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Master of Social Work

Our exciting program makes graduate social work education accessible for working professionals as well as recent college graduates throughout the western and southern regions of Kentucky. We also welcome many students from nearby areas such as northwestern Tennessee, southern Illinois, south east Missouri, and beyond. We have had international students from Taiwan, Jordan, and Oman…all in the few years since the first class was admitted in 2003.

Graduates are prepared as integrated social work practitioners with the values, theoretical knowledge and skills to function at many levels of intervention: individual, family, group, organizations, and community.

                                                 WKU Master of Social Work - from Vid Monster Productions, LLC. on Vimeo.



In keeping with the tenets of the program, the purposes of social work, constituent needs, and the regional characteristics of south central and western Kentucky, the mission of the MSW program at WKU is to educate and prepare students for professional social work practice to meet the needs of increasingly diverse rural populations. The program is particularly dedicated to addressing the work force needs of agencies working with Kentucky’s families and communities.  In addition, the program emphasizes professional and scholarly service to the community, the state, and the nation.

The goals of the program are designed to provide a level of competence that includes quality leadership that is grounded in the historical roots of the profession. The needs of the community along with the purposes of the profession influence the four goals of the MSW program. These goals are:

  • To produce competent practitioners within rural areas.

  • To increase the number of practitioners with professional values and standards of cultural competence who are creative and ethically accountable in their practice with diverse rural populations.

  • To apply critical knowledge that cultivates and synthesizes an understanding of the complex needs within the culture of rural communities, including research, training, continuing education, and other relevant projects.

  • To impact the social, economic, and political environments of rural areas in order to empower constituents and influence social welfare policies, practices, and services.

Application to the MSW program requires two separate applications: (1) an application to the Department of Social Work (2) an application to the Western Kentucky University Graduate School. The application fee for domestic students applying until Spring 2024 is $65 and $95 for international students. Current fees are subject to change. Applicants must have official copies of undergraduate transcripts sent from ALL previous universities attended sent to the Graduate School. Only applications that have fulfilled all of the application requirements for both the MSW Program and the Graduate School will be considered complete.


*The MSW program’s Admissions Committee independently reviews each application to determine admission. There may be personal or telephone interviews by the admissions committee, if necessary. Letters of determination will be emailed to each applicant upon decision. No admissions outcome information will be given over the telephone.

Program prerequisites include the following:

  1. Undergraduate degree from an accredited university

  2. Undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or above for Traditional Admissions. A GPA below 2.75 may be considered for alternate admission -OR-

  3. Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 GPA is required for Advanced Standing. Note: an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.75 to  2.99 will be considered with an interview.

  4. Liberal arts background – at least 30 hours in liberal arts coursework (social sciences, humanities, natural science, communication, mathematics, etc). Must include at least one course in sociology, psychology, OR anthropology AND at least one course in American government, political science, OR economics. All qualifying liberal arts courses must have been completed with a final grade of “C” or higher.


All students considering an online social work program should check into their residing state about specific licensure requirements upon graduation. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and your specific state's board website are two places that can assist with learning about licensure upon confirmation of your degree.

With our CSWE accredited MSW degree options, you should be prepared for licensure in your residing state. However, each state is unique and may have additional expectations beyond your basic coursework. If you have any questions or concerns, it is recommended you first contact your residing state. If you still have questions, we are happy to help!

  • Advocacy
  • Alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment
  • Child welfare, protection, adoptions, foster care
  • Churches and church related agencies
  • Community organizing
  • Correctional systems
  • Employee assistance programs, and human resources
  • Health and hospice
  • Mental health
  • Military
  • Nursing homes and other senior services including chronic care
  • Public defenders and prosecutors offices
  • Schools

Our graduates have found careers in a wide range of roles and job titles—just about any place that people can use help from skilled professional social workers!

Some of our graduates are employed as clinicians and other as direct practitioners; some are supervisors and administrators. Most blur the lines with an integrated practice that brings about social change and empowers client systems of all sizes to reach their potential. Many of our grads do therapy or clinical work, but all of our graduates can do so much more!

Our graduates work in many geographical areas. Our primary focus, however, is non-urban areas, particularly rural areas, small towns and small cities that make up most of Kentucky and our nearby neighbors. An MSW from WKU is rigorous but rewarding preparation for Social Work Practice!


We welcome your interest in our Social Work program and hope you will join us as we move boldly through the 21st century! Please consult our Application Procedures page for dates, deadlines, and forms.

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 Last Modified 11/27/23