This evidence-based Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program uses a trauma-informed lens to prepare you for future advanced-level social work practice. Our experienced faculty continually provide opportunities and individualized coaching to provide you pathways into your preferred social work setting.

Carlow University’s MSW program includes interdisciplinary teamwork and collaboration with three distinct tracks – direct practice, macro practice, and school social work.

This program is offered in an online modality.

Quick Facts

  • Be prepared for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) master’s exam and for professional licensure.  
  • You can complete your MSW degree with respect to your unique lifestyle. A faculty advisor will assist you with this planning.
  • Learn from world-class faculty devoted to your future success who are actively practicing and publishing in the discipline. 

The mission of the Master of Social Work (MSW) Program at Carlow University is to educate and prepare ethical, compassionate professionals committed to a more just and merciful world. The MSW program promotes a trauma and research informed approach to professional social work practice to promote human and societal well-being and human rights. The program is committed to preparing exemplary leaders to critically engage in service to and advocacy for diverse populations and complex systems using a cultural humility lens to promote racial, social, economic, and environmental justice.

Credits required:

39-60+ credits

Cost per credit:


Time to degree:

As few as 24 months



Direct Practice

Direct Practice specialization focuses on teaching best practices for a range of assessment and intervention methods in working with individuals, families, and groups. It is grounded in:

  • the person-in-the-environment framework
  • trauma-informed approaches
  • human rights
  • social and economic justice for a more merciful world 

This specialization is designed for students seeking careers providing direct services to clients experiencing various challenges across their lifespan within a variety of settings, including:

  • hospitals
  • health and mental health agencies
  • public safety organizations
  • correctional facilities
  • community counseling centers
  • various social service organizations
Two men in suits hugging and smiling.

Macro Practice

Macro Practice specialization is designed to develop strengths-based and trauma-informed ethical leaders and managers of human services organizations and social change leaders who advance human well-being. Students are taught best practices for working with larger systems, including communities, organizations, and societies. 

The macro curriculum is grounded in a commitment to human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice. It is designed for students seeking a future in:

  • human services leadership and management
  • policy analysis and advocacy
  • social change leadership at the local, state, and national levels
Two people walk through a grassy area.

School Social Work

School Social Work specialization builds on key components of the MSW program’s direct practice track, teaching best practices for various assessment and intervention methods in working with individuals, families, and groups in schools and school-based settings.  

The school social work curriculum is grounded in the person-in-the-environment framework, trauma-informed approaches, human rights, and social and economic justice.

This specialization provides students with the knowledge and skills required for ethical leadership within:

  • schools
  • across larger educational programs and systems
  • for policy practice related to public and private preschool, elementary, and secondary schools

Carlow also offers a Master of Business Administration and Master of Social Work (MBA/MSW) dual degree program. This is a unique interdisciplinary degree, which offers the opportunity to examine both the theoretical and practical aspects of business administration while also studying social work. 

Learn more.

You do not need a BSW to enter the MSW Program.  People with a wide variety of undergraduate degrees can enter the MSW program to become a social worker.  Traditional MSW students can earn their MSW at Carlow by taking a minimum of 60 credits.

Advanced Standing track

If you already have a BSW from an CSWE-accredited program, you will qualify for application for advanced standing. This track allows you to complete this degree at Carlow in as few as 18 months (39 credits).

Students who have earned an undergraduate social work degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program within the past 7 years qualify for advanced standing status.  Advanced standing students are able to earn their MSW at Carlow by taking a minimum of 39- credits (an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above is required for advanced standing status).

Career opportunities for MSW Graduates

Graduates find employment and become leaders in many practice settings. These include integrated behavioral health settings such as hospitals, community mental health centers, substance use facilities, school systems and criminal justice facilities. Graduates work with underserved populations including children, adults, elders, individuals with disabilities and those experiencing a crisis. They are also prepared to work in the policy arena and to serve and lead in larger systems such as NGO’s, non-profit entities and governmental organizations as well as engaging in community advocacy.

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.


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.



Start terms:

Fall & Spring*

*Summer start is possible for advanced standing only

Learn from world-class faculty devoted to your future success who are actively practicing and publishing in the discipline. Our six full-time faculty have a combined total of 100+ years of experience in the practice of teaching or in the field of social work 

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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