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Master of Social Work

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Explore our MSW degree program at NMSU Online

As an advanced generalist program, NMSU’s Master of Social Work (MSW) online degree program provides a strong foundation for serving individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, and for developing and analyzing social policy and leadership at the organization, agency, and community levels.

Multicultural Emphasis

As the only R2 research university providing social worker education in New Mexico, NMSU is a leader among schools for social work in the United States. Social work master’s degree students receive an exemplary education in developing and applying culturally relevant, evidence-informed practices with clients and communities, particularly in the Southwest region of the United States.

The purpose of the Master of Social Work online degree program is to prepare graduate-level social workers with the knowledge, values, and skills essential for advanced social work practice in a multicultural society. As an MSW graduate of NMSU, you’ll be ready for all levels of social work careers and practice.

Program Options

The MSW program can be completed in one year for BSW-prepared, advanced standing students, two years for full-time students, and three years for part-time students. The School of Social Work offers the MSW online and site-based for full-time students and site-based for part-time students at the La Cruces and Albuquerque campus locations.

Graduate students also may choose to earn a dual degree, combining the MSW with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. The MPH/MSW degree can be completed in three years for full-time students and for advanced standing MSW students, and in four years for part-time MPH/MSW students.

Serving Children

NMSU’s School of Social Work is home to the Center on Immigration and Child Welfare. The Center’s mission is to improve programs and policies related to immigrant children and families involved in the public child welfare system to achieve positive outcomes of safety, permanency and well-being. Social work master’s program students have opportunities to engage with faculty research to focus on such areas as immigration, child welfare, trauma-informed practices, veterans services and integrated behavioral healthcare.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

NMSU helps to keep your tuition costs affordable. But if you need financial help, NMSU is ready to work with you to determine the best ways to finance your education to earn your MSW degree.

Students who are returning Peace Corps volunteers are eligible to apply for the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. Students with an interest in child welfare may be eligible for the Child Welfare Scholar Program, which offers student stipends and employment opportunities upon graduation. Graduate assistantships and stipends are provided based on available funding.

Financial assistance includes loans, grants, and scholarship opportunities. To apply, use NMSU’s convenient Scholar Dollar$ one-stop scholarship application, which serves all students in the NMSU system.

NMSU Online students are also eligible for loans and grants. The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Learn more about financial aid opportunities at NMSU.

Contact Financial Aid

Phone: 1-888-729-6678


Degree type: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Concentration: Advanced Generalist 

Other program options: Dual Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Public Health (MPH)  

College: College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation

Department: School of Social Work

Delivery formats: Site-based and online full-time MSW program; site-based part-time program at the Las Cruces and Albuquerque campus locations

Program length: The MSW degree is completed in one year for BSW-prepared, advanced standing students, two years for full-time students, and three years for part-time students

Accredited by: Nationally accredited by Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

Cost per credit hour:  

  • Graduate online: $444.40*† 
  • Active Military online: $250*† 

*For NMSU Online programs and courses, the per credit hour cost is listed above. Special tuition agreements (Western Undergraduate Exchange, Descubre, etc.) are not applicable to NMSU Online programs. Course fees still apply and are charged separately. Textbooks, uniforms, equipment, etc., are additional program costs. Additional per credit costs might be charged by the program, department or college.

†For on-campus students, find tuition and fees here.

Program Highlights

The specialization in the Master of Social Work Program at New Mexico State University is the advanced generalist social work practice with populations of the Southwest.


Research Opportunities

NMSU’s School of Social Work hosts grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration and other federal and state research grants. Master’s in social work students can participate in research on immigration and child welfare, veteran services, public health social work and integrated behavioral health care. Through these initiatives, MSW students have been able to participate in poster and workshop presentations at statewide and national conferences and also co-author journal articles.

Field Education

Field education is an important piece of the MSW program and considered the “signature pedagogy” of social worker education.  Through field education, you can apply what you learn in the classroom as well as work with clients under the supervision of a social worker in our community. Recognized among the leaders in U.S. schools for social work, NMSU is connected to numerous agencies in our community where our students can understand the opportunities, responsibilities and functions of the modern social worker.

The field education program supports the School of Social Work’s mission to prepare students for practice with an emphasis on the cultural diversity of the Southwest.

Students complete two innovative practicum opportunities over the course of their education, including placements with legislators, state agencies, Veterans Administration, National Association of Social Workers New Mexico chapter, community organizations, hospitals and behavioral health providers. New Mexico residents are also eligible to complete their practicums at New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department through a Title IV-E program called Child Welfare Scholars, which provides student stipends and employment after graduation.

Our social work practicum program lets you choose the best options for the location and timing of your fieldwork. We require 950 hours of practicum that are divided between foundation and concentration practicums. You must complete 225 hours of foundation fieldwork for two semesters for a total of 450 hours. You will complete 250 hours of concentration fieldwork for two semesters for a total of 500 hours.

The School of Social Work’s field education staff help students like you to identify and locate sites that meet your professional interests and personal needs. The School of Social Work also sponsors a Practicum Fair to help you find the right field placement.

Dual MPH/MSW Degrees

The  School of Social Work and the Department of Public Health Sciences also offer a dual Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Public Health (MPH) in Community Health Education.

The MPH program focuses on populations of people and is highly analytical, and the MSW online program focuses on individuals, groups, and communities within the social environment.  Both programs heavily emphasize cross-cultural content in classes and have an emphasis on social justice. Students seek this dual degree particularly if they are interested in community development and outreach.  Students from other countries and those who have served in the Peace Corps find the dual degree furthers their interests and careers in international service.

Separately, the MSW and MPH degree would require a total of 108 credit hours (48 for the MPH and 60 for the MSW).  The dual MSW / MPH degree program can be completed with a total of only 90 credits hours.

Quick Fact

In 1990, in response to national, regional and state needs for trained practitioners, NMSU and the State of New Mexico implemented the state’s first Master of Social Work program. 

What can you do with an MSW degree from NMSU Online?

Both Social Work and Public Health / Social Work degrees are focused on social justice professions that are in high demand in today’s workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work employment opportunities are projected to increase by 13 percent in the next decade, well above the average projections for all professions. Employment in public health, health promotions and community health shows a job growth rate of 13 percent, also well above the national average.  

Social Work Careers

MSW graduates have gone on to excellent social work careers, including serving as executive director for the New Mexico Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and various staff positions at the NMSU Center for Immigration and Child Welfare, working on both research and policy development and analysis. Other MSW online graduates have become adjunct instructors in NMSU’s School of Social Work.  

Here is a sampling of other social work careers:

  • Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance.
  • School social workers work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students’ academic performance and social development.
  • Healthcare social workers help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare. Some healthcare social workers specialize in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work.
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers help clients with behavioral health and substance use disorders.

A unique experience for NMSU MSW online students is the opportunity to be hired by many of the sites providing practicums. NMSU students are hired by the Veterans Administration, New Mexico’s Department of Health, Behavioral Health Services Division, and Children, Youth and Families Departments. Recent graduates are also employed at community behavioral health organizations, with opportunities to serve as leaders of these organizations.

Learn more about social work career opportunities, earnings, and more in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Program Curriculum

The Master of Social Work Program at New Mexico State University offers two levels of social worker education: foundation and concentration. A common core of social work values, knowledge and skills unifies practice at both levels.



The purpose of the first (or generalist) year is to provide the basic foundation that distinguishes social work from other helping professions. This foundation is taught in terms of knowledge-guided frameworks for effectively managing the various phases of the empowerment process with the multiple levels of client systems with whom we work in direct practice.  


The advanced generalist concentration year prepares social work practitioners to exercise the professional autonomy, leadership and creativity necessary for multidimensional contextual and ethical practice in rapidly changing social environments with populations of the Southwest.

Learning Outcomes

The MSW online program is designed to provide academic and fieldwork education with an emphasis on advanced generalist practice in multicultural settings with vulnerable populations. The goals of the MSW online program are to prepare graduates who:

  • Seek advanced generalist social work practice that is responsive to rapidly changing environments
  • Want to develop multidimensional social work practice through the integration of theoretical perspectives, empirical evidence and professional experience
  • Are committed to social justice and to ethical practice in complex settings
  • Are committed to continuing their professional development, developing autonomy and leadership within practice settings, and contributing to the knowledge and skill base of the profession
  • Are culturally responsive to populations and communities of the Southwest


Top classes for MSW students

Here’s a sampling of courses offered in the curriculum for our MSW students at NMSU Online:

 Socio-cultural Concepts and Populations of the Southwest

Explore theoretical and sociohistorical perspectives on racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, classism, ableism and other forms of discrimination and oppression. Cultural diversity, strengths, and Southwest and border issues are emphasized.

 Human Behavior and Social Environment I

Learn about major theories of human behavior and the life span from conception to adolescence. Focuses both on the areas of concern and risk for client systems and on the opportunities and strengths in the social environment.

 Social Problems and Social Welfare Policy

Study the social and economic problems in the United States and the historical and current social welfare policies aimed at alleviating these problems. Emphasis on developing an awareness and ability to change policies that impact vulnerable populations

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