The Master of Social Work (MSW) program offers an advanced generalist concentration that embraces the profession’s commitment to social and economic justice, individual and community well-being, and scientific inquiry. As a reflection of UNC Charlotte’s designation as North Carolina’s urban research university, our curriculum is especially focused on the needs of vulnerable populations in the growing urban and suburban areas of the state. Graduates of the program will be able to synthesize and apply a broad range of knowledge and skills in order to refine and a advance the quality of social work practice and the profession in a range of settings.
The MSW program prepares students to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate social prevention and intervention programs, particularly with vulnerable individuals and communities. The program takes a holistic approach to social work education - one that attempts to bridge divides between individually-focused and community-focused practice. This holistic approach is guided by seven specific themes listed below, each with a corresponding program goal.
- Context - Recognizes the inseparability of individual struggles and social issues
- Multi-Level Practice - Takes action on multiple levels of social work practice
- Evidence-Based - Engages in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
- Strengths - Understands and employs the strengths of vulnerable populations but also insures their capacity and power to engage societal opportunities
- Cultural Sensitivity and Humility - Conducts social work practice with cultural sensitivity and humility
- Local and Global - Practices social work in communities everywhere
- Critically Reflective - Encourages the continuous development of critically reflective practitioners
- Undergraduate Preparation including GPA
- The Graduate School sets a 3.0 as the minimum GPA for admission to master’s programs
- The Graduate School requires students to provide copies of unofficial transcripts for all institutions the applicant has attended
- The School of Social Work seeks applicants with a liberal arts background.Courses in biology and statistics are encouraged in order to prepare students for the program.
- GRE Scores
- Applicants are required to submit GRE scores unless they meet the following exceptions:
- For Advanced Standing, an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above
- For Full-Time or Part-Time, an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.25 or above
- A doctoral degree from a regionally accredited university
- Applicants with a Master’s degree from a regionally accredited university may also qualify for a GRE waiver on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the Graduate School
- For applicants who must submit GRE scores because they do not meet the criteria above, scores in the 50th percentile or above in the quantitative section, and a score of 3.5 or above in the writing section are considered competitive
- When an applicant’s scores in these areas fall below percentiles, the Admissions Committee may search for other evidence of potential for success, such as good undergraduate grades in writing, statistics, and/or research courses
- Three forms submitted by faculty members and supervisors from paid or volunteer experience with human service agencies
- Recommenders have the option of uploading a letter of support with the form
- Relevant Volunteer and/or Paid Experience described in the applicant’s resume
- Personal Statement
- Submit a personal statement that responds to specific essay prompts
- See the MSW program website for details
International applicants may be required by The Graduate School to submit additional materials.
Upon acceptance to the program, students are asked to complete an Intent to Enroll Form and a Field Application Form. Because some field placement agencies serving vulnerable populations exclude personnel with criminal convictions, students entering the program may be subject to a criminal history inquiry. Many agencies require drug testing as well.
Paid internships and assistantships are limited. Visit socialwork.uncc.edu for more information.
The MSW curriculum promotes its mission and goals through the Foundation curriculum and the Advanced curriculum. The Foundation curriculum prepares students to apply generalist social work knowledge, skills, and values. The Advanced curriculum prepares students for more specialized application of the profession’s knowledge, skills, and values, with special attention to the needs of vulnerable populations. All students must successfully complete SOWK 7651, which serves as the capstone course for the MSW.
The MSW may be pursued through the Full-Time (two years), Part-Time (three years), or Advanced Standing (one year) plans of study.
Full-Time Plan of Study (Two Years)
The Full Time MSW plan of study is designed for students to complete the MSW through two years of intensive study. The Foundation curriculum is completed during the first year of study and the Advanced curriculum is completed during the second year. Classes meet at the main university campus. Students complete a total of 62 graduate credit hours, which includes 48 credit hours in the classroom and 14 credit hours in an approved field placement.
Year One - Foundation Curriculum
Year Two - Advanced Curriculum
* Full-Time MSW students work with their advisors to choose three elective courses that reflect their individual professional interests and goals. Elective courses may be from any academic discipline but must relate to the School of Social Work’s mission to work with vulnerable populations.
Degree Total = 62 Credit Hours
Part-Time Plan of Study (Three Years)
The Part-Time MSW plan of study is designed for students who wish to complete an MSW but cannot attend graduate school full-time. The Part-Time MSW can be completed in three years. Students take the same courses as students in the Full-Time plan of study. They complete 62 graduate credit hours, which includes 48 credit hours in the classroom and 14 credit hours in an approved field placement.
The Part-Time plan of study is offered as a hybrid model. Classes alternate between meetings on Saturday at the UNC Charlotte Center City Building and online classes. Online classes are offered asynchronously, meaning students do not have to log in at the same time. They can complete assignments when it is convenient for them as long as they are completed by their due date.
The Foundation curriculum courses are completed during the first year. During the Fall and Spring semesters, students continue to take courses through hybrid (Saturday and online) classes. During the next Extended Summer Session, students take one course to complete the Foundation curriculum.
The Advanced curriculum courses are completed next, which includes two Fall semesters, two Spring semesters, and one Extended Summer Session. During the Advanced curriculum, students continue to take courses through hybrid (Saturday and online) classes. In the final Extended Summer Session, students take an elective course that reflects their professional interests. In the final Fall and Spring, students complete their required Advanced curriculum courses.
There are two years of field placements. In year two, students take the Foundation field placement. In year three, students complete an Advanced field placement.
Year One - Foundation Curriculum
Year Two - Foundation and Advanced Curriculum
Year Three - Advanced Curriculum
* Part-Time MSW students work with their advisors to choose three elective courses that reflect their individual professional interests and goals. Elective courses may be from any academic discipline but must relate to the School of Social Work’s mission to work with vulnerable populations.
Degree Total = 62 Credit Hours
Advanced Standing Plan of Study (One Year)
The Advanced Standing plan of study is designed for students who have earned a BSW from an accredited social work program within the past seven years and wish to pursue the MSW. Advanced Standing students are not required to complete the Foundation curriculum for the MSW. Under the Advanced Standing plan of study, the MSW can be completed in one calendar year. Students complete 41 graduate credit hours, which includes 30 credit hours in the classroom and 11 credit hours in an approved field placement.
Classes begin during Extended Summer Session, which meets on the main University campus for 10 weeks in the summer months. Advanced Standing students complete 9 credit hours of graduate level coursework designed to bridge the gap between their BSW curriculum and the Advanced MSW curriculum. In the Fall and Spring semesters, students complete the Advanced curriculum along with students completing the Full-Time plan of study.
* Advanced Standing MSW students work with their advisors to choose two elective courses that reflect their individual professional interests and goals. Elective courses may be from any academic discipline but must relate to the School of Social Work’s mission to work with vulnerable populations.
Degree Total = 41 Credit Hours
Field placements are assigned from a variety of agencies and practice settings approved by the UNC Charlotte Social Work Field Office. Field Instructors, approved by the School of Social Work, guide the student through learning experiences, coordinating field experiences with the concurrent classroom coursework. The Foundation field placement prepares students to apply generalist social work knowledge, skills, and values. The Advanced field placement prepares students for more specialized application, with special attention to the needs of vulnerable populations.
Graduates of the MSW Program may pursue state licensure or certification at the graduate level. Application for licensure or certification should be made with the state board in the state where the applicant intends to practice social work. In North Carolina, the Certification and Licensure Board for Social Work may be accessed on the web at ncswboard.org or by phone at 336-625-1679. MSW levels of licensure/certification in North Carolina include the following: Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA), Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW), and Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM).
North Carolina Child Welfare Education Collaborative
UNC Charlotte participates in the North Carolina Child Welfare Education Collaborative, which is a joint effort of the NC Division of Social Services, the NC Association of County Directors of Social Services (DSS), and the National Association of Social Workers NC Chapter, to improve the quality of public child welfare services in North Carolina. The program is administered by the Jordan Institute for Families at UNC Chapel Hill. At UNC Charlotte, Child Welfare Education Collaborative MSW students complete the course SOWK 5103 as one of their electives. They also complete their graduate field placements in a child welfare agency. Students who complete all requirements for the Collaborative program receive a certificate indicating they have successfully met North Carolina Child Welfare Pre-service Training competencies. Graduates may then be hired at a NC County DSS with credit for six (6) months of experience.
For additional information about the North Carolina Child Welfare Education Collaborative at UNC Charlotte, contact the UNC Charlotte Child Welfare Collaborative Liaison.
School Social Work
Graduates of the program may also qualify for licensure as a school social worker in the state of North Carolina.
The School Social Work license is awarded by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. To be eligible for school social work licensure, MSW students must complete a two-semester field placement in a school setting, take SOWK 5102 , and take another course from a list of approved electives. Students interested in school social work licensure should begin planning with their advisors and the MSW Field Education Director as early in the program as possible.
The School of Social Work’s Field Education Director has additional information about school social work licensure requirements. Information is also available online at ncsswa.org.
UNC Charlotte’s M.A. in Gerontology is administered jointly by the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The M.A. program is housed within the School of Social Work. MSW students are given special consideration for graduate courses in Gerontology.