MSW - Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) program at Grand Valley State University prepares students for advanced professional micro, mezzo, and macro practice in social work, and in the development and implementation of social welfare policies and programs. The M.S.W. lays the foundation for students to assume leadership roles in society's institutions, organizations, and communities.

Why study Social Work at Grand Valley?

M.S.W. students:

  • Learn to apply a range of theories and methods to practice at multisystemic levels.
  • Through field education and practice, become culturally competent practitioners in an increasingly complex society.
  • Are prepared to engage in grassroots, political, and community organizing as well as electoral politics.
  • Become skilled practitioners capable of assuming leadership and scholarly professional roles in regional, state, national, and global communities.
  • Contribute to the ongoing development of professional social work knowledge and practice through research and scholarly inquiry that employ state-of-the-art technology.
  • Earn a degree that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  • The M.S.W. program and the M.P.A. program provide an opportunity to receive both degrees with 81 credits.

What would it take to make a change? (from Grand Valley State University School of Social Work)

Would you like to have a conversation about our MSW program?

Please join us at an information session held on the third floor, east wing of DeVos Center (401 Fulton Street West). 

  • September 10, 2018  12-1pm
  • September 26, 2018 6:30-7:30pm
  • October 8, 2018 12-1pm
  • October 24, 2018 6:30-7:30pm
  • November 12, 2018  12-1pm
  • November 28, 2018 6:30-7:30pm
  • December 10, 2018 12-1pm

Ask Joan..Joan Borst is the admissions coordinator for the MSW program.

Visit her Admissions FAQ page: "Ask Joan."

Contact Joan ( if you want to discuss the MSW program, application process, advanced standing criteria, your graduate school options, or your career objectives.

apply now

Application deadlines:

  • February 1 (advanced standing - full time, spring/summer start)
  • March 15 (advanced, part time; regular - full/part time, fall start)
  • October 1 (regular program - part time, winter start)
  • Late applications are accepted as space allows


the number of field study hours logged in 2017-18


the share of students employed at graduation

5 of 6

the share of students who graduate in 4 years or less


number of MSW degrees awarded in 2017-18


the percent of students who are age 40+, a racial / ethnic minority, and/or International


the year the MSW was first accredited by CSWE

Costs and Financial Aid

The completion of the MSW normally requires a minimum of 60 credit hours. Students with advanced standing may need as few as 38 credit hours. For information on tuition per credit hour and other fees, please visit the costs portion of the GVSU Financial Aid website. 

For scholarship information and graduate assistantship information, please visit the SSW student opportunities page. For other financial support and filing for FAFSA, please visit the GVSU Financial Support website.

The Graduate School provides funding for student conference attendance and research projects through the Academic Conference Fund and Presidential Research Grants.

Key People

Graduate Program Director: Cray Mulder

Field Study Coordinator: Debbie Ronk

Career Center contact: Carlos Martinez

Library liaison: Ashley Rosener

College Dean: George Grant, Jr.

School Director: Scott Berlin

Cray Mulder

Cray Mulder is the MSW Graduate Program Director.


  • James E Ash  
  • Mary E Banghart  
  • Scott Jay Berlin  
  • Brandi Joi Berry  
  • Rosalynn Bliss
  • Kristine Boone   
  • Beth Burguard 
  • Myra Burton  
  • John Carman  
  • Tracy Cyrus  
  • Dianne Green-Smith  


  • Brian L Gripentrog  
  • Tommy G House
  • Lihua Huang
  • Jerry L Johnson  
  • Priscilla J Kimboko  
  • Jamie J Langlois  
  • Matthew A Langlois  
  • Robert S Lathers  
  • Mirta Paola Leon
  • Salvador Lopez-Arias  


  • Latrece Renee McDaniel  
  • Cray Mulder
  • Emily Meagan Nichols  
  • Lois S Owens  
  • Kathleen M Papke 
  • Sally Beth Pelon
  • Melissa C Selby-Theut  
  • Steven L Smith  


  • Robin Smith-Colton  
  • Timothy Tuthill  
  • Derik VanBaale  
  • Melissa Villarreal  
  • Bethany Vukusic  
  • Carla Waite  
  • Vanessa Werle  
  • Leslie White  
  • Brandon Youker  
  • Sarah Zuidema  

Employment Outlook and Career Advice

This Could Be You: The Many Faces of Social Work (from the  National Association of Social Workers - Massachusetts Chapter)

Connect Early, Connect Often

Make regular appointments with Carlos Martinez in the Career Center and with your faculty advisor to discuss your post-graduation plans.  (Consult Banner to identify your advisor.)

Your field studies are supervised practice opportunities that allow for integration of your competencies and coursework into professional and community settings. Successful field experiences are the launching point for a rewarding career as a social worker. Deb Ronk will work with you to find the most appropriate placement and ensure you have the tools to get a great field experience. 

Participating in events sponsored by the Master of Social Work Student Organization builds you network of contacts with your classmates and with leaders in the local social work field. Strong professional networks are import for your career development.

BLS Occupational Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster average for all occupations. Increased demand for healthcare and social services will drive demand for social workers, but growth will vary by specialization.

Below are some BLS Occupational Outlook profiles for social work and related fields::


average number of credit hours attempted by MSW students in a semester (Winter 2018)



the average MSW class size (2017-18)


the number of different majors that MSW students had as undergraduates (2012-2017)


the number of different colleges and universities from which MSW students matriculated (2012-2017)


the percent of recent graduates who feel that the MSW adequately prepared them to enter, or advance, their career


the percent of MSW graduates who pass their Clinical Licensure Exam on the first try (2008-2017)

Program Transparency

Graduation rates

Of the students that started the MSW program in Fall 2016 or Winter 2017, 92.2% were retained into their second year.

Of the students that started the MSW program between Fall 2011 and Winter 2015,

  • 11% completed the MSW in 1 year
  • 49% completed the MSW in 2 years or less
  • 84% completed the MSW in 4 years or less

Class sizes

  • The average MSW class size was 20.4 in 2017-2018
  • The range of MSW class sizes was 8 to 36 students in 2017-2018


  • 59% of MSW students registered full-time (9 or more credits) in Fall 2017
  • 41% of MSW students registered part-time in Fall 2017
  • the average student course load was 9.2 credit hours in Fall 2017


  • 93.4% of 2017-18 MSW graduates are employed.
  • 88% of recent graduates feel that the MSW adequately prepared them to enter, or advance, their career.
  • 72.5% of MSW graduates who take it, pass their Clinical Licensure Exam on the first try (2008-2017).

Student Body Profile

MSW students at time of graduation, August 2012 to April 2017 (Total graduates: 807)

  • Age under 24: 29%
  • Age 25-29: 40%
  • Age 30-39: 19%
  • Age 40+: 12%
  • Female: 83%
  • Male: 17%
  • African-American / Black: 8%
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native: 2%
  • Asian / Pacific Islander: 2%
  • Hispanic: 5%
  • Mixed-race: 3%
  • White: 80%
  • International (on student visa)  2%