Transform lives, transform your career: MSW in Direct Practice 

You will be transformed through a trauma-informed lens in this evidence-based, CSWE-accredited Master in Social Work program that includes interdisciplinary teamwork and collaboration.

The Direct Practice concentration is grounded in the person-in-the-environment framework. The program is trauma-focused, where each person is accepted for who they are in their environment.

Direct practice specialization applies critical thinking and ethical principles in a clinical setting with individuals, small groups and families. 

Quick facts

  • CSWE-accredited program
  • Choose a specialization that’s right for you
  • Choose the schedule that’s right for you (on campus, online, part time, full time)
  • Learn from world-class faculty who are actively practicing and publishing in the discipline
A Carlow students sits at her desk with her laptop. Her hands are folded and she is smiling at the camera.
Credits required:

45-60+ credits

Cost per credit:


Time to degree:

As few as 24 months


On campus & online

MSW: Direct Practice curriculum

Multicultural people in the cafe study together teamwork

You will learn a range of prevention and intervention methods and study how to assess a person through his or her past and present environments and build on resiliency and strengths. Our curriculum is designed to include interprofessional integrated behavioral health education (seminars, telehealth training, outreach programs) that emphasize service delivery to, and advocacy for, rural, vulnerable and underserved populations.

While in the program, you will have ample opportunity to participate in hands-on training — a key factor in your success in the social work field.

Bachelor’s in Social Work students from Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited programs will qualify for application for advanced standing, able to earn their MSW at Carlow by taking 45 credits.

Choose the specialization that best aligns with your social work career goals.

  • Focus on individuals, families or groups in a clinical setting: Direct Practice
  • Focus on human rights and justice in your community and organizational levels: Macro Practice

Alternate degree completion options

Advanced Standing track

If you already have a BSW from an CSWE-accredited program, our advanced standing track allows you to complete this degree in as few as 18 months.

Online Degree

Gain the knowledge you need at your convenience with our online degree option. When applying, indicate your interest in the online option.

Career opportunities for MSW: Direct Practice graduates

Graduates find employment in health and behavioral health care settings, hospitals, human services, family services, crisis services and substance treatment centers and clinical private practice.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of social workers to grow 12% between 2019 and 2029, resulting in 713,200 new jobs.

Brandy Patterson Testimonial
Olivia Miller, ’21, biology major and runner on the track & field/cross country team.

Be supported at Carlow

What stood out for MSW graduate Brandy Patterson ’20 was how supportive Carlow’s faculty and staff were, especially in the Social Work Program. “I always felt like I was able to reach out to whomever I needed at the time to get the help that I needed. If I were to give a yelp review for the Masters of Social Work program I would say it is very supportive and flexible which is great for adult students. You will never feel alone or lost in this program.”


Carlow University’s Master of Social Work program is proud to announce that it has received Initial Accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation following the June 2020 program review. CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation is responsible for developing accreditation standards that define competent preparation and ensuring that social work programs meet them. CSWE administers a multistep accreditation process that involves program self-studies, site visits, and program reviews.  

Please note that Social Work programs cannot accept life experience or work experience for credit.


Admission requirements and application process

You can apply for free online, and must submit the following materials:

  • Official transcripts from all degree-granting institutions you have attended
  • Personal essay that describes your academic objectives
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation that address your leadership potential and ability to succeed in graduate-level work

An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is preferred; however, provisional admission is also possible if you do not meet all of the admission criteria but exhibit a strong possibility of academic success.



Start terms:

Fall & Spring*

*Summer start is possible for advanced standing only

MSW faculty

Contact Admissions

If you are interested in this graduate program, our Admissions team is available to assist you with the next steps, including scheduling an on-campus visit.

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