Master of Social Work

Program Benefits

During the Master of Social Work program, students will have the opportunity to strengthen and deepen their knowledge and skills in their chosen area of practice so that they may respond more effectively to social issues at the personal, family, cultural, community, and socio-political levels.


Course objectives are congruent with the overall objectives of the program, and practice experience and applied elements form an integral part of each course.  Specific skill development in each student’s area of interest will take place in assignments and the field practicum and thesis options.


The MSW courses and field education aim to:


  • foster the development of professional social workers who are knowledgeable, skilled, and committed to social justice
  • prepare graduates to make ethical decisions and perform professional tasks informed by research evidence and an understanding of socio-political contexts
  • develop student leadership skills in facilitating organizational, community, and policy change
  • promote critical inquiry and consider diverse perspectives
  • develop student knowledge and skills to integrate an intersectional analysis and approach to social work practice
  • strengthen existing partnerships with community social service and health-related agencies through collaboration on field practicums, curriculum, and student placement opportunities

Program Structure

The Master of Social Work program is a full-time, one-year, professional-based graduate degree program offered to students with a first level Social Work degree from a university program accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE). 


CASWE Standards for Accreditation recognizes a Bachelor of Social Work as providing students with knowledge and skills for generalist practice. CASWE distinguishes curriculum at the Master's level as providing provides knowledge and skills in research and scholarship, professional leadership, social work supervision, advanced practice and/or areas of specialization. The learning objectives for the MSW reflect an advanced level of knowledge and skills in selected major areas of social work practice.


The MSW at St. Thomas University focuses on advanced clinical practice with a structural lens providing students with:


  1. advanced theory and practice skills in professional leadership and social work supervision
  2. advanced direct practice skills development 

The program’s objectives are consistent with the mission and social justice statements of St. Thomas University and its School of Social Work.  Courses are based on the application of structural social work theory which places major emphasis on understanding the structural roots of personal and social problems. The program prepares social workers to analyze and challenge sites of privilege, as well as to assist individuals and groups experiencing the effects of marginalization and oppression.


The program consists of thirty-three credit hours:


  1. eight three-credit hour courses
  2. option of completing either a thesis or an advanced field practicum for an additional nine credit hours.

Thesis Option - 9 credit hours

The Master thesis must demonstrate mastery of advanced clinical social work practice located within the relevant literature. The thesis will be based on independent study and research which is of theoretical, historical, or empirical focus. 


Advanced Practicum Option – 9 credit hours

The advanced field practicum requires the student to complete 450 hours of field practice experience where the focus is on specialized skills and knowledge in social work practice, as arranged by the School of Social Work. 

Program Regulations 

Students are accepted into the MSW on a full-time basis. There is a three-year limit (9 academic terms) to complete the degree requirements of 33 credit hours.


Fall Semester

SCWK 6013 Advanced Theory for Direct Practice I (3)

SCWK 6053 Research and Evaluation in Social Work I (3)

SCWK 6043  Advanced Theory for Social Policy (3)

Elective Course (3) Course may be taken within Social Work or in another unit.


Winter Semester

SCWK 6023 Advanced Theory for Direct Practice II  (3)

SCWK 6063 Research and Evaluation in Social Work II (3)

SCWK 6033 Advanced Theory for Social Administration (3)

SCWK 6093 Seminar for Research Proposal (Thesis Option) (3) 


Spring Semester

SCWK 6119 Field Education Seminar (Advanced Field Placement Option) (3)

SCWK 6129 Advanced Field Placement (9) (450 hours)

SCWK 6129 Thesis (9)

Financial Aid

The MSW Program has been approved by ​the Canada Student Loan​s Program and full-time students may be eligible to access financial aid to support their studies. For further information, please see the loans section of the STU page.

The deadline to apply for the Master of Social Work is June 30, 2022.