Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Alaska

Updated: January 20, 2021

There is currently only one school in the state of Alaska that offers a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. That school is the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), the largest university in the state and one of the three schools that comprise the University of Alaska system. This program is specifically designed to prepare social workers to address the social and behavioral health challenges facing residents of Alaska. UAA’s MSW program is offered through the university’s School of Social Work, which is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

UAA’s MSW program features a curriculum that explores the unique cultural, social justice, and economic issues that are specific to Alaska. It has both a full-length track for traditional students and an advanced standing track for students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an undergraduate program accredited by the CSWE. The traditional and advanced standing MSW program tracks at UAA are offered in a distance education format, which allows students to complete most of their didactic coursework online while engaging in field practicums in their local communities. Thus, the program is designed to be convenient for students regardless of where they reside in the state.

Details about the two MSW program options offered by UAA and about additional options for Alaska residents who are interested in pursuing an MSW degree are provided in the sections below.

Traditional MSW Programs in Alaska

A traditional MSW program is a full-length master’s program that provides training and instruction in the principles and practices of social work to students who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university regardless of their undergraduate major. Traditional programs can typically be completed in two years of full-time enrollment or three to four years of part-time enrollment. During that time, students take foundational and specialization courses in social work and engage in field education at social work agencies and organizations. Field placements are an integral component of social work training and the CSWE requires accredited programs to provide traditional MSW students with a minimum of 900 hours of field education.

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) is the only school in Alaska with a traditional or full-length MSW program. The UAA program is distance based, which means that most of the program’s didactic coursework is offered online. Students begin the program by attending a mandatory, face-to-face orientation session at the university’s Anchorage campus and may also be required to attend one or two more short, campus-based intensives as they progress through the program. However, most classes are held online in the evenings and do not require students to be on campus.

In addition to online classes, students in the UAA program are required to complete 16-20 hours of field education per week in order to reach the 960 total hours required to graduate. The program’s field education requirements are split into two categories: 480 hours of foundational field work that full-time students complete in the first year of the program and part-time students complete in their second year; and 480 hours of specialization field work, which students complete in their second or third year of the program.

The UAA MSW program has an advanced generalist curriculum that provides training and instruction in both clinical social work and macro or community practice social work. Students in the program are eligible for a school social work specialization that consists of several elective courses that prepare students for Type C Special Services certification from the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development. Full-time students can complete the traditional MSW program offered by UAA in two years, while part-time students take three years to earn their degree.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in Alaska

Advanced standing MSW programs are master’s programs in social work that are designed specifically for students who have completed undergraduate training in social work through a BSW degree program accredited by the CSWE. Students who qualify for an MSW program’s advanced standing track receive credit for the foundational coursework and field education they have already completed as part of their BSW training. As a result, qualified students can typically graduate from an advanced standing MSW program is one year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment.

The advanced standing MSW track offered by the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) requires applicants to have earned their BSW within the past five years. In addition, candidates for admission must have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale and have achieved a GPA of 3.5 or higher in all BSW core courses. Applicants to the advanced standing track must also have completed two additional undergraduate prerequisites: a human biology course, and a statistics course.

Students who gain admission to the UAA advanced standing program track begin their graduate studies with the advanced generalist specialization coursework that traditional students complete in the second or, in the case of part-time students, third year of the program. They are also required to complete a minimum of 480 hours of field education at a program-approved site or sites. The specialization training the UAA program offers is in advanced generalist social work, which encompasses both clinical and macro practice social work. Students can also opt to complete a specialization in school social work that prepares graduates to apply for Alaska’s Type C Special Services certification.

Additional Online MSW Options for Residents of Alaska

There are a number of online MSW programs offered by out-of-state schools that accept applicants from Alaska. Alaska residents who are interested in earning their MSW degree without having to relocate or travel to another state may want to explore these programs, particularly if they are interested in programs that offer training in social work specializations other than UAA’s advanced generalist practice specialization. While some online MSW programs require on-campus visits similar to UAA’s intensives, there are MSW programs that offer all of their didactic instruction online. For information about out-of-state schools that offer CSWE-accredited online MSW programs, including programs with traditional and advanced standing tracks, refer to our Online MSW Programs page.

All Master of Social Work Programs in Alaska

T Traditional programs, Advanced Standing programs, Campus programs, Hybrid programs (campus and online instruction), Hybrid-Online programs (3 to ~6 campus visits per year), Online programs (fully online to 2 campus visits per year)