Frequently Asked Questions

Student smiling

Campus/Community Life
Costs/Financial Aid
Career Opportunities
What happens when I am admitted?


Q: Is the MSW Program accredited?

A: The School of Social Work’s MSW Program was one of the first schools ever accredited in 1919. Today it is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Board of Accreditation. CSWE Board of Accreditation is the accrediting association for all undergraduate and graduate schools of social work located in the United States.

Q: What is the ranking for the MSW Program?

A: Schools of Social Work are not rated or ranked by a professional association; however, US News and World Report, in their 2024 rankings of graduate schools of social work, rated the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work as the 12th best program in the country. There are approximately 319 accredited MSW programs in the country.


Q: What types of specializations does your program offer?

A: The School offers two specializations the first is Direct Practice. Direct practice is for those who wish to acquire skills and knowledge in working with individuals, families and small groups. Course work and practicum work will expose students to the use of theory and research to inform intervention choices; the advanced practice methods and techniques that have demonstrated effectiveness; the importance of identifying clients’ strengths and resources as well as needs: and the role of diversity in shaping clients’ experiences in informing practice methods. The second specialization that we offer is Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA). The COSA specialization prepares socially active and civically engaged students for leadership careers in community service, community change and community development organizations. Students can pursue specialized course work along two tracks, community organization or social administration, but many prefer to combine studies in both specialization areas. Course work develops core competencies that address national standards for community building and social work management.

Q: Do you offer any certificate programs?

A: The School offers certificate programs that involve a specific “package” of courses and field placement experiences that foster greater depth of knowledge and skills in specific areas of advanced social work practice. Our certificate programs are in the following areas:

Q: Are there any dual/joint degree opportunities with other programs?

A: Yes there are several joint degree programs that the School of Social Work offers in collaboration with other graduate programs. In order to qualify students must be admitted to both programs, as each school has a separate application and admissions process. You will need to contact the admissions office at both schools. School of Social Work dual, joint, and cooperative degree programs:

*Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is not part of the University of Pittsburgh.
** A limited number of students who possess a master’s degree in an area other than social work may qualify for admissions to the joint MSW/PhD program

Q: How many credits does it take to complete the MSW Program?

A: All students must complete 60 credits in order to graduate from the MSW program. These credits consist of 42 coursework credits + 18 credits of practicum work.

Q: How many practicum placement plus practicum work hours must I complete in order to graduate?

A: Full-time students enrolled in the regular 60 credit program must complete two separate (two semesters each) academic year long practicum placements. Students who enter our program with advanced standing complete only one academic (two semesters) year long practicum placement. Students without advanced standing fulfill 1,080 hours (18 credits) of practicum placement including a foundation first year placement consisting of 360 hours (6 credits) and a concentration second year practicum placement of 720 hours (12 credits). Students with advanced standing are required to complete the concentration second year practicum placement consisting of 720 hours.

Q. Do you accept credits for advanced standing?

A: Students who possess a BSW/BASW degree earned within the last 10 years from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) may be admitted to the MSW Program with advanced standing worth up-to 21 credits (15 course credits and 6 practicum credits) toward the MSW degree. All advanced standing credits must have been earned with a minimum of a “B” grade.

Q: Does the School accept transfer students and transfer credits?

A: Yes our school accepts transfer students. Students transferring to our program from non-social work graduate programs may transfer up to 6 general elective credits. Students transferring to the MSW program from an existing CSWE-accredited social work master's program may be eligible to transfer up to 30 credits. All transfer credits must have been earned within the last seven years and only courses where the student has earned a minimum of a “B-” grade are eligible to be reviewed for transfer credit. A syllabus + bibliography must be provided for each course that is being requested to be reviewed for transfer credit.

Q: Do you accept transfer credits from a social work minor?

A: If a student has earned a ‘B” or better in any required generalist course that is offered in a CSWE-BOA accredited program, that course can be considered for MSW Program generalist transfer credit.

Q:Where are most of the classes held?

A: The vast majority of the classes are held in the Cathedral of Learning Building which houses the School of Social Work.  A limited number of classes may be held in other locations within the University.

Q:What is the average class size?

A:The School’s MSW Program limits most classes to no more than 25 students. Only on rare occasions will a class ever exceed 25 students, but in those occasions the faculty person teaching the class will have to give their approval for over-enrollment.

Return to top

Campus/Community Life

Q:Is on campus housing available for graduate students?

A: No there is no graduate student housing.

Q: What are the average rental rates for apartments?

A: Pittsburgh has been ranked by various publications over the past several years as one of America’s most affordable cities.  Studio apartments generally go for $550-$700, 1-bedroons from $600-$750, 2-bedrooms from $850-$1000 and 3-bedrooms from $1100-$1500.  Many of our students particularly those who move here for their graduate education often seek out roommates to help share the cost of living expenses.

Q: Will I need to have a car?

A: No. Public transportation will get you to most places within the greater Pittsburgh area and in addition public transportation is free for students.  All you need do is show your University ID.  Therefore having a car is optional.

Q: What is there to do socially/culturally in Pittsburgh?

A: Like most urban cities in America there is a range of cultural opportunities and events that exist in Pittsburgh from theater arts to music, local and ethnic restaurants, sporting events including both professional and college teams.

Q: What types of student organizations exist on campus?

A: There are primarily three organizations that our graduate students can be involved with, the first being the Graduate and Professional Student Association, the School of Social Work’s Student Executive Council, and the Union of Black Social Work Students.

Return to top


Q: Will I be assigned an advisor?

A: At the School of Social Work all MSW students receive 3-levels of support.  Each student receives an academic advisor, a practicum instructor and a practicum advisor. The academic advisor is a School faculty member, administrator or social work professional assigned to you who will assist you with course selection as well as all matters related to course and class work. Practicum instructors are individuals appointed by the School who should possess a MSW degree with at least two years of professional work experience (the School may approve other individuals with related credentials), and provide direct supervision at the practicum placement site.  Practicum instructors develop a practicum learning plan to assure that social work professional practice issues, core or advanced competencies and values are embodied within the scope and instruction of the placement experience. 

The practicum advisor will review your request for practicum placement and match you to an agency practicum that aligns with your curriculum goals. Practicum advisors will visit the student and practicum instructor at the agency during the generalist practicum placement; this is called a practicum liaison visit, to ensure that the practicum placement experience is consistent with programmatic goals and competencies. During the specialization practicum placement the academic advisor often completes the practicum liaison visit each term the student is in practicum.

Q: Are there other types of counseling services provided by the School or University?

A: The University Counseling Center provides personal and academic counseling to students.  The Center is staffed by psychologists, counselors, social workers, a psychiatrist, and pre-doctoral interns.  The services rendered to students are free and confidential.

Return to top

Costs/Financial Aid

Q: What are the tuition rates for 2023-2024?

A: 2023-2024 academic year rates (2023-2024) can be found at

Q: Are there scholarships available for students?

A: Each year the School awards scholarships to incoming students. Only full-time, first time applicants who possess a minimum 4-year cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 are considered for scholarship awards. Please note that all full-time MSW applicants who have a minimum grade point average of 3.4 and complete the MSW application by our by the deadline will receive a priority review for both admission and a scholarship award. The School’s regular admissions deadline is May 31st. 

These awards are made on a first come basis to eligible applicants. Students who receive School of Social Work scholarship awards in their first/foundation year will automatically receive the same scholarship award during their second/specialization year provided that they remain enrolled as a full-time student in good academic standing.”

Q: Is there scholarship assistance for part-time students?

A: The School does not award merit based scholarship assistance to part-time students. However, there are Pitt2Pitt scholarship opportunities for Pitt graduates, both for part-time and full-time graduate level students, depending on funding availability. Click here for more information on Pitt2Pitt scholarship awards. 

Q: Are there opportunities for students to get either a research/teaching assistantships?

A: Teaching assistants are only awarded to our PhD students. Incoming MSW students should check with individual faculty members about research assistantship opportunities which are available through competitive fellowships.

Q: How does one apply for financial aid?

The FAFSA form should be submitted electronically to the University’s Financial Aid Office. The University Federal Code # for the FAFSA form is 008815.

Q: What types of financial aid is there for international students?

A: The School does offer merit scholarship assistance for international students (same criteria mentioned above in question are there scholarships available for students) however there are no sources for loan based aid. Therefore international students do not have to file the FAFSA forms.

Return to top

Career Opportunities

Q: Does the School of Social Work assist their graduates in finding employment?

A: Our School is one of the few schools of social work in the country that has an Career Center as part of the School of Social Work.  The VanKirk Career Center will assist students with areas such as the importance of networking, cover letter and resume writing, interviewing techniques, salary negotiation strategies, etc.

Q: What types of jobs are available for graduates?

A:  Most of our direct practice graduates find jobs as clinicians or therapists in non-profit and for profit social service organizations working in family and children agencies, mental health programs, healthcare services and hospitals, schools, juvenile and criminal justice facilities and organizations, and with many other population specialties.  Community, Organization, and Social Action graduates find employment in the same arenas but as executives and associate executive directors, program managers, organizers, program planners, and grant officer positions.

Q: Does the School assist in any way with licensure preparation?

A: The School provides opportunities through continuing education to assist its grads prepare for state licensure examinations.

Return to top

Q: What happens when I am admitted?

A: Visit our Incoming/New Students webpage to get answers about orientation, exemption exams, registration, and more!

Return to top