Master of Science Program
Columbia University School of Social Work’s Master of Science (M.S.) program features an innovative curriculum that requires concurrent study in the classroom and in the field. As an overview to the program, we have prepared the following Frequently Asked Questions. For more detailed information, download the relevant M.S. Program Documents at right.
To be eligible for admission to the M.S. program, an applicant must have:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
- 60 credits in the liberal arts, of which at least nine must be in the social sciences.
- An academic record reflecting the ability to do graduate work at least at a B level.
- A serious commitment to the profession of social work and the capacity for professional self-awareness, often demonstrated by internships and life experiences.
The majority of students are enrolled full time for two years of consecutive fall and spring semesters earning 60 credits and 1,200 field instruction hours. We also have a 16-Month Program that enables students to begin full-time study in the spring semester and to complete the requirements for the master’s degree in four consecutive terms, including summer. NOTE: Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in social work may apply to our Advanced Standing Program and complete the M.S. requirements in 10 months.
After completing important foundational courses in social welfare policy, research, human behavior, direct practice and field education, students choose one of four program concentrations, commonly referred to as methods. In addition to coursework, they are required to complete a field placement that applies this chosen method area to one of seven fields of practice.
We offer four program concentrations (also known as "methods"):
- Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice
- Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming
- Policy Practice
- Social Enterprise Administration
M.S. students in the full-time Two-Year Program choose their program concentration near the end of their first year.
Once a student has chosen a program concentration, or method, he or she must apply that method within the context of a chosen field of practice. Our Field Department is structured around seven fields of practice. Two-year program students select a field of practice for their second year.
The seven choices are:
- Contemporary Social Issues
- Family, Youth and Children’s Services
- Health, Mental Health and Disabilities
- International Social Welfare and Services to Immigrants and Refugees
- School-based and School-linked Services
- World of Work
Students enrolled in the full-time, Two-Year Program usually take three or four classroom courses each term, spending two days a week in the classroom and three days a week in their field education placement. For the complete descriptions of courses and program policies, go to the Student Handbook (2012-13), which offers Sample Student Schedules.
How many students are typically enrolled in the program, and what kinds of backgrounds do they have?
Approximately 800 students are enrolled in the M.S. program, 90 percent of whom are in the full-time Two-Year Program. The average age of students entering the program is mid-20s. About 85 percent of our student body is female, and about 12–15 percent come from countries overseas. Approximately a quarter of our community is made up of students of color (e.g., African American, Asian American, Hispanic, biracial), and more than half have majored in psychology, sociology, social work, education, or English
We offer two programs that allow students to begin their studies with a reduced course load. Our Reduced Residency Program accepts students who have been employed for at least two years in a human services organization. They work toward the M.S. degree part time while remaining employed by their organization for the first two years of the program, taking at least two courses each term. In the third year, Reduced Residency students attend school full time, completing the necessary 900 field hours and required concurrent coursework. We also have an Extended Program, which allows students to pursue social work education by combining part-time and full-time study across three to four years. Extended Program students engage in full-time study when they begin their field placement requirements. At that time, they must register for a minimum of 10.5 credits, completing three days a week in the field plus at least one day a week in classes.
To apply online, go to the Columbia University School of Social Work Apply Yourself Application. The application fee is $65.
Our graduates are prepared to practice in a wide range of settings: courtrooms, schools, hospitals, and religious institutions; in urban or rural communities, in the U.S. or abroad. Many graduates become directors and leaders of social work agencies and institutions throughout the nation and the world, aided by the Office of Career and Leadership Development and an extensive alumni network.