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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.

Social Work is an exciting academic major, preparing students for professional entry-level work in the social and human services. Students in the major engage in the exploration of ways to ameliorate personal, interpersonal, and societal problems and learn skills and techniques in order to create change and make a difference in people’s lives. Social Work is a valuable degree as many employers recognize it as preparing graduates to utilize a variety of tools to work with diverse populations on multiple issues and goals.

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 BSSW Program has been continuously accredited since 1997 by the Council on Social Work Education, the sole accrediting body for social work programs 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

When students start at MSU Denver and decide they want to pursue a degree in Social Work, they should declare their major as Undeclared Seeking Social Work (UNSW). The Department of Social Work reserves the Social Work (SWK) major for students who have been formally accepted into the major and are working on the upper division BSSW Program coursework. If you would like to meet with a Social Work advisor to discuss the major and when to apply, please call our Welcome Desk at 303-615-0555 or email

You should contact the Office of Transfer Services to have a preliminary evaluation completed. Once students have had their transcripts evaluated, students should call our Welcome Desk at 303-615-0555 to schedule an appointment to meet with a Social Work advisor. They will provide you with a personalized curriculum plan based on how completed coursework will transfer. This plan is tentative until an official evaluation has been completed.

Students must apply to the BSSW Major in the spring semester prior to the fall semester in which the student intends to start the BSSW Program. If you are on our BSSW Prospective Student list, you will be notified when the application becomes available. For the most up to date information about the application process, please visit our BSSW Program application page.

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 in either the Mixed Traditional format (taking courses on campus day, on campus night, in the hybrid format, or online) or in the Fully Online format (all courses are taken online and students are guaranteed a spot in online sections of all required courses). 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 in the Mixed Traditional course delivery option should expect to be on campus at least one or two days a week depending on their course selection.

Yes, the Social Work Department has both part-time plans to complete the BSSW degree and evening courses to help accommodate non-traditional schedules.


The BSSW program (upper division coursework) is 54 credit hours. To obtain an undergraduate degree from MSU Denver, students must complete a total of 120 credits and fulfill all general studies and graduation requirements. For more information, please visit our BSSW Program Coursework page.

Full time students take 12-15 credits per semester (4-5 courses) and part time students take 6-9 credits per semester (2-3 courses). For more information, please visit our BSSW Program Coursework 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 BSSW 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 must be completed before you can move on to Field placement and the second year SWK courses in senior year.

Your field placement will be sixteen hours a week for a total of 240 hours per semester. Think of this as two full eight hour days, although the schedule typically depends on the needs of the agency. 

Career and Professional Advising

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

Costs and Financial Aid

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Contact Information

Main Office Phone:



Main Office
Central Classroom Suite 201

Office of Field Education
Central Classroom Suite 202

Office of Social Work Student Services
Central Classroom Suite 206

Maps and Parking

Mailing Address:

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


Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation logo

Our MSW and BSSW Programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education - the sole accrediting body for social work education.