Social Welfare Master of Social Work Degree Program

The M.S.W. curriculum is a two-year (60 credits) sequence that prepares students for professional social work practice. The M.S.W. program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Students acquire the knowledge and skills that enable them to help alleviate social problems, gain a broad perspective in assessing social needs, and acquire the skills necessary to address needs and challenges of individuals, groups, and communities. Graduate social workers should be able to help others reach the most satisfying social adjustment possible and to work for social conditions that will provide an equitable opportunity for individual fulfillment.

The curriculum offers two areas of concentration. After the second semester of common generalist core courses, students concentrate in Clinical or MACRO (Management efficiency, Advocacy and empowerment, Community building, Resource development, and Outcome evaluation). Determination of the area of concentration is made prior to the end of the second semester.

The MACRO Concentration

The MACRO concentration prepares students for management, community development, program development and evaluation, and advocacy positions in social agencies, including state planning and regulatory agencies and service organizations at county, local, and community levels. Students take courses in organizational and management theory, fiscal management, human resources and supervision, management information systems, program planning and evaluation, grant writing and fund raising, advocacy, and community building.

The Clinical Concentration

This concentration is designed to prepare students to provide direct services that assist in the restoration, maintenance, and enhancement of the social functioning of individuals, families, and other groups. Students in this concentration are expected to acquire knowledge of human behavior, social systems, and intervention processes with which individuals, families, and small groups are aided to develop and realize their potential. Students may concentrate their study in areas such as child & family services, mental health, health care & aging, or they may take courses in diverse areas.


To be admitted to a graduate program offered by the School of Social Welfare, applicants must hold a liberal arts bachelor's degree from a college or university of recognized standing. Applications may be submitted for admission to a program leading to a master's or doctoral degree, or for nondegree study.

Applicants must have an awarded B.A. degree to be reviewed for the early decision application. The M.S.W. program does not accept students for initial enrollment in the spring semester. Application for nondegree admission may be considered up to two weeks prior to the beginning of each session.

Applications are evaluated on four criteria: academic preparation and performance, human services experience, letters of reference, and objectives of graduate study.

Applicants for the M.S.W. degree program must hold a baccalaureate degree and must submit: official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work attempted; references from three individuals who know the applicant in an academic, human service, or employment capacity; a two-to-four page statement of personal goals and career objectives that includes why the applicant wishes to pursue a career in social work, a discussion of previous experiences that led to these decisions, and the nature and meaning of all paid and volunteer work experience relevant to social work career goals; and an updated resume. The GREs are not required. However, the dual or joint MSW programs may require submission of standardized test scores, such as the GRE or LSAT.

Applicants for the regular Ph.D. program must possess a master's degree in social work or in a related field (e.g., psychology, sociology, nursing, education). Applicants for the joint M.S.W./Ph.D. program must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and should include their research interests in the statement of goals.

As part of their application packet, international students are required to submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Test of Spoken English (TSE) administered by the Educational Testing Service. The minimum expected TOEFL is 213 (computer based test) and the TSE is 50.

Students who wish to enter a program or course in the University must apply online Graduate Admission application page. For more information on this process students may contact The Graduate School, University Administration Building, Room 121, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222, telephone 518-442-3980. Students who desire clarification or more detailed information about the School of Social Welfare programs and admission standards may attend an information session or visit our website at School of Social Welfare website. To attend an information session, please call 518-442-5320.

Applicants should be aware that some states restrict or deny professional licensure for persons with a felony conviction, misdemeanor conviction, DWI, or action taken against them by a professional organization.

The Field Practicum

An integral part of the School's curriculum, the field practicum gives students the opportunity to develop, apply, and integrate necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes while in practice in social work settings. For each practicum students work 500 hours in an agency, equal to two days a week for two semesters. With the exception of those who qualify for advanced standing or the summer block option, students must complete two practica concurrent with classroom courses. Each practicum is in a different agency. Students with experience in human service may apply for two options for completing the field placement requirements: the Work-Study Option and the Summer Block Option.

Students must apply for each practicum; they are evaluated for preparedness and assigned to an agency by the Coordinator of Field Instruction in consultation with a committee of faculty. In each field practicum, students engage in social work practice under the supervision of an experienced practitioner who is qualified and trained to serve as a field instructor. The first practicum is a generalist practicum that provides learning opportunities in a broad range of social work activities. The second specialized practicum focuses on opportunities appropriate to each student's concentration of either Clinical Practice or MACRO. Sites used for the field practicum are usually within a 100-mile radius from Albany. Most students are placed within a reasonable distance of their residences; however, students need an automobile for travel to and from the placement as well as for placement-related activities. Students are responsible for expenses and transportation associated with field placement.

Academic credit is given for the field practicum through the field instruction courses. The field instruction courses are graded Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory (S/U). Students must earn a Satisfactory grade to continue in the program.

Approximately 700 agencies and organizations in the Capital District and surrounding counties provide field practica to social work students each year. Settings include public and voluntary agencies in children and family services, health care, aging, mental health, substance abuse, state and community service planning and coordination organizations, and other organizations that provide social work services.

School Calendar

The calendar for the School of Social Welfare varies from the University calendar, particularly in regard to field instruction. Because of educational needs and professional responsibility, students should expect to be in field placement during some recesses. The field instruction calendar is distributed at the beginning of the academic year.

The Curriculum

The curriculum is designed for students to gain a generalist perspective. This perspective is essential to 1) assess and address social needs, and 2) to help individuals, families, groups, and communities develop and function effectively. The generalist perspective fosters:

  • An eclectic theoretical grounding within a systems framework for assessing multiple points and levels for potential intervention.
  • The need for effective multi-level interventions which may focus simultaneously on individuals, families, groups, communities, or organizations and society
  • Multi-system and multi-level interventions, using an evidence based and outcomes oriented planned change model.

The curriculum begins with generalist foundation courses required of all students.

Required Generalist Courses for All Students (31 credits)

Core Requirements:

  • Ssw 600 Social Welfare Policy Practice (3)
  • Ssw 610 Human Behavior and Social Environment I (3)
  • Ssw 611 Human Behavior and Social Environment II (3)
  • Ssw 620 Micro Practice in Social Work I (3)
  • Ssw 621 Micro Practice in Social Work II (3)
  • Ssw 630 Macro Practice in Social Work I (3)
  • Ssw 631 Macro Practice in Social Work II (3)
  • Ssw 650 Field Instruction I (3)
  • Ssw 651 Field Instruction II (4)
  • Ssw 660 Introductory Research Methodology (3)

Exemption Examinations

Exemption examinations may be taken for the courses Ssw 600, 610, 611, and 660. Passing of these exams exempts the student from taking the course, but no credit is given. In place of the exempted course(s), electives must be taken to fulfill the required amount of credits. Exemption examinations are given prior to the start of the fall semester.

Advanced Requirements for Students in MACRO Concentration (29 credits)

  • Ssw 665 Research Methods in Social Welfare Management (3)
  • Ssw 752 Field Instruction III (4)
  • Ssw 753 Field Instruction IV (4)
  • Ssw 790 Human Service Organizations in a Changing Environment (3)
  • Ssw 791 Managing Systems in Human Service Organizations (3)
  • Ssw 792 Community Building (3)
  • One course designated as Advanced MACRO elective (3)
  • One Elective (3) 
  • One Advanced Policy Course (3)

Advanced Requirements for Students in Clinical Concentration (29 credits)

  • Ssw 661 Evaluation of Clinical Practice (3)
  • Ssw 752 Field Instruction III (4)
  • Ssw 753 Field Instruction IV (4) 
  • Three courses designated as Advanced Clinical Practice (9)
  • One course designated as Advanced Policy (3)
  • Electives per advisement (6)

Part-Time Program

Approximately one-fifth of M.S.W. students complete the degree through part-time study. Students are admitted directly into the part-time program and are expected to complete the entire M.S.W. degree on a part-time basis. The program requires two courses each Fall and Spring semester and one course in the Summer semester, over a four year period. The sequence of courses is set by the faculty and is the same for all part-time students in each concentration. Part-time students complete the field practicum courses on two work days a week during the second and fourth years of the program.

Advanced Standing

The advanced standing program permits qualified applicants with a 
baccalaureate degree in social work to receive up to 21 credits of advanced standing toward the M.S.W. and to complete the M.S.W. in a summer and one academic year. To be eligible, the students must have received a baccalaureate degree from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education within six years of matriculation in the M.S.W. program. The courses for which students may receive advanced standing credit are:

  • Ssw 600 Social Welfare Policy Practice (3) 
  • Ssw 610 Human Behavior and Social Environment I (3) 
  • Ssw 620 Micro Practice in Social Work I (3) 
  • Ssw 630 Macro Practice in Social Work I (3)
  • Ssw 650 Field Instruction I (3)
  • Ssw 660 Introductory Research (3)
  • Either one elective (3 credits) (Clinical Concentration) or
  • one course (3 credits) to be determined (MACRO Concentration)

The advanced standing program is full-time and begins in late May. In the Summer, students take Ssw 611, Human Behavior and Social Environment II; Ssw 621, Micro Practice in Social Work II; and Ssw 651 Field Instruction II. In the Fall and Spring, they take Ssw 631, Macro Practice in Social Work II (Fall) and meet the requirements of their chosen concentration.

Special Program: Albany Internships in Aging Project (IAP)

The School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany in partnership with 9 area consortium agencies is offering a special opportunity to earn a Master in Social Work (MSW) with a specialization in service to aging persons. The Albany Internships in Aging Project (IAP) provides education for direct and MACRO practice and leadership in social work services.

The Albany IAP is part of the Geriatric Social Work Practicum Development Program, which was intiated by the John A. Hartford Foundation. Students start in the second year of the MSW program after completing the generalist first year curriculum. The curriculum includes an integrative seminar and a specialized second-year curriculum in aging in either direct practice or MACRO. The second year includes coursework in aging, a leadership development project, and a field placement with rotation among sites serving older persons. The second-year IAP program is full-time.

Please note: This program requires an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience requirement. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.

Federal Licensure/Certification Disclosure

Effective July 1, 2024, federal regulation requires institutions of higher education to make a determination whether a Title IV eligible academic program that leads to professional licensure or certification meets the educational requirements for licensure/certification in the U.S. State where the institution is located and the U.S. States where “distance education” students are located at the time of initial enrollment in the program, as well as U.S. States where the program is advertised as meeting such requirements, and if applicable, the U.S. State where students attest they intend to be licensed/certified.

The Social Work MSW program at the University at Albany is registered by the New York State Education Department and thus meets the educational requirements for licensure/certification for New York State. Through a good faith effort, and for the purpose of complying with the federal regulation, we have determined that the Social Work MSW program at the University at Albany meets the educational requirements for licensure/certification in the additional following U.S. States: none.

It is important to note that the University at Albany is not the licensure/certification authority in other U.S. States and cannot assess whether an individual candidate will be issued a license/certificate in other U.S. States and instead it is incumbent on each individual candidate to contact the licensure/certification authority in the applicable U.S. State for any further guidance on the requirements for licensure/certification requirements and application processes.