Jul 16, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog [Current Academic Year] 
    
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog [Current Academic Year]

Social Work [M.S.W.]

Location(s): In-person/hybrid


Welcome to the School of Social Work at Eastern Michigan University

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares graduates for rewarding careers that strengthen people and communities and advance the social work profession. The graduate social work program at EMU focuses on advanced practice in one of three practice specializations: Child and Family Services, Mental Health and Substance Use Recovery Services, and Health and Aging Services. In addition to core courses, students take 7-13 hours in restricted elective courses designed to personalize their program and focus on obtaining knowledge in specific areas of interest.

The EMU Social Work Program is grounded in our mission and committed to empowering poor, oppressed, vulnerable, and underserved populations; creating social welfare policy based on a strengths perspective; the advancement of community problem-solving; and leadership in organizations and communities.

Our MSW program allows students to continue their education part-time, with classes offered evenings and Saturdays. The part-time nature of our program will enable students to advance their education while balancing other personal/professional responsibilities.

Program Admission


Please download the Instructions for Applying to the Master of Social Work Program here or contact Julie Harkema, Admissions Coordinator, 317 Marshall, 734.487.0393, jharkema@emich.edu.

There are two tracks for individuals entering the MSW program at Eastern Michigan University, as outlined below:

Full Program - This program is for students applying to the MSW program who have not obtained a BSW. Full Program students complete 61 hours of foundation and advanced-level courses and can successfully matriculate through the Master’s program in three years and eight months while attending part-time.

Advanced Standing - This program is for admitted students who earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree accredited by the CSWE. Advanced Standing students are required to complete 35 approved credit hours of coursework. Advanced Standing Students can matriculate through the Master’s program in one year and eight months while attending part-time.

Admission Criteria

Faculty assess applicants on the following criteria:

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university - Advanced Standing admission requires a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited college or university. Applicants admitted without a BSW will pursue the Full Program. The bachelor’s degree must appear on an applicant’s official transcript before enrollment.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.75 - This GPA can be attained with a cumulative undergraduate or a completed graduate degree. A cumulative undergraduate GPA includes all courses taken before earning a bachelor’s degree. A limited number of exceptional applicants working in the social work field for a substantial amount of time may be considered for conditional admission to the Full Program if their GPA is below 2.75. Advanced Standing admission requires a 3.0 in the last sixty credits of the bachelor’s degree.
  • A Personal Statement - Applicants complete a Personal Statement that speaks to their readiness for graduate studies and their connection to our mission. Your Personal Statement will be evaluated as a reflection of your writing skills, your ability to reflect and learn from your experiences, and as a narrative of your background, interests, and goals. You must be the sole author of this statement, but others may provide proofreading assistance and feedback. For additional information, please see the Personal Statement Criteria .
  • Three Reference Letters - Three professional reference letters are required. Strong letters from professionals should speak to the applicant’s academic strengths, professionalism, and/or readiness for master-level social work. In addition, three reference forms and narrative letters on professional stationery are required; the recommenders will access and submit their letters online through SocialWorkCAS.
  • Experience - Professional experience in the human services field, both paid and unpaid, is weighed in the decision-making process. This includes paid work experience, volunteer experience, and internships. Therefore, please include all experiences you have in the Experiences tab in the SocialWorkCAS application, even if it is not directly in the social work field.

Admission Process

Part 1 - Application Submission (Priority Deadline: December 1, at 11:59 pm, a final deadline will be posted on the EMU SSW website when it is determined)

Submit a Social Work CAS application.

Complete all four sections of this application, pay the application fee*, and request transcripts are sent to the SocialWorkCAS system. Instructions for completing the application can be found at (socialworkcase.liaisoncas.com). A complete application will include the required documents and letters of reference.

*Note – Please find instructions for applying for a fee waiver on the SocialWorkCAS website. 

Domestic Applicants Domestic applicants are required to submit only the transcript from the institution granting their bachelor’s degree if either of the following criteria is met: 1) Lists 30 or more credit hours with an overall GPA of 3.0 or over OR 2) Lists 60 or more credit hours with an overall GPA between 2.7 and 2.99. Within the application, follow the instructions to submit an official transcript. The University may ask applicants to submit additional transcripts after applying.

International Applicants Before applying, applicants must review the international application/process deadlines at emich.edu/international as they may differ from general program requirements.

Part 2 - Application Review and Decision

An application, including all transcripts and reference letters, is considered complete when the SocialWorkCAS is submitted.

Once a complete application has been submitted to the School of Social Work through SocialWorkCAS, each application will receive two separate reviews. First, reviewers from the School of Social Work read the application and respond using a formal scoring rubric, which takes into account the following:  the applicant’s written explanation of their personal connection to the EMU School of Social Work mission; the applicant’s overall ability to write at a level required for success in a Master’s program; applicants’ work and volunteer experience directly or indirectly related to social work; assessment of references regarding the applicant’s ability to succeed in graduate school and as a Master level social worker; and, applicant’s academic ability as demonstrated by their overall grade point average and the average of their last 60 credits as an undergraduate student.

If the two reviewers are ten or more points apart in their assessment, the application will be reviewed by a third reviewer.

Once the review is complete, the application is sent to the Admissions Committee for a decision.

Notification of an admission decision

All applicants are notified of the School of Social Work’s decision by email through SocialWorkCAS. Students may be accepted, accepted conditionally, or denied admission. Students accepted by the School of Social Work will be asked to accept, defer, or refuse admission contingent on acceptance by the graduate school (must meet graduate school requirements for overall/last 60 credit GPA).

Once a formal decision by the graduate school is made, applicants receive a final acceptance email, including orientation instructions, information about how to register for classes, and general information from the School of Social Work and EMU.

Transfer Applicants

If an applicant is currently in another EMU graduate program and interested in an MSW, they must complete the formal application process outlined above to be considered for the MSW program. If accepted, some classes may transfer as specializations electives or core classes dependent on the date of the course and relevance to the social work curriculum. Discretion for transfer credits lies with the Director of the MSW program.

If an applicant has been accepted into and attended another MSW program, they must complete the formal application process outlined above to be considered for the EMU MSW program. Also, the applicant must submit a letter from their current/previous MSW program stating that they left the program in “good standing.” Only students in “good standing” will be considered for the EMU MSW program.

An Appeal of Decision of Acceptance/Denial into the EMU MSW Program

There is no appeal process. Decisions are final. If applicants are interested in re-applying for a future year. In that case, they are encouraged to do so by reapplying to the Master of Social Work program and updating their application materials.

School Information


Social Work 323 Marshall, 734.487.1418

Andrea Zakrajsek, PhD, Interim Director

Sarah VanZoeren, PhD, Graduate Coordinator

Advisor Information


David Evoy, 315 Marshall, 734.487.6807

Program Information


Course Requirements

Students admitted to the MSW program begin coursework in the fall semester immediately after admission. Students are admitted as a cohort with a structured, approved Plan of Study. See below for course requirements.

Length of the Program

According to Graduate School policy, students are required to complete all MSW requirements within six years from their first course. However, if there are any extraordinary and unavoidable extenuating circumstances, students may request an extension (please see the Graduate School policy). In case you receive an incomplete, have to withdraw from a course, or need to stop out, kindly seek advice from the School of Social Work.

Field Placement

As an MSW student, it is necessary to fulfill field placements authorized and arranged through the field placement office with affiliated public and nonprofit social service agencies. The Generalist Field Placement (SWRK 595  and SWRK 596 ) requires 400 hours of supervised fieldwork, while the Advanced Field Placement (SWRK 695  and SWRK 696 ) requires 500 hours of supervised fieldwork in a chosen specialization. Both placements need to be completed by MSW students admitted to the full program. Meanwhile, only the advanced level placement is required for students admitted to the advanced standing program. Please note that no credit can be granted for past or present work experience per our national accreditation standards.

School Social Work Certification

At the EMU School of Social Work, two State of Michigan-approved specialization courses are available for individuals who aspire to become School Social Workers. These courses are mandatory for the said profession. This opportunity should be discussed with a social work graduate advisor or the MSW office.

Degree Requirements: 35-61 hours


The Advanced Standing Program requires 35 credit hours, while the Full Program requires 61 hours for completion.

Specialization: 22 hours


Select one specialization from the following.

Child and Family Services: 22 hours


Restricted Electives: 11 hours

Students are required to take 11 credit hours of restricted electives courses. Any “SWRK,” “SWKE,” or “AGIN” course at the 500-level or above can be used to satisfy this requirement. Four credit hours are waived for students in the Full program.

Mental Health and Substance Use Recovery: 22 hours


Restricted Elective Courses: 13 hours

Students are required to take 13 credit hours of restricted elective courses. Any “SWRK,” “SWKE,” or “AGIN” course at the 500-level or above can be used to satisfy this requirement. Four credit hours are waived for Full Program students.

Health and Aging: 22 hours


Restricted Elective Courses: 11 hours

Students are required to take 11 credit hours of restricted elective courses. Any “SWRK,” “SWKE,” or “AGIN” course at the 500-level or above can be used to satisfy this requirement. Four credit hours are waived for Full Program students.

Critical Graduation Information


Each graduate student is responsible for fulfilling the requirements or equivalents of the Eastern Michigan University catalog in force at the time of their initial registration or a subsequent catalog, including the one in effect at the time of their graduation.

Master’s degree requirements must be completed within six (6) years of first enrollment in the master’s degree program.

In the event a student does not complete the master’s degree requirements within six years of the date of their original registration, the student may be required to have their credits re-evaluated by the academic department(s) of their degree in keeping with catalog requirements in force during the year of their graduation.

The following are minimum requirements for all master’s degrees awarded by Eastern Michigan University. Some programs require more than the minimum in one or more areas below.

  • A master’s degree must require a minimum of 30 credit hours.
  • No more than six credits of independent study courses and no more than 12 credit hours of special topics and independent study courses combined may be applied to a graduate degree.  
  • Residency Requirement:
    • For students admitted to master’s degree programs of 36 or fewer required hours, at least 24 new graduate hours beginning the semester of acceptance and enrollment into the degree program must be earned at EMU. The remaining program requirement hours may be met through transfer or prior degree credit (EMU or elsewhere). 
    • For students admitted to master’s degree programs of 37 or more required hours, at least 30 new graduate hours beginning the semester of acceptance and enrollment into the degree program must be earned at EMU. Minimum degree hours must still be met for graduation. The remaining program requirement hours may be met through transfer or prior degree credit (EMU or elsewhere).
    • Residency and enrollment in multiple programs: Students enrolled in multiple master’s/specialist degree programs must have 24 unique credit hours in each degree program.
  • Only credits from one completed graduate certificate may be applied to a master’s or specialist degree in a relevant field of study, as determined by the Graduate School and with the approval of the degree-granting academic department, and be included in the residency hours above.
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all graduate-level courses taken at EMU and in their program of study to remain in good academic standing and be eligible for graduation. Students do not need to be registered for classes during the semester of graduation.
  • The Graduate School does not permit the use of undergraduate courses (499 and below) to meet degree requirements on graduate programs of study.
  • Some master’s programs require a thesis; others require a special project or internship; others require students to pass a final exam. See the Graduate School website for Thesis and Dissertation Manuals, all forms, and information about research and human subject approval. Every completed thesis or dissertation must be submitted to Digital Commons. Any form of graduate student work submitted to Digital Commons must first be approved by a faculty advisor and the Graduate School.