The Master of Social Work requires 54 s.h. of graduate credit; the requirement is 36 s.h. for students who hold an undergraduate degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 and they must be in compliance with the school's student advancement policy. 

All MSW students follow a structured sequence of courses. They must obtain permission to revise their plan, and they must complete the degree within a maximum of four years.

The school offers the MSW program on the University of Iowa's main Iowa City campus and at three additional learning centers: Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa, and the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois. 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. The full-time MSW Program is available in Iowa City and Des Moines, with other centers offering part-time options to complete the MSW degree. 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.

For more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Master of Social Work, visit the UI General Catalog.

Application Deadlines

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

December 1st
Iowa City, Des Moines (Accelerated Advanced Standing)
Hybrid Online (Advanced and Regular Standing)
February 1st
Iowa City, Des Moines (Advanced and Regular Standing)
Quad Cities (Advanced and Regular Standing)

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.

Master in Social Work Program Options

Options are available to complete the MSW in Iowa City, Des Moines, the Quad Cities, Sioux City, or Online. Applicants to any of the options, at any of the centers, complete the same basic application. The Accelerated Advanced Standing Program has additional admission criteria.

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.

Accelerated Advanced Standing (41 s.h. option) - Iowa City and Des Moines only
Designed for individuals who have completed the BA in Social Work or the BSW from a CSWE-accredited social work degree program and who meet additional admission criteria. Additional forms and written requirements are part of the application.

Admission

The School of Social Work seeks to maintain a heterogeneous student body by enrolling students who represent diverse backgrounds and cultural perspectives. Previous experience in human services and cross-cultural experiences is desirable. The school does not grant academic credit for life experience or previous work experience.

Admission to the MSW Regular Standing (54 s.h. option) program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, with a reasonable distribution of courses in the liberal arts and sciences (the humanities and the social, behavioral, and biological sciences). Admission to the MSW Advanced Standing (36 s.h. option) program requires a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited college or university. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or higher, or a GPA of 3.00 or higher on 12 s.h. of letter-graded graduate coursework; consult the University's Office of Admissions for assistance in calculating grade-point average. Competence on personal computers and spreadsheet applications is required. Admission to the MSW Accelerated Advanced Standing (41 s.h. option) program requires a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, earned within the previous five years, with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.20 and a major GPA of at least 3.50.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit official test scores to verify English proficiency. Applicants can verify English proficiency by submitting official test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, including one regarding academic abilities and one from the applicant's most recent employer (if the employment was social work-related); and a personal statement addressing criteria specified by the School of Social Work. Applicants to the MSW Accelerated Advanced Standing (41 s.h. option) program must provide additional materials.

For more information, see the School of Social Work's Graduate Admissions Process page.

Concentrations

In the advanced year of the master's program, students choose one of two concentrations: Social Work Clinical Practice or Leadership Social Work Practice. These advanced specialized curricula build on the school's liberal arts perspective and on the professional foundation. Both are based on a comprehensive eco-systemic theoretical perspective, and both apply the principles that are part of the school's mission statement, with a focus on culturally competent family-centered and community-based approaches.

Ways to Specialize

More information and details about the possible ways to specialize can be found on the Fields of Practice page.

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.