Master's Degree in Social Work
The University of Pittsburgh's School of Social Work, successor to the Division of Social Work in the Department of Sociology, was founded in September 1918 and accepted its first class of MSW students that year. We take pride in our history, while developing professional practice to meet future challenges. The MSW Program offers social work education for the 21st century, and is ranked #21 by US News & World Report in their 2022 rankings of 298 graduate schools of social work.
Please visit our MSW Admissions webpage for admissions-related information.
MSW Mission and Goals
The MSW Program’s mission is grounded in the purpose and values of the social work profession as well as an understanding of the program’s context. In furtherance of the University’s and School’s missions, the MSW Program strives to prepare graduates with the specialized knowledge and skills needed to engage in evidence-informed and culturally responsive advanced social work practice –either Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups or Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA) –that promotes human and community well-being and is guided by a person-in-environment framework, a global perspective, respect for human diversity, and knowledge-based on scientific inquiry. The MSW Program’s mission reflects the social work profession’s values of service, social justice, the dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, competence, human rights, and scientific inquiry.
As such, the goals of the MSW Program are to prepare students to:
- Engage in evidence-informed advanced specialized social work practice within a multicultural society.
- Practice according to the principles, values, and ethics that guide the social work profession.
- Influence social policies with the goal of alleviating poverty, oppression, and social injustice as well as advocating for human rights
- Practice in a manner that enhances the quality of life for all persons, locally and globally, and that advances the struggle for social, economic, and environmental justice.
- Practice with cultural humility.
At the time of admission, students are required to designate a skill specialization. Students can choose to specialize in either Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups (Direct Practice) or Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA).
The curriculum is designed to provide all master's students with the values, knowledge, and skills needed to gain competence in applying the social work perspective to practice.
Five certificate programs are available to Direct Practice students and one is available to COSA students.
The MSW curriculum is designed to provide students, who enter with a liberal arts perspective, a professional education that includes both breadth and depth of knowledge and skills development.
Students can enter the MSW Program as full-time, part-time, or advanced standing students.
Some students seek to complement their social work education and training by earning a degree in another discipline or profession. Others wish to further their education within the field of social work.