Master of Social Work at PLU

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program at PLU will prepare you to become a skilled, ethical, professional service-oriented leader and change agent, committed to advocate for social and economic justice and equality for individuals, families and communities.

Our MSW has an emphasis on healthcare and behavioral health, with significant content on anti-racist practices, diversity, equity and inclusion. The program will be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which allows you to pursue licensure in Washington state.

We offer two pathways to enter and complete our Masters in Social Work program – the Advanced Standing option is a 14-month program for students who have a Bachelor’s degree or Social Work major from an accredited program, while Regular Standing is a 24-month program for students who have a Bachelor’s degree in something other than Social Work.


Why choose PLU’s Social Work masters degree?

Low-residency model

To accommodate working students, courses will be offered on a hybrid schedule. Portions of each class will be offered online (either synchronously or asynchronously), and some of the in-person classes will be offered in late afternoons and evenings.


The program is designed to help students prepare for social work careers in a variety of settings related to physical and behavioral health in clinical specialties such as healthcare, schools, community organizations, policy development, and administration. The curriculum includes at least 900 hours of practicum work as required by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). You’ll have opportunities to practice your skills in many different settings under the supervision of an MSW-trained social worker.

Global focus

PLU’s MS in Social Work includes a comparative global focus on health and behavioral health, with the opportunity to include a January Term study away course to learn about and compare local and international health models.

Licensure Preparation

As a PLU Master of Science in Social Work graduate, you’ll be prepared to become a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. In the State of Washington, successful candidates can obtain this license after 2 years and 3,000 hours of post-MSW supervised work experience and passing the American Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. This program meets the nine competencies articulated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Advocacy and Social Justice

The mission of the PLU social work program is to prepare skilled, ethical, professional service-oriented leaders and change agents who work toward just, equitable, and empowerment-based service provision, policies, and systems on local and global levels. We know that social workers play a vital role in advocating for social and economic justice, and with the PLU MSW degree, you will gain the knowledge and skills to effect change on a systemic level, and address social issues such as poverty, discrimination, mental health, addiction, and more.

Small class size

The program is built on a small cohort model, typically ranging from 10 to 18 students to create a stronger sense of community and support with your fellow students and faculty, and to give you a more personalized learning experience.


The demand for social workers, particularly master’s level social workers serving individuals, families, and communities in health and behavioral healthcare settings, continues to soar.

As health and behavioral health providers strive to fill social work vacancies, the Washington State Department of Health (2021), forecasts significantly increased demands for mental health services on an already- strained system. The need for more well-prepared MSW level social workers, especially in the areas of physical and behavioral health, is clear.



National growth in demand for MSW social workers (2021-2031)


National growth in demand for healthcare social workers (2021-2031)


National growth in demand for mental health & substance abuse social workers (2021-2031)


Growth in number of MSW jobs in health & mental healthcare settings in Washington state (2020-2028)

*Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


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