While most graduates must commit two or more years to their MSW degree, a small percentage of students may be eligible to complete their MSW in as little as a year through the Advanced-Standing MSW (ASMSW) option. In the sections below, we'll provide all the information you'll need to know to determine if you're eligible for this type of program and whether or not it's the right choice for you.

What is an Advanced-Standing MSW Degree?

The primary difference between a traditional MSW program and an Advanced-Standing MSW program is that an ASMSW is an accelerated program typically geared toward individuals with a proven background and knowledge in social work, including a prior Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree with a high GPA. This allows them to bypass some of the more introductory information offered in a traditional MSW. If you wish to pursue an MSW and have a bachelor’s degree in a related mental health field (such as a Bachelor’s in Counseling or Bachelor’s in Psychology), a traditional MSW program will be more suited to your needs.

Advanced-Standing MSW Admissions Requirements

The two main Advanced-Standing MSW admissions requirements that you'll see listed for practically every accredited program are a BSW degree and a GPA of at least 3.5. Apart from these requirements, you'll likely also need the following:

  • Submission of official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Statement of purpose or personal statement outlining career goals and motivations for pursuing the program
  • Relevant professional or volunteer experience in the field of social work may be preferred or required by some programs

RELATED: Find out more about Social Work Degrees.

Can I Get an Advanced-Standing MSW Degree Online?

Yes, it is possible to earn an Advanced-Standing Master of Social Work degree online. Many universities and colleges offer online MSW programs, including Advanced-Standing options. These programs allow students to complete coursework online, with field placements often arranged in the student’s local area. These programs are designed to provide flexibility for working professionals or those with other commitments who wish to pursue a higher degree in social work. They are also ideal for those in more rural communities who don’t have a college campus within feasible commuting distance.

Advanced-Standing MSW Curriculum

The curriculum of an Advanced-Standing MSW program typically consists of advanced coursework tailored to build upon the foundational knowledge and skills acquired during undergraduate social work studies. While specific requirements may vary by institution, students can expect to complete approximately 30-40 coursework credits, including core and elective courses. Examples of course titles may include:

  • Advanced Social Policy Analysis
  • Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Advanced Practice with Individuals and Families
  • Diversity and Social Justice in Social Work Practice
  • Research Methods in Social Work

Additionally, many ASMSW programs require students to complete field placements or internships, allowing them to gain hands-on experience in a real-world social work setting under the supervision of experienced social work professionals. Field placements may involve working in various settings such as hospitals, schools, community organizations, or government agencies, providing students with valuable opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations and develop essential clinical skills.

LEARN MORE: Find out about Social Work Careers.

Advanced-Standing MSW vs. Traditional MSW Programs

Check out the table below to see a comparison of traditional MSW programs and Advanced-Standing MSW programs:

Advanced-Standing MSWTraditional MSW
Program LengthTypically 1 year for full-time students who have completed a BSW from a CSWE-accredited programTypically 2 years for full-time students
PrerequisitesCompletion of a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program with a high GPAA bachelor’s degree in any field, although a BSW may provide some advantages
CurriculumFocuses more on advanced coursework and field education, with fewer foundational coursesIncludes foundational courses in social work theory, research, and practice, along with field education components
Field EducationUsually involves a shorter field placement, as students have already completed a BSW field placementTypically includes longer field placements to ensure students gain comprehensive hands-on experience
Admission RequirementsMay require a higher GPA and additional application materials, such as a resume and letters of recommendationMay have slightly lower GPA requirements and a more standard application process
CostRanges from $25,000 to $50,000+. Lower cost due to shorter program length and potentially fewer required coursesRanges from $30,000 to $70,000+. Higher cost due to longer program length and potentially more required courses
Tara Moretti, LMHC
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