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MSSW Program Details

Face-to-face or Online – the choice is yours!

The College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville gives students the opportunity to earn their MSSW degree either through taking classes in a traditional classroom environment or as an e-learning (online) student from the comfort of their own home. If you want to take your classes in a traditional classroom, the College offers the MSSW degree on the main UT campus in Knoxville as well as at our Nashville campus. If the flexibility of online classes is what you need, you can literally take classes from anywhere in the world where you get get an Internet connection – no trips to campus are required.

Flexible Courses of Study

The MSSW program offers three courses of study to meet the educational needs of students:

  • Advanced Standing Program
    The MSSW Advanced Standing Program can be completed on a full-time (twelve months) or part-time (twenty-four months) basis for a total of thirty-seven semester hours. Applicants to this program must have a BSW or BSSW degree from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), have graduated within 5 years of entry to the MSSW program, and have a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 to be considered. Advanced Standing students begin classes in the summer term. Students will have one field placement (600 hours).
  • Full Time Program
    MSSW Full time students begin classes in the fall semester and complete the program (60 semester hours) in two years, or four semesters, of full-time study. Students enrolled in the Full time program must complete 15 credit hours per semester. Students complete the generalist curriculum, which includes a field placement (400 hours over two semesters) during the first year. During the second year, students complete the concentration curriculum (see section below on the concentrations available), which also includes a field placement (600 hours over two semesters). Applicants must have a 2.7 GPA or higher to be considered for this program.
  • Extended Study Program
    The MSSW Extended Study Program is a part-time program, in which students take six credit hours per semester (either face-to-face or online) and complete the MSSW degree requirements (60 credit hours) in three or four years. Extended Study students begin coursework in the fall term. Just like the Full time program, Extended Study students complete two field placements. The generalist placement (400 hours) is during the second year of study and the concentration placement (600 hours) can either be in the third or fourth year, depending on course of study. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.7 or higher to be considered for this program. Please note: All classes for Extended Study students in Nashville and Knoxville are scheduled during regular day time hours. Online Extended Study classes meet in the evenings online.


At the time of their application, MSSW students choose to complete either a clinical concentration or a macro concentration in order to focus their education to meet their professional goals. While there are some required courses that all MSSW students must take, the chosen concentration determines other courses a student will take while in the program:

  • The Evidenced-Based Interpersonal Practice (EBIP) is a clinical concentration that provides advanced training in therapeutic interventions and group work. It allows students to further tailor their education through a comprehensive offering of elective courses. EBIP graduates work in schools, hospitals, private practices, psychiatric clinics, prisons, non-profit agencies, community mental health centers, etc.

    Students in the EBIP concentration develop skills in clinical evidence-based treatments for use with individuals and groups. The goal of the concentration is to teach students to utilize evidence-based practices for the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of mental health and social functioning. Students develop competencies in advanced assessment, relationship building/enhancement, application of goal-oriented and evidence based interventions, and evaluation of practice.
  • The Organizational Leadership (OL) is a macro concentration that is based on the underlying principle of social and economic justice. The concentration equips students with management, social-economic development, and policy practice skills that enable them to lead non-profit agencies, work for the government, and engage with communities to help address pressing needs.

    The goal of this concentration is to produce social workers who are critical thinkers in skill-based, evidence-based practices, including social and economic development, planning, organizing, coordinating, developing, and evaluating services and policies for at-risk clients and client systems. The knowledge, skills, and competencies acquired by students in this concentration produce practitioners who are prepared to work as professionals on interdisciplinary teams and in interdisciplinary settings. Students will be prepared to deliver, develop, manage, and evaluate programs; acquire funding; write grants; and analyze and advocate for policy change in political systems, organizations, and communities.

Field Practicum (Internship)

The field practicum is the internship portion of the MSSW program and is a critical – and required – component of each student’s educational experience. (Full time and Extended Study students are in their field placements for a total of four semesters and Advanced Standing students are in their placement for two semesters.) Students work with experienced social work professionals in a variety of settings to complement classroom theory and research. The College offers field practicum opportunities with more than 400 agencies. These settings include schools, courts, hospitals, nursing homes, state agencies, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and mental health centers.

The College of Social Work has a strong relationship with social services agencies throughout the state and surrounding areas. In an effort to meet students’ unique educational goals, we also offer the opportunity for students to explore practicum prospects in other parts of the nation, as well as internationally. (Much more detailed information about the field practicum may be found here.)

An important thing to note is that the College Field Coordinator for your program will secure the field placement for you. You as a student do not have to go out and find your own placement – in fact, that’s highly discouraged due to CSWE field practicum requirements.

MSSW Program Certificates

In addition to the generalist curriculum that challenges the students in the MSSW program, the college has developed a series of additional program certificates that allow serious student to specialize in four diverse practice areas if they choose to do so.

The certificates programs are:

More on the MSSW program:

About the MSSW Program
Online MSSW Program Information
Application and Admissions Information
Frequently Asked Admissions Questions
MSSW Program Video