Students at the Columbia School of Social Work earn their MSW degrees by completing a progressive sequence of courses designed in accordance with the standards of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the School’s accrediting body.
All MSW students are required to take courses in human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, research, social work practice, and field education. At CSSW, students are required to earn a total of 60 credits, along with 1,200 hours in the field.
The majority of our students complete these requirements in two years—or four semesters (fall, spring, fall, spring). They spend two days a week in class and three days a week at their field placements. The Two-Year Program begins with a required Orientation in August and concludes with graduation in May of the second academic year.
Field education is a vital part of earning an MSW. It is where students learn how to apply social work theories from the classroom to social work practice.
Field Education Requirements
Each semester, students spend three days a week (21 hours), working at a placement site—one day more than the minimum specified by the Council on Social Work Education. Students must earn 1,200 fieldwork hours to receive the MSW.
During a student’s first (foundational) year, the focus is on generalist social work practice. In the second (advanced practice) year, the focus is on the student’s chosen method area of concentration and field of practice.
Two-year students complete 1,200 hours at two different placement sites.
Advanced Standing, Transfer and Reduced Residency students complete one year of field education.