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Social Work, Master Degree


We are very proud of our fully accredited graduate program. Advanced generalist practice means you will learn a full range of skills that will enable you to become a professional social worker, ranging in areas from direct practice with children and families to program building and advocacy. Students do extensive fieldwork in schools, hospitals, state agencies and other social work settings, and combine this field experience with classroom studies and the latest research and practice techniques. Our graduate classes are relatively small, 20-30 students in each. We think you will enjoy interacting with our energetic, collegial, and nationally known faculty.

Master of Social Work Foundation Goals and Objectives

The overarching goal of the MSW program at the foundation level is to introduce students to the social work perspective.

Students completing the foundation curriculum are not yet autonomous social work practitioners. They do have the skills, knowledge base, and perspective to pursue further studies in the concentration curriculum.

At the completion of the foundation year, MSW students will be able to:

  • Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly
  • Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice
  • Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
  • Engage diversity and difference in practice
  • Advance human rights and social and economic justice
  • Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment
  • Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services
  • Respond to contexts that shape practice
  • Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities

Master of Social Work Concentration Goals and Objectives

The overarching goal of the MSW program's concentration year is to prepare competent, advanced generalist practitioners of social work. The concentration year builds upon the generalist perspective and foundation content of the first year to prepare graduates who are 1) able to apply AGP principles across diverse levels, populations, and contexts, and 2) able to practice with a high degree of autonomy and proficiency. Briefly stated, advanced generalist practice (AGP) represents a holistic, complex, and dynamic view of social work practice. It is holistic because client systems, regardless of size, are viewed as multi-dimensional wholes in the context of their own social environments. It is complex because practitioner judgments are based on the synthesis of a depth of social work knowledge, values, and skills and applied to a specific client population. It is dynamic because knowledge about practice models, client issues and programs, as well as policies requires ongoing policy analysis and action, along with research relevant to clients.

Graduates of the University of Nevada's MSW program will be able to:

  • Provide social work leadership at the local, state, national, and/or global levels.
  • Contribute to building the knowledge base of social work by critically applying research findings to practice; evaluating practice, programs, and policies; conducting basic and applied research; and utilizing relevant quantitative and qualitative designs and data analysis.
  • Practice independently as capable professionals able to deal with unique, value-laden, unstable, and complex situations.
  • Promote social and economic justice and multicultural practice based on:
    • analyzing complex political, economic, and social forces influencing the distribution of power and resources in society;
    • analyzing the dynamics of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of structural oppression in society;
    • recognizing the strengths and assets of women, people of color, and other historically oppressed groups; and,
    • integrating and promoting a celebration of the strengths of people from diverse cultures and life-styles within their practice.

Admission Criteria

Admission requirements for the 62-credit MSW program of study include:

  • A non-social work bachelor's degree (with substantial preparation in the liberal arts, including the social sciences, humanities, research, and human biology). A course in statistics AND research methods is required.
  • An overall undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (or 3.0 in the final two years of undergraduate study).
  • Evidence of the ability to formulate and present material logically and clearly in written and oral communication.
  • Career goals and potential which are compatible with the program's approach to advanced generalist social work practice as characterized by: willingness to work with diverse populations; desire to work with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations; maturity; commitment to social justice and social change; a broader focus than a population of personal interest; compatibility with social work values; and a well-thought-out plan for graduate education.

Students who are graduates of a CSWE accredited baccalaureate program in social work will be considered for the 32-credit MSW program of study if the following conditions are met:

  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.0 with at least a "B" in each social work course.
  • Documentation of outstanding performance in a BSW field experience under professional social work supervision.
  • All other requirements for admission as listed in the 62-credit program of study.

Please Note: Academic credit for life experience and previous work experience is not given, in whole or part, in lieu of the field practicum or of courses in the social work foundation curriculum.

Application Procedure

In addition to applying to the School of Social Work, all applicants to the School of Social Work must also apply to the University of Nevada, Reno, Graduate School. All applications to the University of Nevada, Reno, Graduate School must be completed online and with ample time for processing. (Suggested completion date by December 15th.)

Applications for the School of Social Work must be received by January 15th* of each year for enrollment in the following fall semester. Applications will only be processed if all documents are received on time. Applicants may be asked to schedule an interview with a faculty member as part of the screening process for admission to the MSW program.

*Should January 15th fall on a weekend, application packets will be due by the end of business (5:00 pm P.S.T.) the last weekday BEFORE January 15th.

The application packet consists of the following documents, which can be found below under FORMS:

  • Application to the Master of Social Work Program.
  • Three references using the program's recommendation forms from professionals (e.g. supervisors, employees, professors) who can attest to the applicant's aptitude for graduate study and performance in social work roles and tasks. If applicant has a BSW degree, a fourth reference must be completed by the applicant's field instructor using the Field Instructor Recommendation Form.
  • If applying for the Advanced Standing (32 credit) program of study, applicants must request that a copy of their field placement evaluation be forwarded to the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Social Work from the BSW program.
  • Essays as listed on the MSW Application form.
  • Resume.
  • Copy of Graduate School Application.
  • Transcripts.
  • Scholarship request(s)/essay. (optional)
  • Application for graduate teaching/research assistantship and all attachments as listed on the application form. (optional)

Send all application packet materials by January 15th to University of Nevada, Reno; School of Social Work/090; MSW Admissions Committee; Reno, Nevada, 89557-0090.

Related Degrees and Programs

Contact School of Social Work

Phone (775) 784-6542
Fax (775) 784-4573
Location Ansari Business Building

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