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Master of Social Work FAQ


Below are some of the most common questions we hear from individuals interested in the Master of Social Work. If you can't find what you're looking for, you can contact us through our live chat feature or call us at 866-776-0331.

MSW Student Personas

Students may be seeking a career change to the field of social work


May be professionals who work in social services but want to transition to an administrative or leadership role and are in need of skills that allow them to:

  • Develop programs and services for specialized populations.
  • Impact organizational strategic plans using performance measurement techniques.
  • Analyze policies impacting client systems and constituents.


Career opportunities in social work exist in every type of community – from small rural communities to large metropolitan areas, the federal government, and even in international regions.



Can you tell me about the Social Work Profession?

Social Work is a profession that uses a strengths-based person-in-environment framework in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social work is distinct from psychology, counseling, marriage and family therapy, and other mental health professions. The MSW degree prepares students to be ethical, effective leaders in providing services to people, while working toward social justice.

What are the entrance requirements for the Master of Social Work program?

The admission to our MSW degree program requires a Bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited or approved international institution for the Generalist Track. For the Advanced Generalist track the MSW degree program requires a BSW from a CSWE accredited program.

  • We do not require that you take the GRE, GMAT or other graduate school entrance examination.
  • For more information on our application and admission process, visit the Northcentral University Master's Degree Admissions page.

Begin the application process. Once you complete the online application, an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to provide a set of additional MSW program application forms. These forms will be evaluated by MSW Social Work faculty and faculty will make a decision regarding next steps which will include an interview.

What does the MSW interview entail?

The MSW faculty will review submitted applications, including essay questions, resume, and transcripts, prior to the interview. Questions asked during the interview are based on the information provided in the application packet, as well as on the conversation that occurs during the interview. Every interview is different and personalized.

How should applicants best prepare for their interview?

Faculty and applicants conduct interviews face-to-face via online video conference technology. Applicants should be dressed professionally and be “camera-ready.” Applicants should test their technology BEFORE the interview to be sure they can access the link to the interview and have functioning webcam, microphone, and speakers. Applicants should also be on time. If an unexpected delay occurs (because life just happens sometimes or technology does not work), applicants need to reach out to NCU and let us (MSW faculty) know as soon as possible.

Applicants need to come ready to talk about themselves, which may feel uncomfortable to them, and discuss the information provided in their application. Applicants need to make sure their application is thorough and complete, and free from grammatical errors. Applicants should come ready to share their excitement for this next step in their professional development and ready to ask questions about the field of Social Work and the MSW program.

Is it necessary to have a Bachelor's degree in a related area to be admitted into NCU’s Master of Social Work program?

For the Generalist Track, it can be beneficial if you've earned your Bachelor's degree in a related field, such as Family Studies or Psychology, but it isn't required.

For the Advanced Generalist Track, a BSW from a CSWE accredited program is required.

All of the content necessary to train as a MSW is included in our MSW Master's program.

Apart from having a specific undergraduate degree, it's just as valuable to have a strong dedication to this rewarding field of study.

Can I get course credit for having worked in social services, or for having some experiences in life (like being a foster child) that taught me about social work?

Though many NCU students start the MSW Program with life or work experiences that inform their understanding of social work practice, in compliance with Council on Social Work Education standards, NCU does NOT grant any academic credit for such experiences.

Can you describe the structure of a typical Northcentral University MSW course?

Our MSW coursework is designed to be highly practical, allowing you to gain knowledge and experience that is both professionally beneficial and personally relevant.

Each course includes a variety of learning activities and assignments and incorporates multiple study materials, including required textbooks, journal articles, educational videos and lecture, and scholarly online information.

Most courses require participation in online discussion forums in which you and your faculty member will write and respond to questions and comment on given topics related to the course. Discussions are asynchronous, meaning that you and others will each post entries on your own time, rather than all needing to be online at the same time.

You will also work with faculty in completing and submitting assignments and receiving grades and feedback for those assignments — including reflection and research papers, case studies, literature reviews, presentations, and experiential exercises.

Class discussions, assignments and other learning activities can be completed online at your convenience each week within the 8-week course period; weekly assignments are generally due Sunday at midnight.

For Practicum, the courses are 12-weeks and faculty will coordinate a time for your practicum group to meet together bi-weekly online (through video conferencing) throughout the course.

Does the MSW Program accept transfer credit?  

The MSW program will allow for transfer of up to 6 credit hours for the Advanced Generalist track and 12 credits for the Generalist track. Transfer credits for the Generalist track must be completed at a regionally accredited institution and must be awarded a B/3.0 or higher grade. For the Advanced Generalist track, students may apply for transfer of up to 6 credit hours of graduate credit hours from a CSWE accredited MSW program (grades must be B or higher) under the following guidelines

  • Course work which would be over five years old at the completion of the degree program (as defined by the student’s plan of study) may not be used.
  • Acceptance of transfer credits will depend upon how they fit within the MSW requirements and the student’s overall plan of study.
  • Only applicants from CSWE-accredited graduate social work programs will be considered for admission as transfer students for the Advanced Generalist track.

How is the practicum process completed online?

MSW students will participate in direct client and client systems contact and supervision in their local area for each practicum. During each practicum, students will participate in bi-weekly group practicum seminars with a qualified faculty member and other students in the program. These practicum seminars are conducted online via Internet video conferencing, using security features in order to maintain confidentiality and security of information and to meet HIPAA regulations.

  • With guidance from the MSW Field Education Director, you will establish a local practicum site with a qualified supervisor that meets standards outlined in the MSW Program Handbook and the MSW Field Practicum Manual.

Can the faculty help me find a place to do practicum hours near where I live?

  • Yes, the MSW Field Education Director at Northcentral University will assist you, but each student is ultimately responsible for finding a local practicum site and a qualified local supervisor. We have a list of sites where current and past students have completed practicum. This list may include specific locations in your area or may serve as an example of types of sites you could consider in finding a placement.
  • The MSW program faculty and staff  support students in securing quality practicum placements and guide students through this process, speak with potential placement sites, provide a national database of potential placements sites, and provide training materials to help the student present professionally and appropriately. The MSW program cannot require potential placement sites to hire students. Thus, it is the responsibility of the student to behave professionally and secure a placement site and supervisor. Students may contact the Field Director for any additional individualized support they may need in this process.

How long does it take to complete the program at Northcentral University?

The MSW program requires completion of 60 credits of coursework and practicum for the Generalist track. For the MSW Advanced Generalist track the program requires completion of 36 credits of coursework and practicum.

All of the courses in the program are 8 weeks except for the practicum courses which are 12 weeks.

Many students complete 6-8 courses in a year. For Generalist track students, at that rate, it takes approximately 3-4 years to complete our MSW degree program. For Advanced Generalist track students, it takes approximately 2-3 years. Some students may decide to complete the program faster, and can complete the Advanced Generalist track in one year and the Generalist track in two years. Some students may find it necessary to complete the program at a slower pace due to other responsibilities and time constraints.

For our Generalist Track, students have up to 6 years to complete their degree. For the Advanced Generalist track, students have up to 5 years to complete their degree.

What is Regional accreditation and CSWE accreditation?

  • Northcentral University is regionally accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001,
  • Beyond this regional accreditation, the MSW Program is accredited with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) which is the entity that oversees the quality of social work education.

After I graduate, will I be eligible to pursue state licensure?

Licensure requirements vary from state to state, although most state educational requirements are fairly similar. In order to help you prepare for licensure, visit our MSW licensure page.

You are responsible for visiting your state’s social work regulatory board to make sure the NCU MSW program meets the licensure requirements in your state. You can locate your state licensure board through the following website:

Most state licensing boards allow graduates from “Candidacy for Accreditation” programs to pursue state licensure.  Students are encouraged to contact their state licensing board to confirm what is allowed, as state regulations can change over time, but based on an initial review of state regulations at this time it appears the following states allow graduates from Candidacy programs to pursue licensure: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

A few state licensing boards will not recognize a degree from a student that graduates while the program is still in Candidacy. Students should research the regulations of the state in which they wish to be licensed.  Graduates who apply for licensure always have the right to plead their individual case before any licensing board. In addition, because NCU is an online program, it is considered out-of-state. 

Some states require programs receive state authorizations before offering a program to current residences of that state, even if a state licensing board will accept the degree to pursue licensure.  At this time the MSW program is not accepting students from the following states: District of Columbia, Iowa, Montana, Pennsylvania.

As a MSW student, and after graduating from your MSW program, will I be qualified to obtain membership in National Association of Social Workers (NASW)?

NASW is a national advocacy group for the social work profession. Membership is not required, but offers a number of benefits. Social work student membership is open to anyone currently enrolled in a CSWE-accredited social work degree program, or a program eligible for candidacy. Eligibility for the MSW student membership category is limited to four years for each degree over the lifetime of membership (does not need to be continuous). NASW student members may apply for discounted professional liability insurance for student field placement. 

Regular membership in NASW is open to anyone who has completed a BSW, MSW, DSW, or PhD in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited, or CSWE-recognized social work degree program; or a PhD/DSW in social work or social welfare.

What is the tuition cost for Northcentral University's MSW program?

Tuition costs for the MSW program can be reviewed on our public website. The total cost for the MSW program depends on the number of credits you have to complete after your transfer credits are applied. For additional information about tuition and fees, visit our Tuition page.

Whom can I contact if I have additional questions about Northcentral University?

For questions specific to our MSW program, contact or 1-866-776-0331.