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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 Department of Social Work directly at to get in communication with a member of the academic advising staff to have your coursework evaluated. The Department of Social Work 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. Please see below for the full guidelines:

Transfer Student Admission Guidelines

  • No more than 9, graduate-level, transfer credits (semester hours or equivalent) will be accepted for any program. These credits must have been completed no longer than six years prior to the admission term and must be from a regionally accredited, U.S. institution or equivalent. 
  • Programs have discretion over acceptance of transfer courses. A minimum grade of “B” is required for each transfer course. Applicants should check the program website and/or contact a program advisor for details.

Departmental Transfer Process:

Advanced Standing Program applicants will automatically receive a block of 30 graduate credits once the program has verified affirmative Council on Social Work Education accreditation status at the time the student graduated with their BSW degree.

All graduate transfer credit requests, with the exception of the block of 30 credits automatically transferred for BSW graduates, must be reviewed by the Office of Social Work Student Services and the MSW Program Director. Requests for review may be facilitated through an advising appointment with the Office of Social Work Student Services or by emailing the request to No undergraduate courses will be accepted as substitutions for graduate coursework. The MSW Program does not guarantee the transfer of graduate-level Social Work courses from other schools.

MSW students who received their BSW degree more than six years ago or are requesting the transfer of graduate social work courses from more than six years ago may be accepted conditionally on a case-by-case basis. This status is typically reserved for those that can document substantial and on-going professional experience in the field of social work.

Our program only has one application cycle annually and we accept applications starting the fall prior every year. The application requirements and deadlines are typically posted at the start of fall semester (mid-August/September). Applicants can expect the deadlines to be December or January prior to the semester for which they are applying. The Advanced Standing Program is summer start only and the Regular Program is falls start only. Please note that deadlines change every admission cycle. For the most up to date information, please visit our MSW Program application page.

We admit students in the spring semester for a summer semester start or fall semester start. Our coursework is sequential and only starts in the summer of every year for the Advanced Standing Program and the fall of every year for the Regular Program.

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 MSW degree and evening courses to help accommodate non-traditional schedules.


The MSW Regular Program for students who have an accredited bachelor's degree is a 60 credit hours.

The MSW Advanced Standing Program for students who have a Bachelor of Social Work degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education is 36 credit hours.

Full time students will take 15 credits (5 courses) per semester. Part time students will take 6-9 credits (2-3 courses) per semester. For more information, please visit our Regular Program advising page and our Advanced Standing Program advising 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 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 including summer bridge courses. 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 for a total of 240 hours per semester. Concentration year students are required to complete twenty hours a week for a total of 300 hours per semester. 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 both a faculty advisor  and an academic advisor at the time of admission into the Social Work Department.

Costs and Financial Aid

For the most up-to-date tuition and fee information, please visit the Office of the Bursar's website or download our 19-20 MSW Program Cost Information

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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.