Program Overview

Take your life’s calling to new heights as you build on your experience and commitment to social work. Wilfrid Laurier University’s online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing program enhances your existing social work knowledge and skills and empowers you to lead change at the micro and macro levels. Help individuals and families, or learn to work with larger groups and communities by implementing new approaches that can change policy and transform lives. Discover ways to effect real change as you evaluate the systems and structures that affect the well-being of individuals, groups and communities.

Fast Facts

  • 100% online coursework, designed to fit into your busy schedule

  • This program can be completed in as few as 1.25 years

  • Accredited since 1974 and re-accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) in 2012
  • Study at an established Faculty of Social Work with internationally recognized teachers, mentors and researchers
  • Laurier University Top 10 Rank in Maclean’s Ranking of Canadian Universities for 4 years running

Learn Advanced Social Work Concepts

The Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program is open to candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from an accredited BSW program.

  • Improve in your practice and upgrade your knowledge

  • Provide guidance and leadership as you advance
  • Achieve the advanced degree you have always wanted to complete

The Master of Social Work program is for graduates from a bachelor’s program outside of social work.

Program Curriculum

Laurier’s MSW - Advanced Standing program takes an innovative approach that emphasizes the development of critically reflexive practice skills through the ongoing integration of knowledge, theory and practice. Develop your expertise through a flexible framework that promotes the core values of equity, inclusivity, reflexivity and social justice that form the foundation of a successful career in social work.

Practice what you’ve learned in scenarios and environments that encourage hands-on application, interactions and critical thinking. Below is a sample list of courses you will be required to complete for the online MSW Advanced Standing program.

  • SK652: Advanced Social Work Practice With Families (0.5 credit): Build on SK552 and learn about the inclusion of substantive issues in family work
  • SK621: Reflexive Practices (0.5 credit): Learn self-awareness and interpersonal skills related to the conscious use of self in social work practice
  • SK649: Advanced Field Education (0.5 credit): Develop competence pertinent to social work practice in your chosen area of concentration in a supervised field experience

Admissions Requirements

To enter the online Master of Social Work – Advanced Standing program, you must meet the following requirements and submit the information below:

  • Have at least a B+ average (77%- 79%) in your last 5 full credit/10 half credit courses of a four-year accredited Bachelor of Social Work degree

  • Academic background must include at least four full (or eight half) social science courses and a half-credit course in qualitative research methodology
  • Submit all transcripts from all universities or colleges attended
  • Complete the personal statement form
  • Submit a resume
  • Submit three reference letters (one academic; two professional)
  • Evidence of paid and/or voluntary experience in human service organizations is required. Two or more years of experience would be considered an asset

For more information about the admissions process, download a curriculum guide.

Careers and Outcomes

Skills Sought By Employers

  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Crisis Intervention Techniques
  • Creative Problem Solver
  • Active Listener

Job Titles

  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Social Worker
  • Family Counsellor
  • Mental Health Clinician

$57,000 - $108,900 Annual Salaries Range

With Laurier’s CASWE-accredited online MSW, Advanced Standing program, your knowledge of the interconnections between social work research, theories and practices opens many career pathways, including supervisory work in case management, private practice or non-governmental organizations. Upon completion of the program, you will be able to utilize your expertise in positions such as:

  • A clinical interventionist/mental health and addictions support at a health authority ($78,050)

  • A social worker at a home health-care organization ($61,000)
  • A behaviour therapist/client and education support at an industrial firm ($54,000)

Leverage the experience of an internationally recognized Faculty of Social Work at a school that’s been CASWE-ACFTS accredited for 43 years!

Field Placements

Field placements are an integral component of the MSW program. Placements provide students the opportunity to develop advanced social work values, knowledge and skills while contributing to their communities.

Students are required to participate in the field planning process by proposing viable placements within their communities in Canada. Students may also propose placements within their workplace to complete a workplace placement. If the proposed placement is not possible, students are required to be flexible in terms of geography and placement settings. 

In order to plan for a successful placement and complete the MSW program in a timely manner:

  • Students are required to attend placement for a minimum of 16 hours across two days/week, during the agency’s hours of operation, and during the availability of the field instructor
  • Working professionals are expected to negotiate time off with their employer prior to starting the online MSW program. 
  • The majority of agencies expect students to attend placement during weekdays. Students who are unable to take time off from work to attend placement in a structured manner will likely be unable to secure a placement and therefore delay completion of the MSW program. 
  • As adult learners, students take the initiative to review and follow all information provided by the field office.
  • Before contacting any agency, including workplace placements, students must follow the agency’s procedures for securing placements as indicated on the agency’s website. Some agencies do not respond to student inquiries for placements and facilitate placements directly with the university. For these agencies, students cannot contact the agency to explore placements. It is imperative that students follow the procedures outlined by the agency at all times.


Before applying, please read the field education information and review the field agreement.