Master of Social Work Program

Millersville & Shippensburg Master's of Social Work Program

Millersville and Shippensburg universities are jointly offering a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program. It is designed for students who want to either further their education in social work or join the social work profession. The program was developed to support both the full-time student and the working professional. State-of-the-art technology permits students to acquire social work knowledge, skills, and values through multiple educational methods, including traditional campus classes, teleconferencing and web-based activities. Because this is a joint program, students benefit from the quality faculty and resources of both universities.

An MSW permits graduates to work in a variety of human service programs and agencies in an advanced clinical and/or administrative capacity. The flexibility of the social work degree provides graduates with many options as they pursue their careers in the helping fields.

Program Mission

The mission of the joint MU-SU MSW Program is to provide accessible social work graduate education in the South Central region of Pennsylvania.  We prepare students to be effective advanced generalist practitioners, committed to the purpose and values of the social work profession.

Program Goals

The MU-SU MSW Program goals are:

1. To prepare students for competent advanced generalist practice through the acquisition and demonstration of social work practice behaviors consistent with CSWE educational policy and accreditation standards.

2. To prepare students with the specialized knowledge and skills for social work practice with client systems to resolve problems and facilitate change with in the boundaries of ethical practice and with attention to the profession's commitment to social justice and human rights.

3. To encourage students' commitment to continued professional development and lifelong learning by providing opportunities for community engagement and real life learning experiences.

Program Objectives

The program achieves its goals through implementation of the core competencies and practice behaviors as outlined by the program's accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education.

Program Outcomes

To ensure that the program meets these goals, the MU-SU MSW Program has an assessment plan to determine whether or not the objectives are met and to obtain data to continuously improve the curriculum and program. Program outcomes are published on the wesite and can be accessed through this link.

Admission Requirements

Grade Point Average

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.8 on a 4.0 scale from a regionally accredited undergraduate institution. If a student has attended more than one undergraduate institution, all undergraduate GPAs will be used in the calculation of the overall GPA  Applicants who do not have at least a 2.8 average on a 4.0 scale are required to submit scores from either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) for consideration by the admissions committee.  See the section on Examinations below for additional details.

Provisional Admission

In exceptional cases, applicants who lack the required grade point average but whose other qualifications are outstanding may be admitted on a provisional basis. Applicants admitted provisionally must earn a 3.0 grade point average by the end of the first 12 credits.

Liberal Arts Foundation Courses

Students must demonstrate that they have successfully completed coursework with substantial content in each of the following areas: Human Biology, Economics, Government/Political Science, Psychology, Sociology/Anthropology, and Statistics. Applicants can be admitted with up to two course deficiencies. These course deficiencies must be completed by the end of the foundation year or within the first 12 credits of Advanced Standing.

Advanced Standing Program

Students will be considered for the Advanced Standing program if they have earned a baccalaureate degree in the last eight years from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited social work program with an overall GPA of 3.0 and a major GPA of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale. If a student has attended more than one undergraduate institution, all undergraduate GPAs will be used in the calculation of the overall GPA. A recommendation from the Program Director or designee of their BSW Program is required.

Exemption from Foundation (First-Year) Courses

Students who graduated with a baccalaureate degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program may be eligible to receive credit for those first-year foundation course equivalents for which they earned BS or higher within the past eight years.

Life Experience

This program does not grant academic credit for life or work experience.

Personal and Professional Qualities

Applicants must show evidence a combination of personal qualities and values that are considered essential for the professional practice of social work. The following documents are required to serve as evidence for this purpose:

  • Three professional references with a minimum of one from a faculty member and one from a social service agency employer/supervisor. The third may be from either a faculty member or an employer/supervisor. No personal or colleague references will be accepted.
  • A written personal statement.
  • A comprehensive resume of work and related volunteer experience.

The program may request a personal interview or additional information about an applicant when necessary to make a fully informed admissions decision.

Personal Statement

Applicants need to submit a four to five page personal statement describing the following:

  1. Events and experiences that led you to apply for a master's degree in social work as a profession.
  2. How the MSW will further your career goals.
  3. Your experiences with issues of diversity in practice and/or life.
Criminal Record

Persons who have criminal records are not eligible to work in many human service fields. Applicants with criminal records should contact the MSW program director for additional information.

Admissions Procedures

Application Dates

Students are admitted into the 36-credit Program and the 60-credit Program during the summer term only. Applications will be accepted until February 1 or until the program is full.


All applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA of 2.80 must take either the Millers Analogies Test (MAT) or the General Graduate Record Exam (GRE) as part of the admission process. Scores should not be more than five years old at the time of application. Both MU and SU are official MAT testing sites. To find the location of GRE testing, contact the Graduate Studies office at MU or SU.

Transfer Students

Students may transfer a total of nine (9) credit hours. All nine may be from another MSW program or up to six (6) credits may be from a related field. Graduate credit earned more than five years prior to the date you begin your graduate program at MU-SU does not qualify for transfer credits. Students may only transfer credits from other accredited schools provided they are in good standing in those schools. Courses must be listed on an official transcript with a B or higher. Courses transferring must be approved by the program. Condensed one-week graduate courses do not qualify for transfer.

Campus Selection

Candidates may choose to apply through Millersville University or Shippensburg University. If all seats are full at one campus, successful applicants will be given the option to enroll through the other campus, if seats are available. Applicants desiring admission to a specific campus may also be placed on a waiting list if all seats are full.

Degree Requirements

Students enrolling in the 60 Credit Program must complete 15 credit hours of field practicum, 6 credit hours of electives, and 39 credit hours of required coursework. BSW graduates in the Program may receive exemption for some coursework, as per admission guidelines.

Students enrolled in the 36 Credit Program must complete 9 credit hours of field practicum, 9 credit hours of electives, and 18 credit hours of required coursework, including a summer "bridge" course.

Due to the cohort nature of this program, all courses must be taken in sequence. The 60 Credit Program can completed in two years full time (four courses a semester) or four years part time (two courses a semester).

The 36 Credit Program can be completed in one year full time or two years part time. Both programs are year round.


The joint MSW program was designed according to the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation guidelines. At the January 2007 meeting of the Accreditation Commission of CSWE, the MU-SU MSW Program was awarded candidacy, which is the first major action in the accreditation process. In February 2008 a second year of candidacy was granted and the self-study process, which takes two years to complete, was begun.  February 2010 the Master of Social Work program operated jointly by Millersville and Shippensburg universities has earned accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Fall 2006 until February 2014. It will be retroactive to include the students who entered the program in Fall 2006.


    Foundation courses - all regular admit students - 30 credits

                 SWK/SOWK 501: Principles & Philosophies of Social Work

                 SWK/SOWK 505: Social Work Practice with Diverse Populations

                 SWK/SOWK 510: Human Behavior in the Social Environment I

                 SWK/SOWK 511: Human Behavior in the Social Environment II

                 SWK/SOWK 515: Social Welfare Policy

                 SWK/SOWK 520: Micro/Mezzo Social Work Policy

                 SWK/SOWK 521: Macro Social Work Practice

                 SWK/SOWK 525: Research Methods

                 SWK/SOWK 530: Field Practicum I

                 SWK/SOWK 531: Field Practicum II

                 Advanced Standing (Bridge Course) - 3 credits

                 SWK/SOWK 601: Integrative Seminar

    Advanced Courses - all students including Advanced Standing - 24 credits

                 SWK/SOWK 610: Advanced Human Behavior in the Social Environment

                 SWK/SOWK 615  Advanced Social Welfare Policy

                 SWK/SOWK 625: Advanced Research Methods

                 SWK/SOWK 620: Advanced Micro/Mezzo Social Work Practice

                 SWK/SOWK 621: Advanced Macro Social Practice

                 SWK/SOWK 630: Advanced Field Practicum I

                 SWK/SOWK 631: Advanced Field Practicum II

    Electives - 6-9 credits required

                 SWK/SOWK 602: Behavioral Health

                 SWK/SOWK 603: Gender Issues

                 SWK/SOWK 604: Health Care

                 SWK/SOWK 605: Child Welfare

                 SWK/SOWK 606: School Social Work

                 SWK/SOWK 607: Emergency Mental Health and Trauma

                 SWK/SOWK 608: Social Work Administration and Supervision

                 SWK/SOWK 609: Introduction to Art Therapy

                 SWK/SOWK 611: Children and Youth at Risk

                 SWK/SOWK 640-643: Special Topics

    MSW Faculty

          Sam Benbow, M.S., University of Pittsburgh; Ed.D., Indiana University of PA.
          Joyous Bethel, MSW, University of Oklahoma; Ph.D., Barry University.
          Dara Bourassa, MSW, University of Pittsburgh; Ph.D., University of Maryland.
          Marc V. Felizzi, MSW, Delaware State University; Ph.D., Widener University.
          Jennifer Clements, MSW & Ph.D., University of Maryland.
          Elizabeth Fisher, MSW & Ph.D., University of Maryland.
          Marita Flagler, MSW & Ph.D., Colorado State University.
          Leonora Foels, MSW, Simmons College & Ph.D., Barry University.
          Jennifer Frank, MSW, Millersville University; Ph.D. Candidate, Bryn Mawr College 
          Heather Girvin, MSS & Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College.
          Laura B. Granruth, MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University; Ph.D., Catholic University.
          Deborah F. Jacobs, MSW, University of Michigan; Ph.D., Brandeis University.
          David Johnson, MSW, University of Southern Mississippi; Ph.D., University of Texas.
          Michael Lyman, MSW & Ph.D., University of Utah.
          Dorlisa Minnick, MSW, SUNY-Stonybrook; Ph.D. Candidate, Catholic University.
          Karen Rice, MSW, Temple University; Ph.D., University of Maryland.
          Kathleen Walsh, MSW & Ph.D., University of Maryland.

The program achieves its goals through implementation of the core competencies and practice behaviors as outlined by the program's accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education.