Social Work (MSW)


The Master of Social Work degree prepares students for advanced practice in clinical social work. Students can take a general course of study or pursue a specialized certification. Students in the On Campus option can earn certificates in Health Care and Social Work, Public Policy, Trauma Practice, Military Clinical Social Work or School Social Worker/School Adjustment Counselor as a licensed Massachusetts School Social Worker. Online students can earn certificates in Military Clinical Social Work, Mental Health Practice, or Trauma Practice. All students learn multiple social work roles and skills necessary to be effective within evolving professional practice settings. Simmons University School of Social Work MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

The mission of the MSW program is to prepare masters level professional practitioners with skills for clinical social work practice in a multicultural world using knowledge based on scientific inquiry and practicum-informed practice. This educational experience, consistent with the history and philosophy of the social work profession, is grounded in a values perspective that emphasizes client strengths and diversities, actively opposes all forms of oppression, and supports social and economic justice. The education is designed to help students develop practice competencies, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities as well as cultural sensitivity, and self-awareness.
Graduates will be able to work with a variety of populations and social issues, using a broad and flexible array of interventions at an advanced level. They will have the ability to work with individuals, families, groups and communities to facilitate development and change in the service of social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. Graduates will be prepared to practice with an appreciation for the dignity and worth of the person and the importance of human relationships; established with integrity and a commitment to human rights.

Learning Outcomes

The MSW program prepares students to practice with an appreciation for the dignity and worth of the person and the importance of human relationships. Simmons students are provided a foundation that emphasizes integrity and a commitment to supporting human rights and actively opposing structures and practices that oppress and marginalize individuals, groups. and communities.

In alignment with the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, the Simmons University Master’s Social Work Program utilizes a competency-based educational framework whereby student abilities and program success are demonstrated by measurable outcomes.

Requirements for entry into the MSW Program

Students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with at least a 3.0 (B) grade point average. Relevant work or volunteer experience is also required. In addition, a statement of professional and educational intent, academic transcripts and three professional references must be submitted for review.

Requirements for entry into the Advanced Standing Program Option (for recent BSW graduates)

Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) and who have graduated from a college or university accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) within the last seven years can apply for the Advanced Standing Program Option.

Applicants will need to submit the following materials: academic transcripts; three recommendation letters (one of which should be from the director of practicum education at their BSW program); a statement of professional and educational intent; an Advanced Standing statement that includes a two to three page summary of their BSW internship learning, including social work models and approaches utilized; a case example that exemplifies how the applicant applied theory to guide their understanding of the case and intervention or treatment plan; a self-assessment of learning to date, including goals and challenges anticipated in an advanced clinical placement; and a copy of the applicant’s most recent BSW practicum evaluation.

In addition, applicants will participate in an interview with a faculty member from the Simmons MSW Practicum Education Department. 


Delivery Modes and Enrollment Options

On Campus MSW Enrollment Options

Students in the full-time On Campus program can complete degree requirements in two years. They are assigned a practicum placement for three days a week (24 hours) for both years of the program and take classes two days per week. This is a 65-credit degree.

The Extended-Study Program offers On Campus students the option to expand a two-year program into two-and-a-half, three or four years. The first year of the program could be called part-time, as students devote two days a week to classes and study but do not have a practicum. In the subsequent years, students must dedicate four or five days per week to the program, which includes three days of placement (24 hours/week) and one to two days for classes. Most students complete the program in three years. Note: A limited number of 16 hour per week/11 month placements are available to students in the Full-Time and Extended Programs. This is a 65-credit degree.

On Campus students complete four consecutive semesters commencing in the Spring term; a three day per week practicum is required each semester. A few select courses must be taken in the online option. This is an accelerated 65-credit degree.

Advanced Standing
The Simmons School of Social Work offers a 9-month Advanced Standing Program to qualified applicants with a bachelor's degree in Social Work (BSW) who have graduated within the last seven years from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This option includes one, three-day-per-week practicum (24 hours/week) from September to May, a weekly virtual practicum seminar, and a total of eight advanced-level courses. This is a 34-credit degree.

Online MSW Enrollment Options

Accelerated (Cohorts offered in September, January, May)
Students in the Online Accelerated option typically require 16 months (four terms) to complete their 65-credit degree. Students take five courses per term, which includes the practicum education courses. These courses consist of a Simulated Practicum Experience (SPX) the first term and one, three-day-per-week practicum (24 hours/week) that spans their second, third, and fourth terms.  

Full-Time (Cohorts offered in September, November, January, March, May)
Students in the Online Full-Time option typically require two years (six terms) to complete their 65-credit degree. Students take three courses the first term and sixth term; four courses the second term, which includes a Simulated Practicum Experience (SPX) course; and four courses during the third through fifth term, which includes one, three-day-per-week practicum (24 hours/week) that spans all three of those terms.

Extended (Cohorts offered in September, November, January, March, May)
The Online Extended option (eight terms) offers students the option to expand the full-time program into two-and-a half years. In the first four terms, students take two classes a week. In the subsequent years, students take between two and four classes per week. This includes a one, three-day-per-week practicum (24 hours/week) during the fifth, sixth, and seventh term.  Most students complete the program in three years. 

Advanced Standing (Cohorts offered in September, January, May)
The Online program offers both a two-term and a three-term Advanced Standing Program to qualified applicants with a bachelor's degree in Social Work (BSW) who have graduated within the last seven years from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Both program options include one, three-day-per-week practicum (24 hours/week) for two terms (starting in either the first or second term depending on program length), a weekly skills-based virtual practicum, and eight advanced-level courses. This is a 34-credit degree.


Degree Requirements


The MSW degree requires 65 credit hours, consisting of 48 credit hours of classroom courses and 17 credit hours of practicum courses. Listed below is the MSW course sequence as of September 2022. On Ground course numbers have the prefix SW; online courses, SWO.

Specialized Year

SW 404Social Welfare Policy


SW 414Assessment and Diagnosis


SW 424AAdvanced Clinical Practice


SW 424BAdvanced Clinical Practice


SW 447APracticum Education Year II


SW 447BPracticum Education Year II


SW 509Program Evaluation in Social Work








Licensure and Certificate Programs

As an MSW student, you may choose to pursue a certificate program in which you will gain advanced skills in a specific area of interest through a structured sequence of courses.

MSW with MA Licensure in School Social Work (On-Campus)

Students in the MSW program interested in practicing as a school social worker can elect to work towards the Massachusetts state license to be a School Social Worker/School Adjustment Counselor (SSW/SAC). The certification is required to work as a clinical social worker in many school settings in Massachusetts.

Requirements for the MSW with Licensure as a School Social Worker/School Adjustment Counselor include:

  • Sixty-two credits in the MSW program including SW 539 Social Work in Schools and SW 595, Child and Adolescent Diagnosis, one specialized social work elective and three required courses (eight credits) taken in the Simmons University Department of Education (SPND 441, SPND 444, SPND 445)
  • Successful completion of the two SSW practicum; one placement must be in a school setting the other placement is encouraged to be in a setting serving children and families
  • Completion and submission of required documentation

Students planning to work toward the school social worker license should review the SSW/SAC student handbook, follow the program plan provided at registration, and attend the information sessions with the Certificate Coordinator. Practicum planning should be guided by licensure requirements. To be granted the license, candidates must complete all requirements mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) (e.g., passing the Communication and Literacy tests of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure [MTEL]). Students are strongly encouraged to take the MTEL before completing the MSW program. Waiting to take it until after graduation might delay the ability to secure employment. 

MSW with Certificate in Public Policy (On Campus)

This certificate program is designed to give MSW students with an interest in macro/policy issues the opportunity to supplement their clinical education experience with a deeper knowledge of public policy. This certificate will position graduates to have more options in terms of career directions in social work, particularly around policymaking or policy advocacy, with an emphasis on building policy analysis and advocacy skills that will allow students to analyze and affect policies at local, state, and national levels. These courses will enhance students’ understanding of policy systems and theory, methods of policy analysis, and subject matter knowledge in two major policy arenas.

MSW with Certificate in Trauma Practice (On Campus and Online)

The Certificate in Trauma Practice will prepare graduates for practice with a variety of populations in multiple settings including: schools and universities, community mental health centers, immigrant and refugee centers, the legal justice and prison systems, inpatient and outpatient hospitalization programs, and psychotherapeutic settings with children, adults, couples, families and groups. Students complete all regular MSW program requirements, as well as SW 528A Child and Adolescent Trauma, SW 528B Lifespan of Trauma Treatment: Adults and Families, and two Trauma Practice certificate electives.

MSW with Certificate in Clinical Practice with Active Service Members, Veterans, and Families (On Campus and Online) (Launching Fall 2023)

This certificate provides MSW students with a unique opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in effective and culturally-sensitive clinical practice with servicemembers, veterans, and their families. Students will learn about the systems and culture of the U.S. military; the sociocultural identity development of military personnel; the experiences, needs, and strengths of military individuals and families, with specific attention to minoritized groups; avenues of support for military personnel and their families; and specific assessment and intervention practices, with particular emphasis on PTSD and suicidality. This certificate prepares students to work with individuals and families at any stage of military involvement and in a variety of settings.

Certificate in Mental Health Practice (Online)

The Certificate in Mental Health Practice prepares graduates to:

Work with people who have experience with serious mental health conditions, including those with concurrent health conditions. Students will learn to recognize and address the significant impacts of stigma, marginalization, and discrimination that impede the health, safety, access to resources, and quality of life for people with serious mental health conditions. In addition, they will become skilled in delivering evidence-based and best practice approaches for managing symptoms and achieving wellness and recovery. Students will exit the program with an understanding of the role of social worker as both a provider and advocate working in collaboration with interdisciplinary teams, families, and other supports and services.


Elective Courses

MSW students who opt not to enroll in a certificate can still develop a focused skill set through their elective courses. Students interested in an area of focus can work with their Academic Advisors on elective selection. Examples of focus areas are:

  • Health and Aging
  • Child and Family Wellbeing
  • Substance Use and Misuse
  • Adult Mental Health
  • Trauma and Interpersonal Violence
  • Group Practice
  • Clinical Practice and Therapy Models

Course Sequencing / Prerequisites

Total Credit Hours: 65

Practicum Placements

Students apply their academic knowledge through direct-practice internships with individuals, groups, families agencies, and larger systems. Practicum helps students develop a strong foundation of social work practice skills prior to graduation. The final semesters of field placement focus on advanced clinical skills. Practicum placements occur on weekdays (Monday-Friday) during regular business hours.

On Ground MSW practicum options 

  • Full-Time Students: Internships are three days (24 hours) per week from September to May for both years of the MSW Program.
  • Extended Program Students: Internships taken during the second and third years of the program are three days (24 hours) per week from September to May. Students can choose to do placements 16 hours per week for 11 months.
  • Advanced Standing Students: Advanced standing students complete one 2 semester (Fall, Spring) practicum. Placements are 24 hours each week.
  • 16-Month Students: Internships are in four consecutive semesters starting in the Spring Term. Each is 24 hours per week.

Online MSW practicum options
In the first term of field education students complete the Simulated Practicum Experience, a 14-week 3 credit course that constitutes the first term of the generalist placement. After successful completion of the course, students enter the three-term agency-based placement which comprises the final term of the generalist placement and both terms of the specialized placement. The core of the Simulated Field Experience is simulation training, an evidence-based teaching and learning pedagogy and an essential method for applying knowledge to practice. MSW program students are required to complete a minimum of 1104 hours of practicum in their agency-based placements. Regular attendance of three days a week (or 24 hours per week) in practicum is required of students during the three terms. Advanced Standing students attend 672 hours of practicum for two terms.

Students in each of the online options typically begin practicum work as follows:

  • Extended (8 terms): 4th term
  • Full-time (6 terms): 2nd term
  • Accelerated (4 terms): 1st term
  • Advanced Standing (3 terms): 2nd term
  • Advanced Standing (2 terms): 1st term

Employment as Practicum (all enrollment options)

In certain situations, the School and Practicum Education Department may permit students to use a paid social work position to fulfill the practicum education requirement for one practicum. In the On Ground program this arrangement is generally made for the foundation placement but can also occur during the advanced placement if faculty deems the site appropriate. In the Online program this could possibly be approved as the 3 term placement. Students who wish to use their place of paid employment as a practicum must complete an employment-based field placement application. Each application will be carefully reviewed and decided upon within the framework of Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and school standards and expectations. To be approved, the agency and student must agree to adhere to the criteria for such placements, which are listed in the Practicum Education Manual.