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The Basics About Social Work

The National Association of Social Workers defines social work as the following:

Social workers help people overcome social and health problems, such as poverty, mental illness, child abuse and neglect, emotional instability, illness, economic uncertainty, domestic violence, homelessness, and drug abuse. They work directly with individuals, couples, families, and groups to identify and overcome these problems. Some social workers also work with communities, organizations, and/or systems to improve services and/or administrate social and health programs.

Social workers apply their professional knowledge and skills to help people make the most effective use of their own abilities. When adequate services do not exist in a community, social workers promote the development of new services and programs.

Social workers are found in many settings, including private practice, mental health, health, schools, community agencies, public welfare, agency administration, and policy and planning. Social work’s approach is unique among the helping professions because it focuses on people’s problems in the context of their social environment. Social workers believe that people are influenced by the strengths and weaknesses of those around them – in their families, communities, workplaces, and organizations.

MSU Denver's Master of Social Work (MSW) Program educates social workers to serve the needs of individuals, families, groups, communities and organization in a multicultural and global society. Our program combines academic, research and field experience into a rigorous curriculum that teaches ethical decision making, scientific inquiry, cultural sensitivity, and global awareness as well as clinical assessment and intervention skills, leadership and management skills, and community organizing.

One difference between the two disciplines is that counselors focus on helping individuals and families who have a certain set of challenges. Social workers are involved in offering a range of services within social service systems. A counselor may focus on helping family members cope with tragic news and deal with their emotion about the situation. A social worker can provide therapy and also refer the family to resources that may help them manage. Social workers typically have a broader understanding of the community and the systems that impact the needs of their clients. 


The MSW Program has been accredited since 2011 by the Council on Social Work Education, the sole accrediting body for social work program in the U.S. Accreditation assures that professional standards are met in curriculum content and delivery. Accredited programs periodically undergo rigorous review by CSWE in order to ensure compliance with educational standards.

Application Process

You should contact the SWK department directly to get in communication with a member of the academic advising staff to have your coursework evaluated. The Social Work Department will evaluate your courses but will only accept up to nine credit hours of graduate level transfer coursework. The department will not accept practice or field coursework as transfer.

We accept applications starting in the fall semester of every year. The application deadlines are typically posted at the start of fall semester (mid-August). Applicants can expect the deadlines to be December or January prior to the fall for which they are applying. Please note that deadlines change every admission cycle and to continue to check the Social Work Department website for up to date information. 

We admit students in the Spring semester for a Fall semester start. Our coursework is sequential and only starts in the Fall of every year.

Students can attend courses on campus day, on campus night or a combination of hybrid or online. Due to the sequential nature of the coursework it is important for students to follow the plan of completion agreed upon at the time of admission. Students should expect to be on campus at least one or two days a week depending on their course selection. Hybrid and online course work may require one on campus meeting date.

Yes, the Social Work Department has both part-time plans to complete the MSW degree and evening courses to help accommodate non-traditional schedules. It is important for students to meet with an academic advisor and discuss their needs at the time of acceptance.


The MSW program is a 60 credit hour program for Regular (2-Year) applicants and 30 credit hour program for Advanced Standing applicants.

If you are in the Advanced Standing Program, please visit either the Advanced Standing Macro Concentration page or the Advanced Standing Individuals and Families Concentration page. If you are in the Regular Program, please visit the Regular Program Macro Concentration page or the Regular Program Individuals and Families Concentration page.

We do offer some summer courses to lighten the course work through the regular academic year. We recommend student check summer schedule and confirm they are eligible for the coursework. 

The MSW Regular (2-Year) Program curriculum is delivered within a two year (full-time) highly structured format. Students take Social Work coursework in sequence and should take that into consideration when planning education, work and other commitments. The first year of courses (foundation year) must be completed before students can move on to courses in the second year (concentration year).

The MSW Advanced Standing program curriculum is delivered within a one year (full-time) highly structured format. Students take Social Work coursework in sequence and should take that into consideration when planning education, work and other commitments. Students must complete fall concentration year coursework in order to move on to spring coursework. 

Foundation year students are required to complete sixteen hours a week. Concentration year students are required to complete twenty hours a week. Keep in mind that schedules are dictated based on the needs and schedule of the agency.

Career and Professional Advising

Yes, you will be assigned a faculty and academic advisor at the time of admission into the Social Work Department.

Costs and Financial Aid

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Contact Information

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Main Office
Central Classroom Suite 201

Office of Field Education
Central Classroom Suite 202

Office of Social Work Student Services
Central Classroom Suite 206

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Mailing Address:

Metropolitan State University of Denver
Department of Social Work
PO Box 173362 CB 70
Denver, CO 80217-3362