Jul 19, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work, M.S.W.

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Shippensburg University jointly offers with Millersville University a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program. An MSW permits graduates to work in a variety of human service programs and agencies in an advanced clinical and/or administrative capacity. The flexibility of the social work degree provides graduates with many options as they pursue their careers in helping fields.

MU-SU MSW Program Mission

The mission of the joint MU-SU MSW Program is to provide accessible social work graduate education in the South-Central region of Pennsylvania. We prepare students to be effective advanced generalist practitioners, committed to the purpose and values of the social work profession.

Advanced Generalist Perspective

The advanced generalist approach to direct and indirect practice is characterized by the practitioner’s ability to address complex situations within multiple roles and levels. This strengths-based orientation is grounded in a liberal arts foundation and guided by a systems approach incorporating core social work values and ethics and respect for diversity.  Using research-informed practice, the advanced generalist social worker promotes positive change in the social, political, and economic arenas to advance human rights.

MU-SU Program Goals

  1. Prepare students for competent advanced generalist practice through the acquisition and demonstration of social work competencies consistent with CSWE educational policy and accreditation standards.
  2. Prepare students with the specialized knowledge and skills for social work practice with client systems to facilitate change within the boundaries of ethical practice and with attention to the profession’s commitment to social justice and human rights.
  3. Encourage students’ commitment to continued professional development and lifelong learning by providing opportunities for community engagement and real-life learning experiences.

MU-SU Program Core Competencies

Upon completion of the Master of Social Work degree, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
  2. Engage in Diversity and Difference in Practice
  3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
  4. Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
  5. Engage in Policy Practice
  6. Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  7. Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Program Structure

The program is designed for students who have no previous social work education and for those who want to build upon their baccalaureate social work education. Students will be admitted full or part time. Courses are offered evenings with some Saturday classes, which are electives. State-of-the-art technology will permit students to acquire social work knowledge, skills, and values through multiple educational methods.  Students will take all courses on the campus where they are enrolled, while benefiting from the quality faculty and resources of both universities.


The MU-SU MSW program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Admissions Classifications

Students may apply for regular or advanced standing admission. Students may apply for advanced standing admission if they graduated from a CSWE-accredited social work program within the past eight years and meet the QPA requirements as described in the admission guidelines. They must also have a reference from the BSW program director. Regular standing admission is for students who completed a baccalaureate degree with a major other than social work. Students who graduated from a CSWE-accredited social work program within the past eight years but did not meet the QPA requirements for advanced standing, will be admitted to the regular program. They may exempt courses as described in the Admission Guidelines.

Admission Guidelines


Campus candidates apply through Shippensburg University.


Applicants for regular admission must have a minimum cumulative quality point average of 2.8 on a 4.0 scale from a regionally accredited undergraduate institution. In exceptional cases, applicants who lack the required quality point average but whose other qualifications are outstanding may also be admitted based on the decision of the Admissions Committee.

Applicants for advanced standing admission must have earned a baccalaureate degree in the last eight years from a CSWE-accredited social work program with an overall QPA of 3.0 in all undergraduate coursework and a major QPA of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Exemption from Generalist (First-Year) Courses

Students who graduated with a baccalaureate degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program who are not eligible for advanced standing may be eligible for exemptions from some first-year generalist courses other than practice and field instruction in which they have earned a grade of B or higher within the past eight years. Exemptions will reduce the total number of credits a student must earn to graduate. The Admissions Committee will notify the applicant of the exemptions.

Entrance Examination

Only applicants whose QPA falls below the minimum standard of 2.8 need to take either the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or the General Graduate Record Exam (GRE) as part of the admission process. Scores should not be more than five years old at the time of application.

Personal Qualifications

Applicants must present evidence of a combination of professional and personal experiences, qualities, and values that are considered essential for the practice of social work. A current resume is required. Three professional references are required with a minimum of one from faculty and one from a current or recent agency employer or supervisor. The third reference must be from another faculty or employer/supervisor. No personal references or co-worker references will be accepted.

Applicants will complete a written personal statement.  Information is available through the Graduate Admissions  website.

The program may request a personal interview or additional information when necessary to make a fully informed admissions decision. Persons who have criminal records are not eligible to work in many human service fields. Applicants with criminal records should contact the MSW program director for additional information.


Students must demonstrate they have successfully completed coursework in each of the following areas: Human Biology, Economics, Government/Political Science, Psychology, Sociology/Anthropology, and Statistics. Applicants can be admitted with course deficiencies on the condition that these course deficiencies are completed before students start the fall semester of the specialization year. The program provides information about options for completion of these prerequisites upon admission to the program.


Students may receive up to 9 credits earned at other regionally accredited institutions prior to admission. Graduate credits earned more than five years prior to admission do not qualify for transfer. Students may only transfer credits provided they are in good standing in those schools. Courses must be listed on an official transcript with a B or higher.  Condensed one-week graduate courses do not qualify for transfer. With advance permission of MU-SU MSW program director and the faculty advisor and as part of a planned program, a student may transfer credits from other graduate programs at MU or SU.


The program does not grant academic credit for life or work experience.

Degree Requirements

Students enrolling in the regular program must complete 60 credits of graduate study including: 12 credits of field practicum, 9 credits of electives, and 39 credits of required coursework. BSW graduates in the Regular Program may receive exemption for some coursework, as per admission guidelines.

Students enrolled in the advanced standing program must complete 36 credits of graduate study including: 6 credits of field practicum, 12 credits of electives, and 18 credits of required coursework including a summer “bridge” course.

Due to the cohort nature of this program, all courses must be taken in sequence. The Regular Program can be completed in two years full time (four courses per academic semester plus summer courses) or four years part time (two courses a semester). The Advanced Standing Program can be completed in one-year, full time, or two years, part time. Both programs are year-round.


Students enroll in either the regular (60 credits) or the advanced (36 credits) program. Students in the regular program take both the required generalist year and the specialization year courses including three elective courses. Students in the advanced program take the required integrative seminar, the specialization year courses, and four elective courses. All courses are three credits each.

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