Grand Valley State University's Master of Social Work (MSW) is offered through the School of Social Work and prepares students for advanced professional practice by laying the foundation for students to assume leadership roles in society's institutions, organizations, and communities.

The program emphasizes human behavior, interface between people and their social environment and institutions, and client strengths. Advanced Generalist social workers are also concerned with societal conditions in their efforts to improve the quality of life and social and economic justice. 

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National Job Growth by 2024
West Michigan Job Growth by 2024
GVSU Ranking as West Michigan Talent Provider

Source: EMSI, 2020

Career Outlook and Opportunities

According to 2020 EMSI data, opportunities for social workers will increase 8% in West Michigan and 10% nationwide in 2024. The median annual wage for social workers was reported to be between $51,667 and $68,411 but varies per region and per area. Graduates of the M.S.W. program at Grand Valley become social workers working in the following fields:

  • Government social services
  • Private practice
  • Health care industry
  • Marriage and family

Source: EMSI, 2020

The Skills Employers Want

The Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) at GVSU will develop the skills you need to land the job you want. Whether the skills are advanced or general, you will build a resume of qualifications that are sure to attract employers. The following skills correlate with those pulled from actual job postings in the social work field.

Advanced Skills

  • Social Work
  • Mental Health
  • Psychosocial Assessments 
  • Treatment Planning
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Behavioral Health
  • Case Management
  • Substance Abuse

Common Skills

  • Management
  • Coordinating
  • Advocacy
  • Communications
  • Problem Solving
  • Leadership
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Leadership
  • Decision Making
  • Written Communication

Source: EMSI, 2020

Other Reasons to Study Social Work at GVSU.

  • Real-world experiences. Students work directly with diverse cultural, class, and ethnic groups and populations-at-risk in a carefully selected professional learning environment, under the guidance and supervision of faculty and agency staff.
  • Convenient. Courses are offered at the Richard M. DeVos Center in downtown Grand Rapids.
  • Leadership. The program lays the foundation for students to assume leadership roles in society's institutions, organizations, and communities.
  • Accredited. The M.S.W. degree at Grand Valley State University is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Courses Offered

The Master of Social Work program is a minimum of 60 credits. Students study a variety of topics and methods, such as:

  • Cultural competency
  • Global and cross cultural service learning
  • Human behavior
  • Nonprofit administration
  • Psychopathology
  • Social research and policy
  • Social work practice and integrated methods
  • Substance abuse

Visit the online catalog for course offerings and degree requirements for this program.

Course Offerings


The Master of Social Work admission requirements and application deadlines are available here. The $30 application fee is waived if you’ve already applied to Grand Valley. Visit the online catalog for admission requirements for this program.

Note: The GVSU School of Social Work welcomes applicants to the Master's program. During the summer of 2020 we will continue to review applications for fall of 2020 through August.

Admission Requirements


When you became a Laker, you opened up a lifetime of learning, and now alumni like you can use your Laker Lifetime Learning (L3) account for classes that provide greater knowledge and new skills. Your account is waiting for you to use for future classes at GVSU. All you have to do is click on the button below to find out more.

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For more information on tuition and fees, please visit the costs portion of the GVSU Financial Aid website. For financial support, scholarship search, and filing for FAFSA, please visit the GVSU Financial Support website.

Note: Grand Valley does not charge a higher tuition rate based on residency. Tuition is based on the program in which you chose to enroll.

Information Sessions

Prospective students interested in learning more about the Master of Social Work program at Grand Valley State University are invited to attend an informational session

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