Online and Distance Degrees > Degree Programs > Master of Social Work (MSW)

MASTER OF
Social Work (MSW)

Primarily Online

Program Overview

Since 1965, The University of Alabama School of Social Work has been preparing Master of Social Work students to make a difference in the lives of others. Thanks to this innovative, primarily online program, you can earn this premier MSW while maintaining your other commitments.

  • Program Format

    Primarily Online
  • Credit Hours

    42-60
  • Tuition Per Hour

    $440

Play a Crucial Role in Our Society

Join our community of alumni serving clients across our state, nation and world when you earn this degree. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, our primarily online MSW will equip you for a rewarding career in social work.

The program includes online coursework, face-to-face skills labs and a field placement. To participate in this program, students must have access to a computer with high-speed internet connection. UA offers two options for earning your MSW: the Advanced-Standing Program and the 60-Credit-Hour Program. Both options offer two concentrations: Children, Adolescents and Their Families or Adults and Their Families.

  • Application DeadlineJanuary 15: 60-Credit-Hour and Advanced-Standing Programs for summer; March 15: 60-Credit-Hour Program for fall; September 15: Advanced-Standing Program for spring
  • RankingUA ranked in the top 20 nationally for online education by BestColleges.com (2018) and ranked #25 nationally for online MSW program by AffordableColleges.com (2018)
  • Orientation RequiredYes
  • Practicum and Skills LabYes

Curriculum

You may choose from two options: the Advanced Standing Program (requires a BSW) and the 60-Credit-Hour Program. Also available are two dual degree program options.

Please note that courses are subject to change.

The Advanced-Standing Program is a 42-credit-hour program for only those who hold a CSWE-accredited BSW. It can be completed in three semesters when pursued full-time. One cohort of Advanced-Standing students begins every year in late May or early June and another cohort begins every year in January. Advanced-Standing students fulfill professional foundation requirements by successfully completing ‘bridge’ courses typically offered in the spring or summer before beginning the concentration year.

Students will complete 500 hours of practicum. Coursework is offered primarily online with face-to-face skills labs held on selected Saturdays at regionally convenient locations across Alabama as well as Jackson, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia. Courses with an asterisk (*) indicate a skills lab.

Bridge Courses

Spring or Summer Semester (12 hours)
  • SW 570 Research – Informed Practice
  • SW 577 Components of Human Development and Social Systems
  • SW 578 Social Welfare Policies and Delivery Systems, Social Problems, and the History of Social Welfare
  • SW 579 Components of Social Work Practice*

Concentration Year

Concentration courses are offered primarily online with face-to-face skills labs. Advanced standing students who complete their bridge courses in spring may take electives in the summer; they may also take SW 501 and/or SW 525 when those courses are offered in the summer.

Fall Semester (15 hours)
  • SW 532 Models and Methods of Social Work Practice with Adults in Mental Health*
  • SW 533 Models and Methods of Gerontological Social Work Practice*
    – OR –
  • SW 564 Models and Methods of Social Work Practice with Children and Adolescents in Mental Health*
  • SW 565 Models and Methods of Social Work Practice in Child Welfare and Family Services*
    – AND –
  • SW 525 Evaluation Research
  • SW Elective
  • SW Elective
Spring Semester (15 hours)
  • SW 501 Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis
  • SW 595 Field Education – 500 clock hours (9 hours)
  • SW Elective
Electives Typically Offered Every Year
  • SW 506 Social Service Planning and Program Development
  • SW 513 Practice in Health Care
  • SW 514 Chemical Dependency
  • SW 515 Psychopathology
  • SW 523 Family Preservation
  • SW 528 Spirituality and Social Work Practice
  • SW 529 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice
  • SW 536 Social Service Program and Agency Administration
  • SW 549 Crisis Intervention

The goal of the dual-degree MSW/JD program is to offer comprehensive preparation to individuals interested in becoming leaders in their communities, their state, or the nation, as well as leaders in promoting and enhancing social justice and individual well-being, through interventions, advocacy, organizational management, and public policy. Students will acquire knowledge of legal and social work strategies that can improve the lives of individuals and groups, by understanding forensic social work, the justice system, domestic violence, child protection, human rights, and more.

Students must be admitted to each program before they will be considered to be students in the joint program.

Admission requirements for the proposed dual-enrollment program are those currently established for both the MSW program and the JD program.

Completion Requirements

The MSW (Primarily Online) program requires 42 hours of coursework for those admitted with Advanced-Standing Status and 60 credit hours for other students. Nine credit hours of electives are required of all MSW students. Students in the dual-enrollment MSW/JD program will complete the Law School-required nine hours of electives for the MSW degree.

The on-campus JD program requires at least 90 hours of course work, of which 6 hours may be fulfilled with approved courses offered outside the Law School. The JD is a cohort-based program completed over three to four years. Dually enrolled MSW/JD students will be required to complete 9 hours of MSW courses as part of the 90 hours of study for the JD.

In all, the proposed dual-enrollment program will require 114 credit hours for students admitted with advanced standing to the MSW program or 132 credit hours for students without advanced standing.

Transfer of Credit

The MSW Program and JD Program observe all current rules governing transfer of academic credit, as outlined in the Graduate School Catalog, the MSW Student Handbook, and the Law Student Handbook. In the dual-enrollment program, transfer of credit for the required social work courses will be allowed, subject to current policies of the Graduate School and School of Social Work.

Students in the dual MSW/JD degree program will follow the first year curriculum prescribed by the Law School. The dual degree program effectively begins after the first year of the JD curriculum is complete. Dual MSW/JD students will work with advisors from both programs prior to their third semester to ensure that an appropriate plan of study is developed and that progress is made to satisfy the requirements of both degrees.

Time Limit

We expect each enrolled student to complete the dual-enrollment program in three and one-half to four and one-half years. Graduate School regulations and ABA Standards require students in the dual-degree program to complete their degree programs in no more than six years from the time of matriculation.

Commencement

Both degrees will be conferred during a single commencement exercise, once all degree requirements have been met. Neither degree will be granted until both degrees are earned, except in cases in which a student formally withdraws from the dual-enrollment program.

The 60-Credit-Hour Program is for those who do not currently hold a CSWE-accredited BSW. It can be completed in two years when pursued full-time. One cohort of 60-Credit-Hour Program begins every year in late May or early June and another cohort begins every year in August.

Coursework is offered primarily online with face-to-face skills labs held on selected Saturdays at regionally convenient locations across Alabama as well as Jackson, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia. Courses with an asterisk (*) indicate a skills lab.

Summer Plan – Foundation Year

Summer Semester (6 hours)
  • SW 500 Social Welfare Policy
  • SW 510 Human Behavior and Social Environment I
Fall Semester (9 hours)
  • SW 511 Human Behavior and Social Environment II
  • SW 534 Seminar I-A
  • SW 540 Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families*
  • SW 590 Field Education I-A

Fall Plan – Foundation Year

Fall Semester (15 hours)
  • SW 500 Social Welfare Policy
  • SW 510 Human Behavior and Social Environment I
  • SW 511 Human Behavior and Social Environment II
  • SW 534 Seminar I-A
  • SW 540 Social Work Practice with Individuals Families*
  • SW 590 Field Internship I-A

All Students

Spring Semester (15 hours)
  • SW 535 Seminar I-B
  • SW 541 Social Work Practice with Groups*
  • SW 542 Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations*
  • SW 570 Research-Informed Practice
  • SW 591 Field Education I-B
Summer Semester (optional)
  • SW electives

Concentration Year

Fall Semester (15 hours)
  • SW 532 Social Work Practice With Adults in Mental Health*
  • SW 533 Models and Methods of Gerontological Social Work Practice* or SW 564 Social Work Practice with Children and Adolescents in Mental Health*
  • SW 565 Social Work Practice in Child Welfare and Family Services*
  • SW Elective
  • SW Elective
  • SW 595 Field Internship II-A
Spring Semester (15 hours)
  • SW 501 Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis
  • SW 525 Evaluation Research
  • SW Elective
  • SW 596 Field Education II-B

Social Work and Public Health are perfect partners. This program offers students interested in a career in social work and public health an alternative to the existing course of study for two separate programs. Graduates of the MSW/MPH Dual Degree program will have the skills needed to pursue leadership roles in community health care settings, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

The MSW/MPH Dual Degree Program allows students the opportunity to earn two graduate degrees, a Master of Social Work (MSW) and a Master of Public Health (MPH) in two academic years, including two summers. All MSW students, including advanced standing, may apply for entrance into this program. If both degrees are earned sequentially, the completion period is three and one-half years.

Students who choose this dual degree plan must first secure admission to the School of Social Work, and then separately apply to the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, The University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Public Health, for admission to the MPH Program.

The MSW/MPH Dual Degree Program is coordinated between the School of Social Work at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and the School of Public Health/Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, concentration in Maternal and Child Health Policy and Leadership at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The mission of the Dual Degree Program is to train social workers for interdisciplinary practice in public health programs (both international and domestic) who are concerned with the promotion and improvement of the health of diverse populations, including women, children, and families. The program places emphasis on population-based solutions to complex health problems that are multifactorial in origin, rather than on short-term solutions for resolving immediate problems of individuals and families.

Graduates may pursue careers in a variety of social work and/or public health settings related to policy and program development; organization of community services; program administration, planning and evaluation; research and teaching.

Financial assistance is available for full-time students who meet eligibility requirements.

MSW/MPH 60-Credit Hour Program

The 60-Credit-Hour Program is for those who currently do not hold a CSWE-accredited BSW. It can be completed in two years when pursued full-time. Coursework is offered primarily online with face-to-face skills labs held on selected Saturdays at regionally convenient locations across Alabama as well as Jackson, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia. Courses with an asterisk (*) indicate a skills lab.

Foundation Year

Fall Semester (9 hours)
  • SW 500 Social Welfare Policy
  • SW 510 Human Behavior and Social Environment I
  • SW 540 Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families*
Spring Semester (9 hours)
  • SW 541 Social Work Practice with Groups*
  • SW 542 Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations*
  • SW 570 Research-Informed Practice*
Summer Semester (12 hours)
  • SW 511 Human Behavior and Social Environments II
  • SW 534 Seminar I-A
  • SW 590 Field Education I-A

Concentration Year

Fall Semester (9 hours)
  • SW Elective (3 hours)
  • SW 532 Social Work Practice with Adults in Mental Health*
  • SW 533 Models and Methods of Gerontological Social Work Practice* or SW 564 Social Work Practice with Children and Adolescents in Mental Health*
  • SW 565 Social Work Practice in Child Welfare and Family Services*
Spring Semester (9 hours)
  • SW 595 Field Education II-A
UAB (MPH) Core Requirements that transfer to UA (12 hours)
  • PUH 603 Quantitative Methods in Public Health (SW 525)
  • PUH 602 Community Assessment in Public Health (SW elective)
  • PUH 604 Public Health Programs and Policies (SW elective)
  • PUH 605 Public Health Management and Evaluation (SW elective)
Electives Typically Offered Every Year
  • SW 506 Social Service Planning and Program Development
  • SW 513 Practice in Health Care
  • SW 514 Chemical Dependency
  • SW 515 Psychopathology
  • SW 523 Family Preservation
  • SW 528 Spirituality and Social Work Practice
  • SW 529 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice
  • SW 536 Social Service Program and Agency Administration
  • SW 549 Crisis Intervention

Please note that courses are subject to change. Students interested in the coordinated program are encouraged to contact UAB for an MPH course curriculum guide.

MSW/MPH Advanced Standing Program

Students who are interested in this coordinated degree should separately apply to UA’s MSW program and to the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy at The University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Public Health for admission to the MPH Program. Acceptance in the MSW program does not automatically ensure acceptance into the MPH program and vice versa.

Coursework is offered primarily online with face-to-face skills labs held on selected Saturdays at regionally convenient locations across Alabama as well as Jackson, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia.

Bridge Courses

Spring or Summer Semester (12 hours)
  • SW 570 Research – Informed Practice
  • SW 577 Components of Human Development and Social Systems
  • SW 578 Social Welfare Policies and Delivery Systems, Social Problems, and the History of Social Welfare
  • SW 579 Components of Social Work Practice**Courses with skills labs

Concentration Year

Fall Semester (12 hours)
  • SW 532 Models and Methods of Social Work Practice with Adults in Mental Health*
  • SW 533 Models and Methods of Gerontological Social Work Practice*
    – OR –
  • SW 564 Models and Methods of Social Work Practice with Children and Adolescents in Mental Health*
  • SW 565 Models and Methods of Social Work Practice in Child Welfare and Family Services*
    – AND –
  • SW 501 Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis
  • SW Elective

*Courses with skills labs

Spring Semester (9 hours)
  • SW 595 Field Education – 500 clock hours
UAB (MPH) Core Requirements that transfer to UA (9 hours)
  • PUH 603 Quantitative Methods in Public Health (SW 525)
  • PUH 602 Community Assessment in Public Health (SW elective)
  • PUH 604 Public Health Programs and Policies (SW elective)
Electives Typically Offered Every Year
  • SW 506 Social Service Planning and Program Development
  • SW 513 Practice in Health Care
  • SW 514 Chemical Dependency
  • SW 515 Psychopathology
  • SW 523 Family Preservation
  • SW 528 Spirituality and Social Work Practice
  • SW 529 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice
  • SW 536 Social Service Program and Agency Administration
  • SW 549 Crisis Intervention

Please note that courses are subject to change. Students interested in the coordinated program are encouraged to contact UAB for an MPH course curriculum guide.

Available Concentrations

Children, Adolescents and their Families

This concentration is designed for students interested in working with children, adolescents, and their families, especially in child welfare and mental health settings. Graduates may practice and take leadership roles in the areas of child welfare, family services, mental health, health care, substance abuse treatment, behavioral health, and other social service fields.

Adults and their Families

This concentration prepares students to work with adults and their families, especially in geriatric services and adult mental health settings.  Graduates may practice and take leadership roles in the areas of geriatric services, family services, mental health, health care, substance abuse treatment, behavioral health, and other social service field.

Previously Recorded Q&A Session

Watch this recorded Q&A session to learn more about admission and coursework for the primarily online Master of Social Work degree program from The University of Alabama.

MSW Graduate DonLarae Richardson

University of Alabama Master of Social Work graduate and Army Specialist DonLarae Richardson discusses completing his degree while serving in the military.

Admission

The following admission requirements must be met for regular admission to the MSW program:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • A GPA of at least 3.0 overall or a 3.0 average for the last 60 semester hours of coursework toward a completed degree.
  • Applicants may also be considered for admission if they meet EITHER the GPA requirement OR the admissions test score requirement. If admitted, permission to continue is granted at the end of the first 12 hours of graduate credit by earning a minimum GPA of 3.0.

All new students must provide acceptable proof of appropriate tuberculosis screening within the last year as a registration requirement. Find more information and requirements from the Student Health Center.

If you reside or intend to seek professional licensure outside of the state of Alabama, please review the requirements for that state prior to applying to this program.

60-Credit-Hour Program

Students must satisfy all admission requirements. Admission applications should be completed by January 15 for summer enrollment and March 15 for fall enrollment.

Advanced-Standing Program

Students will be admitted to the program in the spring and summer semesters. Deadlines for submitting completed Graduate School applications are January 15 for summer enrollment and September 15 for spring enrollment.

In addition to satisfying all admission requirements of the School of Social Work, admission with advanced standing also requires a “B” average or better in social work courses, with no more than one “C” in professional social work courses and grades of “B” or better in field education courses. Students must hold a bachelor of social work degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

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At The University of Alabama we want to help you tell a legendary story, and that begins with a premier education and strong support. You can succeed at earning your degree from wherever you are. Want to know more? Let our graduates tell you their UA Online stories.

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Dre Vaden
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(800) 467-0227
drev.bama@ua.edu

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