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Social Work

Saint Louis University’s School of Social Work offers highly ranked master’s and doctoral degree programs.

About the Program

SLU’s Master of Social Work program prepares you to be an advanced practitioner who will act as an agent of change to promote individual and societal well-being. You’ll choose from three concentrations — clinical, community and organization, or applied behavior analysis. Specializations within the program will prepare you to work with special populations, including children, veterans and those who have experienced trauma. You'll also be qualified to work in the areas of substance abuse and criminal justice, among other settings.

The Ph.D. in social work program also provides a solid foundation for an academic career or as a social work research scientist in practice or policy settings. The program has a strong interdisciplinary and methodological orientation.

Dual-Degree Options

Program Highlights

SLU’s School of Social Work’s interactive teaching methods integrate community-based practice with classroom activities and discussions. Small class sizes facilitate an atmosphere of intellectual dialogue that fosters relationships between students and faculty.

M.S.W. Curriculum and Program Details

The M.S.W. program at SLU offers multiple course delivery formats to assist students who are working full- or part-time and for those who want to progress faster by taking additional credit hours per semester.

Formats include the traditional 15-week format (2.5-hour classes, fall and spring semesters) and an accelerated 10-week format (3.5-hour classes, summer semester) offered through the School for Professional Studies. Electives may also be offered in the following formats: two intersession periods of week-long classes, online blended classes or five consecutive Saturday sessions (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

After completing professional foundation course work, you will select one of the following areas of concentration:

Community and Organization

Prepare for advanced practice focusing on social problems and societal change at the community and organizational levels.


Prepares 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

Learn to apply behavioral principles to produce socially significant changes, such as increasing social skills or decreasing drug use, while integrating social work ethics in practice. Use direct assessments, research evidence and single-subject experimental designs to inform and evaluate interventions. 

M.S.W students at SLU can also choose a specialization from 12 areas:

An accelerated degree option is available for students wishing to complete the program in five years.

Ph.D. Curriculum and Program Details

SLU’s Ph.D. in social work requires 72 credit hours and offers rigorous methodological and interdisciplinary training for social workers and related professionals.

Building on the foundations of required coursework, each student develops an individualized plan of study that will meet their intellectual and professional requirements. These concentrations consist mainly of elected coursework and participation in mentored research. Students will also complete a dissertation project corresponding with their educational and professional. 

SLU’s M.S.W. and Ph.D. are ranked in the top 20 percent of social work programs. Possible careers include work in the fields of health care, mental health, school, child welfare, family services, criminal justice, gerontology, policy, advocacy, administrative and community development.  
Scholarships and Financial Aid
SLU’s School of Social Work offers new and continuing students partial tuition remission and merit-based scholarships. Applicants who do not initially meet the scholarship criteria or who have applied initially and are not awarded a scholarship may re-apply during their first semester in the program. Scholarship awards are made based on information in the admission application.  

Applicant Criteria


  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • 24 credit hours in the liberal arts


Applicants must hold a master's degree in social work or closely related field.

To apply, you’ll need:

Application Requirements

Application form and fee
Three confidential letters of recommendation
GRE scores
Professional goal statement
Writing sample (Ph.D. applicants only)

Requirements for International Students

Application Deadlines

The priority deadline for SLU’s M.S.W. program is March 1 for the fall semester and Oct. 1 for the spring semester. Dec. 15 is the final deadline for the fall semester.

Ph.D. applicants should apply by Jan. 15.  

Review Process

Our admissions committee considers several factors to determine your eligibility: academic achievement, strength of the undergraduate program, application information, personal statement, work experience, any graduate degrees earned, motivation, leadership and service. The undergraduate GPA is weighted with other criteria in the admissions process.


Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education

SLU’s social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. It is part of SLU’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, which is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.