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Programme list > Bachelor of Social Work

Bachelor of Social Work


Develop your passion for helping others into a rewarding career

Become a registered social worker with Massey’s Bachelor of Social Work. As a social worker, you can advocate for structural change, engage in community development and help people overcome challenges to enhance individual and whānau wellbeing.

  • Level

  • Undergraduate, NZQF Level 7
  • Campus

  • Auckland, Manawatū
  • Distance learning

  • Available
  • Credits

  • 480
  • Duration

  • 4 year(s) full-time. Available part-time.
  • International

  • Available for international students studying in NZ
  • Other

  • Selected entry programme.

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is highly sought-after and internationally recognised. It will offer you a lifelong career that can take you across New Zealand and around the world.

  • More than 90% of Massey social work graduates find employment within six months of earning their degree.
  • Massey University is committed to being Te Tiriti o Waitangi-led and this is reflected in the School of Social Work and in your learning.
  • The degree is recognised by the NZ Social Work Registration Board.
  • Massey graduates make up the largest number of qualified social workers in the country.
  • Social work is a growth industry, with about 7000 registered social workers in NZ.
  • Massey is the leading university in New Zealand where you can study for your degree through distance learning.
  • You will get vital hands-on experience in the workplace in your third and fourth year of study where you will be supported to undertake placements.
  • We combine both theory and practice, taught by well-qualified staff.

Our degree equips you with all the skills needed to understand and work alongside people and communities in the modern world.

Want to work towards a role that has a positive impact on individuals, families, groups and communities? Want to enjoy a fulfilling career that can give you great employment opportunities and further career development pathways? Open to personal and professional development and keen to work with diverse communities? Join us today on a journey of self-discovery and success.

Careers and further study


A social work degree means you can work in many different areas. Social workers work across all age groups and you will have opportunities to work in many different areas, in non-government or statutory organisations, for example:

  • child protection
  • community work and community development
  • diversity specific services (eg Chinese, Korean, Sāmoan, Rainbow, Spiritually-based)
  • hospitals and primary health care
  • housing
  • iwi and marae-based social services
  • management and supervision
  • mental health and addictions
  • offenders
  • policy development
  • refugees and migrants
  • residential care
  • schools
  • tertiary education
  • women
  • youth justice.

Further study

You may wish to progress to the Master of Social Work when you successfully complete this programme.

International students

New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.

Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.

As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.

Entry requirements

University admission

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Programme admission


The Bachelor of Social Work is a selected entry programme. This means there are a number of extra requirements you must meet.

To enter the Bachelor of Social Work programme you will:

  • meet the requirements set down by the Social Workers Registration Act 2003 for registration as a social worker in New Zealand in terms of being “fit and proper persons to practise social work” – see: swrb.govt.nz/about-us/policies/
  • provide a curriculum vitae which includes your academic and work history
  • provide a personal statement explaining why you wish to enter the social work programme and profession
  • provide details of two character referees - these must not be family or friends
  • provide details of any convictions or charges pending in New Zealand and/or overseas
  • complete the vetting service request and consent form for a New Zealand Police check
  • provide a current police certificate from any overseas countries you have lived in for twelve months or more in the last ten years.
  • undertake an interview (if required).

Application closing date

If you are a new-to-Massey student, applications for this programme close on 31 January 2022 (Semester One) and 11 June 2022 (Semester Two).

International students

International students must be in New Zealand to study this programme by distance learning.

English language requirements

To study this programme you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

If English, Māori or New Zealand sign language is not your first language, you will need to provide official evidence of your English language competency in the form of:

  • an IELTS test with an overall academic score of at least 6.5, with no band score less than 6.5, taken within the preceding two years; or
  • a TOEFL internet-based test (IBT) score of 85 or higher with a writing score of 22; or at least two years of successful study in a new Zealand secondary school, with at least 10 Level 2 NCEA credits in Literacy (five reading and five writing); or equivalent.

 Massey University English language requirements

Other requirements

About referees

We require two people who can act as referees for you. A referee should be someone who has known you for one year or more in the capacity of employer, educator, work colleague or person of community standing, e.g. Kaumatua, Minister or similar. Your referee should not be a friend, flatmate, relative or someone who has not known you for at least a year. The information your referee supplies is confidential to those involved in the selection process.

If you do not have the entry requirements

English language and foundation courses

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, we have courses and programmes that may help.

Summer School

If you need to do a course before you start your programme, there may be options for you in Summer School.

Courses and planning

Credit summary

480 credits

  • Part One compulsory courses – 120 credits
  • Part Two compulsory courses – 120 credits
  • Part Three compulsory courses – 120 credits
  • Part Four compulsory courses – 120 credits
  • 120 days of approved supervised field education and associated reports

This is a parts-based qualification. This means that there are regulations around completion of Part One before progressing to Part Two etc.

Courses for this programme

Part One

120 credits
150103 Nau mai e noho: Engaging with Māori 15
176101 The Sociological Imagination 15
179110 Creating a Foundation for Social and Community Work 15
179120 Environmental Sustainability in Social and Community Work 15
179121 Identity Development in Aotearoa New Zealand 15
179155 A Foundation of Interpersonal Skills for the Helping Professions 15
275102 Human Development 15
279101 Social Policy: An Introduction 15

Part Two (No New Enrolments in 2023)

120 credits
150201 Te Kawenata o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand Society 15
150205 Kura Mai Tawhiti: Māori Knowledge 15
179202 Applied Research for Social Policy and Social Work 15
179210 Social Work Theories, Assessment and Interventions 15
179230 The Wellbeing of Pacific Peoples in New Zealand 15
179255 Introduction to Field Education 15
279201 Social Policy: Concepts and Theories 15
279203 Law, Government and Social Policy 15

Part Two (from 2023)

120 credits
150201 Te Kawenata o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand Society 15
150205 Kura Mai Tawhiti: Māori Knowledge 15
179202 Applied Research for Social Policy and Social Work 15
179210 Social Work Theories, Assessment and Interventions 15
179230 The Wellbeing of Pacific Peoples in New Zealand 15
179240 Ethics, Values and Law in Social Work and Social Policy 15
179255 Introduction to Field Education 15
279203 Law, Government and Social Policy 15

Part Three (No New Enrolments in 2024)

105 credits
179310 Integrated Practice with Groups and Families 15
179320 Community Development 15
179330 Māori Development and the Social Services 15
179355 Field Education I 45
279301 Government Policy, Planning and Administration 15

Part Three (from 2024)

120 credits
179310 Integrated Practice with Groups and Families 15
179320 Community Development 15
179330 Māori Development and the Social Services 15
179340 Developing Practice 15
179355 Field Education I 45
279301 Government Policy, Planning and Administration 15

Part Four (No New Enrolments in 2025)

135 credits
179410 Social Work Fields of Practice 30
179420 Advanced Social Work Practice 30
179440 Management in the Social Services 15
179455 Field Education II 45
279401 Social Policy Evaluation 15

Part Four (from 2025)

120 credits
179430 Integrated Social Work Practice – Authentising Practice 15
179431 Consolidating Practice 15
179432 Ahurea ki uta, Ahurea ki tai 15
179433 Selected Study in Policy, Practice or Diverse Populations 15
179440 Management in the Social Services 15
179455 Field Education II 45

Planning your programme

Planning overview

If you study full-time, in your first year, you’ll take eight 15-credit courses, making a total of 120 credits.

If you wish to study over two semesters, you should aim for 60 credits per semester. You may be able to take some courses at summer school. Make sure you include courses that are prerequisites for the next level of courses you wish to study.

The Bachelor of Social Work is a parts-based qualification. That means you must complete the first part, before moving to the second, etc.

Part One

Part One provides an understanding of people and society, particularly in New Zealand. Courses can be chosen from a range of social science, humanities and other disciplines.

Part Two

Part Two brings a deeper understanding of social problems, social work theories, social policy and government, social work and basic interview skills.

Part Three

Part Three concentrates on developing practical social work skills that are firmly based in social work theory, Māori development, advanced social policy and community work. An exciting feature is attendance at a Noho Marae.

Part Four

Part Four develops applied skills in specialist areas of social work. These include management, policy evaluation and a variety of fields of practice.

In Parts Three and Four, you will complete supervised placements in social service agencies.

Part-time study

If you work for more than 12-15 hours a week, we recommend you enrol for part-time study.

Second semester start

If you are applying to begin the Bachelor of Social Work in the second semester (mid-year), please contact us to help you plan your degree.

Distance students

If you study by distance, you will be required to attend in-person compulsory contact workshops (from Year One. Dates for contact workshops are on each course page.

Withdrawing from courses

Withdrawing from a course may impact on you being able to progress to the next part of your Bachelor of Social Work. Prior to withdrawing from a course we recommend you make contact with one of the Bachelor of Social Work Coordinators located within the School of Social Work.

Requirements while you are studying

  • You will complete supervised placements in social service agencies in your third year (field education). By this time you are required to have a full New Zealand driver’s licence.
  • During the course of your study, you will continue to meet our requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, and under the Social Workers Registration Board ‘Fit and Proper Person policy and Code of Conduct.

Supervised placements – field education

A critical part of the degree are two field education courses. These consist of 120 days (in total) of approved work placements supervised by a registered social worker. You must pass these courses to progress to the next part of the degree. Field education is assessed through both academic and practice requirements.

Re-applying after a break

If you are returning to the Bachelor of Social Work at Massey after a break of two years or more, you must apply for re-entry to the programme.

Maximum time limits for completion

There are maximum time limits to complete some undergraduate and all postgraduate qualifications. If you do not complete within the maximum time, you may be required to re-apply for the programme if you wish to continue your studies.

Time limits for Honours, Distinction and Merit

If you complete this programme within the stated time limit, you will normally be able to graduate with a class of Honours.

Look for further information under ‘Student Progression’ in the regulations for this programme.

More information

  • Read the regulations for this programme thoroughly
  • Contact us through the Enquire button on this page if you have any questions.

Typical pattern for the Bachelor of Social Work

Core courses These courses are a compulsory part of your qualification.

Elective courses Follow your interests. Your qualification may have selection guidelines for elective courses.

Year one
150.103 Nau mai e noho: Engaging with Māori
179.110 Introducing Social and Community Work Practice
179.155 Helping Skills in Social Work Practice
275.102 Human Development
279.101 Social Policy: An Introduction
Year two
Social Work
Social Work
Social Work
Social Work
Social Work
Social Work
Māori Studies
Year three
Social Work field work
45 credits
Social Work
Social Work
Social Work
Social Work
Year four
Social Work field work
45 credits
Social Work
30 credits
Social Work
30 credits
Social Policy

Courses are each worth 15 credits, unless otherwise indicated

Fees and scholarships

Fees and finance

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

If you already know which courses you are going to take, you can use our fees calculator to get an estimate of your fees.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students will find their National Student Number on their student homepage.

A good fit if you:

  • dream of helping people from all walks of life
  • want to make a real difference in the world
  • believe in human rights and social justice.

Meet our students

Accreditations and rankings

New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board

The Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Applied Social Work are accredited by the New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board. Upon completion you can apply for provisional registration as a registered social worker.

Key information for students

Compare qualifications and academic information across different New Zealand institutions.


Review this important information before you apply for this programme. This gives you full details of the rules and regulations about what you need to study and what you must achieve in order to graduate with this qualification. That includes structure, courses and requirements. These regulations should be read in conjunction with all other Statutes and Regulations of the University including the below.

Undergraduate programmes

General Regulations for Undergraduate Degrees, Undergraduate Diplomas, Undergraduate Certificates, Graduate Diplomas and Graduate Certificates.

Regulations for this programme

Applying and enrolling

Applying for the programme

Check you are ready

If you are ready to apply, have a look at our application checklist. It will help you get prepared with what you need. Please also check the entry requirements carefully before you apply.

Choose your programme and click on Apply now

You will apply for the programme using the Apply now button on this page. You’ll also choose your specialisation (major, subject or endorsement) if applicable.

Some programmes have additional requirements such as the submission of a portfolio or CV. Click on Apply now and you will be able to submit those documents as part of the application process.

Receive and accept an Admission Offer of Place

You will receive an Admission Offer of Place when you have been accepted into the programme. You need to accept this before you can enrol in your courses. International students also need to pay their fees at this point.

Enrolling in courses

You’ll then get access to your own student homepage (also known as the student portal). This is where you can enrol in courses. Any updates on your application or enrolments will also be on your student homepage. Make sure you check this regularly.

When you choose courses, ensure you check for any requirements that apply including:

  • prerequisites (courses you have to do before the one you are enrolling in)
  • corequisites (courses you have to do at the same time as the one you are enrolling in)
  • restrictions (courses that you cannot enrol in if you are completing or have completed another identified similar course)
  • location – for instance some distance-based courses still have an on-campus element, so double check that the way the course is taught is suitable for your situation.

Each of our courses has its own webpage where you can find this information. You can use our course search to find course pages.

More information on courses is in the ‘Courses for this programme’ section on this page.

You can find information on application due dates and semester dates on the key dates page.

We look forward to welcoming you to Massey!

If you have any questions, contact us through the Enquire button on this page.

What are courses and credits?

What are courses and credits?

Each Massey programme is made up of courses (in some tertiary institutions they are called ‘papers’).

You will have some compulsory courses and some you can choose from.

Each course is worth a certain amount of credits (often 15 credits, but this does vary). You must gain a set number of credits to be able to graduate from this programme.

There may also be some rules about which courses you need to pass to progress to the next year, or stage, of your study (known as progression). There are also courses you must pass to graduate with a specialisation.

  • See the ‘Courses for this programme’ section for the list of courses.
  • Courses search

Understanding course numbers

The first three digits of our course numbers show you which subject the course is about.

The second three digits show you the level and course ID number. For instance:

  • sub-degree courses are '0' (i.e. xxx.0xx)
  • undergraduate study begins at 100-level, (i.e. xxx.1xx)
  • as you progress through 200- and 300-level courses this number changes to 2 and 3 respectively. The higher the number that starts the second three digits, the higher the level of study.
1 6 2 . 3   0 1
Subject area   Level   Course ID number

Workload and time management

Use this tool to help determine how much time you will need each week to complete your studies.

Estimate workload

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

If you are returning to the Bachelor of Social Work at Massey after a break of two years or more, you must apply for re-entry to the programme.

In some cases the programme or specialisation you enrolled in may be no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these programmes go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Enquire button on this page if you have any questions.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships available for new and current students. They could relate to your situation, achievement or interest.

Find and apply for scholarships