College Of Health & Human Sciences

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, 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), the Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW), and/or the 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.

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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. Up to twelve semester hours of graduate credit hours with grades of B or better may be transferred from another accredited MSW program.

The MSW program offers full-time and part-time study and an Advanced Standing Program for students with a BSW awarded in the prior 5 years. Second-year students also have $10,000 in stipends available for their program study. Classes are taught at both the WCU 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 information regarding employment and time limitations, full/part-time/advanced standing and eligibility requirements, 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:

  • GRE scores no older than five years: Lower scores may be offset by other exceptionally strong components of the application on a case by case basis  
  • 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  
  • Satisfactory score (145 or above on Verbal Reasoning and 3.5 or above on Writing Analysis preferred) Graduate Record Examination (GRE)  
  • 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 find aid for your Master's Degree. 

  1. HRSA Stipend: This $10,000 stipend is available to second-year students with over 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 GRE Scores: Sent directly to the Graduate School 
_____ 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 concentration 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. 

Substance Abuse 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 Concentration level 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 Concentration level 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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