Social Work - Advanced Standing, Master of Social Work

Department of Social Work

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Beginning fall 2024, this plan will also be offered as an Organizational Partnership - Online.

The mission of Northern Arizona University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) Program, synonymous with the mission of the NAU Social Work Department and grounded in the history, purpose, and values of the profession, is to educate competent generalist and advanced generalist social workers for practice with diverse populations and multi-level social systems in local, regional and global contexts. 
Our generalist and advanced generalist foci are grounded in social work knowledge, values and skills; geared to practice with rural and Indigenous populations of the Southwest; and, focused on addressing poverty, structural racism, and oppression; providing leadership in promoting human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice; and service with vulnerable and underserved populations locally, regionally, and globally.

This program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Healthcare - Emphasis (beginning Fall 2024)
  • Social Work Coursework (beginning Fall 2024)

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 39
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

The Master of Social Work–Advanced Standing degree allows students who completed their Bachelor of Social Work from an accredited program to combine their passion for helping others with the instruction and hands-on practice they need to make a lasting impact.  Students learn to bring about social change, in a degree program that aligns with students’ passion for advocacy and service. The MSW program offers coursework in topics such as social policy, clinical practice, research, cultural competence, social justice and administration. The Master of Social Work program offers quality, student-centered instruction, as well as guided field education. The field placement provides an opportunity for students to earn valuable experience working with individuals, groups, and marginalized communities under the guidance of a seasoned practitioner. Students will develop advanced knowledge of current social work theory, preparing them to practice with diverse populations who require professional support and services, while gaining the skills to make positive changes in their community. Aging populations, children, veterans and military personnel, those impacted by domestic violence, clients with mental health needs, those facing homelessness, and disenfranchised families all need advocates to support them, provide access to community resources, and promote social institutions that are more just and responsive to human needs. Field education, along with clinical and macro-level MSW coursework, allows students to apply their knowledge and skills to the population they want to serve as a social worker. 
Graduates will be equipped with the knowledge, values, and skills that will make them a valuable agent for positive change. A MSW degree is versatile, allowing graduates to work in many different settings with a variety of individuals and communities. In many states, a Master of Social Work degree is required in order to gain third-party reimbursement from insurance companies or government agencies. An MSW offers the flexibility to practice at elevated levels within human service environments, earning a degree that opens up new and exciting career opportunities. The Master of Social Work degree is considered the terminal degree for professional social work practice and licensure. Graduates will have a flexibility that they will not find with other degrees in the human service field.

Student Learning Outcomes

Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior

Advanced Generalist social workers apply knowledge of social services, policies, and programs relevant to the specialization, to advocate with and/or on behalf of clients for access to services.  Advanced Generalist practitioners develop skills in ethical practice by identifying complex ethical issues that arise at particular phases of social work practice and in particular settings. They develop a plan for continuing professional education and development and collaborate with and articulate the mission of Social Work to others (e.g., interdisciplinary team members, volunteers, the broader community, the news media, and political leaders). Advanced Generalist practitioners evaluate ethical dilemmas related to problems and issues in the specialization and weigh values, principles of ethical decision-making, and the NASW code of ethics in order to address ethical dilemmas related to practice in the specialization area.

Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice

Advanced Generalist social workers demonstrate that understanding with respect to varying populations and issues. Advanced Generalist practitioners have an increased understanding of how diversity shapes human experience and identity. They explain how forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination may marginalize, alienate, or create privilege and power. Advanced Generalist social workers demonstrate an understanding of how culture and values affect diverse conceptualizations and constructions of social problems and solutions in the specialization. They demonstrate knowledge and skills to practice without discrimination and with respect, towards people of diverse backgrounds and they actively engage diverse clients, groups, or organizations to promote solutions based on diverse conceptualizations of social problems in the specialization.

Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice

Advanced Generalist social workers appraise how mechanisms of oppression and discrimination impact various groups and outcomes relevant to the specialization.  Advanced Generalist practitioners establish their professional identity through leadership by applying and developing strategies of advocacy and social change that promote social, economic, and environmental justice, eliminate barriers to services, and advance human rights. 

Competency 4: Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice

Advanced Generalist social workers demonstrate the ability to evaluate practice in the specialization area.  Advanced Generalist practitioners engage in critical thinking through the application and evaluation of research-informed practices. They translate practice knowledge in order to contribute to scientific inquiry and critically evaluate and utilize theoretical and empirical research relevant to the problems and/or populations addressed in the specialization.

Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice

Advanced Generalist social workers evaluate, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance outcomes relevant to the specialization. Advanced Generalist Practitioners contribute to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge of social policy at the local, state, and federal level. They demonstrate collaboration with clients, colleagues, and other constituencies for policy action in the specialization.

Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Advanced Generalist social workers employ diverse strategies to engage with individuals, 
families, groups, organizations, and communities related to the area of specialization.  Advanced Generalist Practitioners communicate with clients and mobilize resources appropriate to unique practice settings to implement relevant services, programs, advocacy, and/or policies. 

Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Advanced Generalist social workers assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities to determine a range of potentially effective and appropriate interventions to improve practice outcomes related to the specialization. Advanced Generalist Practitioners assume differential roles appropriate to the practice situations at the micro, mezzo and macro levels.

Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Advanced Generalist social workers demonstrate ability to intervene at different levels (with and/or on behalf of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities) to achieve the desired practice outcomes related to the specialization. Advanced Generalist Practitioners demonstrate the ability to use inter-professional collaboration to achieve beneficial outcomes for relevant services, programs, advocacy, and/or policies at the micro, mezzo or macro level to achieve client and constituency goals. 

Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Advanced Generalist social workers apply research skills to analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions in the specialization. Advanced Generalist Practitioners demonstrate the ability to evaluate processes and outcomes to advance practice, policy, and service delivery effectiveness. They communicate and disseminate evaluation results to a variety of audiences.

Detailed Student Learning Outcomes

Graduate Admission Information
  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • Bachelor of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited program
    • Must have completed the BSW degree within 5 years of date of admission to the MSW program.
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.30 (scale is 4.00 = "A") or the equivalent
    • Three letters of recommendation
Master's Requirements
Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Program Fee Information
  • Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $600 per semester has been approved for this program.