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Graduate Studies Calendar 2023-2024 Program Descriptions Social Work SOWK Master of Social Work (Course-Based) Laddered Pathway
Master of Social Work (Course-Based) Laddered Pathway
1. Degree and Specializations Offered

Master of Social Work (MSW), course-based

The MSW Laddered Pathway is designed for BSW graduates.

Students entering the course-based MSW through the laddered pathway must apply to and complete the Graduate Certificate in Advanced Social Work Practice (12 units) and apply to and complete one of the certificates in Clinical Social Work Practice, International and Community Development, or Leadership in the Human Services (12 units) in any order.  Admission to the MSW program is not guaranteed.  Upon acceptance to the MSW, students complete the final component (12 units) of this full-time degree.

Program Delivery

The final courses are offered by distance (online) learning with in-person residencies. The residencies are offered in block format, evenings and/or weekends (in either Calgary or Edmonton). Students not attending residencies may be required to withdraw from the courses or the program.

Please consult the website for specific program delivery information.

2. Admission Requirements

In addition to the admission requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Social Work requires:

a) A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an accredited/recognized institution* with a minimum grade point average of 3.00 on a four-point scale.

*The Faculty of Social Work recognizes BSW and BISW degrees accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and international credentials deemed equivalent to a Canadian BSW degree by the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW).

b) Completion of two graduate certificates: Certificate in Advanced Social Work Practice and one of the certificates in Clinical Social Work Practice, International and Community Development or Leadership in the Human Services, offered through the Faculty of Social Work.

c) The equivalent of two years of full-time paid work or a minimum of 3000 hours of paid and/or volunteer work in the human services field.

d) A program proposal outlining the applicant's social work perspectives and educational goals.

e) Two references, one academic and one professional. The academic reference must come from an instructor who taught the applicant in one of the Graduate Certificates.

Note: Students must apply to the course-based MSW degree within five years from the beginning of their first graduate certificate in Social Work. Requests to defer an offer of admission are not normally considered.

3. Application Deadlines

For application deadlines, see the Future Students webpage at

4. Advanced Credit

Students entering the MSW through the laddered pathway receive credit for 24 units completed in the two certificate programs.

5. Program Requirements

MSW Course Requirements

Students entering the MSW through the laddered pathway are admitted to the Fall term and complete 12 units over the Fall and Winter terms:

A student who fails or withdraws from a practicum course (Social Work 660 or 662) will fail or be required to withdraw from the co-requisite courses (Social Work 660 or 662). In addition, the student may be required to withdraw from the program.

For Social Work 660, students are required to complete a 500-hour practicum in their local community. Students may negotiate a part-time (20 hours per week minimum) or a full-time (40 hours per week maximum) practicum with the agency/supervisor and with approval of the Field Education Office.

At the same time, students will be required to complete Social Work 662 and attend all related online learning and in-person residencies in Calgary or Edmonton, and assignments in both Fall and Winter terms, regardless of their practicum schedule or timeline.

See Graduate Certificates in Social Work section of this Calendar for more information.

Flexible Grade Option (CG Grade)

The Faculty of Social Work, Master of Social Work course-based program will allow students to pursue the Flexible Grade Option (CG Grade) in up to one graduate course offered by the faculty, with the exception of:
Students enrolled in the laddered pathway may only have a grade of CG for a total of 3 units throughout the entire laddered pathway.

Students may choose the CG grade for a course taken extra to load.

The use of the CG grade will not affect students' eligibility for internal awards.

6. Credit for Undergraduate Courses

Credit for undergraduate courses will not be awarded.

7. Time Limits

Expected completion time in the MSW Laddering Pathway is 36 months (all three stages). The maximum completion time for all laddered credentials is six years from the start of the first credential in the laddering process.

8. Financial Assistance

Financial assistance may be available to qualified students. For information on awards, see Awards and Financial Assistance for Graduate Students, the Graduate Awards Database, and consult with the Student Services Office in the Faculty of Social Work.

9. Other Information

A computer is required for all programs in the Faculty of Social Work.  Further information will be sent out to newly-admitted students prior to the commencement of their studies.