Direct Community Practice Specialization

social worker meets with family of girl with special needs

Provide Skilled Counseling to Your Community With an MSW Online

Hands-on Community Practicum

Transfer up to 15 Credits

Led by Trained Field Experts

In-Demand Industry

Learn More Today

Complete the form to learn more about this program.

  • Duration 3.5 years
  • Cost per Credit $825
  • Credit Hours 60

Program Benefits

  • Focus your degree with a specialization
  • Build the skills to pursue licensure
  • CSWE-Accredited

Help Communities Thrive

Serve others by identifying and helping to solve problems. With a Sacred Heart MSW – Direct Community Practice, you’ll pair up with field experts who mentor you while practicing in a supervised setting. SHU offers an extensive network of agencies for field education, so once you finish your online coursework, you’ll enjoy experiential learning in community settings like a school, hospital, adult mental health clinic, juvenile justice, adult probation, substance abuse, or children’s mental health facility.

Your convenient online curriculum provides the theories and research and your applied practices and hand-on experiences within social settings prepare you for clinical licensure. 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.

Admissions Estimator

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

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 500-1,000 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.

Visit our FAQ page


  1. Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight™. 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