Social Work

600 Academic and Student Recreation Center

1800 SW Sixth Ave.


The School offers Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science in Social Work (B.S.) degrees. The BSW Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.  Two graduate degree programs are offered by the School of Social Work: a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree, which is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and a Ph.D. degree in Social Work and Social Research.

Degree Maps and Learning Outcomes

Admission requirements

Social Work B.S.W.


Social Work and Social Research Ph.D.

Social Work Courses

Social Work M.S.W.

The Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) program at Portland State University is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

MSW Program Mission

The mission of the Portland State University MSW program is to educate students for advanced leadership and practice that recognizes and dismantles systems of oppression; builds racial equity and social, political, and economic justice; and advances the well-being of diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and tribal nations.  We endeavor to deliver a social work education that is critically informed, theoretically driven, empirically supported, reflexive, ethical, vigilant and resistive to colonial, heteropatriarchal, classist, and white supremacist agendas. 

MSW Program Goals:

The MSW Program mission is realized by providing a statewide program that prepares social workers for practice and leadership with diverse individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations.

The goal is to prepare MSW social workers to:

  • Provide advanced practice and leadership in healthcare and aging, clinical mental health, services to children, youth and families, communities, and/or organizations

  • Practice effectively with individuals, groups, families and communities to improve their well being

  • Demonstrate a professional use of self and a commitment to practice within social work values and ethics

  • Engage in critically informed, non-discriminatory, collaborative practice that addresses/challenges oppression and reflects respect, knowledge, and skills related to race, color, ethnicity, culture, social and economic class, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, family structure, language, national origin, age, disability, and religion

  • Use knowledge of systemic oppression and privilege, community and organizational change processes, and practice skills to advance social and economic justice

  • Analyze, formulate, and influence policies to improve practice and advance social and economic justice

  • Use practice experience, empirical evidence, and theory to guide practice

  • Develop a plan and motivation for continued professional development, learning, and growth to enhance their social work skills and to contribute to the social work profession's efforts to advance social justice after graduation.

The master's program offers students five courses of study: (1) a traditional full-time two-year course option; (2) a part-time three- or four-year option in Portland; (3) an advanced standing one-year option in Portland; (4) a part-time three-year distance options in Salem, Souothern Oregon, Eugene, Central Oregon; and (5) a part-time three-year online option. 

The curriculum combines concurrent on-campus coursework and field work in a range of human service organizations. Typical practice settings are mental health programs, public welfare and human service agencies, schools, hospitals and health care centers, courts, family service agencies, correctional services, community planning agencies, legislative offices, child and youth service agencies, neighborhood centers, multicultural service centers, and programs for older adults.

To ensure a common base for social work practice, the faculty has identified a required generalist foundation curriculum to be completed by all students in the MSW Program, except those admitted to advanced standing.  This coursework focuses on the knowledge, values, skills and behaviors related to work with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations.  Three terms of concurrent generalist field internship are an integral part of this foundation.

The advanced curriculum includes advanced concentrations, advanced field internship and electives. Students in the Portland option have the choice of four concentration areas: Health Across the Lifespan; Children, Youth, and Families; Clinical Social Work Practice; and Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations.  The electives provide opportunities for students to have a deeper learning experience with a specific population, problem or intervention.

The M.S.W. Distance Option (DO) program offers an advanced concentration in Clinical Social Work.  In fall 2018, a new cohort of students will begin in Salem and Southern Oregon.  The Central Oregon and Salem sites will each have a cohort in their final year.  The Eugene cohort will begin their second year..  While the first year of distance learning is course work only, second year and third year students have 16 hour per week field internships in or near their home communities. The Southern Oregon and Central Oregon programs offer all classes on site. First year classes for Eugene and Salem are held on the PSU campus in Portland, and second and third year classes occur on site. The Salem and Southern Oregon sites will recruit new students for fall 2019.

The M.S.W. Online program offers two advanced concentrations:  Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations and Health Across the Lifespan.  Course instruction is exclusively online using asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods, though students will be expected to come to campus for a two-day orientation at the beginning of each academic year. Required courses are offered during the academic year and electives are offered in the summer. The first year of the program is course work only, while the second year and third year students have 16 hour per week field internships in or near their home communities, in addition to taking their courses. 

Students admitted to the Advanced Standing option have a BSW from a CSWE accredited school of social work, and complete the advanced year of the curriculum over the course of four-five terms.  

Students in the MSW program have the ability to pursue a dual degree or certificate in specialized areas of practice.

Students may combine the M.S.W. with a Masters in Public Health (M.P.H.) by applying to both programs.

Students may obtain the M.S.W. with a certificate in gerontology through the Institute on Aging by completing specialized courses and field placement.

Students may also pursue licensure as a school social worker by completing a specialized set of courses and field placement.

Information about these dual degree and certificate programs is available on our website


The M.S.W. is a 78 credit program comprised of foundation and advanced coursework.

Foundation Coursework

The foundation coursework can be satisfied in one of two ways:

  1. Completion of a B.S.W. degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, plus 7 credits of bridge courses taken during the summer at PSU
SW 513Research Methods for Social Work Advanced Standing Students


SW 589Advanced Standing Seminar


2. Completion of a 39 credit graduate foundation course sequence at PSU, which includes the following courses

SW 511Field Seminar and Field Placement


SW 515Skills for the Helping Process - Groups


SW 520Social Welfare History and Policy


SW 530Skills for the Helping Process – Individuals and Families


SW 532Advocacy and Empowerment


SW 539Social Justice in Social Work


SW 540Human Development Through the Lifespan


SW 541Societal, Community and Organizational Structures and Processes


SW 550Research and Evaluaton I


SW 551Research and Evaluation II


Advanced Coursework

The advanced coursework involves an additional 39 credits of advanced graduate courses.

  • 9 credits (3 credits per term) in one of the advanced concentrations
  • 12 credits SW 512 Advanced field placement (4 credits each of three terms)
  • 18 credits of advanced electives in their area of interest


Students may not receive credit for life experience, previous work experience, nor have any field experience or professional foundation courses waived on this basis.

Total Credit Hours: 78