Social Work

Degree Details


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Earn your Master of Social Work degree online from Portland State's fully accredited, nationally ranked School of Social Work.

In Portland State University's nationally accredited online Master of Social Work (MSW) program, you'll get a comprehensive, rigorous and affordable social work master's degree that will prepare you for a rewarding career in social work. Grounded in the School's commitment to advance social justice and equity, you'll learn, share and collaborate alongside fellow students in a supportive and flexible online learning environment.

You'll take the same courses, work with the same faculty, and earn the same well-respected and accredited MSW degree that placed Portland State University's School of Social Work onto U.S. News and World Report's list of top social work schools.

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Renowned for its community-engaged faculty, rich research agenda and collaborative learning environment, Portland State University's School of Social Work online MSW program offers both a high-touch and high tech online graduate experience. Our online courses were developed by campus faculty to assure students get the highest quality education that reflects the School's core values around social justice and empowerment of individuals, families, and communities.

Choose our online MSW degree program if you want:

Join our connected online MSW community.

  • Connected and respected faculty. Students are taught by and interact with core faculty throughout the term, with weekly opportunities for face-to-face virtual meetings. Our instructors know how to best utilize technology for teaching and learning, and are well connected to Oregon's professional social work community.
  • Engaged and exemplary classmates. The School's selective admissions profile means you'll be studying among skilled, diverse and highly motivated peers who bring their previous work experience to the classroom. 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.
  • Robust field internship placements in your community. The online MSW program includes supervised field placements that allow you to intern in local social service agencies near where you live. You'll get individualized guidance in identifying a suitable field placement and active support once you are there.
  • Rigorous preparation for high demand social work careers. The online MSW graduate program prepares students for individual practice and leadership jobs in one of the fastest growing professions in the US, projected to grow 19% from 2012 to 2022. Graduates will be ready for careers in community and organizational practice, with skills in short-term counseling, case management, community assessment, program development, program evaluation, advocacy, policy analysis, and fiscal management.

Nationally Recognized Research and Training Centers

Portland State University offers the only accredited online social work master's degree in the Pacific Northwest, and is the oldest MSW program in the state of Oregon.

Recently, PSU's online MSW program was ranked #23 best in the nation by

In the online MSW program, you will benefit from Portland State School of Social Work's nationally recognized research and training centers. These centers bring cutting-edge expertise that will enhance your academic experience and ensure that you have a rich and relevant academic experience. They include:

  • Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services, which integrates research, education and training to advance delivery of services to children and families. The Center includes the Child Welfare Partnership, a project run jointly with the Oregon Department of Human Services to educate the next generation of child welfare workers.
  • Regional Research Institute for Human Services, nationally recognized for innovative practices in human services.
  • Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research, turning the science of mentoring into the art of mentoring relationships.

Academics, field experiences and research grounded in a social justice mission. At Portland State University's School of Social Work, our online MSW program has the pieces you need to build a solid and rewarding social work career, all with the flexibility and power of an online graduate degree. Are you ready to join the cause to strengthen the individuals, families, and communities where you live?

Online Master's Degree: Social Work Curriculum

The M.S.W. is a 78- credit program comprised of foundation and advanced coursework. Come to the Portland campus for 2 days of community building and instruction before each academic year. All other coursework can be completed online.

The foundation coursework includes the following 39 credits of required courses:

  • SW 511 Foundation Field Placement and Seminar (4 credits each of three terms - 15 hours per week)
  • SW 515 Skills for the Helping Process - Groups (3 credits)
  • SW 520 Social Welfare History and Policy (3 credits)
  • SW 530 Skills for the Helping Process - Individuals and Families (3 credits)
  • SW 532 Advocacy and Empowerment (3 credits)
  • SW 539 Social Justice in Social Work (3 credits)
  • SW 540 Human Development Thru the Lifespan (3 credits)
  • SW 541 Societal, Community, and Organizational Structures and Processes (3 credits)
  • SW 550 Research and Evaluation I (3 credits)
  • SW 551 Research and Evaluation II (3 credits)

The advanced coursework involves an additional 39 credits of advanced graduate courses:

Find more information: MSW FAQs

  • SW 593-595 - required concentration courses (3 credits each of the three terms) in Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations
  • SW 512 - An advanced field placement (4 credits each of three terms - 15 hours per week) is required.
  • A total of 18 credits are designated for advanced electives that are offered each summer


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

For more information visit the Social Work master degree program website.  


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