Which Program is Right for You?

MSW student, Promise, at Black Business Boom event

The School of Social Work offers multiple MSW program tracks, including full-time, part-time, part-time online, and advanced standing, in addition to our PhD, DSW, and dual-degree programs. 

Choosing the Right Master's Program

When choosing which program is right for you it is important to consider:

  • Which program you qualify for based on your academic background
  • Whether or not you are able/willing to relocate to Buffalo
  • How quickly you would like to complete the program
  • Whether or not you plan on working while attending the program

View the comparisons below to help determine which MSW option(s) will fit your goals best. You also may want to consider one of our dual-degree programs (see overviews below).  

Traditional vs. Advanced Standing

The advanced standing track has very specific requirements to apply, so if you don't meet all the qualifications, you must apply for one of the traditional program tracks (regardless of other graduate degrees or work experience). This chart highlights the biggest differences between the two tracks, but you should make sure you meet all of the application prerequisites before applying.   


 
Advanced Standing Traditional
Qualifications
(must meet ALL to apply)
  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from CSWE-accredited program, earned within 6 years of starting MSW
  • 3.0 or higher undergraduate GPA
  • B- or better in all social work prefix/ major courses
  • Bachelor's degree in any undergraduate major from a regionally-accredited program

Seated vs. Online

Our seated programs require students to attend classes on campus, while all coursework in the online program can be completed without coming to campus. We also work with online students to develop their in-person field placements within their home region.

  Seated Program Online Program
Course Schedule
  • All classes are online through asynchronous and synchronous methods
Timeline
  • Offered as both full-time and part-time programs. 
  • Only offered as part-time program.
Field Education 
  • Students are required to complete an in-person field placement within the Buffalo area.
  • Students are required to complete an in-person field placement within their home region. 
Living Considerations
  • Best for students who are local, can commute to campus or are willing to relocate to the Buffalo area.
  • Best for students who live 50+ miles away or cannot relocate to the Buffalo area.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time (For Seated Programs Only)

The biggest differences between full-time and part-time are a) how quickly you complete the program, b) the course load, and c) the ability to work (or not) while completing the program.

  Full-Time Students Part-Time Students
Course & Field Schedule
  • Expected to take daytime classes
  • Typical schedule consists of 4 classes and 16 hours of field placement per week each semester.
  • Classes will be in the front of the week, i.e. mostly Mon and Tues, with two more 8 hour weekdays of field education later in the week.
  • Able to take courses in the evening (have first opportunity to register for later classes)
  • Typical schedule consists of 2 classes per semester, which works out to be 2 nights a week (M, T, or W) with field hours only completed during 4 of the 9 semesters.
  • During the 4 field semesters, 16 hours a week spent at field agency
  • Note that field placements will still be weekdays M-F during daytime hours.
Timeline
  • 2 years for traditional program, 1 year for advanced standing
  • 3 years for traditional program, 1.5 years for advanced standing
Employment Considerations
  • Full-time students are not able to work and successfully complete the full-time program simultaneously.
  • Students who plan on working full-time should apply to the part-time program.

Master of Social Work Program Overviews

Traditional MSW

Preparing students to become licensed social workers, this track is for students with a bachelor's degree in any subject area.

This is a seated program, for individuals who learn best in a classroom setting, and who are able to come to our campus for class.

Fall Start Only 

60 Credits 

2 years full-time or
3 years part-time

Online Traditional MSW

Preparing students to become licensed social workers, this track is for students with a bachelor's degree in any subject area.

This program can be completed without any required time on campus. The in-person field placement hours are completed at a location near the student. It is best for individuals who have experience learning online, are excellent time-managers, and live more than 50 miles from our Buffalo campus.

Fall Start Only

60 Credits

3 Years Part-Time
(no full-time option)

Advanced Standing MSW

Preparing students to become licensed social workers, this track is for students with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work (BSW) only.

This is a seated program, for individuals who learn best in a classroom setting, and who are able to come to our campus for class.

Full-time: Summer Start
Part-time: Spring Start

35 Credits

1 Year Full-Time or
1.5 Years Part-Time 

Online Advanced Standing MSW

Preparing students to become licensed social workers, this track is for students with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work (BSW) only.

This program can be completed without any required time on campus. The in-person field placement hours are completed at a location near the student. It is best for individuals who have experience learning online, are excellent time-managers, and live more than 50 miles from our Buffalo campus.

Spring Start Only

35 Credits

1.5 Years Part-Time 
(no full-time option)

Dual-Degree Program Overviews

BA/MSW

This program is only for UB undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) Interdisciplinary Health and Human Services program. 

After completing the prerequisites, Interdisciplinary Health and Human Services students can apply to the MSW portion of the program their junior year, and if accepted, their senior year will count as the last year of their undergraduate degree as well as their first year of the MSW, saving time and credits. 

5 years Full-Time:
(3 years BA + 2 years MSW)

Students apply separately to BA and MSW portions of the program

MSW/PhD

This competitive dual-degree program is for highly motivated students who want to obtain both their MSW and PhD degrees. It is a seated, full-time program only, but both traditional and advanced standing tracks are available.

This is best for students who want to go on to become researchers and academics after earning their MSW.

Fall Start for Traditional or
Summer Start for Advanced  Standing

Full-time only

Full-funding for PhD coursework

JD/MSW

This dual-degree program is for students interested in both law and social work. It is a seated, full-time program that offers both traditional and advanced standing tracks.

This program is best for students who want to become lawyers with a human rights or social justice focus, or social workers who want to focus on legal issues and advocacy.

Fall Start Only

Full-Time Only

4 Years for Traditional or 
3 Years for Advanced Standing

MPH/MSW

This dual-degree program is for students with an interest in both public health and social work. It is a seated, full-time program that offers both traditional and advanced standing tracks.

This program is best for students who are interested in healthcare policy, or who are passionate about the social issues surrounding healthcare access and delivery. 

Fall Start Only

Full-Time Only

3 Years for Traditional or 
2 Years for Advanced Standing

MBA/MSW

This dual-degree program is for students interested in both business and social work. It is a seated, full-time program that offers both traditional and advanced standing tracks.

This program is best for students who want to become leaders of non-profit organizations or who want to open their own clinical practice.

Fall Start Only

Full-Time Only

3 Years for Traditional or
2 Years for Advanced Standing

Choosing the Right Doctoral Program

Our doctoral programs prepare students for different career tracks. View the comparison chart below to figure out which one will be a better fit for you.

PhD vs. DSW

  PhD DSW
Focus
  • Research-focused, interdisciplinary program
  • Students and faculty apply diverse research methods to a wide range of issues related to social work and social justice
  • Centered on becoming leaders in practice
  • Ideal for practitioners looking to strengthen their ability to bridge research and practice
Format
  • Full-time
  • On-campus
  • Part-time
  • Online
Time to Complete
  • 4-6 years
  • 3 years
Funding
  • Tuition waiver for all seated coursework
  • Research-focused assistantship for 3 (or 4) years
  • Stipend support
  • Federal loans via the FAFSA

Doctoral Program Overviews

PhD in Social Welfare

This program is for students who have already earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. It is a seated program that must be completed on our Buffalo, NY campus.

This interdisciplinary PhD is best for individuals who are seeking careers as researchers and academics. The highly customizable nature of the program allows students to tailor their coursework to their individual research interests.  

Fall Start Only
Full-Time Only
Fully-Funded

Online DSW in Social Welfare

This program is for students who have already earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. It is an online, part-time program.

This Online DSW is best for individuals who are interested in bridging the gap between research and practice. It trains students to become advanced practitioners that are leaders within their organizations, helping to translate current research into best practices for evidence-based interventions.  

Fall Start Only

39 Credits

3 Years Part-Time
(no full-time option)

Still not sure which track is right for you?

Call Lauren McGowan, Director of Recruitment and Admissions, to discuss your options:
716-645-1254