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The Master of Social Work program prepares students to be advanced practitioners of social work who act as agents of change to promote individual and societal well-being. The Saint Louis University School of Social Work is built upon an unwavering commitment to social justice.

A leader in integrating social work practice and education (ranked in the top 25 percent of programs by U.S. News and World Report), the school has faculty members who have made substantial contributions to the profession.

Our interactive teaching methods are aimed at combining community-based practice with classroom activities and discussions. Small class sizes facilitate an atmosphere of intellectual dialogue that fosters relationships between students and faculty.


After completing professional foundation course work, students must select one of the following areas of concentration to be the focus of their studies.

  • Community and Organization: Prepares students for advanced practice in settings focusing on social problems and societal change at the community and organizational levels.
  • *Clinical: Prepares students for advanced clinical practice serving children, youth, adults and families. This concentration assumes a holistic view that incorporates the political, environmental, psychosocial, biological and spiritual dimensions of clinical social work practice.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis: Involves the application of behavioral principles to produce socially significant changes in behavior while integrating social work ethics in practice. Practitioners use direct assessments, research evidence and single-subject experimental designs to inform and evaluate interventions. The main aim of practice is to increase behaviors (e.g. social skills) or decrease behaviors (e.g. drug abuse).

*As of fall 2014: the Family concentration and Health/Mental Health concentration merged into the Clinical concentration. For those students admitted under the previous concentrations the course requirements will vary.


Specializations are optional and can be earned within 57 credit hours.

Dual-degree opportunities 

There are seven opportunities to concurrently earn your MSW and another master's degree.

  • Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health (MSW/MPH)
  • Master of Social Work/Master of Public Administration (MSW/MPA)
  • Master of Social Work/Juris Doctor (MSW/JD)
  • Master of Social Work/Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MSW/MAPS) with Aquinas Institute
  • Master of Social Work/Master of Arts in Theology (MSW/MA) with Concordia Seminary
  • Master of Social Work/Master of Arts in Deaconess Studies (MSW/MDeac) with Concordia Seminary
  • Master of Social Work/Master of Divinity (MSW/MDiv) with Concordia Seminary

Individualized Program

Students design their academic program to develop competence in micro-practice with individuals, families and small groups, and/or macro-competencies in administration, program planning, community organizing and political advocacy. Students choose one of three concentrations and can also elect to pursue a specialization or dual degree as part of or in addition to an MSW.

Faculty Research

SLU's faculty are internationally recognized as leaders in community engagement. Our faculty have diverse research interests, including:

  • Community Development and Organizing
  • Diversity Issues in Social Work Practice
  • International Social Work
  • Child Welfare Policy 
  • Poverty 


Applicants are required to fill out an online application and submit a résumé, professional statement, three confidential reference letters (two academic references and one professional reference) and transcripts. Applicants are also required to complete an interview. Additional factors considered in determining an applicant's eligibility include academic achievement, strength of the undergraduate program attended, work experience, previous graduate degrees, motivation, leadership and service.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and 24 credit hours completed in the liberal arts. The priority deadline is March 1 for fall and October 1 for spring; the final deadline is August 1 for fall and December 15 for spring.


  • Online application
  • Official transcripts
  • Test scores not required
  • Three (confidential) letters of recommendation: 2 academic and 1 professional
  • Resume/CV
  • Professional statement (see below**)
  • Interview required, in person

**Professional Statement guidelines for MSW 

The professional statement informs the Student Affairs Committee of the applicant's background and professional goals. This is also as an indicator of the applicant's writing ability and helps the Student Affairs Committee acquire a broader understanding of the applicant. The content and the quality of the composition will be used to judge the applicant's preparedness for graduate school. (The statement must not exceed three type written pages.) Following review of admissions materials, an on-site writing sample may be required. These questions are guidelines in preparing the professional statement:

What knowledge, values, and skills do you have now that is critical to social work practice?
Describe your strengths and areas of growth.
What are your future aspirations in professional social work practice?
Describe a social justice issue that is important to you and what you as a social work professional would do to make a difference.
What are your experiences interacting with diverse populations? (Diverse populations include groups distinguished by age, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, and ethnicity.)


SLU offers new and continuing MSW students partial tuition-remission merit-based scholarships. Applicants who do not initially meet the scholarship criteria or who have applied for a scholarship and were not awarded a scholarship may re-apply during their first semester in the MSW Program. Applicants who apply by the priority deadline can also apply for graduate assistantships.

Other information


Sample MSW Curriculum

(57 credit hours of classroom and practica courses)

Students in dual degree programs will have a course schedule that varies from the one below.

 Generalist Foundation Courses

  • Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups
  • Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Social Policy
  • Practicum I
  • Foundation Integrative Seminar

Advanced Social Policy Course

  • Policy Practice for Social Justice

Values & Ethics

  • Values and Ethics in Social Work Practice
  • Behavior Change and Ethics (for ABA students)

Public Health Course

  • Mission and Practice of Global Public Health

Research Methods Sequenced Courses (6 credit hours)

  • Research Methods I and II
  • Measurement and Experimental Design (for ABA students)

Concentration Practicum and Electives

  • Practicum II, III
  • Concentration Integrative Seminar

Pick one of the three concentrations:

1- Community and Organization

  • Community Theory and Practice
  • Organizational and Program Planning
  • 5 Elective Courses

2- Clinical

  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment II
  • Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice
  • 5 Elective Courses
  • 2 Semesters of Inter-Professional Team Seminar (0 credit hours)

3-Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Principles and Concepts in Behavior Analysis
  • Assessment and Selecting Interventions
  • Behavior Change and Processes
  • Special Topics in ABA
  • 3 Elective Courses

The minimum total credit-hours required is 57.

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