Online Master of Social Work

Florida State University

Florida State University’s College of Social Work is dedicated to offering a supportive, community-focused program that prepares graduates to take on the diverse field of social work.

Program Highlights

"The good social worker doesn't go on mechanically helping people out of a ditch. Pretty soon, she/he begins to find out what ought to be done to get rid of the ditch.” — Mary Richmond

Florida State University’s College of Social Work offers a clinically focused online Master of Social Work degree. Whether you already have a baccalaureate in social work or come to the field with a degree in another concentration, FSU’s online program has a distinct curriculum focused on creating an engaging and supportive learning environment. When you attend FSU online, you’ll enjoy:

  • Taking courses asynchronously or completing them as your schedule allows.
  • Joining an interactive virtual learning community through Blackboard, and gaining support from a Student Success Advisor throughout the entire program.
  • Interacting with the College of Social Work’s Office of Professional Development.
  • Going from the classroom to the clinic with innovative field placements.

Two Programs Available

The online Master of Social Work offers two programs for students. An Advanced Standing program is available for students who have completed a bachelor’s of social work from a Council on Social Work Education-accredited program. A Traditional program is available for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a separate concentration from social work. Both programs are clinically focused and offer field placements that may align with students’ interests.

Advanced Standing Program

  • Students who already have a bachelor’s of social work
  • Clinically focused
  • 39 credit hours
  • Pace: Two courses at a time
  • Courses are 16 weeks; summer may have 12- or 13-week courses, depending on the year
  • Average completion time: Two years
  • One field placement

For students who have already completed their Bachelor of Social Work, their degrees must be from a Council on Social Work Education program and reside within the accepted coverage areas. The Advanced Standing program may also include students who want to transfer up to seven credits from a two-year CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work program who have completed one year of studies including a generalist field placement. If you are transferring up to 27 credits, our traditional program will be a great fit for you.

Traditional Program

  • Students who have a bachelor’s in a concentration other than social work
  • Clinically focused
  • 61 credit hours — must have bachelor’s degree
  • Pace: Two courses at a time
  • Courses are 16 weeks; summer may have 12- or 13-week courses, depending on the year
  • Average completion time: Three years
  • Two field placements
  • Two mandatory weekends of on-campus skill-building sessions (second and third semesters)

For students who have a baccalaureate degree in a concentration other than social work, you may be a traditional program student regardless of your undergraduate concentrationif you reside within the accepted coverage areas.


Back to top

Admissions Requirements

Traditional program students must meet these requirements for admission:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and be in good standing with the institution
  • Complete a College of Social Work application and submit a personal statement and four letters of recommendation (two personal, two academic)
  • Submit a transcript with all undergraduate and graduate courses and include a professional resume
  • Prepare for and take the GRE- FSU’s code is 5219
  • Earn a 3.0 GPA or better on everything past the first 60 hours of undergraduate courses (this is an upper-division GPA) or you must have earned a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution

Advanced Standing program students must meet these requirements for admission:

  • Earn a BSW from a CSWE-accredited institution
  • Complete a College of Social Work application and submit a personal statement and four letters of recommendation (two personal, two academic)
  • Submit a copy of a BSW internship evaluation or letter of recommendation from the field office
  • Prepare for and take the GRE- FSU’s code is 5219
  • Have a minimum of 400 hours of field education in generalist practice

If the applicant is earning his or her bachelor’s degree and applying for graduate school, he or she must send a second official transcript with the degree posted.

The Florida State University Office of Admissions will receive GRE scores from the Educational Testing Service; FSU’s code is 5219.

For full admission details, visit this page.


Back to top


“Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics.”  — Jane Addams

A Master of Social Work opens up a wide array of fields and specializations to choose from where you can make an active impact on many lives. Whatever career path you choose, you’ll have the option of putting your classroom knowledge and ethical background to use in fields such as:

  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Child welfare/family services
  • Veterans affairs/services to military personnel
  • Private practice
  • Government agencies or NGOs
  • Corporations or high-profile businesses
  • Hospitals, clinics, and outpatient care settings
  • Internationally focused organizations/practices

Online Master of Social Work students have access to The Office of Professional Development at the College of Social Work. The Office of Professional Development is pivotal in helping students and graduates obtain their license. In addition, an online career advancement page is offered to students, alumni, and professionals, as well as listings for continuing education opportunities.

Graduates with a Master of Social Work earn approximately $40,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and more than 600,000 jobs may be available nationwide.

For more specifics and resources, visit our career resources page.


Back to top


Tuition is broken up into the two programs: Advanced Standing program and Traditional program, as well as whether or not an individual is a Florida resident. If you are new to Florida but have not established residency, you may have to pay the out-of-state tuition.

For the Advanced Standing Program:

  • In-state cost is $559.26 per credit hour or $21,811.41 total tuition.
  • Out-of-state, market rate cost is $625 per credit hour or $24,375 total tuition.
  • Program requires at total of 39 credits.

For the Traditional program:

  • In-state cost is $559.26 per credit hour or $34,114.86 total tuition.
  • Out-of-state cost is $625 per credit hour or $38,125 total tuition.
  • Program requires a total of 61 credits.

Financial aid is also available for those who qualify. To learn more about these options and additional tuition details, please visit our Tuition page.


Back to top


With a clinical focus, Florida State University’s online Master of Social Work relies on classroom instruction combined with real-world experience in the form of field placements to create career-ready graduates.

Depending on your program, your courses will consist of three (Advanced Standing program) to six (Traditional program) core classes. In addition, you’ll undergo two field placements (Traditional program), a number of electives, and a graduate capstone.

The following tables show a breakdown of the curriculum by program (Traditional/Advanced Standing)

Traditional Program Core Classes

Course Number  Course Title Credit Hours
SOW 5034  Introduction to the Social Work Profession 3
SOW 5105  HBSE 3
SOW 5308  Social Work Practice 3
SOW 5404  Social Work Research 3
SOW 5324  Social Work With Groups and Communities 3
SOW 5325  Social Work Policy 3
   Total 18


Advanced Standing Program Core Classes

Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
SOW 5125 Psychopathology in Clinical Practice 3
SOW 5432 Evaluation of Practice 3
SOW 5807 Clinical Practice 3
  Total 9


Field Placement 1

Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
SOW 5532 Field Experience I 10


Course Number Course Title Credit Hours


Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
SOW 5535 Graduate Field Education II 12
SOW 5369 Advanced Seminar in Social Work Practice 3
  Total 15

Traditional program students complete the first field placement in their fourth semester. Advanced Standing program students begin field placement in their fifth semester.

Below is a description of the courses found in FSU’s online master’s program.

SOW 5034: The Social Work Profession — 3 credits

This course surveys the philosophy, history, and services of social welfare and the purpose, objectives, values, ethics, methods, and practice settings of the profession of social work. Attention is given to the role that social work and social welfare policies play in promoting social and economic justice for oppressed groups. This course includes a required 30 hours of volunteer work (can be credited for service learning).

SOW 5105: Human Behavior and the Social Environment (HBSE) — 3 credits

This course focuses on reciprocal relationships between human behavior and social environments. Content includes empirically based theories and knowledge that focus on the interactions between and among systems of all sizes, including individuals, groups, societies, and economic systems. Theories and knowledge of biological, psychological, sociological, cultural, and spiritual development across the lifespan are critiqued, especially as they relate to at-risk populations. In addition, theories and knowledge about the range of social systems (individual, family, group, organizational, and community) in which people live are examined, including the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being.

SOW 5125: Psychopathology in Clinical Practice — 3 credits

This course provides an overview of mental health assessment and diagnostic tools, including the Diagnostic Statistical Manual diagnostic categories, and touches on treatment strategies and techniques. Building on the knowledge base acquired in the foundation course SOW 5105, students will learn about the relationship between the biological, psychological, social, environmental, and cultural influences and emotional and mental health from an ecological context. Particular attention is given to variations in the assessment process and access to treatment for populations at social and economic risk. In addition, students examine the political and social implications of mental health and their relationship to social work values and ethics.

SOW 5235: Social Welfare Policy and Services — 3 credits

This course provides an initial opportunity to investigate the relationships among individual and collective social welfare and public policy in American society from a social work perspective, with emphasis placed on understanding these relationships in terms of social and economic justice. Particular attention is paid to acquisition of skills necessary to engage in policy advocacy and formulation consistent with social work values and ethics, fostering an appreciation for the roles played by social workers in the development of the American welfare state, and reviewing the history of the social work profession.

SOW 5308: Social Work Practice — 3 credits

The course provides students with an understanding of the social work profession’s history, mission, values, ethics, and roles. Content on generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities is covered, and attention is given to working with ethnic minorities, women, gays and lesbians, and disabled people.

SOW 5324: Social Work With Groups and Communities — 3 credits

This course focuses on development of the generalist group practice skills of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation with social work clients, community groups, and organizations. This class covers practice skills that contribute to group effectiveness, including composition, structure, dynamics, goal setting, and evaluation. Students will learn to respond to contexts that shape practice by recognizing social, political, economic, and environmental influences and applying them to social work practice. Content also includes examining the empirical base of a range of theories and models of group facilitation with clients, community groups, and organizations.

SOW 5369: Integrative Seminar in Advanced Social Work Practice — 3 credits

This course integrates theoretical models and concepts with practice gained in internships. The course utilizes an ecosystems perspective, focusing on the dynamic interaction between the individual, family, communities, organizations, and other social systems. A major focus is on the social worker’s role in responding effectively to the challenges of working with these systems and exploring their own personal views of such issues as ethics, gender, ethnic minorities, gays, lesbians, and disabled people. (Corequisite: SOW 5535)

SOW 5376: Budgeting and Finance in the Social Services — 3 credits

This course emphasizes the political and technical skills of budgeting and financial management, source development via grant writing and fundraising, government contracting, fiscal reporting, and payroll management.

SOW 5377: Personnel Administration in the Social Services — 3 credits

This course develops students’ skills in personnel management in human service organizations to ensure effective service delivery to clients. Attention is given to staff management approaches, staff supervision, employee recruitment and retention, motivation, job design, staff development, and issues of diversity.

SOW 5404: Introduction to Social Work Research — 3 credits

This course introduces students to qualitative and quantitative research methods to provide an understanding of a scientific, analytic, and ethical approach to building knowledge for practice. Students’ mastery of course content prepares them to develop, use, and effectively communicate empirically based knowledge. Students use research knowledge to provide high-quality services; initiate change; improve practice, policy, and social service delivery; and evaluate their own practice from an evidence-based perspective.

SOW 5432: Evaluation of Social Work Practice — 3 credits

Major emphasis is given to the use of single systems designs in client assessment and evaluation. Students consider the philosophical and ethical aspects of an evaluative approach to treatment and examine the policy implications of professional participation (or lack thereof) in evaluation processes. Topics will include the operational “diagnosis” of client problems; measurement and monitoring of symptoms, goals, and interventions; and analysis, interpretation, and reporting of case material for accountable social work practice. Issues of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability will be explored through application of course content to appropriate case examples. (Prerequisite: SOW 5404 or BSW equivalent)

SOW 5435: Social Program and Policy Evaluation — 3 credits

This course presents the historical and contemporary importance of social program evaluation and research methods. The course focuses on applied qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods that are useful to managers, public administrators, and policy analysts. Particular emphasis is placed on evidence-based procedures/methods that will be useful for social work administrators when designing and carrying out evaluations of social programs and policies. Students will also explore how programs and policies can further the cause of social and economic justice for oppressed and disadvantaged groups. (Prerequisite: SOW 5404 or BSW equivalent)

SOW 5455: Grant Writing and Grant Management — 3 credits

While funding agencies may have their own guidelines, there are some commonalities among grant proposals. This course will cover the basics of proposals: purpose statements, background and justification, aims or objectives, personnel, timeline, methods, budget, evaluation, and how to effectively manage grants once they are funded. Particularly in the public and not-for-profit sectors, grants may be necessary to expand the type or number of resources available to clients. Therefore, grant writing is related to social work objectives that stress access to and availability of resources. The needs of disenfranchised groups or communities will be discussed in this course, along with the particulars of proposals that may be most effective in meeting such needs.

SOW 5532: Graduate Field Instruction I — 5-10 credits

This course is required for first-year graduate students and taken concurrently with coursework. Students are provided with a supervised generalist social work practice experience in a variety of settings. (Prerequisite: SOW 5308 or BSW equivalent)

MSW SOW 5535: Graduate Field Instruction II — 6-12 credits

This course is required for advanced graduate students and taken concurrently with Integrative Seminar in Advanced Social Work Practice. All coursework must be completed.

SOW 5603: Social Work in Health Settings — 3 credits

This course focuses on social work practice in health settings from a “person-in-environment” perspective, preparing students with an understanding of the roles that social workers play in health settings, the structure of health care delivery systems, organizational and professional ethics and standards, challenges we face in health care policy, patient issues, and how to help address these issues. Specific knowledge and skills in a health care setting are addressed, including biopsychosocial assessments, chart documentation, treatment planning, and discharge planning.

SOW 5611: Family Counseling in Social Work — 3 credits

This course introduces students to various theoretical models of family counseling and presents assessment and intervention strategies and techniques.

SOW 5614: Family Violence Across the Lifespan — 3 credits

This course, looking at violence across the lifespan, provides an ecological perspective emphasizing the interconnections between individuals experiencing violence and their social environments. Emphasis is placed upon broad coverage of all-important aspects of child abuse, incest, intimate partner violence, rape, and elder abuse. This course is appropriate for students who wish to gain skill in detecting and responding to incest situations for clients, sexual assault survivors, and victims of intimate partner violence or elder abuse.

SOW 5646: Gerontological Social Work — 3 credits

This course introduces students to the field of social gerontology and gerontological social work. The class provides an overview of a variety of topics such as the demography of aging and the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects of aging. The course also covers health care and social policies that impact older persons and caregivers, along with the aging network of services. How forms of oppression such as ageism, sexism, racism, ablebodyism, beautyism, and homophobia impact our work with older people are discussed, along with how to promote dignity, self-determination, and social and economic justice for older persons. The role of both informal and formal support networks is stressed as students learn to comprehensively assess older clients and devise intervention and evaluation plans.

SOW 5648: Physical Aspects of Aging — 3 credits

This course covers age and health demographics, along with attitudes toward aging and health. Basic cellular and molecular theories of aging will be presented, along with how the human body’s organ systems typically change over time. Pathologies associated with aging and psychosocial responses to normal and pathological changes will be discussed. Such responses will be viewed within a sociocultural context. Support services and resources for older individuals and their caregivers will be addressed.

SOW 5656: Child Welfare Practice — 3 credits

This course provides a framework of values, knowledge, and skills necessary to practice with vulnerable children and their families. The major focus is on social work in public child welfare and children’s mental health agencies. The course utilizes an ecosystem perspective for understanding and assessing the special needs of at-risk children and families. Specific attention will focus on assessing families and children using the state of Florida’s risk and safety assessment protocols as well as other family assessment instruments.

SOW 5659: Mental Health and Child Welfare — 3 credits

This course provides students with knowledge and skills related to the theory, research, and implications of child and adolescent maltreatment for child development and psychopathology. Course content is presented within the context of child welfare practice and social work with children and adolescents in public agencies and programs. Particular attention will be given to common psychological disorders that result from maltreatment and accompanying treatment issues. Issues related to individuals, families, groups, and communities are covered, and attention is given to working with ethnic minorities, women, gays and lesbians, and persons with disabilities.

SOW 5712: Chemical Dependency Problems and Programs — 3 credits

This course includes discussions, readings, lectures, and audiovisual materials on all the major drugs, including alcohol, opiates, stimulants, sedatives, hallucinogens, inhalants, and nicotine. We cover the etiology and epidemiology of drug abuse, physiological and behavioral consequences of drug abuse, treatment approaches, and major policies and programs. Special attention is directed toward drug use in special populations, such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, persons with other disabilities, and the elderly. We also spend a considerable amount of time discussing social work with involuntary clients, since most persons receiving treatment for chemical dependency probably fall into this category. A systems perspective will be used to relate drug-using behavior to family, community, and social systems.

SOW 5785: International Social Work — 3 credits

This course prepares students for international social work practice abroad and/or for transnational work with immigrants, refugees, international migrants, etc. It presents an introduction to international perspectives in the field of social work and to varied examples of social work practice in the United States, Western and Central Europe, and the Caribbean nations — three very diverse regions of the world in which social issues present contrasting challenges to the profession. In providing an overview of the social work profession internationally, it examines the impact of global interdependence on social work practice and policy as current challenges are faced in the developed and developing world. Within the framework of the social work international code of ethics, students will learn to critically analyze varied practice approaches utilized in dealing with international social welfare issues.

SOW 5807 Clinical Social Work Practice — 3 credits

This advanced practice course emphasizes development of clinical skills. Students will refine their clinical skills, building on the research-based, nonspecific (common factors) components of therapeutic work (i.e., therapeutic alliance, empathy, goal consensus/collaboration, positive regard/affirmation, and genuineness) and specific factors (validated treatments). The course provides in-depth coverage of three empirically based models; Solution Focused, Motivational Interviewing, and Interpersonal Therapy. Learning applications of techniques informed by these models provides opportunities to enhance professional use of self. The course examines similarities and differences among models and allows students to discern appropriate use of techniques, client populations, settings, and problem interactions. Students will develop competency in the ethical and strength-based use of these models.

SOW 5938r: SELECTED TOPICS — 3 credits

The selected topics courses are offered on a variety of issues and may be repeated to a maximum of nine semester hours. (Check schedule for different selected topics courses to be offered.)


Back to top