A professionally dressed woman talks with a woman holding a cup of coffee while another woman takes notes

Where the next step awaits

As social workers, we so often concern ourselves with the “next step” — for our clients, for our organizations, for our communities. But what about for ourselves? How can we continue to meet our calling in the face of new challenges? How can we continue to develop our voices as social workers?

In the Master of Social Work program at VCU’s School of Social Work, our students seek to answer these very questions. Through intensive, specialized course work, research and field experience, our students can truly find their focus as advanced practitioners and position themselves to make immediate impacts in the lives and communities they touch.

What we offer

Our small class sizes afford our students the room and time to connect with their teachers and each other, to fully contemplate where their true passions lie and to reflect on their shared experiences. And through it all, they’re given the tools and encouragement to embrace their own unique insights and fashion themselves into the practitioner they most want to be.

Our home in VCU’s Academic Learning Commons provides us with a centrally located hub that allows us to deliver our educational mission through state-of-the-art technology and flexible learning spaces. Also, with new graduate research space, students have access to the materials, supports and technology they need to further their own independent community-engaged research goals.


Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education through 2019, an M.S.W. degree from VCU instills mastery of the knowledge, skills and values necessary for advanced social work practice. After one year of foundational study, students enroll in specialized courses in the concentrations of clinical social work practice or social work administration, planning and policy practice.

  • The foundation curriculum develops the skill base that fosters competencies needed to work in a variety of social work settings. The foundation curriculum includes courses in social work practice, human behavior theory, social policy, social and economic justice, research and agency-based field instruction.
  • The clinical social work practice curriculum focuses on key evidence-based interventions, including how to solve problems, resolve emotional and interpersonal conflicts, develop and use social networks and resources, and maintain achieved capacities and strengths.
  • The social work administration, planning and policy practice curriculum prepares graduates to become leaders skilled in formulating, implementing, analyzing and evaluating policies, plans and programs for complex and ever-changing local, state, national and international environments.

M.S.W. curriculum and degree requirements

Field experience

As Virginia’s oldest and most established social work educator, we’ve forged lasting connections with more than 500 community agencies throughout Richmond and the state, which means our students won’t be pigeon-holed into a field experience that doesn’t truly match their passions and future ambitions.

For the M.S.W. degree program, students will experience two placements. In the foundation placement, students are expected to demonstrate generalized professional knowledge, values and skills studied in the foundation curriculum. In the concentration component of the curriculum, students are placed in agencies according to their chosen specialization based on their career interests.

Find the format that works for you

The School of Social Work offers multiple program formats that lead to the M.S.W., as well as several options for study combined with other programs to earn certificates or additional degrees.

Visit us

Check out our prospective student calendar for upcoming events where you can learn more about our program or contact the Office of Student Success at sswinfo@vcu.edu to receive program information and invites to school events.

Apply to the M.S.W. program

In addition to completing an online application through VCU Graduate Admissions, all applicants must provide three letters of reference, official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities attended, a professional statement of goals and social work commitment and a current resume or vita. All applicants are admitted for the fall session, except for advanced standing program applicants, who begin their programs in the summer session.

Admissions process and requirements

Assessment data

The M.S.W. program director conducts an annual evaluation of program outcomes based on student course evaluations, annual student self-assessments and evaluation of student competence provided by field placement liaisons. For each measure, we examine 10 course competencies mandated by our accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education. View our most recent results:

 Summary assessment data for the M.S.W. Program