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

The University of Montana (UM), the Montana University System’s flagship academic and research institution, is currently the only school in the state that offers a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Offered through UM’s School of Social Work, which is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the program has an Advanced Integrated Practice focus that is designed to provide graduates with the knowledge and tools needed to deliver social work services to rural populations who lack access to the resources available in more populous areas. This is a traditional, full-length MSW program designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field, and it gives students in the program the option of specializing in Micro-Practice (clinical) or Macro-Practice social work.

The School of Social Work at UM utilizes face-to-face classroom instruction and blended distance-based instructional approaches for its MSW program. While the program requires students to attend classes at UM’s Missoula campus on Thursdays and Fridays, the School of Social Work is incorporating online instructional weeks in order to make the program more convenient for students who live outside of the Missoula Valley.

Details about UM’s MSW program and about additional options for Montana residents who are interested in pursuing an MSW degree are provided in the sections below.

Traditional MSW Programs in Montana

Traditional MSW programs are full-length master’s degree programs that provide graduate training and instruction in the principles and practices of social work. These programs are designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and do not require applicants to have prior social work training. Traditional MSW programs typically consist of the equivalent of four full-time semesters of didactic instruction and field education. Students who enroll full-time in these programs generally graduate in two years. Students who opt for part-time enrollment generally take three or four years to earn their degree.

The University of Montana has a traditional MSW program that consists of 60 credits of coursework, including practicums that ensure students complete a minimum of 900 hours of field education prior to graduating. Full-time students can complete the program in two years (four semesters). UM also has a three-year, part-time enrollment option. Students spend the first year of the full-time program taking foundational coursework and completing 450 hours of general social work field education. The second year of the full-time program is devoted to Advanced Integrated Practice coursework and a second 450-hour practicum that aligns with an individualized learning plan (ILP) that each student develops with assistance from an academic advisor. Students may choose designated Micro-Practice (clinical) or Macro-Practice specializations as their ILP or use the program’s three elective courses to design their own specialization. For part-time students, the program is spread out over six semesters instead of four semesters.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in Montana

Students who majored in social work at the bachelor’s degree level and earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree through an undergraduate program accredited by the CSWE may qualify for admission to an advanced standing MSW program. These programs are designed for students who have already completed foundational social work coursework and field education. They offer a faster pathway to earning an MSW degree by omitting all or most of the general social work courses and practicums that comprise the first year of a typical full-time, traditional MSW program. Students in advanced standing programs are thus able to complete their MSW degree in roughly half the time it takes to complete a traditional program, which means students can often graduate in one year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment.

Most advanced standing MSW programs have competitive admissions and do not accept all students who hold a BSW degree. Schools commonly require advanced standing program applicants to have earned their BSW degree within the past five to seven years and to have maintained an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher (some may be as high as a 3.5) on a four-point scale.

While there are currently no schools that offer an advanced standing MSW program in the state of Montana, there are CSWE-accredited advanced standing programs offered by out-of-state schools, including online programs that accept applicants who reside in Montana. Thus, Montana residents who qualify for an advanced standing track can earn their MSW through an online program without have to relocate to another state. For more information about advanced standing MSW programs that are offered online, refer to our Online Advanced Standing MSW Programs page.

Additional MSW Options for Residents of Montana

Outside of Montana, there are many schools that offer MSW programs, including online programs that utilize distance-learning platforms for all or most of their didactic instruction. Indeed, there are several schools in states that border Montana that have online MSW programs, including schools in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho. There are also schools across the United States that offer traditional and advanced standing online MSW programs, which allow students to complete didactic instruction online and field education hours at approved sites in their community. While some online programs require a limited number of campus visits, many are fully online with no required campus visits. (Students must still complete field education hours in-person at a local, program-approved social services agency). classifies programs that require two or fewer campus-based requirements per year as online programs. To access a complete list of CSWE-accredited online MSW programs visit our Online MSW Programs page.

All Master of Social Work Programs in Montana

The following icons are used to help students easily identify program types and delivery methods. Traditional programs are indicated with a T, while Advanced Standing programs have an . Campus programs are defined as programs that predominantly use face-to-face instruction, while Hybrid programs combine campus and online instruction. Hybrid-Online programs are mainly online programs but require 3 to ~6 campus visits per year. Online programs are defined as programs that are either fully online or only require 1-2 campus visits per year.

University of Montana

Department: School of Social Work
CSWE Accreditation Status: Fully Accredited