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The Master of Social Work (MSW) is designed to prepare students for professional social work practice with individuals, families, and communities. There are two levels in the master’s degree – foundation and advanced. The foundation curriculum provides students with the knowledge, values, and skills of a generalist social worker similar to that in the bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and is designed for those who enter the program without the bachelor’s degree in Social Work. The advanced curriculum provides students with concentrations in specialized areas of practice or advanced generalists determined by the needs and demands in the community in which the program is located. These concentrations are generally on the micro, mezzo, and/or macro level and are taken only after the student has completed the foundation curriculum.

The student with a bachelor’s degree in social work can enter the program at the advanced level and the Advanced Standing degree program is designed for these students.

Master in Social Work Concentrations

The MSW program has two concentrations:

  • The micro concentration, Practice with Vulnerable Populations.
  • The macro concentration, Leadership and Change

Within each concentration are specializations, and currently there is one specialization for each concentration. There is an expectation for more specializations as the master’s degree program grows in the future. The current specialization in the micro concentration, Practice with Vulnerable Populations, is Practice with Children and Families, and for the macro concentration, Leadership and Change, the specialization, is Advocacy and Change.

Program Objective

The objective of the specialization, Practice with Children and Families, is to promote well-being for vulnerable children and families by tending to their needs and aiding in their healthy functioning. Persons with a master’s degree in Social Work in this specialization can develop a career serving children and their families in public and private agencies that serve vulnerable children or dysfunctional families. This includes the state agency Illinois Department of Children and Families and the many private agencies in the surrounding area that address the needs of these children and their families. These professionals serve in a variety of capacities such as therapists, counselors, advocates, mediators and brokers.

The objective for the specialization Advocacy and Change is to spearhead actions around perceived needs in communities and organizations that serve special populations and communities. Persons with a specialization in Advocacy and Change are prepared to work in organizations and communities promoting actions that will bring about needed changes and enable their healthy functioning. These professionals can work on behalf of organizations in the public arena directing their efforts toward public policies that affect vulnerable populations. They learn how to lobby politicians and present policy proposals on behalf of the organizations serving special populations or constituencies. These professionals also can work on behalf of communities serving the needs of vulnerable populations in a variety of ways.  

Total credit hours: 34 (for advanced program) or 60 (for full program)

Admission Information

The full program admits students for the fall semester only.

The Advanced Standing program (for students with a bachelor’s degree in social work) admits students for the Summer semester only.

Career Options 

The Master in Social Work leads to careers in areas such as:

  • mental health and substance abuse
  • medical and public health
  • child, family and school social work
  • social work with rural and aging populations

For more detailed career information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Academic Catalog Information 

Take a closer look at the Master in Social Work and the courses offered toward the degree.

Social Work, M.S.W.

Department and Contact Information 

If you are interested in the program or have questions, please contact Social Work.

Social Work Department Homepage

About Northeastern 

Northeastern Illinois University is home to students from all corners of the world and is one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the nation. Our small class sizes, flexible schedules and dedicated faculty can help you succeed in your studies.

We offer an education with value.

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