Students in the atrium

Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Course-based program

Program overview

The Master of Social Work (MSW) is a nationally-accredited program that prepares students for advanced professional practice in social work. The course-based route is appropriate for students who intend to provide direct service in the field. 

Students are required to attend the residency attached to their program, which may be in Calgary or Edmonton.

Students holding an accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree are admitted directly into a 12-month or 24-month course-based MSW program. Students admitted to the MSW with a non-social work degree complete 9 foundation courses (in 12 months) followed by the 12-month or 24-month program.

Completing this program

  • Courses: Students must follow the prescribed curriculum plan for their specialization and complete all 12 courses (36 units) if they entered the program with a BSW or 21 courses (63 units) if they entered the program with a non-social work undergraduate degree.


  • Clinical Social Work Practice (CSWP)
  • International and Community Development (ICD)
  • Leadership in the Human Services (LHS)


Hospitals/community health centers, mental health clinics, schools, non-profit/advocacy groups, government, social service/child welfare/family service agencies, correctional facilities, social housing, family courts, employee assistance programs, private counselling, school boards, consulting.

A course-based master’s degree in social work is usually considered a final degree.

Course-based program

Students with a BSW complete 12 courses (36 units).  Students with a non-social work degree must complete all 9 foundation courses (27 units) prior to taking their specialization courses (36 units).

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

In-person or online delivery

The MSW course-based program in all three specializations will be offered by distance (online) learning with in-person residencies. Students not attending residencies in either Calgary or Edmonton may be required to withdraw from the course or the program.

Please consult the website for specific program delivery information.

Time commitment

Program length is one, two, or three years of  full-time study, dependent on entry route, specialization and program location; six years maximum.


No supervisor is required.

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

Admission Requirements


A minimum of 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an accredited/recognized* institution or a four-year bachelor’s degree in another discipline.  The degree must be conferred prior to the May program start.

*The Faculty of Social Work recognizes BSW degrees accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE), the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), and international credentials deemed equivalent to a Canadian BSW degree by the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW).

Work samples


Work experience

Applicants must have the equivalent of two years of full-time paid work or a minimum of 3,000 hours of paid and/or volunteer work in the human services field.


  • A program proposal outlining the applicant's social work perspectives and educational goals. (If applying to the Calgary program with a non-social work degree, you must indicate your intended area of specialization: (Clinical Social Work Practice or Leadership in the Human Services or International and Community Development) in your application.
  • Resume

Reference letters

Two; one professional and one academic

Test scores


English language proficiency (ELP)

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:


For admission on May 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: November 1 application deadline
  • International students: November 1 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Faculty of Social Work

MacKimmie Tower (MT) 301
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, ABT2N 1N4

Visit the Faculty of Social Work website


Learn more about UCalgary by taking a virtual tour

Highlights of the Social Work program

David Este with students

Social Work researchers find cultural gaps in mental health services

David Este and Christa Sato work to reduce the stigma of mental illness in Asian men

Mishka Lysack

Helping our society transition to a lower carbon future

Mishka Lysack focuses on helping Canadians make the shift to a lower carbon future

Lana Wells

Preventing domestic violence before it occurs

Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence seeks to reduce and prevent domestic violence