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Master of Social Work Program

Social Work is a profession that seeks to improve the quality of people’s lives and works toward a more diverse and humane society.  As a social worker, you will have opportunities to work with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations.  There will also be opportunities for research, engagement in policy work, and other related social work interests.
The School of Social Work at Southern University at New Orleans offers the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, which is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
The Master of Social Work program builds upon the foundation of generalist practice (1st year of the program) and prepares students for advanced specialization practice in one of two areas of practice specialization and method of practice. The areas of specialization are Children, Youth, and Families (CYF) and Health/Mental Health (H/MH). 
At SUNO’s School of Social Work, the emphasis is placed on the strengths of individual client systems, albeit an individual or community.  The program’s themes of empowerment, advocacy, and transformation undergird and permeate the total curriculum.  The curricula of both programs have an eco-systems focus that directs attention to problem identification, assessment, and intervention strategies.  You will also be exposed to the values of the profession of social work through your classes and through interaction with other students.  Value orientation is an important part of your education and professional development.

Join us for a very rewarding learning experience!!!

“Empower Today - Transform Tomorrow - Advocate Always"




MSW Admissions Criteria

  1. An earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The degree must be awarded prior to the semester of enrollment.
  2. Nine (9) hours of liberal arts courses:  e.g. Psychology, Sociology, Biology, Philosophy. All core course prerequisites must be completed with a “C” grade or better.
  3. For consideration, the applicant must have an overall minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  4. Evidence of writing skills comparable with a graduate-level student- Personal Interest Statement 1) Significant Relationships:  2) Cultural, racial/ethnic, religious or other characteristics of diversity experiences with others different from your own: 3)   Personal Strengths; 4)  Professional Readiness:  5) Professional Goals:  6)  Ethical Considerations: 7) Field Preparation/Expectations 
  5. Have three letters of recommendation (references) from Educators, Social Workers, Employers, or others familiar with your skill level and interest in Social Work.
  6. Written evidence of a congruent commitment to the social work profession’s values and ethics and themes of the School of Social Work.
  7. Expressed ability to matriculate successfully through the MSW program.


Admissions Interview Process

There are situations that arise with applicants during the admissions committee review process, particularly with those who are coming from non-traditional undergraduate school settings and disciplines other than social work or social sciences, which warrants an admissions committee interview. A few examples of such situations include students who completed undergraduate education outside the U.S., applicants who have not fully or clearly responded to key areas of the letter of intent (LOI), and applicants who were incarcerated. Applicant interviews are to screen for specific social work knowledge, practice areas, taboo issues, and to discuss the program, related time demands, and licensure matters.

If reviewers indicate an interview required or are undecided, the admissions director will schedule the student to come in for an interview with the admissions committee. Upon completion of the interview, the committee will provide comments and a recommendation for acceptance disposition. The admission director will make the student aware of the decision and any next action steps will be indicated.


Delayed Entry:

Students admitted into the program who cannot attend in the semester for which she/he was accepted the student may request a delayed entry due to extenuating circumstances, which are approved by the director and the dean. Students can request a delay, in writing, for a period not to exceed one year. 



All students accepted into the School of Social Work must attend the orientation session or make arrangements with the admissions coordinator for orientation information. Orientations are held two to three weeks prior to the start of the Fall Semester. These sessions offer critical information to students that are meant to help students matriculate without problems and or confusion. The Admissions coordinator provides dates and times to students in advance of the sessions.



In 2008 CSWE adopted a competency-based education framework for its Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS). The policy moved from a model of curriculum design focused on content (what students should be taught) and structure (the format and organization of educational components) to one focused on student learning outcomes. A competency-based approach refers to identifying and assessing what students demonstrate in practice. In social work, this approach involves assessing students’ ability to demonstrate the competencies identified in the educational policy.

Social work competence is the ability to integrate and apply social work knowledge, values, and skills to practice situations in a purposeful, intentional, and professional manner to promote human and community well-being. EPAS recognizes a holistic view of competence; that is, the demonstration of competence is informed by knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes that include the social worker’s critical thinking, affective reactions, and exercise of judgment in regard to unique practice situations (CSWE-EPAS, 2015).

With the competence information as a backdrop, the school of social work has developed an educational program that embodies the competency-based education framework. The following are the CSWE identified competencies:

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 2015 EPAS COMPETENCIES:

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
  2. Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
  3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic and Environmental Justice
  4. Engage in Practice informed Research and Research-Informed Practice
  5. Engage in Policy Practice
  6. Engage in Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  7. Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities Specialization Competencies:


     CYF: 1) Empowerment

             2) Advocacy

     H/MH: 1) Empowerment

                2) Advocacy


  1. Plans of study

The graduate program offers three basic plans of study: advanced standing, full-time, and part-time.  Note: The School of Social Work does not grant academic credit for life or work experiences in lieu of Social Work courses or field content.

Advanced Standing

Applicants seeking advanced standing status must have received a Bachelor of Social Work Degree within the last six years prior to the completion of the application packet.  This degree must be from a university/college with an undergraduate social work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. 

Applicants considered for this course of study, in addition to meeting the general requirements for admission, must have achieved a minimum GPA of 3.0 ("B”) and cannot have earned any “C” grades in core social work courses.  Students in the advanced program who earn a “C” grade are required to meet with her/his advisor to develop an academic plan. Students earning a “C” grade during the final spring semester will not be allowed to graduate until the course is repeated and a higher grade is earned. Students earning two “C” grades during a semester will be removed from the advanced standing program and will have to select either the regular full or part-time curriculum. Students earning a “C” grade in core specialization courses will be required to select either the part-time or regular full-time program to continue matriculation. Students in the advanced program who earn a “C” in an elective (non-core courses) are placed on probation and cannot earn a “C” in the following (Spring) semester, as they will not be approved for graduation by the School of Social Work.

Students who earn an “F” grade will be suspended from the program and the “F” grade must be repeated with a higher grade prior to graduation. Hence, an “F” potentially can delay graduation by up to one year, as courses are only offered once per year in accordance with the curriculum scheduled semester.  Note: An “F” in-field results in expulsion from the program. The advanced standing curriculum is structured to allow students, with social work undergraduate degrees and who have no “C” grades, to complete their course work and field practicum requirements in three semesters. 



The full-time plan of study can be completed in two years. It consists of a planned, structured curriculum over four semesters, beginning in the fall of an academic year.  Students enrolling in this plan must register for the full complement of courses per semester, which equals fifteen (15) credit hours of course work per semester, and must be able to complete a minimum of sixteen (16) hours of field practicum per semester.


Students accepted into this course of study are required to follow a curriculum that offers a minimum of six to nine (6-9) credit hours during the semesters. The part-time program begins in the fall of each academic year and includes required summer courses during the first and second years.  The field practicum includes an average of sixteen (16) hours per week, which starts the fall of the second year through the spring of the third year.  The part-time plan is 6 regular semesters (three Fall and three Spring) plus two (2) Summer sessions.  Students must complete the Part-time Program in three (3) academic years.

Transfer Students

Applicants transferring from other universities must meet the general requirements for admission.  Students with prior graduate education in the field of social work from an accredited program are allowed to request a transfer of credits, not to exceed twelve (12) course hours.  All students must earn a minimum of thirty (30) hours of course credit in the SUNO graduate program in order for the University to grant them a master of social work degree.  Courses requested for transfer must have been taken within five (5) years prior to the application for enrollment.  Only courses with an earned grade of "B" or better in Master’s level social work courses will be considered.

Students who have taken a field course may only transfer credits if the following conditions are met: 1.) The field placement hours were acquired while attending an accredited school of social work, 2.) the placement was in a field site that engages in services or activities directly related to the specialization track in which the student registers for within SUNO-SSW, 3.) The field placement hours per semester must be a minimum of 225 hours in addition to a field seminar course for a combined total of, at least, 3 credit hours.

Out-of-state and international transfer students must meet the requirements set forth by the university and the School of Graduate Studies.  International students must present a minimum composite score of 500 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), with at least 50 on the listening comprehension component.  Individual programs may require higher scores. Applications from international students are due at least 90 days prior to the semester of desired initial entry.  The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has strict rules governing the enrollment and employment of international students.  In general, the INS requires graduate students to be enrolled for a full course load as defined by the University.

Returning Students:

Students who for non-academic reasons have electively been out of the program for a period of one year must reapply to the program before continuing any registration processes. Students who return are allowed to return on the matriculation plan prior to being out of the program (e.g. Full-time/part-time) and as a readmit, the student will matriculate under the current academic curriculum plan. (Note Students who were suspended or expelled return under the academic curriculum plan that they were on prior to being out of the program.)

Returning students who decide to return as a part-time student must meet with their advisors to have the courses of the second year adjusted, by moving advanced year courses so that students only have course work during the second year and the third year results in students taking field three and four with one other course each semester.

Late Admits:

Students who are admitted or readmitted within three weeks of registration and who are seeking full-time program enrollment are not guaranteed full-time reentry. Most field sites have been taken by students who register early and often there are only a few placement slots and agency times that are available. Students should meet with the Field Director to find out about available field placement during times that the student has available and or if the student can fit into one of the agency slots available. If either of these cannot be accomplished then it would be better to enroll in the part-time program. The result of not taking field during the first year as a full-time student effectively delays graduation by a year, which is the equivalent time of the part-time program.


B. Curriculum              

Social Work education at the master level is built on a solid liberal arts base (see MSW applicant form in the Appendix).  It includes professional foundation courses, and advanced practice specialization courses. There are two specializations, Children-Youth-Families (CYF), and Health/Mental Health (H/MH) along with two practice methods in areas of direct service (DS) and administration, planning, and organization (APO). Students select their specialization by the end of the foundation (first) year. In the master's program, the content relating to the professional foundation is directed toward preparing the student for advanced specializations. The courses in the curriculum plan are sequentially arranged.  This means that there are pre-requisite courses, which must be completed before enrolling in a particular course.  This sequencing also means that most courses are offered only in designated semesters. Refer to Section IV in the Handbook and the curriculum guide

Course content aligns the CSWE defined generalist practice competencies and behaviors with prescribed educational dimensions of knowledge, values, skills, cognitive and affective processes. In addition, there exists a synergy between course content, assignments, and field practicum activities. Information learned in the classroom is expected to be evident in field practice and issues arising in the field are expected to be addressed in the classroom to aid student understanding of theory, intervention, policy, administration, ethics, diversity, and evidenced-based research best practice application in real-world circumstances.



The School of Social Work accepts applications until March 31st (Part-time and Advanced Standing students) and fall semester (Full Time students) admission. The School of Social Work reserves the right to extend the application period by a period of 45 days from the scheduled end date. Applications received after the deadlines will be considered as potential resources and if and only if space permits.

Criteria for admission to the M.S.W. program are as follows:


  1. An earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The degree must be awarded prior to the semester of enrollment.

  2. Nine (9) hours of liberal arts courses: Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, and an Introduction to Biology or General Biology.  All core course prerequisites must be completed with a “C” grade or better.

  3. An overall undergraduate Grade Point Average of 2.5 or better on a 4.0 scale.

  4. Evidence of writing skills comparable with a graduate-level student.

  5. Written evidence of a congruent commitment to the social work profession’s values and ethics, expressed professional interest in social work, and experience and relationship with social workers

  6. Review of references and their letters supporting Master’s social work education potential

The School of Social Work limits the number of students admitted with a GPA of less than 2.5.  If admitted, these students are admitted as probationary students and must follow the specific plan to remain in the program. It is strongly suggested that these students meet with their advisors on a regular basis to review their academic progress.

The applications’ instructions should be followed very carefully to avoid possible delays in processing. It is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure that a complete application packet is sent to SUNO-Graduate Studies by the respective deadlines.  The items listed below should be submitted to Graduate Studies:

  1.  Completed Graduate Studies and the School of Social Work Applications.

  2. $25.00 nonrefundable application fee (checks or money orders payable to Southern University at New Orleans, no cash). This fee covers both the Graduate Studies and the School of Social Work applications.

  3. THREE COMPLETED REFERENCE FORMS. It is suggested that two of the references be from college instructors if graduated within the last three years, or a combination of Academic References and/or past or present supervisors from paid and or volunteer experiences. The Committee reserves the right to ask for additional information from the applicant in addition to the written explanation. Reference forms must be mailed directly to Graduate Studies with the signature of the recommender across the sealed flap.

  4. Personal Narrative Statement requires a minimum of three (3) double-spaced typewritten pages addressing the areas identified.

  5. Transcripts: One official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended. Transcripts are only official when sent directly from the registrar of the institution to the SUNO, Graduate Studies.

    A complete application packet and a $25.00 application fee must be submitted to:

    Southern University at New Orleans
    Graduate Studies – Administration Bldg., #309
    6400 Press Drive
    New Orleans, LA 70126

    All documents provided for admission belong to the University and cannot be returned to the applicant.




Instructions:  Each applicant must complete a 3 to 4 page, double-spaced statement.  This statement should be thoughtfully prepared as it is often used instead of a personal interview.  Please make sure your name is on each page of your statement.  Your type-written statement should follow the format below and specifically address the following areas:

1)  Significant Relationships:  Discuss the significant relationships with social workers or other persons and paid or voluntary experiences that have influenced your decision to seek a social work career.

2) Cultural, racial/ethnic, religious, or other characteristics of diversity that is different from your own:  Describe your experiences with diverse populations and groups and how these experiences have contributed to your interest in social work.

3)   Personal Strengths:  Discuss your strengths that will enhance your skills as a professional social worker and those areas that you would like to improve.

4)  Professional Readiness:  Discuss how your personal values and, knowledge of social issues prepare you to pursue an MSW degree at this time.

5) Professional Goals:  Discuss your professional goals as they relate to your understanding of the social work profession.

6)  Ethical Considerations:  Discuss your view on truth and transparency.