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Master's In Social Work


The Helen Bader School of Social Welfare offers an MSW program that prepares social workers for advanced-level careers. It also provides a strong foundation for students who anticipate studying at the doctoral level.

The curriculum grounds students in advanced general knowledge of research, policy, human behavior and practice. Students select an area of concentration and their preferred practice methods. By the time they graduate, students demonstrate the knowledge, skills, values and ethics of the profession and are competent for specialized practice and scholarly pursuits at the master’s level. 
The program starts in the fall of each year.

It is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and prepares students to meet state certification requirements.

Concentrations & Specializations

Students select one of the following three areas of concentration:

Behavioral and Physical Health
Students in this concentration are prepared for advanced social work practice involving the delivery of health, mental health, and addiction services to individuals, families, groups, and communities.

Students in this concentration study the complexity of the aging process, including the healthcare services and delivery, mental health, aging within family systems, and problems associated with aging.

Family and Child Welfare
Students in this concentration develop the advanced knowledge and skills necessary to provide services to, and advocate for, children and families in a wide variety of settings.

In addition, students select a practice method in which to specialize:

Direct Practice
This method focuses on facilitating change with individuals and families.

Macro Practice
This method involves working with organizations and communities. Students hone skills in planning, policy practice, administration, program development and community practice.

Double Methods
Students interested in the range of social work practice methods would benefit from this option, which combines Direct Practice and Micro Practice.


Our faculty is committed to interdisciplinary research in social work. Their endeavors are enhanced by our location in a major research university, situated in Wisconsin’s largest city.

Faculty regularly conduct research with funding from major national agencies and foundations, and have their work published in major social work journals and books.

Because our goal is to foster positive change in our society, our research spurs intellectual exchange among policymakers, practitioners, and other scholars in social work and related disciplines.

Curriculum: Master of Science in Social Work  

All students complete a minimum of 34 graduate credits, distributed as follows.

11 credits of Field Instruction
8 credits of Social Work Practice Methods
4 credits of Social Work Research
5 credits within selected area of concentration
6 credits of electives

Professional Foundation Courses

Students admitted into the graduate social work program without having earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited social work program within the past five years are required to fulfill the Professional Foundation prior to Advanced Curriculum course work. The purpose of the Professional Foundation is to orient students to the profession and to provide a knowledge, values and skills base in preparation for graduate level work. Course work in the Professional Foundation is not included in the 34 Advanced Curriculum credits required for the MSW degree.

Graduate Assistantships 

A limited number of Teaching Assistant, Project Assistant, and Research Assistantship positions are available to qualified students who carry 6 or more credits. Vacancies are filled on a competitive basis each semester. Most positions require 13 hours of work weekly. Students who accept positions are considered employees of UWM and educational expenses may not be deducted from taxable income.

To be considered, a graduate applicant must send a complete Section V of the MSW application (available in the graduate student information packet) to the Social Work Program. Deadline is April 15.

Admission to the Social Work Master’s Program

Applicants must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following program requirements:

  • Satisfactory completion of at lease 21 semester credits in social and behavior science areas
  • Undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 2.75 or better. (Students with lower GPAs may be admitted on probationary status. See below.)
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons who are familiar with the applicant’s personal and professional background.
  • Narrative statement that addresses work experience and professional goals.

Admission is limited and competitive. Potential students are evaluated on the following: academic preparation and achievement; personal qualifications and maturity; volunteer and employment experience; and potential and aptitude for graduate study and professional practice.

Admission on Probationary Status

Applicants whose GPA is 2.75-2.99 may be considered for admission on probation. Students are removed from probation after completion of 9 credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or better.

Graduation Requirements

  • Minimum of 34 graduate credits
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 (B average)


When and How to Apply

The priority deadline for applying to the UWM Graduate School and UWM’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare’s MSW program is January 2. Applicants must complete both the Social Work Program application and the on-line Graduate School application.  

Information sessions are held each fall to help students prepare their applications. Please contact the Social Work Graduate Program for more information.

To Request Applications of for More Information

UWM Helen Bader School of Social Welfare
Social Work Graduate Program
P.O. Box 786
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0786
Phone: 414-229-3998
Email: hbssw@uwm.edu
Web: www.uwm.edu/Dept/SSW


UWM Graduate School
P.O. Box 340
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0340
Phone: 414-229-6569
Fax: 414-229-5311
Web: www.graduateschool.uwm.edu