Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Wisconsin - Campus, Hybrid, and Online

There are currently six schools in Wisconsin that offer Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. Of these six schools, five of them are within the University of Wisconsin (UW) system. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UW-Green Bay), University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UW-Oshkosh), and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-Whitewater) all offer both traditional and advanced standing MSW programs in a variety of specializations ranging from Clinical and Mental Health to Advanced Generalist, Gerontology, Health Care, and Child and Family Welfare. In addition to these five public universities, Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW), a private non-profit school in the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon, offers an MSW program with traditional and advanced standing options.

Advanced standing MSW programs only admit applicants who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). These programs allow students to waive courses and field education hours completed during their undergraduate degree. Traditional standing MSW programs accept applicants who do not have a BSW, and therefore consist of both foundational and advanced social work classes and field education. All six schools in Wisconsin have received full accreditation from the CSWE for their MSW programs, as detailed in the list below:

  • Concordia University Wisconsin (Accredited)
  • University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (Accredited)
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison (Accredited)
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Accredited)
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (Accredited)
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (Accredited)

MSW programs in Wisconsin are available in both campus-based and hybrid formats, with hybrid instruction being defined as a campus-based program that utilizes online instruction. Currently, UWM is the only school in Wisconsin that offers an online MSW program, and the program is only open to advanced standing students at this time. There are no schools in Wisconsin that currently offer a fully online traditional MSW program. Information on MSW programs offered by schools in Wisconsin is provided below in the following sections:


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Traditional MSW Programs in Wisconsin

Traditional MSW programs are full-length master’s degree programs that offer students both foundational and advanced training in social work, and which take about two years of full-time study to complete. Typically, students in a traditional MSW program complete all or most of their foundational coursework on the theories and methods of social work in their first year, and progress to their advanced or specialization coursework in their second year. While a full-time course of study generally takes two years to complete, many MSW programs offer part-time courses of study that extend the completion time to three to four years, depending on how many credits students take per term, as well as the coordination of their field education experiences.

In addition, as the signature pedagogy of social work practice, field education is an important part of students’ studies, with all traditional MSW programs requiring at least 900 hours of field education divided between foundational year practicums (during which students apply the generalist social work theories and methodologies to work with clients), and advanced or specialization practicums (wherein students seek a field practicum site that more closely aligns with their chosen specialization and career objectives).

All six of the schools in Wisconsin that offer MSW programs have a traditional option, and all of these programs are either fully campus-based or primarily campus-based with some online instruction. At present, there are no schools in Wisconsin that offer a fully online traditional MSW program.

Campus

Traditional Campus-Based MSW Programs in Wisconsin

Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) offers a 63-credit traditional MSW program with a Christian service and leadership focus and specializations in Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice and Clinical Social Work. This program is offered on-campus, though select courses are available online to enhance flexibility. Students in CUW’s traditional program are required to complete 900 hours of field education, which is broken down into 450 hours during year one, and 450 hours during year two for those enrolled on full-time basis. The program also allows for part-time enrollment which extends the time to completion by one to two years.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UW-Green Bay) has a traditional, campus-based MSW program with an Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice specialization and areas of emphasis in Child Welfare, Clinical Mental Health, and School Social Work. Through elective coursework, students can further specialize in social work management, substance abuse treatment, forensic social work, crisis intervention, psychopathology and clinical social work, school social work, and social work management and supervision, among other areas. All students in UW-Green Bay’s traditional program must fulfill a two-semester, eight-credit field practicum in both their foundational and advanced years for a total of 900 hours of field education. This is a 54-credit traditional program that has a two-year completion time for full-time students and a four-year, part-time enrollment option.

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) offers a 49-credit traditional MSW program with an Advanced Generalist Practice specialization and optional areas of focus in: Aging; Child, Youth, and Family Welfare; Health; and Mental Health. This program has a two-year, full-time traditional program option that is fully campus based, and a four-year, part-time enrollment option that utilizes a hybrid format in which online coursework is paired with required in-person sessions every other Saturday. Traditional students in the UW-Madison MSW program must complete 512 hours of foundational field education and 640 hours of specialization field education for a total of 1152 hours.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) offers a traditional, campus-based MSW program with an Advanced Generalist curriculum designed to prepare students to work in diverse settings, from micro/direct practice social work to macro practice social work. Students can craft their own course of study through their choice of electives or choose a series of courses in a specific emphasis. Areas of emphasis include: Child and Family Well-Being; Behavioral and Mental Health; Gerontology, Physical Health; School Social Work; Clinical Social Work; Trauma-Informed Care; and Substance Abuse Counseling. UWM’s traditional MSW program requires students to complete 56 credit hours, including 1160 hours of field education. The program, which is designed to be completed in two years by full-time students, supports both full-time and part-time enrollment.

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UW-Oshkosh) has a 55-credit traditional MSW program with two concentration options: Clinical & Mental Health Practice; and Advanced Direct Practice. This program is offered mainly on-campus, although a few courses that have online components. The program emphasizes strengths-based social work practice and features electives in areas that include health care organization and management, health care systems policies, mental health theories, addictions counseling, trauma counseling, crisis intervention, and child and family welfare. UW-Oshkosh’s traditional program has a two-year, full-time completion track in which students engage in 475 hours of foundational field training in the first year, and 500 hours of advanced field training in year two. Part-time students can complete the program in three years.

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-Whitewater) offers a traditional MSW program with an Advanced Generalist Specialization and emphasis areas in Addictions, Mental Health, Military Social Work, Physical Disabilities, and School Social Work. This is a 58-credit program that is designed to be completed in two years of full-time enrollment. The structure of the program’s curriculum allows students to tailor the focus of their studies by taking electives in topics such as the sociology of aging, chemical dependency diagnosis and treatment, military social work, social work services for people with disabilities, racial and ethnic justice, trauma-informed care, school social work, sexuality studies, and suicide prevention and intervention. The first year of UW-Whitewater’s traditional MSW program includes a 480-hour foundational field placement. In their second year, students complete a 500-hour advanced or specialized field placement and thus graduate with 980 total hours of field education.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in Wisconsin

All six of the schools in Wisconsin that offer MSW programs have advanced standing tracks that require applicants to hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited institution. Students who qualify for advanced standing status are given credit for the foundational social work courses and field education hours they completed during their undergraduate studies. They can thus typically earn their MSW degree in roughly half the time that it takes to complete a traditional MSW program, as an advanced standing curriculum is mainly comprised of the advanced/specialization courses and field placements that students complete during the second year of a full-time traditional program. By beginning advanced/specialization training in their first year of studies, advanced standing students can graduate from most programs in one calendar year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment.

Advanced standing MSW programs tend to have rigorous admission requirements; not only do applicants need to have earned their BSW recently (typically within the last five to seven years), but they may also be required to have maintained a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher or have a GPA of 3.0 or higher in all baccalaureate social work courses. In addition, some programs require students to demonstrate significant professional experience in social work after graduating from their BSW program. BSW graduates who are not admitted into an advanced standing MSW program track can still earn their MSW degree by enrolling in a traditional MSW program.

Currently, the six schools that offer advanced standing MSW programs in Wisconsin have campus-based and/or hybrid programs that combine on-campus and online instruction. Only one school, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), has a fully online advanced standing MSW program.

Campus

Advanced Standing Campus-Based MSW Programs in Wisconsin

Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) has a 32-credit advanced standing MSW program track that requires applicants to have earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program within the last seven years, and to have attained a GPA of 3.5 or higher in all social work major courses. Alternately, BSW graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or better in their social work major can established advanced standing eligibility by spending a minimum of one year working in the field. CUW’s MSW program offers an Advanced Generalist specialization that provides training in clinical and macro practice social work, as well as a Clinical Social Work specialization. The focus of the program’s curriculum, which incorporates 450 hours of field education, is on Christian service and leadership in social work. Full-time students can graduate from CUW’s advanced standing track in one year, while part-time students generally take about two years to earn their degree.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UW-Green Bay) offers a campus-based advanced standing MSW with a specialization in Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice, and Areas of Emphasis in Child Welfare, Clinical Mental Health, and School Social Work. The advanced standing curriculum is comprised of 30 credits, which includes courses in advanced social work topics and principles and 500 hours of specialization field education. To qualify for advanced standing status, UW-Green Bay requires applicants to have earned their BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program within the last seven years, or to hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program and a current Wisconsin Social Work certification in combination with at least three years of full-time social work experience.

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) offers an advanced standing MSW program that is open to BSW program graduates whose degree was conferred by a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program within the last five years. To receive full advanced standing status at UW-Madison, a student must have a grade of B or better in all undergraduate social work major courses and field practicums. Eligible students are then able to complete a 23-credit curriculum, inclusive of 640 hours of field education, in one year of full-time or two years of part-time enrollment. Students who enroll full-time take all of their courses on campus, while those who enroll part-time take hybrid courses that combine online instruction with in-person sessions that are held every other Saturday while school is in session. UW-Madison’s MSW program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum that allows students to choose from among four focus areas: Aging; Child, Youth, and Family Welfare; Health; and Mental Health.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) offers a campus-based advanced standing MSW program with an Advanced Generalist curriculum that allows students to specialize by pursuing a pathway of emphasis. Emphasis areas include: Child and Family Well-Being; Behavioral and Mental Health; Gerontology; Physical Health; School Social Work; Clinical Social Work; Trauma-Informed Care; and Substance Abuse Counseling. Advanced standing students complete a 34-credit curriculum that incorporates a 640-hour of advanced field practicum. Applicants for advanced standing status at UWM must hold a BSW degree conferred by a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program within the last five years and a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher on a four-point scale. The advanced standing curriculum can be completed in one year of full-time enrollment, although students are permitted to enroll on a part-time basis.

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh: (UW-Oshkosh) offers an advanced standing MSW program with concentrations in Clinical & Mental Health Practice and Advanced Direct Practice. Applicants for advanced standing status must hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program conferred within the last eight years and have attained a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher on a four-point scale with a 3.0 GPA in their most recent 60 credits of college coursework. The advanced standing curriculum offered is comprised of 22 credits of required courses and six credits of electives (28 credits total). The curriculum includes 500 hours of field education requirements. While this program is mainly campus-based, some courses may have online components to enhance flexibility for working students. Full-time advanced standing students can graduate from the UW-Oshkosh MSW program in one year; part-time students generally completed the program requirements in two years.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-Whitewater) has a campus-based advanced standing MSW program with an Advanced Generalist specialization and Emphasis Areas in Addictions, Mental Health, Military Social Work, Physical Disabilities, and School Social Work. To be eligible for the advanced standing track, applicants must have a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program with a grade of B or better in all social work major courses and field practicums. Advanced standing students complete a 32-credit curriculum that includes 500 hours of field education. Among the topics covered in the advanced standing curriculum include: social work psychopathology; advanced social welfare policy; research and program implementation; advanced practice interventions and evaluations; and social work practice with groups, communities, and organizations. Advanced standing students can begin the UW-Whitewater MSW program in the summer and complete their degree in one year of enrollment.

Online

Advanced Standing Online MSW Programs in Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has an advanced standing MSW program that is now being offered in an online format for qualified students with a BSW degree earned from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program within the last five years. The program is designed for part-time students and has a two-year completion time. Students take courses year-round (summer, fall, and spring sessions) and engage in 640 hours of field education at program approved sites during the program’s second year. UWM’s MSW program has an Advanced Generalist curriculum that prepares students for careers in clinical and/or macro practice social work, and it gives students additional options for specialization. Courses mainly utilize asynchronous instruction, although some courses may incorporate live synchronous sessions that are scheduled in advance so that students know when they need to attend.

Additional MSW Program Options for Residents of Wisconsin

In addition to the programs offered by in state schools in Wisconsin, there are many schools outside of Wisconsin that offer both traditional and advanced standing MSW programs online. These programs provide Wisconsin residents with a broad range of options for enrolling in an MSW program without having to relocate and may be a good option for traditional standing students who are unable to attend a campus-based program due to personal or professional reasons. As with all MSW programs, online programs offered by out-of-state schools require site-based field education hours. Thus, it is advisable to contact program administrators regarding potential field placements prior to applying to out-of-state online programs.

It is also important to note that the requirements for clinical social work licensure (LCSW) and school social work licensure vary by state. Wisconsin residents who are considering MSW programs offered by out-of-state schools and who intend to apply for a social work license upon graduating should review state education and training requirements to ensure that a program’s curriculum will meet licensing requirements in Wisconsin.

Directory of All Master of Social Work Programs in Wisconsin

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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University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

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