Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Kentucky - Campus and Online

Kentucky is home to eight universities that have Master of Social Work (MSW) programs: Brescia University; Campbellsville University; Northern Kentucky University (NKU); Spalding University; the University of Kentucky (UK); the University of Louisville (U of L); the University of Pikeville; and Western Kentucky University (WKU). All of these schools have multiple program options, including advanced standing MSW programs for students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an undergraduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and traditional programs for students who have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline or field of study. Students can choose from programs offered on-campus, online, or through a combination of on-campus and online instruction (i.e., hybrid programs).

Students who are interested in earning their MSW degree from a school located in Kentucky can also choose from programs that provide training and instruction in advanced generalist social work practice, clinical social work practice, and/or macro social work practice, as well as from programs with specializations in alcohol and drug counseling, child welfare, gerontology, mental health, military social work, rural populations, school social work, and other focus areas. These programs are all fully accredited by the CSWE or in the candidacy phase of CSWE accreditation, as noted in the list below:

  • Brescia University (Accredited)
  • Campbellsville University (Accredited)
  • Northern Kentucky University (Accredited)
  • Spalding University (Accredited)
  • University of Kentucky (Accredited)
  • University of Louisville (Accredited)
  • University of Pikeville (Granted Candidacy)
  • Western Kentucky University (Accredited)

The various MSW program options offered by schools in Kentucky are detailed in the following sections:

Traditional MSW Programs in Kentucky

There are eight universities in Kentucky that offer MSW programs and all of them have traditional programs, which are defined as full-length master’s programs that provide training and instruction in the principles and practices of advanced social work practice. These programs are designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and who meet other academic benchmarks, such as a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of B or better and/or minimum scores on a standardized graduate admissions test (e.g., the GRE). A bachelor’s degree in social work, or BSW, is not required for admission to a traditional MSW program.

Students in a traditional MSW program generally take between two and three years to earn their degree. Full-time enrollment can lead to graduating in two years, while part-time enrollment typically extends the time to completion by a year or more. As part of their MSW training, students are required to engage in a minimum of 900 hours of field education, a signature pedagogy of social work instruction that involves supervised, site-based learning in settings where social work services are delivered.

Among the schools that offer traditional MSW programs in Kentucky, there are seven that have fully online programs, and six with campus-based programs. Some of these campus-based programs offer students the option of completing select courses online or use a combination of on-campus and online instruction to create a hybrid MSW program.

Campus

Traditional Campus-Based MSW Programs in Kentucky

Campbellsville University offers a traditional MSW program in a format that combines online coursework with campus-based instruction. The program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum with focus on Christian values and optional Areas of Focus in Clinical Social Work and Addiction. This is a 60-credit program that can be completed in 21 months of full-time enrollment. Part-time enrollment is also permitted. Students in the program are required to complete 900 hours of field education.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) offers an advanced generalist practice traditional MSW program with a specialization in Clinical Behavioral Health and Community Practice, as well as an optional “micro-credential” in Trauma-Focused Care. The program is offered in a format that combines online instruction with campus-based classes that meet on Mondays and Tuesdays in the late-afternoon and evening. To be eligible for admission, applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a four-point scale and a grade of C or higher in introduction to psychology, sociology, and statistics courses. Students in the program must complete 900 hours of field education and can earn their degree in two years of full-time enrollment.

Spalding University in Louisville has a hybrid MSW program that is designed for traditional students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field and meet other admission requirements. For traditional students, Spalding prefers candidates with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.8 or higher on a four-point scale. The 60-credit program has an Integrative Practice concentration that incorporates training and instruction in clinical and macro practice social work and includes a minimum of 900 hours of field education. Students in the program attend face-to-face evening classes on Thursdays and Fridays and receive the rest of their instruction online. The program is designed to be completed in two years of full-time enrollment, although part-time enrollment is allowed at the discretion of the program director.

The University of Kentucky (UK) offers a traditional MSW program at its main campus in Lexington and at the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health located in Hazard. Students in the program attend in-person classes at one of these two campus locations, receive online instruction, and complete three 300-hour field practicums for a total of 900 site-based field education hours. The 60-credit program has an advanced generalist curriculum that is designed to prepare students for careers in clinical and/or macro practice social work. In addition, students can choose from specialization certificates in eight focus areas: Child Welfare Practice; Clinical Social Work Practice; Integrated Behavioral Health; Military Behavioral Health; Rural Population Wellbeing; School Social Work; Substance Use Disorder; and Gerontology. Traditional students in the UK program can graduate in two years of full-time enrollment or three years of part-time enrollment.

The University of Louisville (U of L) offers a traditional Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program that is accredited by the CSWE and that is largely equivalent to an MSW program. Offered through the Kent School of Social Work, this program has an Advanced Social Work Practice curriculum with six specialization options: Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Gerontology; Mental Health; Military Social Work; Psychosocial Oncology; and School Social Work. Coursework is delivered in a hybrid format, combining online instruction with campus-based classes. Traditional students are required to complete 60 credits in order to graduate, including 950 hours of field practicums. The program has two-year completion plans for full-time students and three-years plans of study for students who enroll on a part-time basis.

Western Kentucky University (WKU) offers an MSW program that combines in-person classes on the school’s Bowling Green campus with some online instruction. The program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum with a focus on clinical and macro practice social work among rural populations and in rural settings. Students in the program must complete two 200-hour generalist practice field practicums and two 250-hours advanced practice field practicums for a total of 900 hours of site-based field education. Full-time students can graduate from the program in just two years, while part-time students can choose between three- and four-year completion plans.

Online

Traditional Online MSW Programs in Kentucky

Brescia University offers a fully online traditional MSW program that does not require students to attend any in-person sessions at the university’s Owensboro campus. The 60-credit program has an Advanced Generalist Practice curriculum that provides training and instruction in clinical practice and macro practice social work. The traditional MSW program is open to applicants who have a bachelor’s degree and who achieved a GPA within their major of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale. Traditional students can earn their MSW degree in two years of full-time enrollment, completing 400 hours of field education in their first two semesters and 500 hours during their second year.

Campbellsville University offers its traditional MSW program in a fully online format that does not require students to attend any campus visits, although it does include a total of 900 hours of site-based field education. The program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum that provides training and instruction in clinical and macro practice social work with a Christian values focus. Students have the option of pursing Areas of Focus in clinical social work and addiction. Campbellsville’s online traditional MSW program consists of 60 credits of coursework and field education and is designed to be completed in two years of full-time enrollment.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) offers its Advanced Generalist Practice traditional MSW program in a hybrid online format as well as in a fully online format that does not require campus visits. The program has a specialization in Clinical Behavioral Health and Community Practice, as well as the option of earning a “micro-credential” in Trauma-Focused Care. Applicants to the program are expected to have earned a grade of C or better in college-level introductory courses in psychology, sociology, and statistics and to have graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a four-point scale. The program’s 60-credit curriculum includes 900 hours of site-based field education. Full-time students can graduate from NKU’s online traditional MSW program in two years.

The University of Kentucky (UK) has a traditional, fully online MSW program with an Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice focus and optional specialization certificates in Clinical Social Work Practice and Substance Use Disorder. Students in the program can also choose an individualized plan of study, which entails selecting from electives in topics such as trauma-informed care, psychopathology, and international social work. UK’s online traditional MSW program consists of 60 credits of graduate coursework and field practicums. Students are required to engage in 900 hours of site-based field education and can complete all of the program’s requirements in two years of full-time enrollment.

The University of Louisville (U of L) has a fully online, CSWE-accredited Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) with an Advanced Social Work Practice curriculum and six specialization options: Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Gerontology; Mental Health; Military Social Work; Psychosocial Oncology; and School Social Work. The MSSW program is largely equivalent to an MSW program in terms of training, instruction, and academic requirements. Online students in the traditional program must complete 60 credits of coursework, inclusive of 950 hours of site-based field education. The program has several enrollment options that are designed to allow full-time students to graduate in two years and part-time students to earn their degree in three years.

The University of Pikeville offers an online MSW program with a Specialization in Mental Health and Addictions that is comprised of 60 course credits and can be completed in two years of full-time study, or three years of part-time study. Students take a foundational first-year curriculum that covers human behavior in the social environment, social work research, policy analysis, and generalist social work practices and principles. In their advanced year, they take courses in mental health and addiction, psychopathology, clinical practice, and social work practice evaluation. Students are also required to complete 1,000 field practicum hours—400 hours in their foundational year, and 600 hours in their advanced year. The University of Pikeville has been granted candidacy by the CSWE as it works towards achieving full CSWE accreditation.

Western Kentucky University (WKU) offers an online MSW program that requires students to attend an orientation session held on the school’s Bowling Green campus but does not require any additional campus visits. The program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum with a Rural Social Work Practice focus. Students in the program must complete 60 graduate credits, including 900 hours of site-based field education. The online program is offered part-time and is designed to be completed in three years.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in Kentucky

All of the Kentucky schools that offer traditional MSW programs have at least one advanced standing program track for students who earned their bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program. In addition to a BSW degree, applicants to advanced standing MSW programs may be required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale and/or to have earned their BSW within the last five, six, or seven to ten years. BSW graduates who do not qualify for an advanced standing program can nonetheless earn their MSW by enrolling in a traditional program.

Advanced standing MSW programs require fewer credits compared to traditional programs and thus take less time to complete. Students entering an advanced standing program are given credit for the foundational training, instruction, and field education they completed as part of their CSWE-accredited undergraduate programs. As a result, they are able to begin their graduate studies at roughly the halfway point of a traditional MSW program, completing advanced specialization coursework and typically at least 500 hours of field education as they work toward earning their degree. The typical time to completion for advanced standing programs is one year for full-time students and two years for students who opt for part-time enrollment, although this varies by program and by the number of credits completed per semester.

Campus

Advanced Standing Campus-Based MSW Programs in Kentucky

Campbellsville University has an MSW program that combines online coursework with campus-based instruction and that offers eligible students the option of applying for advanced standing status. To qualify for the university’s advanced standing track, applicants must hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program and have achieved a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale. Campbellsville’s MSW program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum that stresses Christian values and gives students the option of pursuing an Area of Focus in Clinical Social Work or Addiction. Students can complete the 30-credit advanced standing curriculum, including 500 hours of field education, in one year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has an MSW program that combines online coursework with campus-based classes that are held on Mondays and Tuesdays in the late-afternoon and evening. The program, which is an Advanced Generalist program with a Specialization in Clinical Behavioral Health and Community Practice, offers a one-year, advanced standing track for students who hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program with an overall GPA of 3.0 on a four-point scale, a GPA of 3.5 or higher in all social work major courses, and a grade of C or better in introductory psychology, sociology, statistics courses. The 30-credit advanced standing track includes 600 hours of field education and allows students to earn a “micro-credential” in Trauma-Focused Care.

Spalding University offers its Integrative Practice MSW program in an advanced standing format for students who have completed a CSWE-accredited BSW degree with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale and a GPA of 2.8 or higher in their social work major courses. This is a hybrid program in which students attend in-person classes on Thursday and Friday evenings when school is in session and receive the rest of their didactic instruction online. Advanced standing students in the Spalding University program have to complete 31 credits in order to graduate, including 500 hours of field education. The advanced standing track is designed to be completed in one year of full-time enrollment. Part-time enrollment in the program is permitted on a discretionary basis.

The University of Kentucky’s (UK) MSW program is offered at its main campus in Lexington and at the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health located in Hazard. Both campuses have advanced standing tracks designed for CSWE-accredited BSW program graduates who earned their degree within the last seven years and achieved a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale, with at least a 3.5 GPA in social work major courses. The 30-credit advanced standing track has an Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice specialization with optional certificates available in eight social work focus areas: Child Welfare Practice; Clinical Social Work Practice; Integrated Behavioral Health; Military Behavioral Health; Rural Population Wellbeing; School Social Work; Substance Use Disorder; and Gerontology. Students in the program are required to complete 600 hours of field education and can graduate in one year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment. Students also have the option of completing the program through a hybrid of on-campus and online instruction.

The University of Louisville (U of L) offers a Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program that has an advanced standing track for graduates of CSWE-accredited BSW programs whose degree was conferred withing the last seven years. In addition, U of L’s Kent School of Social Work prefers advanced standing candidates to have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, with a GPA of at least 3.25 in all undergraduate social work courses. U of L’s advanced standing program consists of 30 graduate credits, including 500 hours of field education. The program’s curriculum provides general training and instruction in clinical and macro practice social work and has six specialization options: Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Gerontology; Mental Health; Military Social Work; Psychosocial Oncology; and School Social Work. Advanced standing students can complete the program in one year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time study, and some courses may be completed online. MSSW programs are largely the equivalent of MSW programs in terms of training, instruction, and learning outcomes.

Western Kentucky University (WKU) has an advanced standing MSW program that combines in-person classes on the school’s Bowling Green campus with some online instruction. To be eligible for the advanced standing program track, applicants must hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program earned withing the last seven years. WKU also requires advanced standing candidates to have a 3.0 GPA in their most recent 60 credit hours of undergraduate or graduate coursework. Advanced standing students must complete 33 credits in order to graduate, inclusive of 500 hours of field education. The advanced standing program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum with a Rural Social Work Practice focus and one- and two-year completion plans to accommodate full-time and part-time students.

Online

Advanced Standing Online MSW Programs in Kentucky

Brescia University has a fully online MSW program with a 30-credit advanced standing track for students who hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program conferred withing the last five years. In addition, applicants to the advanced standing program track are required to have achieved a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or higher on a four-point scale. Advanced standing students can earn their MSW degree in two semesters (one year) by enrolling on a full-time basis or opt for part-time enrollment and graduate in two years. The program has an Advanced Generalist Practice curriculum that provides training and instruction in clinical and macro practice social work. It requires advanced standing students to complete 500 hours of site-based field education.

Campbellsville University offers an online MSW program with an advanced standing track designed for graduates of CSWE-accredited BSW programs who achieved a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale. The program features an Advanced Generalist curriculum, which provides training and instruction and clinical and macro practice social work with a focus on Christian values. Students have the further option of choosing a specialization in Clinical Social Work or Addiction. The advanced standing program track requires the completion of 30 graduate credits, inclusive of 500 hours of site-based field education. Full-time students can graduate from the online program in one full year of enrollment, while students who opt for part-time enrollment take two years to complete their degree.

The University of Kentucky (UK) offers a fully online MSW program that as an advanced standing track for students who hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program. In addition, candidates for advanced standing status are required to have earned their BSW within the last seven years and to have achieved an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, with a 3.5 GPA in social work major courses. The UK program has an Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice curriculum that offers two specialization certifications: Clinical Social Work Practice; and Substance Use Disorder. Alternately, students can choose to pursue an individualized plan of specialization study through elective courses in trauma-informed care, psychopathology, international social work, and other topics. This 30-credit advanced standing program includes 600 hours of field education and is designed to be completed in one year of full-time enrollment.

The University of Louisville (U of L) offers a Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program through its Kent School of Social Work with a fully online advanced standing option for qualified graduates from CSWE-accredited BSW programs who earned their undergraduate degree within the last seven years. The MSSW degree is largely equivalent to an MSW degree in terms of training, instruction, and requirements. This program requires advanced standing students to complete 30 graduate credits, including 500 hours or field education. Students in the program can choose from among six specializations: Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Gerontology; Mental Health; Military Social Work; Psychosocial Oncology; and School Social Work. Full-time students can complete the advanced standing track in one year of full-time enrollment. Students may also enroll on a part-time basis and graduate in two years. In addition to holding a BSW degree, the Kent School of Social Work prefers advanced standing applicants to have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, with a GPA of at least 3.25 in all undergraduate social work courses.

The University of Pikeville offers an advanced standing online MSW program with a specialization in Mental Health and Addictions. This program is comprised of 30 credits which students can complete in a year of full-time study or 1.5 to 2 years of part-time study. The classes that students take cover the psychopathology, the diagnosis and treatment of addictions, mental health and addiction policy, clinical administration and leadership, and advanced clinical practice with individuals and groups. Students are also required to complete 600 hours of advanced field practicum. To gain admission into this program, students must have earned their BSW no more than eight years ago (those who earned their BSW longer than eight years ago might be considered if they have extensive social work experience and/or consistently maintained social work licensure). Other admissions requirements include a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all undergraduate work and a grade of B or higher in all social work-related undergraduate coursework. The University of Pikeville has been granted candidacy by the CSWE as it works towards achieving full CSWE accreditation.

Western Kentucky University (WKU) offers an online MSW that requires students to attend an orientation session held on the school’s Bowling Green campus but does not require any additional campus visits. The program has an online advanced standing track for graduates of CSWE-accredited BSW programs. To qualify for advanced standing admission, applicants must have completed their BSW within the last seven years and have earned a 3.0 or greater GPA over their last 60 credits of coursework. WKU’s MSW program has an Advanced Generalist Practice in Rural Settings curriculum. The online advanced standing program track can be completed in one year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment.

All Master of Social Work Programs in Kentucky

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)
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Brescia University

(Owensboro)
Department: Marilyn Younger Conley School of Social Work
CSWE Accreditation Status: Fully Accredited
Programs:

Spalding University

(Louisville)

University of Kentucky

(Lexington, Hazard)
Department: College of Social Work
CSWE Accreditation Status: Fully Accredited
Programs:

University of Pikeville

(Pikeville)