Social Work

Master of Social work (MSW)

Thesis-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 thesis-based route is designed for students who intend to pursue doctoral studies and/or anticipate a career requiring advanced program evaluation and research skills. 

The Faculty of Social Work offers MSW programs in Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge. 

In Calgary, students are admitted annually and choose one of three Specializations (listed below). Students holding a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree are admitted directly into a two-year Specialization program. Students with an undergraduate degree in another discipline are admitted into a three-year program and complete a Foundation year followed by their Specialization year.

In Edmonton, students are admitted in odd-numbered years (i.e., 2021, 2023) to the Clinical Social Work Practice Specialization. Students holding a BSW degree complete the Specialization program in three years.  Students with an undergraduate degree in another discipline complete the Foundation courses followed by the Specialization courses, requiring a total of four years of study. 

In Lethbridge, the Faculty of Social Work offers the Clinical Social Work Practice Specialization to students with a BSW. Admission occurs in odd-numbered years (i.e., 2021, 2023). Students complete the program in three years.

Completing this program

  • Courses: Students take four courses in advanced social practice, four specialization courses, and two thesis research courses.

  • Thesis: Students in the thesis route conduct original research and prepare a thesis which is evaluated on the written content and is orally defended before an examination committee.

  • Research Proposal: Calgary students should complete all coursework prior to having their proposal approved by their supervisor.

    Edmonton and Lethbridge students have their proposal approved by their supervisor in the summer following their admission to the Specialization program.


  • Clinical Social Work Practice
  • International and Community Development
  • Leadership in the Human Services


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, consultation.

A master’s degree in social work is a preferred pre-requisite for a PhD.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


Foundation: Nine courses; Specalization: Ten courses.  MSW students with a non-social work bachelor's degree must complete Foundation courses prior to Specialization courses

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Two to three years full-time (Calgary); three to four years (Edmonton); three years (Lethbridge); four years maximum 


A supervisor is required, but is not required prior to the start of the program

Fees and funding

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


Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Placeholder Profile Image

    Yahya El-Lahib

    Accepting Inquiries
    Social work; Critical Disability Studies; Immigration, refugee and displacement studies; Social work & Bedouin Arabs; The scholarship of teaching and
  2. Placeholder Profile Image

    Rick Enns

    Accepting Inquiries
    Canadian Federal Indian Education Policy, Immigration and Resettlement Policy, Critical Social Work Practice in Mental Health
  3. Dr. Ilyan Ferrer

    Ilyan Ferrer

    Accepting Inquiries
    Social and critical gerontology; Intersectionality; Life course; (Im)migration and transmigration; Oral history and storytelling
  4. Linda Kreitzer

    Linda Kreitzer

    International Social Work, Refugees and immigrants, African social work issues, compassion fatigue, community practice International indigenous issues
  5. Yeonjung Lee

    Yeonjung Lee

    Accepting Inquiries
    Outcomes of Caregiving for Older Adults, Aging-in-place and Long-term Care in Later Life, Aging in Poverty and Wealth Inequality in Later Life, Perceived Discrimination in Older Adults, Psychosocial Risk Factors for Dementia, Cross-national/Cultural Comparative Study, Population-based Secondary Data Analyses
  6. Placeholder Profile Image

    Anne Marie Mclaughlin

    Accepting Inquiries
    Translating social work values into practice
  7. Hieu Ngo

    Hieu Ngo

    Accepting Inquiries
    Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion, Youth crime prevention, Social entrepreneurship
  8. William Pelech

    William Pelech

    Accepting Inquiries
    Group Work
  9. Placeholder Profile Image

    Patricia Samson

    Accepting Inquiries
    Social Work Education, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Health/Mental Health
  10. Janki Shankar

    Janki Shankar

    Seeking Students
    Mental health and Disability,, Workplace safety and well being, Family Violence, Resettlement issues for immigrants and refugees

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

A Bachelor of Social Work, or a four-year bachelor’s degree in another discipline.

Work samples


Work experience

Applicants must have the equivalent of two years of full-time paid or volunteer work (or the equivalent of 3000 hours) in the human services field.


  • A study plan outlining the applicant's educational goals and career expectations. (If applying to the Calgary program, the study plan must indicate the applicant’s intended area of Specialization: Clinical Social Work Practice or International and Community Development)
  • An additional statement providing a rationale for selecting the thesis route and a preliminary research proposal
  • A resume

Reference letters

Two; one professional and one academic

Test scores


English language proficiency

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: Nov. 1 application deadline (Spring 2020)
  • International students: Nov. 1 application deadline (Spring 2020)

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

Professional Faculties, Room 3256
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, ABT2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the Faculty of Social Work website


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