With a master of social work (MSW) degree, you can go further in the social work profession and amplify your impact on society.
An MSW will enable you to open doors to leadership roles in human service programming and policy making, or gain the credentials to practice in clinical mental health. The master of social work (MSW) degree is the terminal professional degree for the social work profession. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Syracuse’s MSW program allows students to choose from advanced concentrations in Advanced Clinical Practice, for those who wish to become mental health clinicians, or Integrated Social Work Practice, for those who wish to pursue direct practice and leadership in a wide range of increasingly complex human service organizations.
The foundation level coursework emphasizes generalist social work practice at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Students learn how to advance human rights and social, economic and environmental justice, using a range of engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation methods in their practice with individual, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students will also learn how to engage in policy and research informed practice, while developing an understanding of the importance and influence of diversity and difference in shaping a person’s life experiences.
The concentration level coursework, either Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) or Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP), focuses on a deeper understanding of specific knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes consistent with each concentration area. ACP students learn to practice as clinical social workers, while AIP students learn to effectively navigate multiple levels of social work practice by engaging in varied professional roles and/or functions.
Field placements are a central focus of the degree and are woven throughout the course of graduate study. Placements are available in child welfare, health, mental health, gerontology, schools, substance use disorders and many other practice settings.
Did you earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited program? Apply to the MSW Advanced Standing Program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Why this degree makes a difference in society today…tomorrow…
The School of Social Work embraces the profession’s commitment to the values of human diversity and the dignity and worth of all people, with particular attention to those who are oppressed, vulnerable, or living in poverty. We view social and personal problems as resulting from complex interactions between people and the structures of society itself, and we work to address those problems at the level of public policy, community organizations, families, groups, and individuals.
The 60 hour curriculum helps students develop the base knowledge, values, and skills necessary for effective social work practice. Sample courses of the curriculum include:
- Human Diversity in Social Context
- Social Welfare Policy and Services
- Advanced Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups
- Social Work Practice in Mental Health
- Clinical Practice Evaluation
- Alcohol and Other Drugs in Social Work Practice
- Applied Neuroscience in Human Services
The School of Social Work’s dedicated Office of Field Instruction has long-standing relationships with nearly 200 human service agencies across 14 New York counties, offering a wide range of opportunities for students to train alongside experienced practitioners in real-world settings. Many of the school’s current field placement sites represent long-lasting relationships with community organizations, where social work students have been placed for internships and field placements since the 1950s and 60s.
For both full time and part-time students, field learning occurs throughout the graduate social work curriculum, requiring two (2) separate internships, foundation level and concentration level. Each internship is a minimum of 500 hours and typically occurs across two (2) semesters of one academic year. The field office works closely with each individual student to develop a reasonable plan for a successful field experience. Students should expect to complete their internship during the average workweek.
The foundation level internship emphasizes generalist social work practice at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Students learn how to advance human rights and social, economic and environmental justice, using a range of engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation methods in their practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students will also learn how to engage in policy and research-informed practice, while developing an understanding of the importance and influence of diversity and difference in shaping a person’s life experiences.
The concentration level internship, either advanced clinical practice (ACP) or advanced integrated practice (AIP), focuses on a deeper understanding of specific knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes consistent with each concentration area. ACP students learn to practice as clinical social workers, while AIP students learn to effectively navigate multiple levels of social work practice by engaging in varied professional roles and/or functions.
The James L. Stone Legislative Policy Symposium is an annual, day-long event held at the Onondaga County Legislative Chambers that connects students with faculty, community leaders, government officials, and subject matter experts to interact, problem-solve, and explore policies surrounding a particular theme. Recent themes have included gun violence, mental health systems, foster care, the opioid crisis, and homelessness. The event is made possible by the School of Social Work alumnus James Stone G’64.
MSW students have the opportunity to study comparative social work services in a specific area of human need by visiting human service agencies in France, Germany, and Switzerland in the company of social work students from these three countries in the abroad program, “Topics in Advanced Social Work Practice & Policy: Four-Country Observation and Comparison of Services.”
For more information about study abroad opportunities at Syracuse, visit suabroad.syr.edu.
What's next after this degree
Syracuse’s MSW program offers two social work license-eligible tracks of graduate study: Advanced Clinical Practice, Advanced Integrated Practice.
Alumni of the MSW program go on to work in several settings, including roles as clinical social workers providing psychotherapy, school social workers, substance abuse counselors, medical social workers, military social workers, case managers, family services social workers and agency director/managers. A master’s degree in social work with state licensure or certification opens doors to advanced positions in leadership and administration.
Job opportunities for social workers are expected to increase much faster than the national average, making a social work education more valuable than ever. Social work education prepares graduates to work in a wide range of professional settings, including mental health care, hospitals, schools, child welfare, substance abuse treatment, services for older adults, supportive housing, and federal, state and local government. Social workers lead not-for-profit organizations, guide service users through complex health care systems, lead labor, and other community organizations, assess the strengths and needs of communities and individuals, engage in social research, serve in public office, facilitate adoption, and provide psychotherapy to individuals, families, and groups.
Social Work Alumni Stories:
- Social work alumnus named Rescue Mission CEO
- Social work alumna follows family legacy in helping professions as director of behavioral health at Mohawk Valley Health System
- Social work alumna realizes passion for mentorship at the Syracuse City Schools
Military Culture & Mental Health Practice
The Syracuse University School of Social Work offers undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in the Military Culture & Mental Health Practice focus area. Students will take SWK 427/627: Introduction to Military Culture and Mental Health Practice (3 credits), attend two speaking engagements and have a culminating project with poster presentation. Students interested in working with military service members, veterans, or their families during field placements are encouraged to contact Tracy Walker, Director of Field Instructor. Students interested in the Military Culture & Mental Health Practice focus area, please contact Dr. Ken Marfilius.
Mission & Goals
The School of Social Work has a core mission that drives the MSW Program. “We embrace the social work profession’s commitment to the dignity and worth of humankind. Acknowledging that all individuals, families and communities face challenges, the mission of the Syracuse University School of Social Work is to address human need and promote social and economic justice in a diverse and rapidly changing world through the strengthening of services, interventions and policies.”
Our educational programs, research/scholarship and service reflect our mission and are grounded in:
- Social work values
- Persons in environment, systems and strength perspectives
- Practice in and with community need and building on the strength of individuals, groups and communities at greatest social, economic and political risk
- Support for and promotion of individual and social change using social work methods including therapeutic interventions, case management, administrative, community and policy practice
- Prepare graduate students for competent, effective and evidence-based advanced practice that builds on and recognizes strengths and vulnerabilities of individuals, families, groups and communities;
- Prepare graduate students to be life-long learners, including those who go on to further graduate education;
- Serve the needs of individuals, families, communities and social work agencies, especially those in Central New York, by providing opportunities for advanced social work education; expanding the pool of well-educated MSW practitioners; and offering high-quality professional continuing education programs that maintain currency of knowledge and societal needs;
- Advance social work knowledge through research, scholarship and evaluation of interventions and policies that strengthen social work practice, address human need and promote social and economic justice;
- Enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through a vibrant field education program;
- Strengthen agencies and advance social and economic justice through membership on the boards of directors, engagement in policy advocacy, involvement and leadership in a professional organization, and other forms of faculty service.
Admission to Syracuse University’s MSW Program requires a baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting association. GREs are not required for admissions into this program.Apply Today!