We're implementing a new MSW curriculum!!

Students can now earn their MSW from the University of Iowa in fewer semester hours, saving time and money, AND with more opportunities to deepen their practice in one of two areas of specialization -- Social Work Clinical Practice or Social Work Leadership Practice.  We re-designed our curriculum with the end in mind - what do we want our MSW students to "look like" when they leave our program -- and worked backwards to build it, assessing feedback from students, graduates, practicum instructors and practitioners, and researching best practices.

Check out this video to learn more.

We offer the MSW program on the University of Iowa's main Iowa City campus and at two additional learning centers: Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa. In addition, we also offer an Online MSW Program. Each learning center provides the required structured sequence of courses and includes opportunities for students to individualize their plans of study. All sites give students access to the resources of a top-tier, nationally competitive research university. More information on the learning centers and their respective study options can be found on the Learning Centers pages.

Master in Social Work Program Options

Options are available to complete the MSW in Iowa City, Des Moines, Sioux City, and Online. Applicants to any of the options, at any of the centers, complete the same basic application.

Regular Standing (54 s.h. option)
Designed for individuals who have completed a degree in a discipline other than a CSWE-accredited social work degree program.

Advanced Standing (36 s.h. option)
Designed for individuals who have completed the BA in Social Work or the BSW from a CSWE-accredited social work degree program.


In the advanced year of the master's program, students choose one of two specializations: Social Work Clinical Practice or Social Work Leadership Practice. The Clinical Practice specialization will prepare students for mental health work with individuals and families in organizations like nonprofits, hospitals, schools and in private practice.  The Leadership Practice specialization will prepare students to partner with communities, develop programs, lead organizations and advocate for social, economic and racial justice.

Enduring Understandings

Our learning goals are expressed as Enduring Understandings—concepts that have lasting value beyond the classroom and are applicable to every aspect of social work practice. 

  • Commitment to advance social justice and fight discrimination and inequity.
  • Adherence to a high standard of ethics.
  • Using a systemic perspective, understanding the interconnectedness of people and their environments, and the systems in which we operate.
  • Critical thinking, where problem-solving, creativity, and innovation are as important as learning of facts.
  • Self-awareness and effective use of self are crucial to effective relationships at all levels of practice.


MSW Handbook for students admitted prior to 2022


Students from diverse academic and experiential backgrounds are valued and actively recruited by the program. Previous experiences in human services and cross-cultural perspectives are desirable. The School does not grant academic credit for life experience or previous work experience.

Information about MSW admission criteria and the application process, found here:

Graduate Admissions Process

Application Deadlines for Priority Consideration

Application deadlines depend on the learning center location and the degree path you are interested in.

December 1st
Iowa City, Des Moines, Sioux City (Advanced Standing)
Online (Advanced Standing and Regular Standing)

February 1st

Iowa City, Des Moines (Regular Standing)

Fields of Practice, Dual Degree Options

Students can also choose to develop expertise with specific populations or areas of focus by following a Fields of Practice or earning a dual-degree option.

NASW Professional Association

Students and graduates of the social work program are eligible for membership in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world with 132,000 members. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies. The NASW Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a guide to the everyday professional conduct of social workers.

Graduates of accredited MSW programs may be eligible for membership in many specialized areas of practice, for example, associate membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) upon fulfilling certain curriculum requirements at the graduate level. Courses are not automatically accepted; graduates need to demonstrate that specific courses meet the AAMFT's requirements, usually by sending course outlines.


Visit our FAQ page. 

If you have additional questions related to our programs, admissions or the application process, please contact us at:
ssw-admissions@uiowa.edu or phone: 319-335-1250.