Social work

University of Missouri-Columbia
Master of social work
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Master of social work

Think about how you can support and advocate for your community. The University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) online master of social work (MSW) gives you the tools to go forth and help others, no matter your career goals or stage in life.

Take the next step toward licensure in Missouri or select Midwestern states, or switch to a role where you’ll make a more meaningful impact on society. With multiple formats and a choice of concentrations — clinical practice; or policy, planning and administration — you can uncover the path that suits your mission to aid individuals, groups, families and at-risk populations at micro to macro levels.

Quick facts

Official name

Master of social work


University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Master's degree

Academic home

College of Health Sciences | School of Social Work

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission, Council on Social Work Education

Credit hours


Estimated cost


Advance Standing credit hours


Advance Standing estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

About Mizzou’s online MSW degree program

Mizzou’s School of Social Work has remained at the forefront of the field. Since our inception in the early 20th century, our programs have evolved with the profession and consistently received Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation since 1919. Today, we train students not only for professional success and leadership but to act as social justice pioneers for their respective communities. Programs blending online learning with in-person field experiences further emphasize the importance of evidence-based research and scholarship for conducting interventions and developing policy.

Through this mission, the online master of social work allows you to specialize your knowledge for your desired career path through one of two concentrations:

  • Clinical: Prepare for a career assisting individuals, families, small groups and communities in a social services organization.
  • Policy, planning and administration in human services: This macro-level exploration of social work considers the broader influence of policy on communities and at-risk populations. This path further introduces the management and leadership skills essential for a career in a social service, government or political organization; policy; or public administration.

In either track, you’ll explore how social workers serve as change agents, including as champions of diversity and social justice, and how these aspects influence client and population wellbeing. As you look ahead and think about how you can uplift your community, Mizzou’s online master of social work:

  • Emphasizes how evidence-based practice is integral to conducting assessments and interventions across the lifespan and planning organizational and community programs
  • Introduces or advances your knowledge of professional values, ethics and the field’s historical foundation
  • Equips you to address social issues and economic injustices through research, policy and advocacy
  • Considers social work’s macro applications in public administration and policy development
  • Supplies you with the tools to examine social issues and their impact on the life experiences of individuals to communities
  • Touches on how social and economic privilege shapes clients’ life experiences and influences community and organizational development
A social worker speaking to a group.

Career prospects

Due to societal changes and a shortage of professionals, demand for social workers is predicted to increase over the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these conditions will result in 9% more roles for social workers and 12% more positions for social and community service managers. For those considering a clinical career, completion of the online program helps fulfill eligibility requirements to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and, eventually, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Missouri and other Midwestern states. 

Potential opportunities include:

  • Adoption specialist
  • Cardiovascular social worker
  • Counselor
  • Family advocacy representative
  • Policy planning specialist
  • Public health manager
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
Employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
Median salary

Program structure

All courses for the master of social work program are 100% online. Although no on-campus visits are required, one to two practicum assignments are held in person, including at a regional agency or organization.

The program is divided into three sections: foundation courses (up to 21 credit hours), a concentration (39 credit hours) and a crossover course (three credit hours). Credit amount varies based on format:

Advanced standing: This 39-credit-hour course sequence is designed for individuals who have earned a bachelor of social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited institution or qualify for a waiver of at least 21 credit hours earned within the past seven years. Students enrolled in the advanced standing program take a research course from the foundation sequence before moving onto their concentration. The typical student takes two classes per semester for two years.

Regular standing: This 60-credit-hour program is geared toward individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. Candidates interested in a career change progress through the full sequence typically at a pace of two courses per semester for three years.

Part time: Open to residents of Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee in response to a shortage of social work professionals, this format allows individuals to work full time while completing advanced or regular standing courses toward a master’s degree. 

All students will complete at least one practicum assignment. Four hundred clock hours are required during the foundational course sequence, and an additional 600 clock hours are part of both concentrations. These assignments reinforce concepts introduced in the classroom, help strengthen your problem-solving, data collection and communication skills, and give you an understanding of agency policy and structure. In the process, you’ll start to directly assist patients or plan programs geared toward specific at-risk populations and communities. Learn more about field experiences for master’s students

Important: The MU School of Social Work accepts applications for the online MSW from students in Missouri and contiguous states (Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois). Students must reside within this region to maintain eligibility for the online MSW.

Course work covers

While foundation courses provide an introduction to human behavior, public policy and key professional skills, concentration courses cover:

  • Intervention strategies for individuals to small groups
  • Psychopathy of human behavior
  • Evaluative research strategies used in the social and human services field
  • Managerial, financial and administrative skills in the social work field

Review all required courses for the online master of social work.


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

2-3 years

Typical course load

2 classes per semester

See all online programs offered through the College of Health Sciences.


The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The School of Social work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

I've been able to gain this community of professionals in the social work field.
MSW ’19

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the School of Social Work