What courses will I be studying in the MSW Full-time Program?

Curriculum and Program Requirements

One Year (Full-Time) MSW degree requirements:

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program is a course-based curriculum, which includes eight courses:

  • Six core courses. Two of these courses are offered as intensive Summer Institutes. The beginning Summer Institute is offered as a 5-day, on-campus course in August before the rest of the fall term courses start in September. The 5 days will be preceded by preparatory learning activities and an assignment, and followed by activities that will wrap up the course learning. The final Summer Institute is offered as a three-week long intensive, online course with daily synchronous components in the second week, and is held in August at the end of the program. The remaining four ​core courses are completed as 12-week online, asynchronous courses.
  • Two online elective courses.

And two Milestones:

There is no research/thesis option. This program meets all University of Waterloo post-graduate degree requirements.

All University of Waterloo graduate students have to complete an Academic Integrity Module in their first academic term which is administered by the Office of Academic Integrity.

All students in the Full-Time MSW degree must complete all credits at a minimum 75% overall average including the compulsory and elective credits required in order to graduate from the program. The MSW Program adheres to academic regulations administered through Graduates Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) as indicated in the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.

Overview of Program Requirements

Course Required Electives (TWO required)
SWK 600R Health, Equity and Social Justice  held on-campus as a 5-day, intensive Summer Institute course, with pre- and post-course assignments, for all incoming students, in August at the beginning of the program. X  
SWK 601R Health Policy  X  
SWK 602R Social Work Practice in Health X  
SWK 603R Social Work Leadership in Health Care  held online as a three-week-long, intensive Summer Institute for all graduating students at the end of the program with synchronous components daily in the second week. X  
SWK 606R: Advanced Social Work Research X  
SWK 608R Health Issues and Ethics  X  
SWK 609R Clinical Practice in Mental Health and Addictions *    X
SWK 610R Interprofessional Approaches to Substance Use and Misuse and Mental Health *  not offered in AY 2023-2024   X
SWK 651R Relational Practice with Families in Oncology     X
SWK 653R Grief and Palliative Care in Social Work     X
SWK 654R: Indigenous Wellbeing, Health and Social Justice   X
SWK 680R: Critical Topics in Social Work and Health   X
Graduate Studies Practicum X  
Masters Seminar (Integration Seminar) and Masters Seminar Presentation (Capstone) X  

Students must complete only 2 elective courses.

* Anti-requisites.  You may only take ONE of SWK 610R/SWK 609R.

How are the courses laid out over the year?

FALL TERM  (September 1 - December 31)

WINTER TERM  (January 1 - April 30)

SPRING TERM   (May 1 - August 31)

Students must complete only 2 elective courses.

* Anti-requisites.  You may only take ONE of SWK 610R/SWK 609R.


For our Full-time students, Practicum may start anytime after the beginning of the program, in discussion with the MSW Field Team. The Integration Seminar runs alongside the Practicum and runs in conjunction with the Capstone Milestone.

What are the dates of the Summer Institute for students STARTING the MSW program in August 2024?

For full-time and part-time students STARTING your studies in August 2024, the first Summer Institute, SWK 600R: Health, Equity and Social Justice will be held ON CAMPUS, (Monday – Friday inclusive): August 19-23, 2024. The 5 days will be preceded by preparatory learning activities and an assignment, and followed by activities that will wrap up the course learning.

We will be following Public Health Guidelines regarding COVID restrictions, if any are still in place by then. Please watch for updates. Attendance is mandatory.

NOTE: Advanced Reading assignments will be required. Further assignments are due during August/September, after the course has concluded. 

Further details will be available in due course.

What are the dates of the Summer Institute for students COMPLETING the MSW program in August 2024?

In August 2024 graduating MSW students will attend their final Summer Institute course SWK 603R: Social Work Leadership in Health Care as an online, three-week, intensive course, August 1-21. The course's synchronous/live learning sessions will be held from Tuesday, August 6th to Saturday, August 10th inclusive.  

Students learn though interactive online courses featuring a variety of rich media and opportunities for engagement.  Online delivery is provided by the Centre for Extended Learning (CEL)

NOTE: Access to reliable high-speed internet service, and good computer/internet literacy, is essential in order to have the best experience with our online courses. 

Full-time students can complete their degree within one year of initial program entry. Final completion of the program is in line with the Graduate Studies, Graduate Calendar, regulations

All graduate students must maintain continuous registration for each term of the program.

While in the program, you should expect to spend a minimum of 10-12 hours/week on each course. Full-time students should expect to spend at least 36 hours/week on coursework.

Additional program information is available on the Graduate Studies & Postdoctoral Affairs webpages.

For full course syllabi, posted term by term please see:  The Centre for Extended Learning Course Search.  Select the term - and select 'Social Work Master (SWK) - and then click 'search' to reveal each term's SWK courses. You will see the detailed syllabus linked within each course.

Back to top


Students are assigned a community-based field practicum in an approved agency or organization. It is expected that you will: demonstrate a growing capacity for professional development and assessment of your own practice; develop and demonstrate a meaningful relationship with the field setting and be willing to be open and constructively critical of social service conditions affecting clients, including both an understanding of policies and procedures and an ability to use these policies and procedures as well as the physical and human resources to benefit clients; demonstrate an ability to use field instruction appropriately; demonstrate an ability to identify and describe the client population; organize and interpret information/data for assessment, and prepare and execute an advanced plan for treatment and/or action including working with a client to develop short and long-term goals as well as strategies. [Note: An online Integration Seminar runs concurrently with the Practicum.]

Department consent required

Back to top

Integration Seminar

Social work curriculum and field education are organised around specific learning objectives which link student learning to the promotion of excellence in social work education, scholarship, and social justice which are applicable to individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations. You will demonstrate through discussion and assignments that you understand, and have a commitment to, the social work profession and its basic values of human dignity and personal worth. You will use real life examples from the practicum placement to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the link from theory to practice. [Note: Practicum runs concurrently with the Integration Seminar.]

Department consent required

Back to top

 Masters Seminar Presentation (Capstone)

The capstone presentation is intended to be both a synthesizing experience and a culminating experience; the focus is on the development of the “professional self”. The capstone presentation is a self-directed demonstration of beginning master’s level practitioner competence developed over your career, a chronicle of career development and reflection and a glimpse into your professional future learning through a plan for continued growth. It is a scholarly and creative collection of artifacts accumulated through coursework, field practicum and daily experiences that demonstrates your abilities to articulate a model of practice and sense of the integration of the domains of professional social work. The capstone presentation culminates in you sharing your learnings online. Like the practicum, it will be graded as credit/non-credit. 

Back to top