Bachelor of Social Work

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Develop your passion for helping others into a rewarding career

As a social worker, you can help people overcome challenges and empower them to make the most of their lives.

What is it like?

Massey is the longest-serving (since 1976) four-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree in New Zealand. Our highly sought-after, internationally recognised degree will offer you a lifelong career that can take you across the country and around the world to countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and the United States. Just to name a few.

Eight more compelling reasons to study social work at Massey

  • More than 90% of Massey social work graduates find employment within six months of earning their degree.
  • Your degree is recognised by the NZ Social Work Registration Board, so you can immediately apply for provisional registration.
  • Massey graduates make up the largest number of highly qualified social workers in the country.
  • Social work is a growth industry - with about 7000 registered social workers in NZ, the government needs more.
  • Massey is the only university in New Zealand where you can study for your degree through distance learning.
  • We guarantee you a national network of hands-on field experience and work placements for our Year 3 and 4 students.
  • Whether you choose to study with us by distance from halfway around the world or face-to-face on campus, you will benefit from our wide range of university courses in social work and social policy in New Zealand.
  • We combine both theory and practice taught by highly qualified staff – all experts in their fields and passionate about their profession.

Every year, we find work experience for more than 200 students like you in placements throughout New Zealand to make sure you get that vital hands-on experience in the real world.

Our highly regarded social work degree equips you with all the skills needed to understand people and communities in the modern world as you work with them to better their lives.

Want to start making your mark on the lives of others? And enjoy a fulfilling career that can take you right to the top of the profession around the world? Then join us today on a journey for success. Our promise to you? We’ll be with you every step of the way. So what are you waiting for?

A good fit if you:

  • Dream of helping people from all walks of life
  • Want to make a real difference to your world
  • Believe in social justice
  • Are intrigued by how systems and people work and how to manage relationships
  • Are determined to lead a meaningful life
Blake Gardiner
Bachelor of Social Work
Care and Protection Social Worker, Ministry for Children Oranga Tamariki

“I chose social work without fully understanding the concept, but I knew it was about people and I knew that people mattered…”

In social work, I have found many people deeply concerned with the thoughts and well-being of others, a journey which has influenced my own choices prior to, during, and after my time at Massey.

I grew up in Laos, one of the most impoverished nations in Southeast Asia, whilst living in comfortable luxury. I came from a place of privilege but was surrounded by poverty. And those who were expatriates within Laos, like myself, were people who sought to live a life of advocacy and service. That example drove me, first deeper into religious faith, then later into social work. I had strongly considered seminary but decided against it. Rather, I chose social work without fully understanding the concept, but I knew it was about people and I knew that people mattered. 

As simple as that may sound, my study at Massey was not the result of any long-held desire to study there, rather it was a choice made after many unforeseen circumstances. I had not planned to stay in New Zealand initially and I had not planned to stay at Massey, but when I returned to New Zealand in 2013, I found myself in need of a new place to call home. I stayed close to my grandmother, the matriarch of our family, on the North Shore and my church. Ultimately, I wanted to be close to people who were important to me and Massey provided that. However, as time progressed, I found myself not only at home with those around me, but also at home on the campus and in my studies at Massey.

When I began the Bachelor of Social Work, I almost quit. I was six weeks into my degree and questioning my resolve. It is not a degree with high financial prospects (that is not the purpose) nor a degree where you can leave your character unexamined. I was constantly confronted with the question of who I am, resulting in tears and brokenness by the end of my second year. At the same time, I found myself in love with the culture and the way people think, how systems interlink, and the way policy is formed. Where I was once unsure of if I should stay, I found myself entrenched in ideas which fascinate me to this day.

As a final note of amusement, my current employment is not where I envisioned I would be. Yes, it is one of the classic social work professions and while the well-being of children has been part of my journey, I did not imagine I would be where I am today. Yet, I would not change it for a moment. The journey I have been on has shown me that while I may have a notion of what I want, that which I am given holds value I would not have anticipated and often far exceeds my expectations.


The New Zealand Social Work Registration Board has approved this four-year degree. It is one of the few internationally recognised social work qualifications in New Zealand, and many of our graduates are working in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

What kind of jobs can you get in social work?

A social work degree means you can work in many different areas. Social workers work across all age groups and in many fields of practice including:

  • Hospitals and primary health care
  • Mental health and addictions
  • Voluntary and community organisations and government organisations
  • Child protection
  • Youth justice
  • Housing
  • Offenders
  • Residential care
  • Management and supervision
  • Tertiary education
  • Community work and community development
  • Refugees and migrants
  • Schools

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