College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Social Work, MSW

Program Overview

George Mason's accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program, which began in the fall of 2002, prepares students for advanced social work practice. Our MSW program provides students with an initial Generalist year, followed by a year of Specialized study. Students have the option of enrolling under a two-year, three-year, or four-year plan. Those who have earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program may qualify for the Advanced Standing program.

The Generalist year includes courses in human behavior; direct practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities; professional writing and program design ; social work research; and social policies and services.

In the Specialization year, students choose to focus on Clinical Practice (including interventions at the individual, family, group, and community levels) or Social Change (including community practice, organizational leadership, and policy practice). Students gain an understanding of issues including child welfare, juvenile justice, trauma and recovery, mental health, substance abuse, disabilities, health, long-term care, and diversity. An important component of the program for all students is the supervised field experience, which provides 1,050 hours in sites/agencies appropriate to each student's strengths and learning goals.

On-Campus and Online Options

The MSW is offered in both on-campus and online formats. The content is the same, only the mode of delivery and schedule differs.  Apply now to the on-campus program or learn more about the fully online option


Our mission is to promote human well-being by ensuring economic and social justice, as well as human rights for all. We work to meet these goals by:

  • Providing an academically rigorous education that develops social work leaders and practitioners who engage in critical thinking. We seek to develop effective social work leaders, scholars and practitioners who both challenge injustice and institute interventions grounded in theory and science. With a campus located in an area of enormous cultural plurality, we seek to train leaders, practitioners and scholars equipped to serve diverse populations.
  • Conducting applied social science research that aims to solve personal and social problems, and investigates systemic inequities in power and unequal access to resources. We seek to identify and develop effective interventions based on scientific theory.
  • Engaging in public service that cultivates community partnerships, enhances capacity, and provides technical expertise to human service organizations caring for diverse local, national and global communities.

We build upon a foundation of generalist social work knowledge and skills that emphasizes empowerment, inclusion, and systems transformation.


Students in the MSW program chose from one of two specializations: clinical practice or social change. Graduates from the clinical practice specialization are typically prepared to work with smaller systems such as individuals, families, and groups whereas those graduating from the social change specialization often work with larger systems such as organizations, communities, and governments.

Earning the clinical practice specialization provides a flexible foundation for several career paths. A few of the more common areas of practice include behavioral heath (mental health and substance abuse services), child welfare, disability services, international social work, and working with older adults. Specific potential roles in clinical practice include:

  • behavioral health therapist
  • licensed clinical social worker
  • child welfare worker including areas such as adoption and protective services
  • employee assistance program worker
  • child and family services worker
  • military and veteran's affairs social worker

Those who specialize in social change also have a flexible career path. Common areas for those looking to work with larger systems include roles within both governmental and non-profit organizations, including:

  • non-profit director
  • program manager
  • social program planner and evaluator
  • public policy analyst
  • housing and community development worker
  • community organizer