MSW Program Frequently Asked Questions

When are classes in the MSW program offered and in what format?

Most MSW classes are offered as evening classes with an occasional seminar or other meeting required in the afternoon (usually preceding another core course).  All classroom-based classes meet once a week for 3 hours each session.

The MSW program also offers classes online and as “blended” classes. Blended classes generally meet every other week for three hours each time and combine classroom learning with out-of-classroom or online learning activities.

 How long does the MSW Program take to complete?

The Regular MSW program can be completed in two years fulltime and four years part-time. A three year option can be created by toggling between full-time and part-time statuses (contact the program coordinator for details).   The Advanced Standing program can be completed in one year full-time (three semesters) and two years part-time (six semesters).  The fulltime tracks usually have four courses each semester and two in the summer.  The part-time tracks usually have two courses each semester and one class in two of the three summer terms. The part-time option is recommended for anyone with substantial work or other related time commitments.

How many days a week do students attend classes?

Schedules vary depending on the exact classes being offered and the student status (full-time or part-time).  However, for fulltime status, most students attend classes three to four nights during the week in the Fall but only one or two in the Spring.  Since practicum placements can often be scheduled close to home, commuters often find they do not need to travel to campus much during the semester of their practicum. In the summer, each class meets twice as often (i.e., up to two times a week), so most students attend three to four days a week.  In part-time status, the attendance is about half the full-time course load.

Can field practicum placements be done at my current residence (if out of the local university community)?

Yes, practicum placements can often be done in a community outside of the Springfield or Joplin areas.  Most commuting students are able to find placements close to their home communities.  Out of town placements must be approved by the Field Coordinator for that campus and must meet the program and social work accreditation requirements for an MSW-level practicum placement.  The Field Coordinators meets with every student in the Fall to discuss practicum options and to help the student arrange a mutually suitable placement for the Spring term.

Is educational credit offered for work or life experience?

No.  While we respect and welcome those who have life or work experience related to becoming a master level social worker, credit for life experience or work background is not offered in the MSW program at MSU.

What is MSW program’s emphasis or specialty? 

The MSW program at Missouri State has a family-centered social work focus in its advanced concentration courses; its emphasis is on the Family Health Perspective, a model of holistic family wellness that provides a solid foundation for many career paths in the social work field (both at micro and macro levels).  Advanced practice classes provide in-depth training on counseling with couples, families, and individuals from a family context.

What is the Family Health Perspective?

The Family Health Perspective, as developed by Yuen and Pardek (1999), is a model of holistic family wellness that provides a key foundation for social workers working in a variety of advanced social work settings.  It utilizes the construct of family health as a central focus for helping families achieve a holistic state of wellness.  It builds on the bio-psycho-social and ecological systems perspectives by emphasizing the use of seven domains of family wellness in one’s social work assessment and intervention: physical, mental, emotional, social, economic, cultural, and spiritual.

What electives are offered in the MSW program?

The program provides electives in areas including rural health, legal/forensic social work, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child and family play therapy.  Exact offerings vary from year to year but are designed to meet several areas of interest for students in the program.

Are there any different specialties or specialized “tracks” available?

Currently, the MSW program is considered an “advanced generalist” program, maintaining a goal to prepare graduates for all levels of social work practice (i.e., practice and community).  There are no specialty tracks offered at this time outside of the family-centered social work focus with an emphasis on Family Health as described above.  On an individual basis, students may seek additional instruction in specific content areas through field practicum experiences, electives inside or outside of the School of Social Work, or certificate programs offered by the MSU academic community (i.e., conflict resolution or forensic psychology).

Is an Advanced Standing degree track offered?  If so, what are the requirements?  Who may apply?

Yes, MSU’s MSW program does offer an Advanced Standing program on both the Springfield and Joplin campuses, both in part-time and full-time sequences.  This track is considerably shorter than the regular program and can be completed in three semesters going fulltime.

Applicants to the Advanced Standing degree track must have completed a baccalaureate degree ( BSW OR BSSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education within seven years of application or will have one before starting MSW classes.

No credit is granted for minors in social work or partial BSW program completion, nor for programs similar to social work but not accredited programs, such Human Services degrees.  All other majors must apply to the regular program.

In addition to obtaining a BSW or BSSW from an accredited social work program, applicants to the Advanced Standing track should have a 3.25 GPA or higher for overall coursework or last 60 hrs. (calculated on your transcript) and can have no more than one "C" grade in social work major classes. 

Any applicants who have two or more "C’s" in social work major courses are not eligible for the Advanced Standing track and may take one of two actions: a) retake their social work major coursework to have no more than one C grade at the time they apply for the MSW program; b) apply to the regular program and take the foundation coursework at a graduate level.  Some students have found this second option helpful.

Are graduate assistantships available to MSW students?  If so, how competitive are they?

Graduate assistantships (GAs) are typically competitive and are not guaranteed for MSW students. The School of Social Work has a limited number of GA positions that open from time to time.  At times, MSW students are able to obtain these, depending on the timing of the opening and the requirements of the specific assistantship. 

However, as a graduate student on the Missouri State campus, MSW students are eligible for and may apply to any assistantship offered on campus for which they meet the qualifications.  This gives the MSW more options for support.  For details on or availability of graduate assistantships, please visit the Graduate College website (