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Master of Social Work

A Master of Social Work Degree (MSW) prepares graduates for work in a variety of settings, including public agency work, private clinical practice, integrated healthcare, social service management and administration. A MSW is required for individuals who want to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). In addition, social workers with a MSW are eligible to obtain certifications from the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW), and as a Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW), or a Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW). These credentials are especially important for those in clinical practice who depend on health insurance providers to reimburse them for services.

students at hhs


Entry into the MSW Program does not require a bachelor's degree in Social Work, but courses in Psychology, Biology, Economics, and Political Science are strongly recommended. Transfer students may have up to twelve semester hours of graduate credit with grades of B or better transferred from another CSWE-accredited MSW program.

The MSW program offers full-time and part-time (3 or 4 year option) study and an Advanced Standing Program for students with a BSW awarded in the prior 5 years. Students who are pursuing integrated healthcare training may be eligible for a $10,000 stipends available during their final year of study. Classes are taught at both the WCU main campus in Cullowhee and in Asheville at the WCU Biltmore Park instructional site. For details, please see the sample schedule.

The MSW Program at Western Carolina University is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). For additional information please refer to the MSW STUDENT MANUAL

Western Carolina’s Department of Social Work is seeking applicants who demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to the values of the Social Work profession. Consideration for admission will be given to those applicants who exemplify the greatest potential for successful scholarship through their past academic and/or work experiences.

The Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) Program requires  62 hours (two years) of graduate coursework beyond the bachelor degree from an accredited college or university.

Only complete application packets will be considered.

These following requirements are  for admission to the regular full- or part-time  Master of Social Work (MSW) Program at Western Carolina University:

  • (Please note: The GRE is no longer required for admission)
  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework, or a 2.85 on a 4.0 scale cumulatively
  • Adequate undergraduate preparation (18 semester hours) with a range of studies in the liberal arts, humanities, physical sciences, diversity, and behavioral sciences- an undergraduate degree in Social Work is not required for admission
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least  one should be an academic recommendation)
  • Some Human Services-related experience, including volunteer work desirable

There are a number of ways that you can finance your Master's Degree. 

  1. HRSA Stipend: This $10,000 stipend is available to second-year students with approximately thirty available per year. Read More
  2. Graduate Assistantships: Teaching and research graduate assistantships are available to a limited number of qualified graduate students. An assistantship is a paid academic appointment made to a graduate student that involves part-time teaching or research employment. Learn More
  3. Fellowships and Scholarships: Graduate students can be considered for a number of scholarships. In order to be considered for scholarships awarded by WCU, you must submit the online scholarship application prior to February 1st for the following fall. Explore More
  4. Financial Aid: Federal loans, grants, and more are available by filling out your FAFSA and applying. Discover More

For more information on funding your Masters of Social Work please contact Dr. Pat Morse at or 828.227.7112.

MSW Graduate Application Checklist 

_____ Graduate School Application
_____ Official or unofficial transcripts: Send directly to the Graduate School or upload to the online application
_____ 3 professional recommendations (at least one must be academic)
_____ Professional resume
_____ Personal Narrative Statement/supplemental questions
_____ List of liberal arts courses taken as an undergraduate
_____ Criminal Record Statement
_____ Nonrefundable $65.00 application fee

Field Work

Students in the two-year program will participate in two different field placements, while advanced standing students will participate in one specialized field placement. 


Child Welfare Education Collaborative (CWEC)

Participation in the Child Welfare Education Collaborative Scholars Program is available at both the BSW and MSW levels. 

Integrated Healthcare

MSW students interested in integrated healthcare may participated in a specialization track and be eligible for a $10,000 stipend.

Substance Abuse Studies Certificate (SASCP) 

MSW students who apply and are accepted must complete four elective classes focusing on SA and SA treatment, and complete their two semester Specialized year internship with an approved SA treatment agency under a CSI or CSS level supervisor.

School Social Work Certification 

MSW students who apply for and are accepted to the School Social Work certification program must complete the online School Social Work elective (SOCW 528), an additional course from an approved list offered through the School of Education,  and must complete their two semester Specialized year internship in an accredited school setting. Upon graduation, these students can apply for and receive North Carolina School Social Work Certification.  

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