Program Description

Develop your passion for helping others with George Mason University’s online CSWE accredited Master of Social Work (MSW)*. Our interdisciplinary approach focuses on social justice to give you the latest understanding of equity and human rights in social work. As you learn, take advantage of Mason’s established community connections and explore rich field practicum opportunities for hands-on learning with a variety of organizations.

The Master of Social Work offers a choice between two specialized practices in either Adults & Healthy Aging or Children, Youth, & Families. When you complete your MSW with George Mason University, you’ll be ready to:

  • Take the next steps toward becoming a licensed social worker and working directly with clients
  • Integrate intersectionality and diversity into your practice
  • Advance human rights and social and economic justice
  • Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment to your work

Learn online and advance your career at a pace that works for you. Graduate prepared to enter practice as a social worker in any community, ready to meet the diverse needs of all kinds of people.

Focus on Social Justice and Empowerment

With an emphasis on empowerment and systems transformation, George Mason University’s Master of Social Work program will prepare you to meet the needs of underserved populations and advance the ideals of social justice.

Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the curriculum is built around a Social Justice Core, delivering interdisciplinary perspectives on topics like human behavior, social policy, research methods, and clinical practice.

Learn From Faculty With Real-World Experience

Mason’s faculty is made up of active researchers and social workers with years of experience. Learn from current research findings, develop an evidence-based practice, and establish strong relationships with practicing social workers, some with extensive international experience that will lend a global perspective to your education. Click here to learn more from Emily Ihara, Ph.D., MSW, FGSA – Chair of the Department of Social Work at George Mason University.

Self-Service Counseling Tools

Knowing that every social worker needs access to their own mental health tools, Mason has partnered with Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) to provide our students with the access they need to help reduce the high stress of their environment. TAO is a free and confidential web-based tool that provides 24/7 support to the Mason community.

MSW Advanced Standing

The George Mason University’s Online Master of Social Work is now offering an Advanced Standing program for those qualified with a Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution. This program gives those who qualify the opportunity to complete their Master of Social Work in less time.

Application Deadline

The online MSW program accepts applications on a rolling basis and is currently accepting applications. Applicants for the online program should apply here. Applicants for the on-campus MSW should apply here.

Virtual Open House

The George Mason University faculty dedicates time throughout the year to hold interactive sessions online for those who want to learn more about the programs we offer. If you would like to find out more about what you can expect from an online Master of Social Work, visit our pre-recorded Virtual Open House and watch at your convenience. For information on upcoming sessions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Learning Online

Learning online in an asynchronous format means that you can complete your degree at times and in locations that are best for you. Avoid commute times or “traditional” classroom hours, so you can complete your degree and advance your career even if you travel for work, have kids at home, or keep a busy or non-traditional schedule.

Coursework is delivered through a variety of prepared video lessons, readings, or engagement-orientated learning tasks that you’ll complete by predefined dates, but this doesn’t mean you learn alone. You’ll participate in lively conversations with peers and faculty in discussion posts, and many students form study groups with peers.

From time to time, you may need to participate in synchronous online meetings with the entire class or specific workgroups. These opportunities allow you and your peers to all log in at the same time to hold discussions or watch a live lecture together.

Faculty act as mentors throughout your program to ensure you’re on the right path to meet your career goals. You’ll get to know them well by phone, video conferences, emails, and through their thought-provoking questions and commentary within the course.

*The MSW online option was approved by CSWE in June of 2019.

Professional Licensure Disclosure
This program has been identified by George Mason University as one that may lead to a career requiring professional licensure/certification. Federal regulations require Mason to disclose information as to whether this program meets/does not meet the educational requirements for licensure/certification in your state, or whether such a determination has not been made. Please consult our Licensure Disclosure Tool ( for the disclosure statement specific to your desired state/program combination.

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Program Summary

100 Percent Online

Program: Social Work (MSW)

Degree: MSW

College/School: College of Health and Human Services

Credits: 60 total

Who should apply?

Mason’s online MSW program is ideal for students of all academic backgrounds. Whether you are a current social work professional looking to build on your Bachelor of Social Work or you’re new to the field, this program is designed to help you take the next step toward a career in advancing social justice through direct client service. Work experience is not required, just a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning.

Graduates are prepared to enter a variety of social work settings including, but not limited to, aging and disability services, family assistance, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, international NGOs, child protection, lobbying and advocacy, poverty alleviation, employee assistance, and school social work.

Why choose Mason?

Students choose Mason’s online MSW because of its:

  • Renowned faculty of experts and researchers with years of experience
  • Curriculum developed around social justice and systems transformation
  • Advanced Standing option available for those qualified
  • Competitively priced value for a respected master’s degree program
  • Financial aid programs and lifetime access to Mason’s career services

Program requirements for the online Master of Social Work are subject to change.

Requirements: 60 total credit hours

Courses for George Mason University’s online MSW are offered in a convenient, part-time, online format that’s asynchronous so you can study when and wherever works best for you. Students will also complete two supervised field practica to apply their social work learning to real-world practice. The online curriculum mirrors Mason’s on-campus program.


The Master of Social Work offers a choice between two specialized practices in either Adults & Healthy Aging or Children, Youth, & Families. In order to graduate with the MSW degree, students must successfully complete the generalist courses and the courses for one specialization. Before beginning Specialization Courses, students must complete all Generalist Courses.


By completing this program, you may be eligible to sit for one of these national licensing exams:* Licensed Social Worker or Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Generalist Courses:

  • SOCW 600 Foundations of Social Work and Social Welfare
  • SOCW 623 Human Behavior and Social Systems
  • SOCW 644 Community Practice Across the Life Course
  • SOCW 656 Poverty, Oppression, and Inequity
  • SOCW 659 Organizing and Advocating for Change
  • SOCW 660 Foundations of Direct Practice
  • SOCW 671 Research Methods for Social Workers
  • SOCW 672 Generalist Field Practicum and Seminar I
  • SOCW 673 Generalist Field Practicum and Seminar II
  • SOCW 674 Psychopathology

Elective Courses:**

Select at least 1 or up to 4 courses from the following:

  • SOCW 653 Immigration Policy
  • SOCW 654 Social Policy for Children and Youth
  • SOCW 655 Aging Programs and Policies
  • SOCW 663 Global Human Rights Policy
  • SOCW 676 Selected Topics in Social Work and Social Change
  • SOCW 684 Social Work and the Law
  • SOCW 685 Organizational Leadership for Social Workers
  • SOCW 664 Creative Arts in Social Work Practice
  • SOCW 667 Advanced Group Theory and Practice
  • SOCW 675 Selected Topics in Clinical Practice
  • SOCW 677 Family Therapy
  • SOCW 678 Trauma and Recovery
  • SOCW 679 Military Social Work
  • SOCW 682 Substance Abuse Interventions

Specialization in Children, Youth, and Families (CYF)

Core Courses:

  • SOCW 630 Forensic Social Work Practice
  • SOCW 650 Advanced Social Work Policy Practice Skills
  • SOCW 683 Clinical Practice with Children, Youth, and Families
  • SOCW 688 Program Evaluation for Social Workers
  • SOCW 696 Specialized Practice Field Practicum and Seminar I
  • SOCW 698 Specialized Practice Field Practicum and Seminar II

Specialization in Adults and Healthy Aging (AHA)

Core Courses:

  • SOCW 640 Clinical Practice with Adults
  • SOCW 650 Advanced Social Work Policy Practice Skills
  • SOCW 688 Program Evaluation for Social Workers
  • SOCW 689 Clinical Practice with Older Adults
  • SOCW 696 Specialized Practice Field Practicum and Seminar I
  • SOCW 698 Specialized Practice Field Practicum and Seminar II

Advanced Standing


  • 33 total credit hours
  • 1 MSW Generalist Course
  • Specialization Core Courses
  • 12 total credit hours of elective courses (at least one must be a macro elective)

Field Education

  • Our Field Education Office works with students collaboratively to identify placements. We work with over 400 field practicum agencies in Nothern Virginia, the Washington Metropolitan area (DMV), and within the United States (50 states).
  • Two Types of Field Placements
  • Typical: Field Education Office matches students with affiliated agencies. Field Practicum hours must mirror the agency’s hours of operations. Programs, Field Instructors, and Supervision must be available during this time.
  • Employment-Based Field Practicum (EBP)
  • A student has full-time employment with an eligible social service agency with social work-related job responsibilities.
  • A student has worked for the agency for at least six months and/or completed the employment probation period by the start of their field practicum.
  • Letters of reference from the Program Director and Supervisor stating the support of the EBP arrangement*

*Licensing requirements differ by state, but the MSW degree is the qualifying degree for any state license.
**Elective curriculum is subject to change. Students are required to take four electives with one being a macro elective to meet the graduation requirements of the program. Please note, not all electives are offered in the online format. Currently, the electives offered online are SOCW 654, SOCW 655, SOCW 675, SOCW 677, SOCW 678, SOCW 682. If you have additional questions please reach out to an Admissions Representative.

***Additional requirements for EBP will apply.

Tuition & Fees (2021–2022):

Tuition is $795 per credit hour. An additional charge of $35 per credit hour applies for a Distance Learning fee.

Financial Aid:

For information on loans and scholarships, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid. For information regarding grants, tuition waivers, and other merit aid, please inquire with your graduate department.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for social workers is high and expected to grow 16 percent by 2026—a rate more than double that of all other positions.1

Mason’s MSW graduates go on to fill roles in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Aging/Gerontology
  • Family Services
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services
  • International Governmental and NGOs
  • Child Protection, Foster Care and Adoption
  • Housing/Homelessness Programs
  • Community Development
  • Health and Mental Health Practice
  • Forensic Social Work
  • Lobbying and Advocacy
  • Disabilities
  • Nonprofit Agency Management
  • Domestic Violence
  • Poverty and Welfare
  • Employee Assistance
  • School Social Work

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers, on the Internet at (visited October 28, 2018).

If you are unable to find the answers to your questions, submit a Request For Information form or contact our admissions representative via the contact information below.

Phone: 703-348-5006

How do I apply?

Applicants for the online MSW should apply here. Applicants for the on-campus MSW should apply here.

Admission FAQs

How long does it take to complete the program?

The part-time online MSW is 60 credit hours and can be completed in 10 semesters.

When are classes held?

MSW classes for part-time online students are offered in an asynchronous format, meaning they can be viewed interactively at your convenience. However, there may be opportunities for synchronous participation in some courses.

What is an asynchronous format?

Learning online in an asynchronous format means that you can complete your degree in the times and locations that are best for you.

Coursework is delivered through a variety of prerecorded video lessons, readings, or game-based learning tasks that you’ll complete according to the due dates in the syllabus, but this doesn’t mean you learn alone. Instead, you’ll get to know faculty and your peers in discussion posts, study groups, online chats and video conferences when everyone logs in at the same time to hold discussions and work together.

What accreditations do George Mason and the MSW program hold?

The MSW is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

How much does it cost to apply?

While there is a $75 application fee, there are multiple times throughout the year that the fee may be waived.

What are the admissions recommendations?

  • Completed online application
  • $75 application fee
  • Resume
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose essay
  • Undergrad GPA-minimum 3.0 
  • GPA Addendum Essay if undergrad GPA below 3.0
  • All official undergraduate and graduate transcripts*
  • Required courses Statistics, English Composition, History or Government, Social Science
  • Work or volunteer experience in related field highly recommended
  • One Letter of Recommendation must be from a supervisor

Are there additional requirements for Advanced Standing?

  • Students must have received a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program
  • BSW must have been received in the past 5 years
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation (one must be from BSW program director or full-time faculty)
  • BSW field evaluation
  • Undergrad GPA minimum of 3.2 (must submit undergraduate and graduate transcripts)
  • Video interview

*All official transcripts with a degree conferral need to be approved and processed by the second semester. Degree conferral’s typically post 2-3 months after courses close.