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Social Work - Master's

Availability: Gulf Park and Hattiesburg Options

Why Should I Earn an MSW Degree?

The MSW’s advanced curriculum and expanded field work (900 hours) facilitate rigorous, diverse, and experiential learning that leads to confidence and competence for professional practice.

The MSW provides employment opportunities in clinical settings, where practitioners must be Licensed Master Social Workers.

Full- and part-time programs are available, with an advanced standing option in both if students meet requirements and are accepted; advanced standing reduces program hours (60 to 34).

The Council on Social Work Education accredits our MSW program. Students seeking Advanced Standing must hold a BSW awarded in the past five years from a CSWE-accredited program.

Licensure requirements vary by state. In Mississippi, the Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists oversees regulation for social workers.

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95%Graduate licensure exam passage rate
94.7%MSW Spring 2018 retention rate
27.5KTotal spring MSW internship hours

What Will I Learn?

Course topics include:

  • Human rights and social justice
  • Problem solving for individuals, families, and groups
  • Social welfare policy
  • Addictions
  • Programs and community development
  • Consultation and supervision
  • Trauma
  • Forensics
  • Aging
  • Health
  • Grant writing
  • Human sexuality
  • School social work

Full-time students finish in 5 semesters, or 3 if advanced standing; part-time students finish in 8 semesters, or 5 if advanced standing.

Each cohort has a specific plan of study to follow. Click MSW Plans of Study to view the current plans for each cohort. 

Students must designate if they are seeking full-time, part-time and/or advanced standing enrollment.

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA on last 60 hours of courses.
  • A Written personal statement.
  • A Written response to case vignette.
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to assess the applicant's readiness for graduate study.
  • International applicants must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores

Additional Requirements for Advanced Standing Admissions:

  • Bachelor’s in social work from CSWE-accredited university within last five years.
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA on last 60 hours of courses.
  • Minimum 3.5 GPA in social work program; with no “C”s.
  • Passing score on qualifying exam given by the Southern Miss School of Social Work.
  • Accepted for advanced standing by the MSW admissions review committee.

Meeting the minimum qualifications does not guarantee admission to the advanced standing program.

Two supervised internships – more commonly referred to as field work – are required for all MSW students, who gain practical experience in a professional setting under the supervision of licensed social workers.

With 200+ agency partners, the School typically places students in Mississippi, but out-of-state and international placements are possible.

Students first complete a foundational internship, followed by an advanced internship.

  • Full-time students: a 300-hour placement over one semester and a 600-hour placement over two semesters
  • Part-time students: two 450-hour placements, each over two semesters
  • Advanced Standing students: two 300-hour placements, each over two semesters

Our MSW students conduct research with faculty mentors, including conference presentations and co-authoring articles in peer-reviewed journals.

One recent graduate worked on projects about the impact of third-graders’ literacy level on student classroom behavior, and risk factors for pre-kindergarten obesity such as reduced breastfeeding and sleep.

MSW students regularly present posters of research-based work at the annual conference for Mississippi social workers; in 2018, more than half of all student presenters were from Southern Miss, including the top two graduate-level winners for empirical research and literature review.

There are 13 Social Work-specific graduate scholarships that students may apply for. Each year, the School of Social Work honors new scholarship recipients.

Graduate assistantships are also available, providing limited financial support during the academic year to students in return for 20 hours of work per week.

Award decisions are made on the basis of financial need and the applicant’s ability to contribute to the School of Social Work.

A dual MSW-Master of Arts in Church and Community Ministries degree is perfect for students who believe in the power of good works and strong faith. The program is available in partnership with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Students must be admitted to both programs, and enrollment in both reduces the required number of class hours by 9 for each program, as elective courses transfer between programs: 51 hours for the MSW (or 25 with advanced standing status) and 38 for the MA.

With the MA, you will be able to minister effectively in any church or religiously affiliated agency.

“History and Social Work in Cuba” is a two-week study abroad experience following the spring semester.

Students can earn three hours of academic credit in the class Human Rights and Social Development in the Caribbean. Financial aid may be available to assist with expenses.

Located in Havana, the program includes visits to:

  • National museums
  • Historic sites
  • Landmarks
  • Human service agencies such as schools, literacy programs, orphanages, health and prevention programs, child welfare and mental health agencies

Relational, Engaging Learning Environment

Our experienced, diverse faculty practice what they preach with a “relational” curriculum, creating a classroom experience that is a model for developing professional social workers.

Faculty and students work together closely in an inclusive, immersive, and personal setting. This approach mirrors real-world relational practice that engages clients and their support networks to identify and solve problems.

All faculty teach on both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses, strengthening their bonds with all students.

Professional Licensure Disclosure

The University of Southern Mississippi School of Social Work curriculum is designed to help prepare students to sit for the professional licensure exam for Mississippi. At this time, USM cannot determine if a particular program meets the licensing requirement for every state. You will want to contact the licensing board in which state you intend to pursue licensure for their requirements. Information about various licensure for all states is located through the sites below:

Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapist MSBOE Click Here

For more information on licensing boards Click Here


Degree Plan Availability
Social Work MSWGulf Park, Hattiesburg
  • Child Welfare Social Work
  • Public Policy Social Work
  • Mental Health Social Work
  • Health/Medical Social Work
  • School Social Work
  • Substance Abuse Social Work
  • Jane Parker, PhD, LCSW, MPH, ’79. 
     Director of Doctorate in Social Work Program & Clinical Associate Professor, Tulane University
  • Dawn Ellis-Murray, MSW, MPA, ’97.
    Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers– Alabama Chapter
  • Kathy Burk, MSW, CPM, ’93.
    Director, Office of Community Health Services, Mississippi Department of Health
  • Janice Sandefur, ACSW, LCSW, ’88.
     Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers – Mississippi Chapter
  • Linda Southward, PhD, ’79.
    Research Fellow & Research Professor, SSRC, Mississippi State University; Research Scientist, Mississippi Health Policy Research Center
  • Lynn Hagan, PhD, LCSW, ’96.
    Clinical Social Worker, private practice