Do you have a passion for helping others? Do you want to make a difference in your community? Do you want to make a difference in your career? Clinical social workers enhance and maintain the physical, psychological and spiritual well-being of individuals, families, and groups within their communities. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) also provide much-needed mental health care services aimed at preventing and treating a wide range of mental and behavioral disorders in people from all social, financial, and ethnic classes. In short, the goal of clinical social work is to improve the quality of life of those in need.

Earn the advanced credentials required to practice clinical social work and be a force for good in your community. The online clinical Master of Social Work (MSW) from The Catholic University of America's National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS) prepares you to obtain your license in clinical social work practice. The social work sector is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2022, with a major emphasis being placed on hiring LCSWs. Catholic University's online learning format allows you to prepare for the clinical social work licensing exam whenever and wherever it is most convenient for you.

Building on its strength as the leading clinical social work program in the Nation's Capital and one of the top ranked social work programs in the country, the online MSW degree exposes students to a demanding curriculum that puts theory into action. Catholic University's online MSW program is also accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the sole accrediting agency for social work education in America. The comprehensive clinical social work coursework will prepare you for a successful career in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Medical/Public Health
  • Mental Health
  • Substance Abuse
  • Elderly Care
  • Child Welfare
  • K-12 Social Work

Answer the Call to Social Justice

Although an undergraduate degree in social work is not required to apply, a true desire to serve all people is necessary when considering our MSW program. The mission of the online MSW degree program is to:

"…improve the human condition, to make life better, longer and healthier for the clients we serve." - Dr. Will C. Rainford, Dean, NCSSS

If you share our mission, join the diverse group of men and women already enrolled in Catholic University's online clinical MSM who, like us, are committed to excellence in service and to the progression of the fields of social work.

Our clinical MSW concentration prepares you for a wide range of professional roles including:

  • Mental health counseling/therapy
  • Clinical work with at-risk families
  • Clinical case management with homeless individuals
  • Trauma treatment
  • School social work
  • Play therapy with children
  • Community-based work with the elderly

Learn from Clinical MSW Curriculum

Help individuals and communities around the world live a better life. The rigorous curriculum of our online MSW program includes all aspects of clinical practice with individuals, families, couples, and groups. Dimensions of assessment and diagnoses are thoroughly addressed across the life span.

Foundation Curriculum:

  • Diversity in a Multicultural Society (3 credits)
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment I (3 credits)
  • Human Development and Psychopathology (3 credits)
  • Social Welfare Policy and Services I (3 credits)
  • Social Welfare Policy and Services II (3 credits)
  • Social Work Research Methods (3 credits)
  • Generalist Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups (3 credits)
  • Generalist Practice with Groups, Communities & Organizations (3 credits)
  • Foundation Field Education and Seminar I & II (3 credits ea.)

Advanced Curriculum - Clinical Concentration:

  • Clinical Social Work with Adults
  • Clinical Social Work with Children and Adolescents
  • Clinical Social Work with Families: Strengths-based Model
  • Cognitive Behavioral Theory and Social Functioning
  • Psychodynamic Theory and Social Functioning
  • Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Illnesses
  • Evaluation of Social Work Practice
  • Ethical Issues in Contemporary Social Work
  • Clinical Field Instruction and Integrative Seminar I & II

Prepare For Your Clinical Social Work License

Throughout your tenure, you'll get extensive preparation in the understanding and application of theory in evidence-based practice. Best of all, you'll have the opportunity to decide where you do your field placement. Tell us where you want to be placed, and our faculty will work with you to make it happen (if your selection meets program standards). The Field Education Office can help you identify social service providers in your area that are interested in providing an MSW internship for your social work field experience.

Catholic University's online MSW program prepares students to sit for the Licensed Graduate Social Work Exam. Passing this exam is the first step toward clinical licensure as an independent practitioner. Impressively, 95% of our students pass the LGSW exam on their first attempt, which is a testament to the quality of our clinical social work curriculum and the outstanding faculty that teaches it. Its figures like this that explain why the National Catholic School of Social Service at Catholic University is ranked #52 among graduate social work schools by U.S. News and World Report.

Online Learning with a Student-Centered Faculty

The online MSW offers a small, intimate learning environment, as students are given the opportunity to develop a professional working relationship with our faculty. The faculty acts as mentors enabling students to become part of a valuable professional network that students can tap into for years to come.

The online MSW program includes the same features that make the on-campus program unique:

  • Small class sizes - classes are typically capped at 25 students
  • A hands-on, responsive faculty
  • Student input in identifying field placements
  • Emphasis on the understanding and application of theory in evidence-based practices

MSW Degree Tracks

Social work is a profession dedicated to enhancing the quality of life, the pursuit of social justice, and helping a wide range of individuals to reach their full potential. Social workers are compassionate and understanding promoters of human dignity, diversity, and self-determination in the battle against exploitation, addiction, violence, and oppression. The online MSW at The Catholic University of America proudly represents these ideals by providing students with the knowledge they'll need to make a difference in their own lives, and in the lives of those around them.

Offered by the National Catholic School of Social Work (NCSSS) at The Catholic University of America, the online MSW is open to students from a variety of backgrounds. The program embraces a vision of creating sustainable, equitable, and diverse communities committed to universal human rights, and social and economic justice, backed by biblical principle. And thanks to the program's prestige, a master's degree in social work from The Catholic University of America will help you stand out amongst your peers.

Catholic University offers one of the top social work programs in the country. Our program is ranked #52 by U.S. News & World Report, and Social Work Degree Guide named Catholic University the best Christian college for social work. The online MSW degree program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the sole accrediting agency for social work education in America.

The program offers two tracks for students from several academic backgrounds:

Advanced Generalist

According to the CSWE's 2013 Annual Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States, advanced generalist MSW programs are the second most common type of MSW program. Data from the CSWE also reveals that advanced general practice is the fastest growing area of concentration for MSW programs in the country1. The growth of the advanced generalist concentration is largely due to the growing need for social work practitioners who can move freely among professional roles and functions in order to meet the dynamic and complex needs of those they serve. The advanced generalist social worker is one who:

  • Applies advanced skillset across varied social work roles
  • Engages in interdisciplinary collaboration and public-private partnerships to advance patient outcomes throughout all intervention levels
  • Addresses policy development, community practice, and organizational development to advance social justice
  • Assumes leadership roles in direct and indirect practice settings

The Catholic University's online Advanced Generalist MSW prepares students to master multi-faceted roles for practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities within diverse systems and settings. Our graduates engage the community as clinicians, group facilitators, supervisors, community organizers, advocates, and policy analysts. Through a set of elective choices, you may also gain specialized knowledge in an area important to your career goals or geographic locale. The concentration is well suited for practice in underserved rural, suburban, and urban communities.

The advanced generalist track will help you develop the following skills:

  • knowledge of highly developed social work concepts and theories
  • outstanding analytical, statistical and evaluation skills
  • enhanced communication skills needed for social work practice, management or program development
  • in-depth understanding of social systems
  • increased insight into the roles social workers play

Advanced Standing

The online Master of Social Work's mission is to prepare graduate students for professional advanced practice in becoming leaders through the provision of social work services that promote social and economic justice, and human rights locally, nationally and globally. The program further expects graduates to contribute to the empowerment of people/groups that experience discrimination and oppression.

The Catholic University of America's innovative Advanced Standing online MSW program is designed for students who have completed a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program.

In addition to holding a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, advanced standing MSW requirements include:

  • A cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 in all undergraduate social work courses
  • A cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 in all courses applied towards the BSW
  • Completion of all undergraduate generalist practicum comparable to the NCSSS foundation practicum, including 480 hours of field education
  • Three reference letters, including a recommendation from the chair of the undergraduate social work program supporting advanced standing

All students accepted into the program with advanced standing status will take an online transition course prior to beginning the MSW curriculum. This course is designed to prepare you for the transition from undergraduate to graduate social work education, strengthen your theory of social work practice, and create a sense of community among advanced standing students.

If you do not hold a BSW degree, you may be interested in our MSW with a clinical practice concentration.

Build upon your existing understanding of social work practice and learn advanced methods for engaging, assessing, intervening with and evaluating individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Our program prepares you be a leader in advanced clinical social work practice, serving all population including the elderly, military personnel, members of the workforce, and peoples and groups that experience discrimination and oppression.

The Catholic University of America's advance standing courses explore:

  • Child welfare
  • Children and youth: risks and healthy development
  • Family systems practice
  • Aging services and policy
  • Mental health
  • At-risk/underserved populations

Throughout the comprehensive program, the online Master of Social Work curriculum will cover a wide range of topics relating to social work and human behavior. The practice and profession of social work is covered in detail, including the ethical issues, societal and personal influences, incorporating and utilizing theory into practice, growth strategies, and more.

Field Practice for the Online MSW Program