the student experience

The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis offers a top-ranked Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Through course work and fieldwork, students gain the knowledge and skills to tackle some of society's greatest challenges and succeed in a variety of professional settings.

Our program has trained our graduates for work across an incredible breadth of professional positions in more than 50 countries around the globe. Our customizable curriculum allows students to design their own course of study tailored to the type of work they'll do and the communities they'll work with.

Students have remarkable flexibility to shape their MSW experience at the Brown School. Our curriculum is structured to ensure that they'll be prepared to make a positive impact in their field of choice. Students:

  • Choose from eight concentrations or declare their own individualized concentration. Within their concentration, students also have flexibility in choosing their specific courses.
  • Add an optional specialization to increase their skills.
  • Broaden their knowledge with a certificate or a joint or dual degree.

Students can also tailor their experiences beyond the classroom. They can:

  • Choose from more than 300 MSW practicum sites locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Conduct research with our renowned faculty.
  • Develop their skills internationally through a practicum or research assistantship.
  • Join some of the Brown School's student groups that raise awareness and advocate for social change.

Our two-year, 60-credit-hour degree provides students with the fundamentals needed to impact the field of social work, while also providing opportunities to advance their analytical, leadership and team-building skills.

Our flexible curriculum includes outstanding research opportunities, real-world learning experiences through practica, and the opportunity to personalize their MSW. If students have earned a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, they may also be eligible for advanced standing credit.

Required Courses

The list below includes the required courses that students use to build their course of study. Because of the flexibility and customization of each MSW degree at the Brown School, the order in which students take their courses may vary.

Degree Requirements Credit Hours
Foundation 21 credit hours
Research Methods with Basic Statistics (SWCR 5007) 3
Human Behavior (SWCR 5011) 3
Social Justice and Human Diversity (SWCR 5015) 3
Social, Economic & Political Environment (SWCR 5012) 3
Social Welfare Policies and Services (SWCR 5040) 3
Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups (SWCR 5038) 3
Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities (SWCR 5039) 3
Foundation Practicum 4 credit hours
Foundation Practicum 3
Foundation Practicum Integrative Seminar 1
Concentration* 21 credit hours
Social Policy 3
Theory, Problems, and Issues 3-6
Practice Methods 6-9
Evaluation 3
Leadership and Management 3
Concentration Practicum 5 credit hours
Electives** 9 credit hours
Elective I 3
Elective II 3
Elective III 3

*Specific course options vary according to the concentration a student pursues. Students have an opportunity to choose from a variety of courses offered within each category.

**Students use elective credits in year one and year two to earn an optional specialization or take other graduate course work. They can choose from a wealth of social work and public health electives, or pursue relevant courses from other Washington University graduate programs.

Our curriculum emphasizes an evidence-based approached to problem solving. As such, our faculty have found that an understanding of statistics analysis is critical to every student's success. Foundations courses will allow students to develop this competency.

Curriculum and required credit hours are subject to change.