College of Arts and Sciences

Oakland University to offer Master of Social Work degree program

icon of a calendarFebruary 24, 2022

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Oakland University to offer Master of Social Work degree program
Master of Social Work
Oakland University students — like those pictured in this pre-pandemic social work classroom — will soon be able to enroll in a new Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program at OU.

Beginning this July, Oakland University will offer a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program that provides students with the requisite theoretical knowledge, evidence-based interventions, and ethical framework for advanced social work practice with diverse client systems.

“Oakland University’s MSW students will be uniquely trained through an advanced generalist integrated curriculum that merges both the ‘clinical’ and ‘macro’ areas of practice in a more contemporary and transformative approach to social work practice,” said Dr. Maria Beam, director of social work at OU.

“Our students will be trained to impact change across systems, emphasizing the social and economic well-being of those who are vulnerable, marginalized or oppressed,” Beam added. “This would provide our graduates with greater opportunities for employment and would make Oakland University more attractive to students seeking a profession in social work.”

According to Beam, the rigorous planning process began in Fall 2017 with social work faculty and an external planning committee exploring the feasibility of developing and implementing an MSW program.

“Opportunities in the field of social work are increasing faster than the overall employment growth nationally, statewide, and in the Midwest region,” Beam said. “The State of Michigan projects that demand for social workers in health care and addiction/behavior will increase 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively, from 2014 through 2024. Moreover, the demand for social and community service managers in Michigan will grow by 11 percent between 2014 and 2024.”

An MSW is required for clinical social work positions and increases the scope of services a licensed clinical or macro social worker (LMSW) is qualified to provide. An MSW program prepares graduates for advanced social work professional practice and is required in the State of Michigan to become an LMSW. An LMSW is also required to provide social work supervision for licensure to limited-licensed social workers and to conduct continuing education.

“We anticipate strong demand for an MSW program at Oakland University,” Beam said. “We routinely receive queries from individuals who are not Oakland University students regarding whether OU has such a program, and if one is in development.

“Furthermore, in 2017 we surveyed students in OU’s BSW program regarding interest in earning the MSW, with 86 percent of respondents indicating they were considering pursuing an MSW degree and nearly 80 percent of students surveyed stating that they would apply to OU if an MSW program was an option.”

The MSW curriculum is designed in part to fulfill the curricular requirements associated with Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Core Competencies. Those students who seek a more intensive training in a specialized area will have the option to complete one of three specializations — integrated health, community and organizational leadership, or school social work.

“Depending on how students enter the MSW program there are two options for completing the MSW degree: a traditional (two-year) curriculum for students who do not hold a BSW, including 64 hours of coursework and 900 hours of field education, and an advanced standing (10-month) program for students who hold a NSW and meet additional criteria that requires 34 credit hours of coursework and 450 hours of field education,” Beam said.

Prospective students will apply through the OU Graduate Admissions gateway by Feb. 15 of each year in order to be reviewed for admittance into the program for the summer semester (advanced standing) and fall semester (traditional program).

To learn more about the Master of Social Work degree program, including admission and degree requirements, visit

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