The online Master of Social Work at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota prepares you to deepen your commitment to social justice issues through clinical practice. As a graduate, you'll gain autonomy in your partnerships with clients, working directly with individuals, couples, families, and communities to diagnose mental health conditions, treat issues, and encourage a positive response to personal and societal challenges. The program is available to students with or without academic and career experience in social work.
- Coursework Is 100% Online. You can work full time and earn your degree when and where it's best for you.
- Fieldwork in Your Geographic Location. The required field experience can be completed at an agency near you.
- No Experience Necessary. The 60-credit Traditional track is offered to students without a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree so they may work in clinical practice.
- Advanced Standing Track. Professionals with a BSW degree save time and money in this 30-credit track.
- Full- or Part-Time Options. Complete the program with the schedule that best fits your needs.
- Strong Lasallian Values. We pursue excellence in teaching and learning and personally respond to students' intellectual, spiritual, and developmental needs.
- An Affordable Degree. Tuition for this valuable program is kept reasonable, reflecting our Lasallian value of serving our community.
- Rigorous Practica. Gain experience in direct practice in a safe environment where professional feedback helps develop your new skills.
Autonomy in Practice
Our experienced faculty members are committed to developing ethical leaders. As a clinical social worker, you'll collaborate with healthcare professionals, mental health practitioners, community advocates, and others, and work one-on-one with your clients to ensure they receive the most effective treatment. You'll consider each case in the context of the environment in which it's occurring, and take a holistic approach to treating the needs of individuals, couples, families, and groups.
Using your combined understanding of evaluation-based outcomes and macro-level knowledge of the adverse effects of poverty and oppression on mental health and well-being, you can adjust individual treatment plans as necessary. Your work will make a positive impact on your clients' lives.
“The MSW program has allowed for incorporation of my direct work into my studies - bringing new knowledge to the job I do and being able to use current knowledge to apply to what I'm studying.”
– Jessica Horstmann, Saint Mary’s MSW online student
To learn more about the practice of social work, from a social work practitioner, and how this program prepares you for diverse social work roles read the interview that program director, Suzanne Shatila conducted with MasterofSocialWork.com.
Choose Your Path to Become a Social Worker
Two tracks are offered to build upon your academic and professional experiences.
- Traditional Track. This 60-credit track is offered to students who have a desire to serve others through this profession but don't hold a Bachelor of Social Work degree. The first half of your coursework will address foundational concepts and includes two practica. The second half is dedicated to the advanced knowledge and skills you need to work in clinical practice and includes a practicum as well.
- Advanced Standing Track. If you hold a BSW1 degree, you can prepare for clinical practice faster in this 30-credit program2, saving yourself time and money. This track also includes a rigorous clinical practicum, so you can build your skills and test your knowledge in real-world settings.
The curriculum for the online MSW is structured to meet stringent national educational guidelines. These guidelines ensure the program adequately prepares students to be employed as social workers upon graduation.
The online MSW is taught by experienced practitioners who will guide and support you throughout the program with their diverse understanding of the realities of clinical practice. Taken full time, the curriculum can be completed in less than two years. Part-time students complete the program within four years.
Learn more about specific courses and their individual learning outcomes.
Achieve the Licensing You Need
You're likely aware that applicants for social work licensure must meet additional requirements in every state and U.S. territory, such as additional training, coursework, and supervised clinical experiences. Requirements vary by state3.
Also, students must have graduated from a CSWE-accredited program to be eligible to pursue social work licensure. At this time, Saint Mary's is pursuing this accreditation but isn't yet accredited3. This accreditation applies retroactively to program graduates once it is obtained.
We've put together this helpful page on accreditation so you can reference your state's licensing requirements, Saint Mary's accreditation schedule, and more. Stay informed and make the most of your education.
Throughout the MSW program, you'll learn how macro concepts apply to clinical practice so you can work with clients directly, helping them to build on their strengths, respond to stressors and life events in more positive ways, and develop coping mechanisms to thrive in challenging situations. By graduation, you can:
- Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior
- Employ diversity and difference in practice
- Use the appropriate treatment modality or a combination of approaches in treating clients
- Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice
- Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice
- Inform policy and collaborate with macro social workers and policymakers
- Assess, intervene, and evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
Find out how the program outcomes for the Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks align with national standards and competencies.
Social Work Careers
The results of the 2017 National Social Work Workforce Study of New Social Workers shows that MSW-level social workers are in high demand and serve their communities with passion4.
- 95% work in social work positions
- 92.7% would recommend the profession to others
- 92% work in direct practice with individuals, families, or groups
- 91.9% were satisfied with their position
- 84.7% found jobs locally
The industry's overall job-growth rate is much faster than the national average at 11 percent, with some roles expecting growth as high as 20 percent.5
Learn more about the job titles, salaries, career-growth rates, and new roles for social workers with an MSW degree.