Social Work, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Saint Louis University’s School of Social Work offers highly ranked master’s and doctoral degree programs.

About the Program

SLU’s Master of Social Work program prepares you to be an advanced practitioner who will act as an agent of change to promote individual and societal well-being. You’ll choose from three concentrations — clinical, community and organization, or applied behavior analysis.

You can further tailor your studies through an "area of emphasis" to focus on special populations, including children, veterans and those who have experienced trauma. You'll also be qualified to work in the areas of substance abuse and criminal justice, among other settings.

The Ph.D. in social work program also provides a solid foundation for an academic career or as a social work research scientist in practice or policy settings. The program has a strong interdisciplinary and methodological orientation.

Dual-Degree Options

Program Highlights

SLU’s School of Social Work’s interactive teaching methods integrate community-based practice with classroom activities and discussions. Small class sizes facilitate an atmosphere of intellectual dialogue that fosters relationships between students and faculty.

M.S.W. Curriculum and Program Details

The M.S.W. program at SLU requires 57 credit hours and offers multiple course delivery formats to assist students who are working full- or part-time and for those who want to progress faster by taking additional credit hours per semester. 

Formats include the traditional 15-week format (2.5-hour classes, fall and spring semesters) and an accelerated 10-week format (3.5-hour classes, summer semester).

Electives may also be offered in the following formats: two intersession periods of week-long classes, online blended classes or five consecutive Saturday sessions (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Applied Behavior Analysis

Learn to apply behavioral principles to produce socially significant changes, such as increasing social skills or decreasing drug use, while integrating social work ethics in practice. Use direct assessments, research evidence and single-subject experimental designs to inform and evaluate interventions. 


Prepare for advanced clinical practice serving children, youth, adults and families. This concentration assumes a holistic view that incorporates the political, environmental, psychosocial, biological and spiritual dimensions of clinical social work practice. 

Community and Organization

Prepare for advanced practice focusing on social problems and societal change at the community and organizational levels.

Areas of Emphasis

You can further specialize your studies through coursework or practicum experiences in the following areas:

  • Community Mental Health Practice
  • Criminal Justice
  • Gerontology
  • Global Social Work
  • Health Practice
  • Nonprofit Administration
  • Practice with Children and Youth
  • School Social Work
  • Substance Use Disorder Treatment
  • Therapy with Individuals and Families
  • Trauma-Informed Practice
  • Veteran Services

An accelerated degree option is available for students wishing to complete the program in five years in combination with a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

Ph.D. Curriculum and Program Details

SLU’s Ph.D. in social work requires 72 credit hours and offers rigorous methodological and interdisciplinary training for social workers and related professionals.

Building on the foundations of required coursework, you will develop an individualized plan of study that will meet your intellectual and professional requirements. These concentrations consist mainly of elected coursework and participation in mentored research. You will also complete a dissertation project corresponding with your educational and professional goals. 

SLU’s M.S.W. and Ph.D. are ranked in the top 20 percent of social work programs. Possible careers include work in the fields of health care, mental health, school, child welfare, family services, criminal justice, gerontology, policy, advocacy, administrative and community development.  
Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2017-2018 Tuition and Fees
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Financial Aid

Scholarships and Financial Aid

SLU’s School of Social Work offers new and continuing students partial tuition remission and merit-based scholarships. Applicants who do not initially meet the scholarship criteria or who have applied initially and are not awarded a scholarship may re-apply during their first semester in the program. Scholarship awards are made based on information in the admission application. 

Additional scholarship/assistantship opportunities include:

  • The Diversity and Presidential Fellowship for new master's or doctoral students at the School of Social Work, funded by Saint Louis University. The application period has closed for 2016-2017.
  • Graduate assistantships.The application period has closed for 2016-2017.
  • Outreach services coordinator position - Work 20 hours a week for the Francis Xavier College Church parish and  be compensated with $30,000 annually; $15,000 in tuition and $15,000 that can be used for tuition or as a stipend.  The application period has closed for 2016-2017.
  • The Doerr Diversity Scholarship,  a full-tuition scholarship funded by the School of Social Work. The application period has closed for 2016-2017.

Contact Kristi Richter, graduate admission coordinator, for the School of Social Work, at 314-977-2752 or with any questions.


Applicant Criteria


  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • 24 credit hours in the liberal arts


Applicants must hold a master's degree in social work or closely related field.

To apply, you’ll need:

Application Requirements

Application form and fee
Three confidential letters of recommendation
GRE scores (Ph.D. applicants only)
M.S.W. applicants only: Professional goal statement

Ph.D. applicants only:

  • Statement of purpose (two-three pages, single-space) detailing research interests, career goals and fit with current faculty research.
  • Writing sample such as a published article, course paper, agency technical report or a grant proposal.  

For questions about the Ph.D. application, contact Michael Vaughn at

Requirements for International Students

Application Deadlines

M.S.W. Applicants

Fall Semester:

  • Priority - March 1
  • Final deadline - July 15

Spring Semester:

  • Priority - Oct. 1
  • Final - Dec. 1

Ph.D. applicants  should apply by Jan. 15.  

Review Process

Our admissions committee considers several factors to determine your eligibility: academic achievement, strength of the undergraduate program, application information, personal statement, work experience, any graduate degrees earned, motivation, leadership and service. The undergraduate GPA is weighted with other criteria in the admissions process.

Advanced Standing

Students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in social work from an eligible program can receive up to 18 credit hours of “advanced standing” toward a Master of Social Work at Saint Louis University; approved advanced standing students will need to complete only 39 credit hours of master's coursework.

To be eligible, students must have:

  • Undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Earned grades of ‘B’ or better in undergraduate social work courses
  • Have completed his/her bachelor’s at a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education

No additional transfer credits will be accepted.


Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education

SLU’s social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. It is part of SLU’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, which is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.