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Online Master of Social Work

Advanced Standing

  • Clinical and Advanced Generalist
  • No Campus Visits – 100% Online
  • Flexible and Competitively Priced

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Learn from faculty at the cutting edge of social issues.

Cleveland State University’s online Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (MSW) is flexibly designed and offers the shortest pathway in Ohio for BSW degree holders like you to earn an MSW online. Our program is offered part-time and full-time so you can seamlessly balance your professional and personal life as you earn your degree. Coursework is 100% online with 500 field practicum hours in your community — no campus residencies are required. Depending on your interests and goals, you can choose the Clinical Social Worker or the Advanced Generalist Social Worker specialization.

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Higher Learning Commission

CSWE accredited online MSW program at Cleveland State University

Council on Social Work Education

icon representing Cleveland State University's online MSW program and field placement services

Field Placement Services



With your BSW as the foundation, CSU’s online MSW Advanced Standing program prepares you to address human needs and aspirations, issues of social and economic justice, discrimination and oppression using policy practice and advocacy in clinical and advanced generalist interventions. 

  • 100% online coursework is asynchronous.
  • No on-campus visits.
  • Study at your own pace with full-time and part-time pathways.
  • Complimentary field placement services for 500 experiential learning hours in your community.
  • Choose from 2 specializations:
    • Clinical
    • Advanced Generalist.
  • Additional certificates are available in: 
    • Chemical Dependency (Clinical specialization only)
    • Gerontology (Both specializations)
    • Veterinary Social Work (Both specializations only)
  • Learn from published faculty at the cutting edge of social issues.
  • CSWE-accredited social work program.

Our experienced faculty promotes a practice-in-context perspective that embodies ethical reflection and integrates policy practice, theories of person-in-environment and evaluation of practice within specific settings. As a CSU graduate, you will have used the latest research methods and tools and will be prepared to engage in scientific inquiry and lifelong learning.

MSW Advanced Standing

Curriculum Sample

This advanced clinical social work course builds on the content from required generalist and advanced social work methods, policy, research, theory and field courses. This course is an opportunity for students to gain knowledge and skills in clinical social work practice and assessment. This course examines the underlying theories, symptoms and psychosocial aspects of mental disorders and substance use disorders as applied through the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In addition, the historical, social, cultural, economic and political impacts on the mental health field are investigated and integrated with this review of today’s current diagnostic system. (3 credits)

This course explores complex traumatic stress disorders, the process of recovery and the etiology of healing in contemporary North American culture. The course addresses diagnostic criteria, assessment strategies and evidence-based treatment options for complex traumatic stress disorders across diverse populations and multiple systems, including sexual trauma, war, early childhood trauma and natural disasters. From a social justice perspective, students explore promising practices for creating sanctuaries to promote individuals’ human rights for a sense of safety and wholeness. (3 credits)

This course acknowledges students’ generalist practice and builds on the conceptual base and practice skills of social group work. Emphasizing social work with groups as integrative practice, this course encompasses the continuum from treatment to task-oriented groups. Course content highlights the strengths-oriented values of social group work and its potential for mutual aid and empowerment. Group dynamics and development are assessed with regard to agency, community and cultural contexts. Emphasis on diversity and the use of groups when intervening with oppressed client populations is a unifying course theme. (3 credits)

This course is designed to help students become leaders and managers in a human service organization. The topics covered include defining leadership and management, the differences and similarities between management and supervision, and leading, planning and influencing day-to-day daily activities. Students learn to manage diversity in the workforce, organize people and tasks, strategic planning, fiscal responsibilities and gaining resources, address staff problems and staff turnover, and effectively work with Boards. 


As future leaders and managers, they identify policies and procedures impacting the well-being of staff and clients, the service delivery system and access to social services. Students learn how interprofessional collaboration facilitates engagement with staff, clients and constituencies. Emphasis is also placed on the importance of interprofessional teamwork and communication, recognizing that beneficial outcomes may require interdisciplinary, interprofessional and inter-organizational collaboration. (3 credits)

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We’re here for you and ready to help you with enrollment and answer your questions about the program, including tuition, admission requirements, curriculum details and more.

Field Placement Services

Experiential learning in your community is one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of earning your degree. The experience is guided and directed by CSU faculty in collaboration with your on-site field supervisor at the agency where you complete the hours. Support to find field placement sites that align with your career goals is integrated into the program cost.


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 the agencies and field instructors are approved prior to the start of your fieldwork.


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.


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.

The Difference Between Clinical and Advanced Generalist Social Work

smiling social worker in a group setting representing the online MSW programs at Cleveland State University

Clinical Social Work

Focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness, emotional and other behavioral disturbances

Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) licensure varies by each state, but additional post-graduate supervised practice hours along with successful completion of the Clinical ASWB exam is required.

Accredited MSW

smiling social worker in a group setting representing the online MSW programs at Cleveland State University

Generalist Social Work

Has a range of applications within organizations, initiatives, agencies, advocacy groups, community organizations, healthcare and more

Licensure for master’s level generalist social workers varies by state and may include post-graduate practice hours, but all states require successful completion of the ASWB master’s-level exam.

Accredited MSW

Social Work by the Numbers

Number of social work jobs in 2021
9 %
Overall growth of employment for social workers through 2031
Projected job openings each year through 2031

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. The advanced standing MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Cleveland State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

BSW degree holders can take the online Advanced Standing MSW program on a full- or part-time basis. Full-time students can complete the program in 2 to 4 semesters (7 months to 1 year and 3 months), whereas part-time students can complete the program in 4 to 5 semesters (1 year and 3 months to 1 year and 7 months).

The online MSW Advanced Standing program costs $614.25* per credit hour for in-state students ($18,427.50 total* + fees) and $615.25* ($18,457.50 total* + fees) for out-of-state students. 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.

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

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, healthcare and more.

Students within the Clinical Social Work specialization may earn certificates in Chemical Dependency, Gerontology or Veterinary Social Work. Those enrolled in the Advanced Generalist specialization are eligible to earn the Gerontology certificate.

Yes. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 9% increase in social work jobs through 2030 across all professional sectors.

Social workers make up the majority of mental health and behavioral health therapists, and there is professional strength in numbers. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the 2021 median pay for social workers was $50,390, with significantly higher salaries for those living in higher-cost-of-living areas and for those who are independently licensed.


Dedicated Student Support

A CSU enrollment advisor can answer your questions and guide you through the application process. Click the button below to fill out a form and start the conversation.

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