Master of Social Work

The UA Little Rock Master in Social Work (MSW) program prepares graduates for careers in general social work practice and offers specialized concentrations in Advanced Direct Practice (clinical) or Community and Organizational Impact. We are committed to discovering and disseminating knowledge, embracing diversity, serving our communities and organizations, and eliminating the barriers that oppressed and vulnerable people face. Our program is nationally-accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

The MSW is offered in person at the main campus and as a fully online program. After completion of the foundation year, students enrolled in the main campus program will choose one of two concentrations for their second academic year of study: advanced direct practice (ADP) or community and organizational impact (COI). Students enrolled in the online campus program will choose the ADP concentration.

Students can also explore the Master of Social Work/Juris Doctor concurrent degree program that is offered with the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

Admission Requirements

Regular admission to the Master of Social Work program requires:

  • A completed application forms for the Graduate School and School of Social Work
  • A baccalaureate degree with a liberal arts background from an accredited institution
  • An overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0. An applicant whose undergraduate GPA is below 3.0 may be considered for conditional admission
  • Short essay responses (questions available in the application)
  • Three email addresses for references (professional, academic, or volunteer)
  • Official transcripts with degree posted prior to the student’s enrolling in a graduate level course.

Advanced Standing Applicants ONLY
This program allows qualified students who have earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education during the previous five years to complete the MSW degree in a shorter, concentrated program. To be considered for the Advanced Standing program, applicants must:

  • Meet all the requirements outlined above for Regular Admission
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program with a cumulative GPA of 3.5
  • Must have a 3.5 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate studies
  • Have earned the degree within the last five years
  • Provide email contact for the BSW internship field instructor

Volunteer, employment, and other life experiences relevant to the career choice of social work are considered in the admission decision.

Application Deadlines

March 1: Fall Admission
March 1: Summer Admission (Advanced Standing only)

Program Options

Main Campus (In Person) Program
Students who enroll in the Main campus are expected to take classes in a synchronous format and attend classes on campus. Students may complete the program as either part-time students who complete the program in three years, or as full-time students who complete the program in two years. Students who enroll in the Main Campus program may pursue either the Advanced Direct Practice (clinical) or community and organizational impact (COI) concentration.

Online campus program
Students in the Online program will take most classes in an asynchronous format, although some may be offered synchronously. Students in the Online program may complete it as either part-time students who complete the program in three years, or as full-time students. Online campus students may only pursue the Advanced Direct Practice concentration. Online students who wish to pursue the community and organizational impact concentration must request a move to the Main campus from the MSW Program Coordinator. Online students must complete their internships in person in settings that have been selected by the internship coordinator.

Choosing a Concentration

The MSW is divided into two academic years: the foundation year and the concentration year. During the Foundation Year, students can choose one of two concentrations:

Advanced Direct Practice - Clinical Social Work

Clinical social work (Advanced Direct Practice: Clinical Concentration) students take advanced courses that provide knowledge and skills for direct service. The focus of clinical social work is the mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being of individuals, families, and groups. Clinical social workers practice in a variety of areas including mental health centers, hospitals, primary health care, child welfare agencies, and employee assistance programs to improve well-being.

Students in the clinical concentration learn:

  • Knowledge and application of:
    • cognitive-behavioral approaches to practice
    • ego supportive psychotherapeutic approaches to practice
    • family systems theory and a variety of contemporary family therapy models.
    • interpersonal group theory
  • Critical thinking skills as they apply to the processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation with individuals, families, and groups
  • How to demonstrate ethical integrity through the application of social work values in a variety of clinical situations
  • Differential use of the professional relationship
  • The importance of utilizing evidence-informed or best practice approaches, with individuals, families, and groups
  • Increasing levels of self-awareness including the professional use of self to engage and work with diverse client populations
  • Advocacy skills for practice delivery and policies that promote social and economic justice and equity when working with individuals, families, and groups

Community and Organizational Impact (main campus only)

Community and Organizational Impact (COI) students take advanced courses that provide knowledge and skills to lead human services and governmental organizations, develop and evaluate social policies, develop grant and other funding applications, and advocate for change. While always a social worker, upon graduation these students may take positions with titles like policy analyst, grant writer, lobbyist, program evaluator, director, and coordinator. COI social workers collaborate with elected leaders, government officials, community leaders, nonprofits, and advocacy groups to improve well-being on the macro level.

COI social workers practice in a variety of areas such as child welfare agencies, policy and advocacy centers, aging services, educational facilities, employee assistance programs, public health organizations, and community-based agencies. They can also carry out such responsibilities as policy analysis, program development and oversight, grant writing, fundraising, administration, and, outreach and volunteer coordination.

Students in the COI concentration learn:

  • Knowledge and application of:
    • program planning
    • program evaluation
    • organizational and management theory and practice
    • organizational effectiveness tools
  • Critical thinking skills as they apply to the processes of leadership, engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation with individuals, groups, programs, organizations, and communities
  • How to demonstrate ethical integrity through the application of social work values in a variety of community and organizational situations
  • The importance of utilizing evidence-informed or best practice approaches, with individuals, groups, programs, organizations, and communities
  • The importance of utilizing culturally competent practice with individuals, groups, programs, organizations, and communities
  • Increasing levels of self-awareness, including the professional use of self to engage and work with diverse client populations
  • Advocacy skills for practice delivery and policies that promote social and economic justice and equity when working with individuals, groups, organizations and communities


Curriculum and Internships

The Master of Social Work requires 60 credit hours and is divided into two academic years: the foundation year and the concentration year. Both years require an internship which provides opportunities to apply classroom learning to direct practice with clients. Advanced-standing students are given credit for 17 hours of graduate work and need 43 hours of coursework to graduate. Once admitted into the School of Social Work, students will create their degree plan with their academic advisor.

For a more detailed view of the regular MSW curriculum, please view our Advanced-Standing curriculum plans. Click on the tabs on the bottom of the page on the above link to see the plan for the program you are interested in.

For a more detailed view of the Advanced Standing MSW curriculum, please view our Full-time Advanced Standing Degree Plan (PDF) or Part-time Advanced Standing Degree Plan (PDF).

Student handbooks and field manuals are available online. Read more about internships and field experience.

Graduation Requirements

Students must have satisfactory completion of approved program of study and at least 3.0 GPA in all courses and a grade of CR in all internship courses. Students must also receive faculty recommendation for the degree.

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