How MSW Direct works

When are classes offered? How long are they?

Classes are offered in sixteen week semesters during the fall and spring. A thirteen week semester takes place during the summer. The fall semester begins in August. The spring semester begins in January. The summer semester begins in May.

Is it all on the web?  Do I ever come to campus?

You will need to come to campus once for the mandatory three day orientation.  Travel is at your own expense.  All other classes meet online.  All classes have a “synchronous” dimension.  This means you and your classmates meet together online in class using a webcam and microphone on your computer.  It is very similar to the traditional class meetings you have had in the past.  At minimum you will synchronically meet three times during the term.  All classes have an “asynchronous” dimension too, meaning that you work independently.  The ratio between “sync” and “async” in class varies depending on the nature of the contents.

How many classes do I take?

All IUSSW non-advanced standing students complete 17 courses including two field practicum experiences plus electives totaling 60 credit hours to graduate. Students with CSWE accredited BSWs conferred in the last 5 years who are accepted with advanced standing status take 39 credit hours including one field practica.

How long will MSW DIRECT take to complete?

Students will have an opportunity take classes full-time, part-time, or accelerated. The full-time option allows students to complete the program in as little as two years. Part-time students typically take about three years to complete the program. Accelerated students can complete the program in 5 semesters or about 1 ½ years.

What are the benefits of online study?

Online study is just as demanding and rigorous as attending traditional classes.  Yet there are the advantages of not commuting to campus, gas and parking savings, and similar advantages.  The REAL advantage is being able to time-shift and multi-task so you can make good use of your available time for study.

What are the liabilities of online study?

A major liability is FALLING BEHIND!  Classes are demanding and you need to stay on top of your assignments and deadlines. Good writing and communication skills are extremely important in online coursework. 

Social workers who received their degrees in traditional programs are sometimes prejudiced towards online degreed students.  While this problem is declining as online study becomes more accepted, you might want to check into this.  Ask social work colleagues in agencies near you and get their opinions.

How long are the classes?

Classes are 16 weeks long, 13 for summer, from start to finish with roughly a two week break in-between depending on holidays.  Please be aware that students “hit the ground running” and a lot of work is expected of you during the semester with major deadlines for completing tasks!  Good time management skills are essential! 

How are the courses taught?

Our courses are “web based.” This means that you will use the internet/Web extensively.  Study modules are available via the web and often include animations, simulations and other technical features.  We use “Canvas,” the University’s platform for online courses.  It is similar to “Blackboard” and other course management platforms.  Oncourse provides email and study resources.  We also use “Adobe Connect,” a program that allows groups of people to meet together, share work, and talk with each other just as if they were in the classroom. 

Do you require a thesis?


Is this program just for Indiana residents?

Absolutely not!  MSW Direct is available to anyone in any state or country holding an earned baccalaureate degree with appropriate liberal arts coursework or the equivalent. Our admission requirements are the same as for our traditional face-to-face programs plus one additional technology requirement. 

What about advanced standing?

If you have a BSW from a CSWE accredited social work program that has been awarded within five years of the date of your starting the MSW Direct program you MUST apply for advanced standing in the program. This means that if admitted you take 39 credit hours of coursework instead of 60. One field practicum is required.

  • If you have a degree in another field such as Psychology, Human Services or Counseling, you are NOT eligible for advanced standing.  Only CSWE accredited social work degrees are eligible.

I’m already employed at a social services agency.  Can I do my field work there too?

Possibly.  The Council on Social Work Education’s “Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards” expressly prohibits studying and being employed for performing the same work (No “double dipping.”)  If an alternative placement in the agency with separate MSW supervision is available then you may be able to conduct practicum work provided it is approved in advance by MSW Direct Field Coordinator. 

Can I get credit for past employment or life work?

No.  The Council on Social Work Education’s “Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards” expressly prohibits getting credit for life work or previous work experience.  No CSWE-accredited program allows this.

Who will be my teachers?

MSW Direct faculty are drawn from our own School’s faculty plus occasional expert colleagues who have accomplished practice achievements.  For a general overview of our school’s faculty and staff

What if I need to stop out?

Stopping out of MSW Direct is easy because we’ve designed the program to support busy students with complex lives.  Our courses are grouped in specific sequences.  For example, you cannot take intermediate courses until you have completed the introductory ones.  However, all required courses are available EVERY semester depending on enrollment.  If you do this you MUST inform the program.  Just remember: While you may come and go within MSW Direct you must follow the sequences and complete all of the required courses within five years of starting the program. 

What if I want to transfer to one of the traditional IU campus programs?

Some students may discover that an online program isn’t for them.  Online students are permitted to apply for transfer into the traditional Indiana University School of Social Work programs on a space-available basis if they so desire.  Earned credits are transferable.  We have traditional MSW programs on our Indianapolis, Gary, and Fort Wayne campuses and cohort programs at Fort Wayne, New Albany, and Richmond.

Can I transfer into MSW Direct from one of the traditional IU campus programs?

Transferring is possible provided both Program Directors approve and space is available.

What does a typical schedule look like?

Depending upon the option you select determines your course schedule.