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Master of Social Work (MSW) - Online

Deepen Your Commitment to Social Justice Issues Through Clinical Practice

The CSWE-accredited, online Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota prepares you to gain autonomy in your career as a clinical social worker. As a graduate, you’ll be able to form partnerships with clients, working directly with individuals, couples, families, and communities to diagnose mental health conditions, treat issues, and encourage a positive response to personal and societal challenges.

This program is available to students with or without academic and career experience in social work.

Autonomy in Practice

Our experienced faculty members are committed to developing ethical leaders. As a clinical social worker, you’ll collaborate with healthcare professionals, mental health practitioners, community advocates, and others, working one-on-one with your clients to ensure they receive the most effective treatment. You’ll consider each case in the context of the environment in which it’s occurring, and take a holistic approach to treating the needs of individuals, couples, families, and groups.

“The MSW program has allowed for incorporation of my direct work into my studies – bringing new knowledge to the job I do and being able to use current knowledge to apply to what I’m studying.”

– Jessica Horstmann, Saint Mary’s MSW online student

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Find Your Path to an MSW

Prepare to work in clinical settings to support individuals, families, and groups with Saint Mary’s online Master of Social Work program. This program offers two paths to an MSW. Our Advanced Standing track includes 30 credits and is available to students with a bachelor’s degree in social work. We also offer a Traditional track that includes 60 credits and allows professionals from various educational backgrounds to develop qualifications for the social work field.

Program Highlights

  • Traditional and Advanced Standing Tracks
  • Dedicated Field Work Placement Coordinator
  • No Pre-Requisites Required
  • No Experience Necessary
  • Coursework is 100% Online
  • Full-Time or Part-Time Options
  • Strong Lasallian Values
  • Discover scholarships available through our partnerships with several regional and national employers. See if your employer is part of our Trusted Partnership Program. Learn more.

Course Requirements

The curriculum for the online MSW is structured to meet stringent national educational guidelines, preparing students for social work employment upon graduation. Advanced Standing students who take courses full time can complete the program in one year. Traditional students who take courses full time can complete the program in under two years. Part-time students complete the program within 2-4 years, depending on their standing.

Share Your Success

Saint Mary’s supports your success by providing you with the tools necessary to not only achieve your professional goals but to share them with the world—especially the digital world.

As part of our commitment, Saint Mary’s offers an opportunity for you to be awarded digital badges. Digital badges are a graphic verification representing your achievement after completing a specific online course or program.


Applying for an online master’s degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is the first step in securing a successful future in helping others. Our admission requirements ask for more than your undergraduate GPA, transcripts, and recommendations because we know your path to social work is about more than the numbers.

    • An undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Advanced Standing track students need a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a regionally accredited institution from a program that has CSWE accreditation. See more Advanced Standing track requirements below
    • Students without a degree in social work must apply to the Traditional, 60-credit MSW track
    • A minimum GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale (If your overall GPA is below 2.75, you may receive provisional status in the program at the discretion of the MSW program director.)

    • Candidates who have not earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program are not eligible for admission to the Advanced Standing track
    • Additionally, you must have earned a BSW within the past ten years to apply for the Advanced Standing track. If your BSW is older than ten years, you may be required to take four social work generalist classes before registering for clinical classes: Generalist Practice I and II and Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE) I and II
    • If your overall GPA is below 3.00, you should discuss your undergraduate performance in your personal statement for admission
    • You must submit proof of earning a grade of B or higher in all core social work courses from your BSW program. Applicants earning below a B in core social work courses will be required to enroll in, and complete, the equivalent course in the MSW program prior to being registered for clinical courses.
    • Once enrolled, you must participate in an 8-week, self-paced orientation on the history, theory, and purpose of social work as a transition into your first semester of the Advanced Standing program.

  • You don’t need prior work experience or a bachelor’s degree in social work to be accepted, and you can fulfill the prerequisites at Saint Mary’s University.

  • GMAT and GRE exam scores are not required for admission.

  • You can transfer a maximum of six credits (Advanced Standing students) or 12 credits (Traditional students) of graduate-level work you’ve earned before admittance to Saint Mary’s.

    • Transfer credits are subject to graduate school and program criteria, as well as the program director’s recommendation and approval by the dean
    • Work or life experience is not accepted as credit for this program

  • Students with transcripts from universities located outside of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada (except for the Quebec Province) are required to take and pass English proficiency testing.
    Saint Mary’s accepts the:

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 72
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum score of 6.0
    • Michigan Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) with a minimum score of 74%
    • International Test of English Proficiency (ITEP) with a minimum score of 4.0 or Pearson Test of English with a score of 51
    • Duolingo with a minimum score of 100


    • Official transcripts: An official transcript issued to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota from the institution posting the applicant’s completed degree and other relevant transcripts documenting program prerequisites and potential transfer credits must be sent separately and directly from your institution. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota accepts official transcripts electronically from previously attended institutions. Transcripts should be sent to or mailed to:
      Transcript Processing Center
      Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
      851 Trafalgar Court, Suite 420
      Maitland, FL 32751
    • A reflective professional essay: that is between 750-1000 words that addresses each of the following topics (Applicants should take their time to address each of the prompts while paying attention to spelling and grammar):
      • Describe your future career plans and discuss how obtaining a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) degree will help you achieve them
      • Can include life events or previous experiences that influenced your decision to become a social worker
      • Additionally, discuss why you have specifically chosen to apply to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and how the mission of our MSW program is consistent with your career goals
      • Discuss a social justice practice or movement about which you are passionate. How would you apply the principles of that movement or practice to clinical social work practice?
      • If your GPA was 2.75 or below for Traditional students, or 3.0 or below for Advanced Standing students for your undergraduate degree, please describe how you will prepare for the academic rigor of an MSW program. Address additional supports you have in place now, changes you have made to help you be successful, etc.
    • Two letters of reference or recommendation: written by former or current work or volunteer supervisors or current or former professors. The individuals writing letters should be able to speak to your ability to engage in ethical social work practice and complete graduate-level course work. Applicants unable to secure two letters from these sources are encouraged to contact the MSW Program Director to discuss acceptable alternatives

  • Upcoming application deadlines and starts for Saint Mary’s online MSW:

    • Applicants for the Summer Semester start:
      • Priority application deadline for part-time and final deadline for full-time: January 15th, Decision deadline: January 30th
      • Final application deadline (part-time): March 1st, Decision deadline: March 15th
    • Applicants for the Fall Semester start:
      • Priority application deadline (part-time and full-time): May 15th, Decision deadline: May 30th
      • Final application deadline (part-time and full-time): July 1st, Decision deadline: July 15th
    • Applicants for the Spring Semester start:
      • Priority application deadline (part-time and full-time): September 15th, Decision deadline: September 30th
      • Final application deadline (part-time and full-time): November 1st, Decision deadline: November 15th

  • Upcoming start dates for Saint Mary’s online MSW:

    • Spring: January 8, 2024
    • Summer: May 6, 2024
    • Fall: September 3, 2024

  • You’ll receive notice of acceptance approximately two weeks after your application deadline.

Tuition & Fees

A college education is invaluable. You can take it wherever you want to go or as far as you want to go. The cost of quality education should not get in the way of reaching your goals. Here at Saint Mary’s, we are committed to providing an accessible, quality education that is focused on enhancing your personal and professional growth.

Explore cost breakdowns for tuition and other fees of the MSW program.

Careers & Salary

Social work employment is projected to grow 7 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all fields. During that timeframe, the employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is expected to grow by 11 percent.1

An August 2020 report published by the National Association of Social Workers showed that many new social workers are satisfied and work directly with populations in their communities after earning an MSW.2 Of the social workers surveyed:

Would recommend a social work degree to their peers


Are satisfied with their new positions


Work in direct practice with individuals, families, or groups


Plan to earn clinical social work licenses within five years

Explore MSW Careers

What You'll Learn

As a graduate of this program, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior
  • Employ diversity and difference in practice
  • Use the appropriate approaches in treating clients
  • Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice
  • Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice
  • Inform policy and collaborate with macro social workers and policymakers

Program Assessment Plan and Outcomes

The Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota MSW Program has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 2022. Graduation from a CSWE-accredited program is required for social work licensure at the master’s level. Our plan for program assessment, as well as our most recent assessment outcomes, are included below:


Frequently Asked Questions

The coursework for the Master of Social Work degree at Saint Mary's is entirely online — you can earn this valuable degree regardless of where you're located in the nation. Internships — or fieldwork — are completed at an agency near you. As part of your field placement requirements, there is no guarantee that you will be placed at a site that can accommodate hours outside the traditional business hours (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Therefore, if your current work schedule falls between traditional business hours, you may need to adjust your current work schedule to accommodate the field placement requirement.

The Advanced Standing track carries certain admissions requirements to ensure our students have the best foundation for this advanced option. Applicants must have completed a BSW degree in the past ten years (or commit to taking additional coursework) with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, among other requirements. Conditional admittance is available in certain circumstances. See the MSW admissions requirements section for more details.

All of the support systems available to Saint Mary's on-campus students are available to online learners, too, including academic support. A team of advisers is ready to assist you, and your professors are just a phone call, email, or Zoom session away. You will also be paired with an academic advisor who will make sure your educational and professional goals stay on track, as well as a student services specialist to assist with registration and scheduling needs. If you have a technical question, support is available to online students 24/7 at our Technical Support, 877-308-9954, ext. 3.

No. It's also important to note that your degree is of the same quality and possesses the same prestige as an on-campus degree from Saint Mary's.

Absolutely. Many different types of financial aid are available to those who qualify. To discuss tuition rates and a number of different financial aid options, call 877-308-9954 to speak with an enrollment counselor.

The online MSW at Saint Mary's is a rigorous but accessible program. As part of our deep commitment to Lasallian values and our mission to serve our community and help you do the same, we strive to ensure our tuition is reasonable. Additionally, we have dedicated Field Education Coordinators that locate and vet potential internship placement sites for students prior to the field application process, in order to guarantee that students have viable options to meet their internship needs.

If you hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, you can prepare for clinical practice faster in our 30-credit Advanced Standing track, saving yourself time and money compared to the 60-credit Traditional track. The Advanced Standing track includes a rigorous clinical practicum, so you can build your skills and test your knowledge in real-world settings.

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

To a certain extent. There are full- and part-time options to complete the program. Additionally, there are no set traditional class times so that you can complete coursework on the days and times it's best for you. However, these are instructor-led classes with set start and end dates, and there are assignments with set due dates. Each non-field course has two synchronous sessions that take place over Zoom, however if students cannot attend, they are simply required to view the recording of the class session afterward. Saint Mary's graduate students are required to complete their degree within a 5-year period, so while there is some flexibility in extending student schedules if needed, students must complete all requirements within that timeframe.

Yes! The program achieved CSWE accreditation in March 2022 and remains in good standing with the Council on Social Work Education.

Saint Mary's encourages students of all faiths and backgrounds to apply to the online MSW program as part of our commitment to diversity. Additionally, we offer two tracks of learning: the Advanced Standing track and the Traditional track, so those with and without an undergraduate degree in social work can complete the program. This allows you to draw upon your peers' varied life and business experiences to enrich your learning.

The only required pre-requisites are for our Advanced Standing students, who are required to have achieved a “B” or better in all core social work courses during their BSW program. There are no other pre-requisites common in other programs, such as Statistics or Biology.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Social Workers.” Retrieved September 6, 2023, from
  2. National Association of Social Workers. Findings From Three Years of Surveys of New Social Workers. Retrieved September 11, 2023, from

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