MSW - Master of Social Work Social Work & Human Services

Master of Social Work

Develop Real-World Social Work Skills to Help Others

Being a social worker provides one of the most essential services in our society—helping vulnerable people overcome challenges. Capella offers a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) degree that can help you gain the skills to prepare for advanced generalist practice, and help people get access to the social services they need.

Pursuing a degree in social work could mean the opportunity to join an expanding field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 16% from 2016 - 2026—much faster than average .*

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth will vary by specialization. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes, and Capella does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, or other career growth.

Already have a CSWE-accredited BSW? Consider our MSW - Advanced Standing program.

At a Glance

  • Online & in-person
  • 15 Core courses
  • 2 Elective courses
  • 5 Practicum/internship
  • CSWE accredited
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Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 application fee (waived w/promo FALL20).

MSW Program Highlights

Blended, Flexible Learning

Prepare to serve as an advanced generalist practitioner. Build leadership skills that are valued in this field with online and in-person learning experiences and unique curriculum.

Scholar-Practitioner Faculty

The expertise, diversity, and real-world experience of our scholar-practitioner faculty can guide you in your practice and career. All social work faculty members have a doctoral degree.

Licensure Support

Get support from our licensure team throughout the license application process. They’ll be ready to help you, even after you graduate.

Learn more about licensure support »

Technology-Enhanced Impact

Learn to use technology to help expand the reach and effectiveness of social service programs and enhance the services you provide.

Reduce your tuition by $3,000

Enroll in a qualified program and apply for a $3K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your master’s degree.

Apply now »


Apply your skills and knowledge in the field with direct client contact and supervision.

Learn more about practicum »

Meet your MSW faculty

All social work faculty members have a doctoral degree. As leaders in their field, they help enrich your education and career by bringing real-world relevance to the courseroom.

Brian Christenson, PhD, LMSW, LGSW, CAP

MSW Program Director and DSW Chair

Jamie Sundvall, PhD, LICSW

MSW Department Associate Chair

Michelle Sunkel, DSW, LICSW, LAC, MBE

MSW Program Field Education Director

“I started using what I learned in my job right away. For example, my residency really helped me hone my skills in open-ended questions, reflective listening, and understanding body language. I’m now able to reply to my client’s questions with more sensitivity.”

Read full interview »

Toni Vadala*
MSW student
*Actual Capella student who agreed to appear in Capella promotional materials.

Get the Support You Need for Success

Our dedicated support teams guide and advise you through every step of your educational journey. Here are some of the people you’ll work with:

Enrollment Counselors

These folks are superstars. We hear it from our students (and grads). They’re here to help find a program fit and set you up for success.

Financial aid counselors

Our financial aid team knows how to run the numbers and help save on tuition.


Advisors know the details of your program. Got questions about courses? Instructors? Resources? Advisors have answers.

Cost & learning format

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$525 per credit, 88 total quarter credits, 44 max transfer credits

8 max non-CSWE accredited transfer credits, 36 CSWE accredited MSW credits.

*This is only an estimate, using general program pricing, and it does not include fees (including application and resource kit fees).  Your price may be higher or lower depending on your specialization, transfer credits, and tuition discounts. If transfer credits are allowed in this offering, the prices above show what you would pay if you brought in the average number of transfer credits and the price if you brought in the maximum allowed transfer credits.  

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Accredited & recognized

Capella University Master of Social Work programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education's Commission on Accreditation (CSWE). For more information about social work accreditation, you may contact CSWE’s accreditation staff.

In addition to being accredited by the CSWE, this program is aligned to national standards and designed around advanced generalist practice licensing standards.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions.

Understanding professional licensure

It is important to understand all educational and individual requirements for licensing. Capella University cannot guarantee licensure, certification, or endorsement. State regulations vary regarding professional licensure. It is your responsibility to understand and comply with requirements for your state.

Ways to save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

$3K toward your master's

Apply for a $3K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your master’s degree.

10% military discount

If you're an active-duty military service member, spouse, or veteran, discounts may be available.

Transfer credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.

MSW Sample Courses

Here is just a sample of the MSW courses you can choose from in this program.

Show course with description
SWK5013 *
Mental Health Practice and Advanced Interventions: Theory and Practice

This course prepares learners for advanced mental health best practice. Learners use multiple theoretical frameworks and technology to engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities within the mental health field. For MSW and MSW—Advanced Standing learners only. Prerequisite(s): SWK5007; completion of or concurrent registration in SWK5008. Learners in the MSW—Advanced Standing degree program are exempt from these prerequisites. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer except by coursework from a CSWE-accredited program.

4 quarter credits
SWK5016 *
Integrative Technology in Advanced Social Work Practice

This course is an introduction to transformative and innovative methods of client interviewing, follow up, documentation, evaluation, professional development, and communication through the use of technology, with particular emphasis on 21st-century social work practice skills used to serve diverse clients. Learners engage in interactive role-play activities and create a technology-based initiative that promotes social justice and best practices. For MSW and MSW—Advanced Standing learners only. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in SWK5015. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
SWK5017 *
Clinical Supervision and Leadership in Social Work Practice

This course is an introduction to leadership theories and skills, ethical decision-making, self-care efficacy, strategic planning, and administrative roles in social work organizations. Throughout the course, learners investigate technology integration; administrative, educational, and supportive supervision; supervision procedures; conduct of supervision; and legal and regulatory guidelines. For MSW and MSW—Advanced Standing learners only. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in SWK5016. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer except by coursework from a CSWE-accredited program.

4 quarter credits
SWK5018 *
Systems Analysis of Social Work Practice: Theories, Skills, Values, and Professional Practice

This course provides a synthesis of all social work practice systems. Learners apply critical-thinking skills as they delve into the identification of social work values and ethics; the assessment of professional behaviors and skills; the engagement of cultural competence; the integration of research, knowledge, human behavior, and theory; and the application and analysis of social work best practice, social justice, policy, technology, and leadership. For MSW and MSW—Advanced Standing learners only. Prerequisite(s): Completion of or concurrent registration in SWK5528. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits

What you’ll learn

Develop a confident approach to social work. Earning an MSW can help you gain advanced leadership skills and prepare to step into a general or clinical practice (in most states).

  • Connect with clients to assess their needs.
  • Apply your knowledge of human behavior.
  • Incorporate diversity and difference.
  • Maintain professional resilience to meet challenges.
  • Advance as a professional social worker.
  • Use critical thinking to find relevant solutions.
  • Uphold ethical principles to guide your practice.
  • Champion human rights and social justice.
  • Employ strategies for effective social work services.
  • Combine research with real-world practice.

Social Work Career Insights

Tips as You Pursue a Career as a Social Worker

Your guide to becoming a social worker—from Capella University.

How to Start and Grow a Career in Social Work

What does it take to start and grow a career in social work? A Capella faculty member shares her perspective.

The Growing Use of Technology in Social Work

Learn how technology can affect client issues and change how social workers provide treatment.

MSW professional paths

Your education can help you reach your goals, professionally and personally. Here are some of the jobs and employment settings to consider with an MSW.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Social worker
  • Clinical manager
  • Case manager
  • Director of social services
  • Clinical director
  • Program director
  • Social services coordinator
  • School social worker
  • Adjunct or part-time social work faculty
  • Full-time social work faculty

Employment settings to explore

  • Ambulatory care services
  • Hospital
  • Individual and family services
  • Health insurance carrier
  • Government- local, state, federal
  • K-12 schools
  • Community college
  • Land-based or online college or university

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Looking to make a difference in people’s lives?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career that allows you to help others, our Helping Professions Guide can provide insights into a variety of options to consider.

5 Career Paths with an MSW

While the social work field offers a variety of career paths and focus areas, some of the more common paths include:

Social workers within settings like nursing homes, hospitals, and home health may help the elderly and their caregivers cope with transitions in housing, changing relationships, mental health concerns, or issues of death and dying.

Related job titles may include social worker, social services coordinator, and case manager. 

Professionals work with families and children in the areas of child protection, adoption and foster care, residential treatment, addictions, juvenile corrections, homelessness, working-poor, food insecurity, domestic violence, school social work, and counseling.

Related job titles include school social worker, adolescent specialist, children’s social worker, foster care therapist, and family advocacy representative.

Social workers can help at-risk populations through specialties in homelessness, domestic violence, sex trafficking, immigration issues, individuals with disease, abused children and families, active and veteran military members and families, crisis stabilization, and more.

Related job titles may include social worker, clinical manager or director, program director, or social services coordinator.

Licensed social workers who choose to counsel in a private practice have the option of working solo or in a group practice. Private practice services can also extend beyond the office to settings such as primary care, schools, hospitals, or nursing facilities.

Independent social workers may also contract with organizations to provide employee assistance services. Working in a private practice can provide flexibility in schedules, control of the work environment, and the ability to work independently.

Related job titles may include social worker, case manager, director of social services, school social worker, or social services coordinator.

In addition to direct social service, advocacy and leading community change are other key roles for social workers today. Social workers have the opportunity to see first-hand the difficulties their clients are facing, which provides them with the knowledge and experience to help influence policy on every social issue, from immigration and health to mental health care funding and education. There are opportunities for advocacy in all communities at the local and state level and beyond, and MSWs are often at the forefront of making change.

Related job titles may include social worker, director of social services, or program director.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

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