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Social Work

Is the online MSW program at Cleveland State University accredited?

The Master of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education* (CSWE). Cleveland State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the largest regional accreditor in the U.S. 

*In 2019, the Master of Social Work and Baccalaureate Social Work programs were reaffirmed for accreditation for the next eight years by the Council on Social Work Education Commission on Accreditation.
CSWE: 333 John Carlyle Street, Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314, 703-683-8080

How do field placement services help me?

Concurrent coursework and field experiences connect theory with practice. Field placement provides 900 hours of real-world, hands-on social work experience. Your field placement team helps coordinate required paperwork and can assist with identifying placement sites that meet program requirements as needed so you can focus on your coursework and build your skills.

Do I have to pay extra for Field Placement Services?

No. Support to find field placement sites in your community that align with your career goals is integrated into the program cost.

How should I prepare for my field placement?

Your Student Online Experience Coach and faculty guide you through the entire process. They give you a realistic idea of the field experience to ensure you are ready to work independently in a fast-paced environment.

Can I arrange my own field experiences?

Students are strongly encouraged to conduct outreach to secure a placement site and are responsible for key parts of the placement process. However, the University is required to review and approve the agency before the start of any fieldwork.

What am I responsible for to ensure a timely field experience?

Completing the field placement intake form initiates the field placement search process. Upon completion of the form, you will be required to complete all field clearance requirements (by the University and agency) prior to the start of your first field experience. Most agencies have additional requirements for the University and/or interviews that students must complete prior to starting field hours. As active participants in the placement process and to help focus the placement team’s search, students are encouraged to provide any local sites where they would prefer to complete their field hours.

In what types of agencies do students complete their fieldwork?

Typically, students complete their field hours at: 

  • Community centers/organizations 
  • Human service agencies 
  • Counseling and therapy centers 
  • Addiction and mental health treatment facilities 
  • Adoption agencies 
  • Senior care facilities, such as nursing homes 
  • Correctional facilities 
  • Hospitals/clinics
When will I be informed of field placement details?

You will receive a notification from your dedicated field placement team before each field experience start date.

Do I get paid or reimbursed for my travel expenses during my fieldwork experience?

No. Due to the educational nature of the fieldwork, sites do not pay students. You are responsible for your transportation and travel expenses.

Can I complete my fieldwork at my current place of employment?

If you currently work in a social service setting and have a licensed social worker who supervises you, then yes. As of 2022, the Council on Social Work Accreditation now supports the use of employment hours as fieldwork hours, though there are field placement learning contracts and related follow-up required to make sure that CSWE education competencies are incorporated and part of the employment.

How does the field placement process work?

Your dedicated CSU field placement team collaborates with you to secure quality experiential learning sites that reflect your educational goals and desired practice specialty. They ensure all experiences meet CSWE accreditation standards and that the agencies and field instructors are approved before you start your fieldwork.

What is field placement?

Field placement is the required experiential learning component of Cleveland State University’s online MSW program. Whether you follow the Traditional or Advanced Standing track, you will apply what you learn in the classroom to real-world situations to prepare you for your future in social work.

Can I apply to the online MSW program if I live outside of Ohio?

Students from a number of states are welcome to apply to Cleveland State University’s online MSW program. Please see our State Authorization page for more detailed information.

How much does the online MSW program at Cleveland State University cost?

The online MSW program costs $614.25* per credit hour for in-state students and $615.25* for out-of-state students. Total program costs are as follows: 

Financial aid may be available to our online students. 

*Tuition rates as of 01/22/2024. Rates are subject to change. Visit for current rates.

How long will it take for me to complete Cleveland State’s online MSW program?

The MSW Advanced Standing program can be completed part-time in 1 year and 3 months to 1 year and 7 months (4 to 5 semesters) or full-time in 7 months to 1 year and 3 months (2 to 4 semesters). The Traditional Track can be completed part-time in 1 year and 7 months to 2 years (5 to 6 semesters) or full-time in 2 years and 7 months to 3 years and 3 months (8 to 10 semesters).

How many start dates does Cleveland State’s online MSW program have per year?

Cleveland State University intakes its online MSW students three times per year in the Spring, Summer and Fall.

How many credit hours are required for Cleveland State’s online MSW program?

The Advanced Standing MSW requires 30 credit hours of didactic coursework and 500 field practicum hours to graduate. The Traditional Track requires 60 credit hours of didactic coursework and 900 field practicum hours.

Is Cleveland State’s MSW program 100% online?

The didactic coursework is delivered asynchronously 100% online. You are also required to complete practicum hours of experiential learning in the field to practice what you learn in theory in the virtual classroom.

What specializations are available in Cleveland State’s online MSW program?

Whether you’re enrolled in the Traditional Track or Advanced Standing MSW, you can choose between clinical social work practice or advanced generalist practice.

What is the difference between clinical and advanced generalist social work?

Clinical social work focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness and emotional and other behavioral disturbances. Advanced generalist social work has a range of applications within organizations, initiatives, agencies, advocacy groups, community organizations, health care and more.

What certificates are available for Cleveland State’s online MSW program?

Students within the clinical social work specialization may earn certificates in Chemical Dependency, Gerontology, or School Social Work. Those enrolled in the Advanced Generalist specialization are eligible to earn a certificate in Gerontology.

Is Cleveland State’s MSW faculty experienced?

Yes. CSU’s social work faculty are highly productive educators and researchers who have published books and numerous articles. You will gain insight and inspiration from educators at the cutting edge of social research and emerging theories of practice.

What are the admission requirements to apply for Cleveland State’s MSW program?

Traditional Track

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 2.75 GPA
  • Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework 
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Essay
  • No GRE required

Advanced Standing

  • Bachelor of Social Work (from a CSWE-accredited program within the last 7 years)
  • 3.0 cumulative GPA 
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework 
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Essay
  • Copies of BSW field evaluations 

Where can I find more information about applying to Cleveland State University? 

You can find more information on our application page.