Graduate Program
Graduate Student in the School of Social Work

Social Work Master's Degree Overview

Our nationally ranked MSW program embodies Portland State’s mission to Let Knowledge Serve the City. A master’s degree in social work from PSU will prepare you to challenge systems of oppression, build racial equity and social justice, and embark on a fulfilling career as a social worker.

Throughout our 78 credit (46 for advanced standing) curriculum, you will acquire skills to work with individuals as well as groups. You will also use social theories to analyze how service users, as well as social work practitioners, are empowered and sometimes constrained by community and organizational structures. Completion of the program prepares MSW social workers to provide advanced practice and leadership in:

  • clinical mental health
  • communities and/or organizations
  • healthcare and aging
  • services to children and families

We are proud to offer social work classes with enough flexibility to make it possible for you to gain your social work degree when and where it’s convenient. Our students have the option to complete their curriculum in Central Oregon, Eugene, Southern Oregon, Salem, Portland, or online.

Degree Details

Location Definitions:

On campus:
100% on campus
100% online
Combination of online and on campus
  • M
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term
  • M
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term

Social Work Master's Degree: Why PSU?

Portland State University is recognized as a national leader in community engagement. Our Master of Social Work program is ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. We are a strong and collaborative program led by world-class faculty, passionate research, and dedicated staff. We are here to support and prepare you to alleviate today's critical social problems.

As PSU's motto, "Let Knowledge Serve the City" suggest, our students use their education to serve their communities through field-based learning and practice. These experiences provide students with an opportunity to gain social work skills, in a professionally supervised, educationally-based environment. As Oregon's first and only public MSW program, we have over 50 years of experience cultivating relationships with community partners.

We embolden students on their personal and academic journeys with a rich environment to experience and explore. As we grow and innovate our program through more and more flexible course options for gaining your MSW, we are continually developing new relationships with agencies across the state, region, and country.

What can I do with a Master's degree in Social Work?

Our graduates have gone on to launch successful, exciting careers that have real-world impact! Recent graduates have taken positions in a few of the following areas: mental health, substance abuse and addictions, children youth and families, child welfare, policy development and advocacy, community organizing, housing and homelessness, education, criminal justice, health care and health challenges, veterans and military, aging and disability services, organizational and program leadership, equity and human rights, research.

Online Master's degree in Social Work Option

Earn your Master of Social Work degree online and prepare to become a professional social worker in PSU’s top-ranked graduate program. Our comprehensive, rigorous and affordable master’s degree is grounded in our commitment to advance social justice and equity. You will learn, share and collaborate alongside fellow students in a supportive and flexible online learning environment as you: 

  • Work closely with respected faculty. You'll take the same courses with the same faculty in our on-campus program. 
  • Connect with classmates. Once a year you'll come to Portland, Oregon for an annual seminar to meet and build relationships with your colleagues and faculty. All courses include regular online classroom meetings, weekly discussions with classmates, and team-based collaborative assignments.
  • Complete an internship in your community. We will help you identify a local social service agency for a supervised field placement and support you throughout your internship.

Our online MSW graduate program prepares you for individual practice and leadership jobs in one of the nation’s fastest-growing professions.

Learn online from our top-notch faculty.

Featured Courses

  • SW 539 Social Justice in Social Work
  • SW 540 Human Development Through the Lifespan
  • SW 541 Societal, Community and Organizational Structures and Processes
  • SW 450 Social Work Research & Evaluation
  • SW 530 Skills for the Helping Process - Individuals & Families & Groups
  • SW 532 Advocacy and Empowerment

Featured Electives

  • SW 555 Perspectives on Mental Health Disorders
  • SW 525 Poverty and Policies
  • SW 553 Research for Racial Justice
  • SW 522 Trauma Informed Care
  • SW 516 Motivational Interviewing


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

The Master of Social Work program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and ranked in the top 20% of MSW programs by US News and World Report.