Advanced Standing MSW Programs

Embarking on an Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (MSW) Program is an exciting journey for individuals who have already earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree and are seeking to further their expertise in the field. This article is designed to guide prospective students through the nuances of these accelerated programs, offering a quicker pathway to an MSW and facilitating career advancement in social work.

What Is an Advanced Standing MSW Program?

An Advanced Standing MSW Program is a specialized track designed for students who have already completed a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree. It allows these students to bypass foundational courses, enabling them to complete their Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in a shorter period, often within one year.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs Overview

An advanced standing MSW program is available for students with previous education in the field, typically at the undergraduate level. To qualify for an MSW program, you must hold a BSW degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited program.

The primary difference between an advanced standing and a traditional MSW program is the time frame and scope of courses. While traditional programs may initially focus on foundational courses, advanced standing programs dive straight into new ideas, concepts, and skills.

The Application Process

To see if you qualify for an advanced standing program, start by applying to a specific university. Each program has its own admissions requirements. For example:

  • Hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program within the past five years.
  • Have a cumulative and/or social work class GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Pass a background check and drug test.
  • Provide one or more letters of recommendation.
  • Submit a resume.
  • Complete one or more admissions essays.

Advanced Standing MSW Program Benefits

Advanced standing programs offer several benefits for students who qualify.

Accelerated Training

With an advanced standing program, you can earn your MSW degree within one year. Your previous education and coursework allow you to take fewer courses and spend fewer hours studying.

Fulfilling Career Options

An advanced standing MSW opens doors to careers as social workers, therapists, counselors, probation officers, and other professional roles. Graduates of advanced standing programs can make a difference in helping individuals and communities.

In-Depth Education

An MSW is an advanced degree that offers specialized training. It provides you with a deeper understanding, knowledge, and practical experience in social work.

Versatile Skills

MSW programs train you in social policy, education, mental health support, and other critical areas. You’ll develop essential soft skills such as active listening, empathy, and problem-solving, which are valuable in various settings.


Many advanced standing programs allow you to work at your own pace. While some programs may have specific time frames for completing all courses, they are often more flexible than traditional programs.

Networking Opportunities

The flexibility of advanced standing programs invites classmates from diverse backgrounds. As such, these courses provide exclusive opportunities to build extensive professional networks that could prove highly advantageous later in your career.


The accelerated learning journey of advanced standing programs enables you to optimize the time and effort invested in your professional development. These special course arrangements pave the way for a more rewarding and fulfilling career where you can expedite earning an income while pursuing your passions.

How Much Does an Advanced Outstanding Program Cost?

The cost of advanced standing MSW programs varies depending on the location, school, and whether it’s an online or in-person program. Typically, the costs start around $10,000. Tuition for the Advanced Standing MSW online program at the University of Nevada–Reno, for example, is $11,550. However, program costs can range higher.

There are also opportunities for scholarships, grants, and student loans to help reduce or completely cover the cost of your studies. Look for grant opportunities and inquire about graduate assistantships offered by the program.

Common Courses Available in an Advanced Standing MSW Program

The specific courses and topics in an advanced standing MSW program may vary. However, you can expect to learn about subjects such as:

  • Social work
  • Social welfare
  • Human development
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Substance abuse policy and therapy strategies
  • Diversity and social justice
  • Social work research

Most programs also include fieldwork as a practical component of your studies. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in an internship, practicum, or hands-on project either throughout the program or as a capstone project.

If you have a particular area of interest within social work, consider exploring popular concentrations. Many graduate programs offer the option to add a concentration to your MSW degree. Some popular options include children, youth, and families; mental health; community administration; community organization and development; clinical work; and healthcare.

Career Options and Job Outlook for Advanced Standing MSW Graduates

It’s important to consider your career goals before researching specific schools and applying to a graduate program. Here are some popular career options for MSW graduates and their job outlooks:

Social Worker

Social workers protect vulnerable individuals and community groups. They help identify needs, assess situations, and provide resources. The average pay for social workers in 2023 was $64,139, according to Social worker jobs are expected to grow 7% between 2022 and 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Health Education Specialist or Community Health Worker

Health education specialists and community health workers provide education, support, assessments, programs, and connections to individuals with health issues or at risk of health-related difficulties. The average salary for health educators in 2023 was $60,536, according to Jobs for health education specialists are expected to increase 7% between 2022 to 2032, according to the BLS. Community health worker jobs are projected to increase 14% over the same period, according to the BLS.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists work with couples to strengthen their relationships or address issues related to marriage, divorce, and other life events. Therapists in this field earned an average pay of $59,623 in 2023, according to Payscale. Marriage and family therapist jobs are expected to grow 15% between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS.

Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists help probationers and parolees reintegrate into society by providing support and resources. The median pay for these professionals in 2023 was $42,040, according to Jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are projected to grow 3% between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

These professionals work with individuals and communities on mental health and substance abuse issues. The average pay for these positions in 2023 was $46,109, according to Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors jobs are projected to increase 18% between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS.

School or Career Counselor or Advisor

School counselors or advisors work with students to develop their academic opportunities and social skills. Careers as career counselors or advisors involve helping individuals navigate their career goals. These roles had an average pay of $50,390 in 2023, according to Payscale. School and career counselor jobs are projected to grow 5% between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS.

Exploring Options for Advanced Standing MSW Programs

By pursuing an advanced standing MSW program, you can benefit from accelerated training, fulfilling career options, in-depth education, versatile skills, and flexibility. These programs provide opportunities to advance your career, change careers, or increase your earnings potential.

These courses offer flexible scheduling so you can take classes while working. Choosing an advanced standing MSW program can expand your career opportunities and broaden your horizons. However, you should ensure that your selected advanced standing MSW course aligns closely with your desired career pathway. By doing so, you can apply the most valuable lessons to elevate your professional life.

It is also important to consider the field placement opportunities available in a program. Accredited practical work can help fine-tune your skills and knowledge as a professional and ultimately promote trust in your professional reputation. For instance, you might consider speaking with course administrators about the specific settings offered for fieldwork to see if they suit your preferred occupational areas. Depending on your concentration, these placements may include mental health institutes, schools, and public hospitals.

Finally, learning more about a school’s available resources is advantageous for optimizing your learning experience. You can discover the available materials and events by speaking to your course administrator. Specialized resources may include campus or online libraries with exclusive discipline-specific materials and engaging workshops or seminars conducted by industry leaders.

FAQs About Advanced Standing MSW Programs

We’ve rounded up answers to other commonly asked questions from potential candidates in the advanced standing pathway to guide you through a smoother enrollment process.

Why Would I Want To Attend An Advanced Standing MSW Program?

Choosing an advanced standing MSW program can accelerate your training, help you pursue your dream career, and provide an in-depth education that includes versatile skills.

How Do I Know If I Qualify For An Advanced Standing MSW Program?

After submitting your application, you may be invited for an interview to discuss your qualifications and goals. Some programs also require an application fee. Qualified applicants will receive a notification from the school about enrollment details and an official acceptance letter. The document package usually includes lesson schedule dates, program details, and other course information such as payment methods and academic contacts.

Is An Advanced Standing MSW Program Cheaper Than A Traditional MSW Program?

MSW Programs differ in pricing according to university practices. In some cases, they may cost less than traditional programs since they cater to learners with a BSW degree. As such, they require fewer credits with fewer modules for significantly accelerated completion.

How Quickly Can I Complete An Advanced Standing MSW Program?

A traditional MSW program takes between 18 and 24 months for full-time students to complete. Part-time programs typically take about 36 months. An advanced standing MSW can be completed in about 12 months. Part-time advanced standing programs take between 16 and 24 months. This makes an advanced standing track almost twice as fast as a traditional program.

Online advanced standing programs and traditional online programs may offer more flexibility. Many online programs allow asynchronous learning, which means you can take classes on your own schedule rather than attending live streams. Some online programs also offer accelerated course schedules.

Are Advanced Standing MSW Programs Available Online?

Advanced standing MSW programs are offered both online and on campuses nationwide. Online courses offer flexible study and class hours, allowing you to work at your own pace. They are often more affordable than on-campus programs. On-campus programs, on the other hand, provide in-person classes where you can engage in face-to-face discussions and projects with professors and classmates.

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