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Social Work, M.S.W., Ph.D.

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.

You can further tailor your studies through an "area of emphasis" to focus on 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 requires 57 credit hours and 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).

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.).

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.


Prepare 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.

Community and Organization

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

Areas of Emphasis

You can further specialize your studies through coursework or practicum experiences in the following areas:

  • Community Mental Health Practice
  • Criminal Justice
  • Gerontology
  • Global Social Work
  • Health Practice
  • Nonprofit Administration
  • Practice with Children and Youth
  • School Social Work
  • Substance Use Disorder Treatment
  • Therapy with Individuals and Families
  • Trauma-Informed Practice
  • Veteran Services

An accelerated degree option is available for students wishing to complete the program in five years in combination with a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

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, you will develop an individualized plan of study that will meet your intellectual and professional requirements. These concentrations consist mainly of elected coursework and participation in mentored research. You will also complete a dissertation project corresponding with your educational and professional goals.

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.
Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
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Financial Aid

Scholarships and Financial Aid

We recognize that when choosing to continue your education, cost can be a concern. To help ease that decision, we have identified the following financial aid resources.

FASFA and Other Resources

All incoming students should complete the application for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A step-by-step guide to submitting your FAFSA is available online.

Saint Louis University Student Financial Services provides a Graduate Financial Aid Handbook that outlines the process of financing your graduate education.

The following links to resources in Saint Louis University Student Financial Services may also be helpful:


New and continuing students are eligible for merit-based scholarships. Prospective students who apply for admission by the priority deadline are automatically screened for scholarship eligibility. No additional application is required; awards are based on information provided in the admission application.

Priority Deadlines

  • October 1, 2018, for applicants who wish to start in spring 2019

Please note that the terms of scholarship are subject to change if the student petitions for a degree transfer or fails to remain in good academic standing.

The Doerr Diversity Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship funded by the School of Social Work for new and continuing students. A separate application is required; email Kristi Richter for  deadline information.


Newly accepted master's or doctoral students and students in the first year of a program are eligible to apply for the Diversity, Dissertation and Presidential university-funded fellowships. You must apply to be nominated by the School of Social Work; email Kristi Richter, Director of Graduate Recruitment and Admission, for more information.

Other university scholarships that do not require nomination by a department/school are also available.

Graduate Assistantships

You can apply for a full or partial graduate assistantship with the School of Social Work. The application period for 2017-2018 is closed.

Current Students

Current students may be eligible for conference/training funding, graduate assistantships and scholarships. For more information and applications, visit the School of Social Work's Google Site.


SLU's M.S.W. and B.S.S.W. programs have been fully accredited since 1933; its accrediting body is the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

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 (Ph.D. applicants only)
M.S.W. applicants only: Professional goal statement

Ph.D. applicants only:

  • Statement of purpose (two-three pages, single-space) detailing research interests, career goals and fit with current faculty research.
  • Writing sample such as a published article, course paper, agency technical report or a grant proposal.

For questions about the Ph.D. application, contact Michael Vaughn at

Requirements for International Students

Application Deadlines

M.S.W. Applicants

Fall Semester:

  • Priority - March 1
  • Final deadline - July 15

Spring Semester:

  • Priority - Oct. 1
  • Final - Dec. 1

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.

Advanced Standing

Students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in social work from an eligible program can receive up to 18 credit hours of “advanced standing” toward a Master of Social Work at Saint Louis University; approved advanced standing students will need to complete only 39 credit hours of master's coursework.

To be eligible, students must have:

  • Undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Earned grades of ‘B’ or better in undergraduate social work courses
  • Have completed his/her bachelor’s at a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education

No additional transfer credits will be accepted.