Graduate Program

MSW Program Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Arkansas MSW program is to use the body of knowledge, values, and skills of the social work profession to:

  1. develop new social work knowledge through the conduct of research in the spirit of scientific inquiry and the use of new technologies, especially in the area of poverty reduction;
  2. educate competent and effective advanced leader/practitioners committed to fundamental social work values including service, social justice, integrity, the dignity and worth of every person, competence and human rights; and
  3. apply research findings in outreach efforts through service and leadership in the development of social service delivery systems to improve the quality of life of poor and other vulnerable persons, families, groups, organizations and communities in Arkansas, nationally, and globally.

MSW Program Overview

Professional social work is challenging, rewarding and filled with exciting opportunities. The faculty and staff of the School are committed to preparing students to meet the significant challenges addressed by social workers with advanced degrees in an ever-changing world and to acquainting them with the many rewards of professional social work.

Students in the MSW program explore social work from many vantage points. They are asked to examine their values and beliefs in the contexts of those of the profession and of the populations served by social workers. MSW students explore a wide range of theories about human behavior and the environments in which humans live. They learn a range of practice skills used by social workers in efforts to serve and advocate for the individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities with whom we work

The graduate program educates students to analyze and advocate for social policies to improve the conditions of vulnerable populations. They grapple with the complexities of human diversity and social and economic justice. The graduate student examines existing research methodologies and learns a range of research skills to help advance evidence based social work practice. The program will acquaint students with the use of new technologies available to social workers. And, perhaps most important, through the field internship experiences, students will have the opportunity to apply what they learn in real life social work practice contexts.

The MSW program at the University of Arkansas School of Social Work is designed to prepare leader/practitioners for advanced practice with multiple systems across the life course. We are particularly concerned that our graduates leave the program with the leadership skills and tools needed to advance the mission of the profession, especially in terms of reducing poverty and assisting vulnerable populations in moving toward self-sufficiency and well being.

Curriculum Overview and Program Options

The MSW program includes four program options:

  • The Regular (2-year) full-time program (63 credit hours) is designed for students entering the program without a CSWE accredited bachelor’s degree in social work. This option includes one year of foundation curriculum and one year of advanced concentration curriculum.
  • The Extended (3-Year) program (63 credit hours) is an extended version of the Regular (2-year) program that allows students to take a reduced number of credit hours per semester (6-9) while completing the foundation curriculum and then move to full-time in their 3rd year for the advanced concentration.
  • The Advanced Standing (12-month) full-time program (39 credit hours) is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program, obtained within the past six years. Applicants who earned their degree more than 6 years prior to application may petition for an exception, by documenting a significant post-bachelor’s history of social work employment and ongoing continuing education. 
  • The Online Advanced Standing (12-month) full-time program (39 credit hours) allows students to complete all MSW degree requirements from their home location. No campus visits are required. Field internships are also arranged in the vicinity of the student’s location. Online students must meet specific technology requirements.  Applicants to the on campus and online Advanced Standing programs must meet the same admission requirements. 

Multi-System Life Course Perspective

The graduate program includes one concentration conceptualized using a Multi-System Life Course (MSLC) perspective. The program requires all students to develop advanced professional knowledge, values, and skills for practice with multiple systems (individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities) across the life course. A systems framework is used in structuring the curriculum and life course theory is used as the theoretical base for the concentration curriculum.

Capstone Research Project

Students complete a capstone research project over the course of the advanced year. The capstone project is completed as a significant component of the required two-course Research and Technology sequence. Students may instead choose to complete a thesis with curriculum committee approval.

For curriculum plans please see the individual program option links under “Graduate Program” on this website.