Master of Social Work (MSW)

The mission of the MSW program is to prepare ethical, competent advanced generalist social work leaders who are able to practice reflectively and autonomously in complex environments across system levels with diverse client groups. The Advanced Generalist Practice (AGP) specialization prepares graduates to address questions, issues and problems across methods, systems, and fields of practice.  As defined at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Social Work, AGP is characterized by: 1) leadership in innovative problem-solving and change; 2) autonomous practice; and 3) use of integrated, evidence-informed knowledge, values, and skills to address ambiguous, complex problems in an increasingly diverse and ever-changing practice environment.

The MSW on-campus program is located at Suite 100 inside Nell J. Redfield Building A on the Redfield Campus. All University services and resources are located at the main University campus.

Master of Social Work Handbook

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.

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes:

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Social Work MSW Program goals guiding the MSW program are to prepare advanced generalist practitioners who:

  • Identify as professionals, committed to social work's ethical principles, continuous learning and service that meets the needs of vulnerable and diverse populations;
  • Demonstrate leadership across system levels through the ability to frame issues in ways that communicate their larger significance and a vision for change, and engage with others in ways that motivate and empower;
  • Integrate the strengths and person-in-environment perspectives with an array of theoretical models and intervention approaches to uniquely frame and address complex issues across diverse client systems;
  • Use research to inform practice decisions as well as produce and analyze data to identify client needs, emerging trends and evaluate interventions;
  • Are able to autonomously navigate diverse ambiguous and changing local, regional, and global contexts in developing and delivering interventions, policies, and programs that promote health and well-being of individuals, families, groups and society;
  • Promote social and economic justice through the provision of equitable and interculturally effective programs, policies and services.

Note: Please do not use the below forms if applying to the Online MSW Program. Instead, use our admissions section for the Online MSW program.

Programs of Study


  • Advanced Standing (for those with a BSW degree from an accredited school): 30-credit Program of Study
  • Traditional Standing (for those with non-BSW degrees): 60-credit Program of Study


  • Advanced Standing (for those with a BSW degree from an accredited school): 30-credit Program of Study 
  • Traditional Standing (for those with non-BSW degrees): 60-credit Program of Study

Admission requirements for the 60-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 prior to beginning our MSW program
  • An overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or 3.25 in the last half of undergraduate study
  • Any graduate-level coursework, if applicable, must be at a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Evidence of the ability to formulate and present material logically and clearly in written form
  • 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;  commitment to social justice and social change;  compatibility with social work values

Admission requirements for the 30-credit MSW Advanced Standing program of study:

  • Graduation from a CSWE accredited baccalaureate program in social work
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.0 or 3.25 in the last half of undergraduate program and a "B-" in each social work course
  • Any graduate-level coursework, if applicable, must be at a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Documentation of outstanding performance in a BSW field experience under professional social work supervision
  • All other requirements for admission as listed in the 60-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 curriculum.

MSW applications

Applicants to the School of Social Work apply through the Graduate School Application. The Graduate School application contains the MSW program specific elements and serves as the application to the Graduate School and the MSW program.

The completed application packet for the School of Social Work must be received by January 15 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. The application process is lengthy. We recommend you begin no later than December 15.

Please note: The admission checklist is a great tool to track your progress when applying to the Master of Social Work. Once an application is submitted and is under review, no correction/modification is allowed without approval from the School of Social Work. Deadlines for application submission: January 15th for On-Campus MSW program; for Online MSW - contact the School of Social Work.

The application packet consists of the following:

  • Application to the Master of Social Work Program
  • Three references using the program's recommendation forms from professionals (e.g. supervisors, employers, professors) who can attest to the applicant's aptitude for graduate study and performance in social work roles and tasks. The recommendation form link and instructions will be sent to your recommenders via email once their contact information is provided in the application.
  • If applicant has a BSW degree, a fourth reference must be completed by the applicant's field instructor using the Field Instructor Recommendation Form (from the field placement supervisor who holds a social work degree). The recommendation form link and instructions will be sent to your recommender via email once their contact information is provided in the application.
  • If applying for the Advanced Standing (30-credit) program of study, applicants must upload a copy of their field placement evaluation with their application
  • Essays
  • Resume
  • Transcripts
  • Application for graduate teaching/research assistantship and all attachments (optional, for on-campus MSW program only). Submit directly to the office of the MSW program at the Redfield Campus (18600 Wedge Pkwy, Building A, Suite 100 – School of Social Work) or email it to the MSW Program Advisor, Olga Martinez, at by January 15.