Social Work

Pursuing an MSW Program in North Carolina (NC)

Pursuing an MSW Program in North Carolina (NC)
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Noodle Staff April 18, 2018

If you are considering pursing a masters in social work career in North Carolina. Allow Noodle to provide you the details you need to succeed.

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Is Pursuing an MSW Degree in North Carolina the Right Path for You?

Whether it is an experience from your past or an unrelenting desire to make the future brighter for others, you agree with Anne Frank who said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” and you have decided to become a social worker. Now your decision moves to choosing the path you will take to help you achieve your career goal. In this article, you will gather information to help you determine if pursuing MSW programs in North Carolina are the right fit for you.

It is important to choose an accredited college or university that offers an accredited MSW program. Accredited programs have been evaluated and have met a set of standards that ensures their academic programs demonstrate a certain level of quality. Accreditation is necessary for programs to be able to offer their students state and federal financial aid or employer tuition assistance. When schools are regionally accredited, it means that credits or degrees earned at them are usually readily accepted at other regionally accredited schools. This makes it easier for students who need to transfer between schools or pursue higher degrees at other universities.



University and Program Name Learn More

Accredited MSW programs in North Carolina

The Council on Social Work Education offers a searchable database of accredited institutions of higher learning offering BSW and MSW programs at CSWE. The colleges and universities identified as offering MSW programs are:

Appalachian State University Located in Boone, North Carolina
The Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies at Appalachian State University gives students pursuing an MSW degree the choice between one of two concentrations: Community and Organizational Practice or Individuals and Families.

Admission into the MSW program at Appalachian State University is competitive. Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • have taken the GRE entrance exam within 5 years of applying
  • have 3 references
  • submit a transcript, resume, and personal statement
  • have earned a 3.0 GPA in the last degree received along with official scores from the admissions test or have earned a 2.5 GPA in the last degree received and have earned a score at the 25th percentile on the admissions test.

Once these things have been submitted, each candidate will be evaluated compared to the quality of submissions by the other candidates who have applied. A decision will be made on admission based upon the number of available openings in the program.

Appalachian State University offers students who have earned their BSW from an accredited university – with at least a 3.2 GPA, within 7 years of applying – to earn a spot in their Advanced Standing Program. In this program students are able to complete their MSW courses in only a year.

For students who may need or prefer a less traditional path of taking classes, Appalachian State offers a hybrid distance program in which the coursework is offered both in face-to-face classes (in Hickory, NC) as well as online. All of the same application criteria are required as in the on-campus program. Students who are accepted into the Advanced Standing Program will be required to complete 33 hours of coursework while others will need to complete 60 hours.

Appalachian State University was originally accredited in the MSW program in 2006. It was last accredited in February of 2014 and will next be up for review in June of 2020. You can find more information at Appalachian State.

East Carolina University Located in Greenville, North Carolina
East Carolina University School of Social Work offers an MSW program that has one concentration available, Clinical Community Social Work. However, it does give students the opportunity to customize their degree through the built in nine hours of electives that they are required to take. They will be guided by their faculty advisor to select the courses most aligned to their goals.

Students in the MSW program are assigned to either the regular track or advanced standing path. The regular track curriculum requires a minimum of 60 hours of coursework and field instruction typically completed in 2 years. The first year is spent learning about a variety of different population groups and problem areas in diverse settings. It lays the foundation for the more complex and in-depth study and field instruction usually explored in the second year. Students also typically take their 9 hours of elective courses during the second year once they are more aware of the type of job placement they would most like to focus on after graduation. Students are required to earn an acceptable score on the comprehensive assessment in order to earn their MSW degree.

The advanced standing path allows students who have earned their BSW from an accredited college or university to apply to the program. Those who are accepted are required to take 42 hours of coursework and field instruction spread over a summer and one complete academic year. Students need to complete one field instruction component during each semester of the academic year and successfully complete the comprehensive assessment in order to earn their degree.

The MSW program at East Carolina University was originally accredited in 1974. It was last accredited in October 2016 and is next due to be reviewed in June 2024.

Fayetteville State University Located in Fayetteville, North Carolina
Fayetteville State University offers an MSW program with a focus on issues concerning children, families, the military, mental health, and substance abuse. The program gives students the opportunities to work with individuals, families, communities, and organizations in military, urban, and rural areas.

Students can earn specialty graduate certificates in Substance Abuse Studies with 12 hours of coursework, Military Behavioral Health with 18 credit hours, and Advance Clinical Practice with 21 credit hours.

Fayetteville State University offers three paths to earning an MSW degree.

  • The Advanced Standing, M.S.W. allows students who have earned a 3.0 GPA in their BSW degree from an accredited college or university – no more than 5 years prior to applying – to earn a spot in the Advanced Standing Program. This is a full-time one year course load over the span of a summer and an academic year. Thirty five credit hours are required to complete the program and graduate.
  • The weekend, part-time, M.S.W. track spans over the course of 3 years and requires 58 credit hours for completion.
  • The M.S.W. Advanced Generalist Degree is a full-time program and requires 61 credit hours to be completed over the course of 2 years.

Fayetteville State University was originally accredited in 2003. It was last accredited in June 2010 and will next be reviewed in June 2019. You can find admissions requirements at Fayetteville.

Johnson C. Smith University Located in Charlotte, North Carolina
Johnson C. Smith University offers an MSW program which places a strong emphasis on a commitment to social justice and a respect for an individual’s self-worth and dignity.

It offers a two-year program requiring 60 credit hours, 900 clock hours of field instruction, and an Advanced Standing program. This program is offered to qualifying students with a BSW degree from an accredited college or university. Requiring 42 credit hours over a summer and a full academic year with 500 clock hours of field instruction. It is not currently offering admission to a part-time study MSW program, but it does expect to for the 2019-2020 school year.

Johnson C. Smith University was originally accredited in the MSW program in 2013. It was last accredited in October 2015 and will next be reviewed in October 2019. More information can be found at Johnson C. Smith.

North Carolina Central University Located in Durham, North Carolina
North Carolina Central University has an MSW program which does not require the GRE for admission. It places a special emphasis on working with youth in or at risk of entering the juvenile justice system or with families involved with child and family services agencies.

They offer a traditional two year program requiring 58 credit hours along with field instruction. Field instruction is held eight hours a day for two days a week during the first year and for three days a week during the second year. North Carolina Central University recognizes that MSW students may have other family or work obligations so they confine their MSW classes to evenings and Saturdays.

They also offer an advanced standing program to students who have earned their BSW degree and meet additional criteria. This program extends from May to May and includes 35 credit hours and field instruction. See North Carolina Central for more information on their MSW programs and admission requirements.

The university was first accredited in MSW in 2008. Their latest accreditation was in February 2018 and they are next due for review in June 2024.

North Carolina State University Located in Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University is ranked among the top 100 graduate social work programs in the country by The Princeton Review. The focus of the MSW program is to provide students with practice in helping people with a wide range of difficulties and teach them to advocate for populations who are traditionally undeserved or oppressed.

The GRE is not required, but a score may be submitted along with other admission materials. Admission into the MSW program is very competitive so applicants may be placed on a waitlist or encouraged to apply again in the future. The university doesn’t offer a part-time or online MSW program.

The traditional two-year, full-time MSW program requires 60 credit hours to be completed before graduation. Applicants to the program need a 3.0 GPA from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree in any field to be considered.

The advanced standing MSW program starts in the summer and is an intensive program that runs for 12 months and requires the completion of 39 credit hours. In order to be considered for admission, applicants must hold a BSW degree from an accredited school and have a 3.5 GPA along with additional requirements.

The MSW program was originally accredited in 2004. The latest accreditation was in February 2013 with its next review due in February 2021.

The University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina offers an MSW program at three locations.

  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is located in Chapel Hill, NC and received its original accreditation in 1920. It was most recently accredited in October 2011 and is due for its next review in June 2018.
  • The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in located in Pembroke, NC and received its original MSW accreditation in 2008. It was recently accredited in February 2016 and is due for its next review in October 2023.
  • The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is located in Wilmington, NC and was first accredited in 2004. Its latest accreditation was in June 2012 and it is due for its next review in October 2020.

U.S. News and World Report ranked The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work as the fifth-best graduate school of social work in the United States on March 20, 2018. It is ranked third among public universities. Admission is quite competitive and early applications are encouraged. The GRE is required.

It offers a variety of MSW programs:

  • a full-time traditional option where students complete 62 credit hours and 1,100 hours of field practice over 2 years
  • the advanced standing path for students with a BSW degree from an accredited university where students complete 40 credit hours and additional field practice
  • and a 3-year distance education program where students commute to classes, but spread out the required coursework over 3 years with the third year being completed full-time on campus.

Students choose between two concentrations:
Direct Practice where the focus is on providing services to individuals, families, and groups, or Community Management.
Policy Practice with the focus on leadership careers in organizations and community development on a larger scale. See Chapel Hill for more information.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers several options for students to earn their MSW degree.

  • The advanced standing program,requiring 33 credit hours, can be completed in 12 months full-time or 24 months part-time.
  • The 60 credit hour course load can be completed in the traditional 2-year program.
  • The 18-month fast track program
  • The 3-year extended
  • Or part time programs.

See Pembroke for more information.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington MSW program prides itself on its state-of-the-art simulation labs that are used to teach MSW students. Find out more about their MSW program at Wilmington.

Western Carolina University Located in Cullowhee, NC
Western Carolina University stresses respect for all people and the advancement of social and economic justice in its MSW program. It offers full and part time options for both the traditional and advanced standing MSW programs. See Western Carolina for more information on admission requirements and program options.

Western Carolina University received its first MSW accreditation in 2006. Its latest accreditation came in February 2014 and it is next due for review in February 2022.

Online MSW programs approved to operate in North Carolina

Not everyone is able to attend classes face to face on campus. Sometimes work, family, or other obligations prevent it. The good news is that the Council on Social Work Education understands this and has recognized and compiled a list of 68 accredited colleges and universities – most of which are approved to operate in North Carolina – offering courses in the MSW field through online and distance education. Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide which explains everything you need to know about online MSW programs.

One online MSW program that is offered is through the Tulane University School of Social Work. Tulane University has been preparing students for careers in social work in New Orleans for a century and they have expanded their program to include online courses. A GRE is not required and a degree can be earned in 16 or 32 months depending on whether one takes classes full-time or part-time. It is a 60 credit hour program and it can be completed in 4 or 8 semesters depending on the pace the student chooses. There is also a 948 hour requirement of field based education which is completed where the student lives. Tulane University has been accredited by the Council of Social Work Education and is ranked in the top 20 schools for social work in the United States.

Arizona State University offers an online MSW program. It is recognized as being one of the largest and most diverse schools of social work in the world and is accredited by the CSWE. U.S. News and World Report designated the university as ranking first for being most innovative in 2018. Students in the online MSW program are required to participate in 960 hours of hands-on field education. The School of Social Work’s Field Education Office will help to find internship sites in each student’s geographic region that meet school and CSWE standards for the completion of this requirement. The coursework is a total of 60 credit hours composed of 20 classes which meet for 7.5 weeks per class.

Another online MSW program can be taken through Columbia University in New York. Online MSW students are welcome to visit the campus anytime, but they are not required to do so. All classes, the orientation, and the capstone project can all be completed entirely online. Students are welcome but do not need to attend graduation in order to receive their diploma. Field placement can take place in the city where the student lives. The Columbia University online MSW program offers almost all of its classes live so students need to be on their computer when the class is scheduled to take place. They offer 5 program options: Two-Year Program, Advanced Standing, Reduced Residency, Extended Program, and Transfer Program. Columbia University offers 2 concentrations for degree specializations: Advanced Clinical Practice and Social Enterprise Administration along with 2 fields of practice: Family, Youth, and Children’s Services and Health, Mental Health, and Disabilities.

The Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville began educating students in the field of social work in 1936 and now offers a completely online MSW program. They offer a regular 60 credit hour program which can be completed in 2-3 years for students who earned their bachelor’s degrees in fields other than social work or an Advanced Standing 30 credit hour program which can be completed in 1-2 years for students who earned their BSW degree (earning the required GPA) within 7 years of applying. Students in the program have the option to add an online specialization to their MSW degree in: Psychosocial Oncology, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Military Social Work, or Gerontology. This program ranks as the top school of social work in Kentucky and is in the top 28 public university social work programs in the United States according to US News & World Report. They offer the possibility for students to receive transfer credit for masters level coursework from other regionally accredited schools if it was taken within 3 years.

This list is not exhaustive so if you have a school in mind that is not on the list, you may want to research to see if it would be approved in North Carolina. Refer to CSWE Online to see the complete list and connect to the schools’ websites for additional information on their individual MSW programs.

MSW programs in North Carolina and throughout the United States work hard to achieve accreditation and offer a variety of program options in order to stay competitive and give their students what they want and need. With a little time and research, it’s possible for you find just the right fit of an MSW program that can help you to make your professional goals in social work in North Carolina become a reality.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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Categorized as: Social WorkSocial Work & Counseling & Psychology