Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Rhode Island

Rhode Island College (RIC), a state school located in the city of Providence, is currently the only college or university in Rhode Island offering a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program. RIC’s School of Social Work offers a campus-based MSW program that is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and which provides students with the option of specializing in clinical practice social work or macro practice social work. The program has a track for traditional students (i.e., students who have completed their bachelor’s degree and meet other admissions requirements) and a track for advanced standing students. The advanced standing track requires applicants to hold a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) degree from an undergraduate program that is accredited by the CSWE.

Details regarding the MSW program offered by RIC, as well as information about additional MSW program options that Rhode Island residents may want to explore, are provided in the sections below:

Traditional MSW Programs in Rhode Island

Traditional MSW programs are defined as master’s programs that provide graduate training and instruction in the principles and practices of social work, and which are geared towards students who have a strong interest in social work as a career, and have completed a bachelor’s degree in any major or field of study. Like many full-length master’s programs in other fields, traditional MSW programs are generally designed to be completed in four semesters of full-time enrollment, or roughly two years, while students who opt to enroll on a part-time basis typically graduate in three to four years. One unique feature of MSW programs is field education, a signature pedagogy for social work training that requires students to engage in supervised work experiences at social work agencies and human service organizations. Traditional MSW programs must require a minimum of 900 hours of field education in order to receive accreditation from the CSWE.

Rhode Island College (RIC) offers a traditional MSW program through its School of Social Work. The program is campus based and has three essential curricular components: foundational social work training; advanced training in either clinical or macro practice social work; and four fieldwork practicums for a total of 1,080 hours of site-based field education. Students enrolled full time can complete the program in four semesters plus a one-course summer or early spring term, which leads to graduating in two years. Students who enroll on a part-time basis have up to six years to complete the program, but typically take one or two courses per semester in order to graduate in three to four years. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, RIC requires students to have taken a college-level course in human biology, anatomy, or physiology prior to beginning MSW coursework. Applicants to the program who have not completed this prerequisite can do so at RIC after being admitted to the MSW program.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in Rhode Island

An advanced standing MSW program or program track is a plan of master’s-level graduate training and instruction in the practice of social work designed specifically for students who have graduated from a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree program accredited by the CSWE. The purpose of these programs is to provide students who have already completed the foundational coursework and field education (curricular elements that typically comprise the first two semesters of a traditional MSW program, and which would therefore be redundant for a BSW graduate) with a way to earn a master’s degree in social work without having to repeat courses they have already taken during their BSW program.

Students admitted to an MSW program’s advanced standing track begin their graduate studies in what would otherwise be the second year of a traditional MSW program, which is often referred to as the specialization or advanced standing year. Advanced standing students are thus able to earn their MSW degree in roughly two semesters of full-time enrollment, or one year. Part-time enrollment in an advanced standing program generally adds one or two semesters to the completion time. MSW programs commonly require advanced standing applicants to have earned their BSW degree in the last five to seven years and to have maintained a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale. BSW graduates who do not qualify for an advanced standing program can still earn an MSW through a traditional program.

Rhode Island College offers a campus-based advanced standing MSW program through its School of Social Work. The program requires applicants to hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program, and to have earned that degree within the past five years. Admissions preference is given to applicants who completed their BSW degree in the past two years and attained a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a four-point scale. Like RIC’s traditional MSW program, the advanced standing program gives students two options for specialization: Clinical Practice or Macro Practice. However, advanced standing students are only required to complete 33 credits and 600 hours of field education in order to graduate. The time to completion for RIC’s advanced standing track is one year for full-time students and two years for part-time students.

Additional MSW Program Options for Rhode Island Residents

While there is only one school in Rhode Island with a CSWE-accredited MSW program, residents of Rhode Island have additional options for pursuing a graduate degree in social work. For students who are able to relocate for graduate school, there are six schools in the neighboring state of Connecticut and 10 schools in Massachusetts that offer MSW programs that are either fully accredited by the CSWE or in the candidacy phase of accreditation with the CSWE. There are also numerous schools along the East Coast of the U.S. that offer master’s in social work programs.

For students who do not want to relocate and/or who are not able to commute to campus for weekly classes, there are online MSW programs offered by out-of-state schools that accept applicants from Rhode Island. Online MSW programs are defined as traditional and advanced standing MSW programs that offer all or most of their coursework online and which allow students to complete their field education hours at a local social service agency or organization. MasterofSocialWork.com classifies an MSW program as an online program if it requires two or fewer campus visits per year. Programs that offer online instruction, but which require more than two campus visits per year are classified as hybrid programs, as they may not be a practical option for students who do not live or work near the school offering the program.

There are CSWE-accredited online MSW programs with specializations in clinical, macro, and advanced generalist practice social work, as well as programs that provide training in military social work and other discrete areas of social work practice. Many of these programs accept applications from Rhode Island residents. More information on these programs is available on our Online MSW Programs page.

All Master of Social Work Programs in Rhode Island

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

Rhode Island College

(Providence)