Social Work, MSW

George Mason's accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program, which began in the fall of 2002, prepares students for advanced social work practice. Our MSW program provides students with an initial Generalist year, followed by a year of Specialized study. Students admitted to the on-campus program have the option of enrolling under a two-year, three-year, or four-year plan. Those who have earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program may qualify for the Advanced Standing program.

The Generalist Curriculum includes courses in the foundations of social work; human behavior and social systems; poverty, oppression, and inequity; direct practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities; community practice across the life course; social work research; organizing and advocating for change; and psychopathology.

Once the generalist curriculum is completed, students choose a specialization in Children, Youth & Families (CYF), or Adults & Healthy Aging (AHA). Coursework for the CYF and AHA specializations will address population-specific prevention, assessment, treatment, and evidence-informed interventions, build research and program evaluation skills, and help students master policy practice skills. Particular attention will be paid to cultural, social, and economic factors that influence client functioning and the worker’s equity skills. 

The MSW curriculum prepares all students to apply for clinical licensure in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Students within each specialization may choose to focus their elective courses and field practicum in clinical practice, macro practice, or both.  In order to apply for clinical licensure, students must complete the required 600 hours of advanced clinical practicum in their specialization year.  Those who do not complete a clinical practicum may still sit for the clinical licensing exam, but will need to complete an additional 600 hours of supervised clinical work post-MSW prior to applying for licensure in Virginia.

On-Campus and Online Options

The MSW is offered in both on-campus and online formats. The content is the same, only the mode of delivery and schedule differs.  Apply now to the on-campus program or learn more about the fully online option


Our mission is to promote human well-being by ensuring economic and social justice, as well as human rights for all. We work to meet these goals by:

  • Providing an academically rigorous education that develops social work leaders and practitioners who engage in critical thinking. We seek to develop effective social work leaders, scholars and practitioners who both challenge injustice and institute interventions grounded in theory and science. With a campus located in an area of enormous cultural plurality, we seek to train leaders, practitioners and scholars equipped to serve diverse populations.
  • Conducting applied social science research that aims to solve personal and social problems, and investigates systemic inequities in power and unequal access to resources. We seek to identify and develop effective interventions based on scientific theory.
  • Engaging in public service that cultivates community partnerships, enhances capacity, and provides technical expertise to human service organizations caring for diverse local, national and global communities.

We build upon a foundation of generalist social work knowledge and skills that emphasizes empowerment, inclusion, and systems transformation.

Professional Licensure Disclosure
This program has been identified by George Mason University as one that may lead to a career requiring professional licensure/certification. Federal regulations require Mason to disclose information as to whether this program meets/does not meet the educational requirements for licensure/certification in your state, or whether such a determination has not been made. Please consult our Licensure Disclosure Tool ( for the disclosure statement specific to your desired state/program combination.

Application for Verification of Education and Field Practicum Hours

For Mason graduates seeking verification of their field practicum hours for purposes of application for professional licensure, please complete a request form and submit it, along with your verification form to the Field Education Office at Please be sure that all sections of the verification form applicable to you have been completed when submitting to the Field Education Office. Once your verification form has been signed by the Field Education Office, your form will be returned to you at the mailing address you provide.


Students in the MSW program choose from one of two specializations: Children, Youth & Families (CYF) or Adults & Healthy Aging (AHA). Through specialized training, students will acquire skills in research, program evaluation, assessment, intervention strategies, and practice skills to work with and enhance the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities.  Graduates will be prepared to work collaboratively with individuals, families, and communities, to stimulate positive change through clinical practice, advocacy, and social and political action, and address local, national, and global challenges.

Graduates interested in clinical practice are typically prepared to work with smaller systems such as individuals and families with both CYF and AHA specializations providing a flexible foundation for several career paths. A few of the more common areas of practice include behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse services), child welfare, disability services, international social work, and working with older adults. Specific potential roles in clinical practice include:

  • behavioral health therapist
  • licensed clinical social worker
  • child welfare worker including areas such as adoption and protective services
  • employee assistance program worker
  • child and family services worker
  • military and veteran's affairs social worker

Both the CYF and AHA specializations provide the skills to work with larger systems, including roles within both governmental and non-profit organizations such as:

  • non-profit director
  • program manager
  • social program planner and evaluator
  • public policy analyst
  • housing and community development worker
  • community organizer