Master of Social Work

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Social work is a profession for people who are passionate about serving others and making a meaningful difference. Social work is about helping people, children, couples, and families, as well as groups, communities and organizations.

Empowerment and hope are at the heart of the work social workers are privileged to do. Social workers partner with clients and communities to build on strengths and empower people to overcome adversity.

Social workers are trained to identify and promote hope, possibilities and change even in the bleakest circumstances. Social workers share an optimistic view of people and the world, and maintain a hopeful eye toward the future. Bearing witness to positive change is one of the most rewarding benefits of being a social worker.

Social work is a fast-growing and in-demand field. The U.S. Department of Labor –Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent, however, overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

How does social work compare to other helping professions?

Social workers focus on both the client (for example, a person, family, organization, or community) and the environmental factors and influences that impact the client. This includes factors such as poverty, housing and resources. For example, a social worker can provide clinical social work or counseling to a teen experiencing a crisis pregnancy, but they can also explore the ways in which the teen’s home life, socioeconomic status, and access to resources influence their situation and outlook. A social worker can provide a pregnant teen with education and referrals related to things like prenatal care, and housing. A social worker can also provide mediation between the pregnant teen and her parents. A social worker can partner with a pregnant teen and meet together with school staff in order to advocate and make a plan for how she may continue her education.

Social workers primarily serve clients who are considered vulnerable and oppressed, and the profession emphasizes social action through advocacy. This includes women who are sex trafficked, teens who are homeless, adults struggling with addiction, and couples seeking to adopt a baby after experiencing infertility.

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) the primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet basic and complex needs of all people, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.

The social work profession is broad and social workers are trained to serve a broad client base and work in various capacities.

Social workers are trained to provide direct services or clinical social work to individuals, families or groups.
Social workers engage in program development for churches, faith-based and non-profit organizations. Social workers conduct policy analysis, engage in policy practice, and advocacy.
Social workers’ roles may be in administration and supervise programs and organizations.
Social workers may recruit volunteers, and raise money to support programs or causes. Social workers conduct research and contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.

What are the benefits of an MSW degree?

An MSW is a graduate-level degree that prepares students for advanced professional social work practice. An MSW program requires a higher level of work than an undergraduate program, as it provides students an opportunity to expand and deepen their theoretical, research, and practice knowledge and skills through intensive classroom and field work experiences.

Students can directly enter the MSW program upon graduating from a BSW program, or gain work experience between completion of a BSW degree and entry into the MSW program, or students may enter the MSW program with an undergraduate degree other than social work.

To practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), or a Licensed Advanced Master Social Worker (LAMS) in Missouri, individuals must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program.

Why an MSW from MBU?

The MSW program at MBU seeks to develop ethical, competent, and effective advanced social work practitioners who integrate the knowledge, values, and skills of social work to advance social and economic justice, and to provide services to enhance and strengthen individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities locally and globally, all in the context of Christian service.

The MSW program at MBU offers competitive tuition costs, full and part-time program options, and flexible courses (completion of the program involves a combination of web-based courses, and courses that students can either attend on Main campus or attend virtually using Zoom technology).

MBU offers an MSW program in the context of a small, liberal arts university, where faculty are accessible, approachable and passionate about supporting the growth of their students.

MSW program faculty have teaching, research and practice experience in a variety of social work areas, including faith-based non-profit organizations, and the intersection of faith and social service delivery.

Convenient Platforms

You can attend classes via any of our convenient instructional platforms, including:

• Main Campus

• Livestream


Program Director Bio

Nikki Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr. Johnson holds a Doctoral degree in Social Work from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master’s degree in Social Work from St. Louis University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business Administration from Missouri Baptist University. Her teaching and research interests include social work practice with women, adoption and voluntary relinquishment, faith-based program development, cultural competence, and social work ethics. Her teaching experience spans 14 years, and includes teaching face to face, distance and hybrid courses. Dr. Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker with 19 years of experience in the delivery and administration of social services, primarily with faith-based and private non-profit organizations. Her practice experience includes working with a diverse range of clients and presenting issues and in a variety of areas including community mental health, youth mentoring, court diversion, adoption, adolescent residential treatment and church, volunteer and community relations. She has completed clinical practice training in the U.S., Finland and Australia.

† The Master of Social Work Program at Missouri Baptist University has achieved Candidacy for Accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation.
Candidacy for a baccalaureate or master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation indicates that it has made progress toward meeting criteria for the assessment of program quality evaluated through a peer review process.  A program that has attained Candidacy has demonstrated a commitment to meeting the compliance standards set by the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, but has not yet demonstrated full compliance.
Students who enter programs that attain candidacy in or before the academic year in which they begin their program of study will be retroactively recognized as having graduated from a CSWE-accredited program once the program attains Initial Accreditation.  Candidacy is typically a three-year process and attaining Candidacy does not guarantee that a program will eventually attain Initial Accreditation.  Candidacy applies to all program sites and program delivery methods of an accredited program.  Accreditation provides reasonable assurance about the quality of the program and the competence of students graduating from the program.

You can find social workers embeded throughout our society. For example, they are in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, faith-based settings, the military, adoption agencies, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, senior care facilities and in federal, state and local government pushing for legislation and regulations to improve quality of life.

The MSW program is a 60 credit hour program. The first approximately 30 credit hours of the MSW program consist of foundation generalist coursework. Courses offered cover such topics as the history and philosophy of social work, generalist practice with individuals, families and groups, generalist practice with communities and organizations, research, social policy, and social justice, as well as field experiences. The remaining 30 credit hours consist of advanced generalist specialization coursework. Courses offered cover such topics as advanced generalist practice, diagnosis and assessment, values and ethics, social work administration and leadership and program evaluation, as well as specialized field experiences.

A full-time student can complete the program within 2 years, and a part-time student can complete the program within 3 years. Completion of the program involves a combination of web-based courses, and courses that students can either attend on Main campus or attend “virtually” using zoom technology-these courses are offered on weekday evenings. All courses are offered in 8-week terms.