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Master of Social Work

Program Overview

Location: Cullowhee & Asheville

Full Time or Part Time

Pre-Requisites: GRE Not Required

Time to Complete: 2-4 Years

$10,000 Stipends Available

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Virtual Open House

Tuesday, August 6, 2024: 5-6:30 p.m.

Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University,  understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.

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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, mental health and addiction treatment, 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 (2 years) and part-time (4 years) options for students with an undegraduate degree in any field. Change of status requests for movement between part-time and full-time can allow the student to complete the program in 3 years and are at the discretion of the MSW Program Director. In addition, the program offers a full-time (3 semesters) and part-time (5 semesters) Advanced Standing Program for students with a BSW awarded in the prior 5 years. Please note that the university considers students enrolled in the part-time program, but taking 9 or more hours, as full-time students and tuition rates reflect this. 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. Advanced Standing MSW Program. MSW Full-time or Part-time Program.

The MSW Program at Western Carolina University is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). For additional expectations and requirements of the program please refer to:

  1. MSW Student Manual
  2. MSW Programs Curriculum Check Sheet

For questions, email

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 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 Behavioral Health Workforce Stipend: This $10,000 stipend is available to students in their specialization year who are interested in integrated care. There are approximately 30 available each year. The current funding cycle will be active through the 2024-2025 academic year. Additional funding opportunities with HRSA are being explored and will be posted here as available.  Learn 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. LEARN MORE
  4. Financial Aid: Federal loans, grants, and more are available by filling out your FAFSA and applying. LEARN MORE

For more information, please contact:


Application Deadlines:

  • Advanced Standing Program - February 1
  • Traditional Program (Full and Part Time) - April 1

Apply Today: Start Your Graduate Journey Now

MSW Graduate Application Requirements: 

  • Required Documents 
    • Official or unofficial transcripts
    • 3 professional recommendations (at least one should be academic)
    • Professional resume
    • Supplemental Materials: Instructions
      • Personal Narrative Statement/Supplemental Questions 
      • List of liberal arts courses taken as an undergraduate
      • Criminal Record Statement
  • Nonrefundable $65.00 application fee

For more information, please contact:


Field Work

Students in the 2, 3, or 4 year programs will participate in two different field placements, while advanced standing students will participate in one specialized field placement.


Addiction Studies Program (ASP)

MSW students who apply and are accepted will complete four elective courses focusing on addictive disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery. Additionally, they will complete their specialization year field placement in an approved addictive disorder treatment setting. 


Child Welfare Education Collaborative (CWEC)

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


Culturally-Based Native Health Certificate Program

This 12-hour certificate program provides a new approach to training for health professionals serving Native peoples, grounded in a tribal community. A certificate in Culturally-Based Native Health will enable students to utilize their training in a health-related discipline and apply it to Southeastern Indian cultures. 


Integrated Care Focus Area

MSW students interested in integrated care may participate in this focus area and be eligible for a $10,000 stipend. 


School Social Work Certificate

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 specialization year field placement in an accredited school setting. Upon graduation, these students can apply for and receive North Carolina School Social Work Certification.  

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