Master of Applied Social Work

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Develop your passion for helping others into a rewarding career

If you are motivated to make a positive difference in people’s lives, a social work career may be for you.

What is it like?

Want to be a social worker?

If you want to be a social worker, then this is the programme for you.

The Master of Applied Social Work (MAppSW) will prepare you for practice and registration as a social worker in New Zealand and most other countries.

The course conforms to national and international guidelines by including two different supervised field experiences. This 240-credit master's programme is designed for students who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than social work but wish to change careers.

Add to social work knowledge

With a Massey MAppSW, you will be able to make cutting-edge contributions to your discipline. You’ll benefit from our research-informed, research-leading, forward-thinking and academically credible programmes. They’ll help you contribute to knowledge-building in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.


MAppSW students should read and note the “fit and proper” requirements on the Social Workers Registration Board website. All MAppSW students will be vetted by the New Zealand Police prior to their field education placements. A police record may not be a barrier to field placement, but full disclosure of any convictions in New Zealand and/or overseas is essential. All students must have a current full driving licence valid in New Zealand by the start of their field placements.

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
Ansie Jansen van Vuuren
Master of Applied Social Work
NZ Red Cross

“Similar to my thesis abstract “walking alongside me”, I felt Massey was beside me and really supported me…”

I started my studies at Massey University after a 22-year break from my previous studies in Psychology and Education in South Africa. After such a long break, I was very apprehensive about studying at a post-graduate level in what was a new field for me, but also because English was my second language. However, I felt very well supported by the staff at Massey every step of the way and was able to complete my studies successfully and find appropriate employment. Similar to my thesis abstract “walking alongside me”, I felt Massey was beside me and really supported me. 

My interest in social work started while I was working with a student from a refugee background in a primary school in New Zealand. It was through this exposure that I became aware of the unique challenges for refugees. This experience encouraged me to pursue a career in social work, especially in migrant and refugee care.

Although I had extensive experience in working with people from a disadvantaged background, I had a huge gap in knowledge and practice of social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Master of Applied Social work programme provided me with an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge while upskilling in the field of my interest. 

The contact courses were very interactive which allowed for good learning, both practical skills and theory. The fieldwork placements were challenging, but also very rewarding as I did my placements in my field of interest. I was very fortunate to be offered a full-time position after I completed my first fieldwork placement.

The most valuable skills that I have learnt from my studies are reflective practice and critical thinking. I have learnt the importance of analysing day-to day politics, either on a macro or meso level and the impact on people at a micro level. This is really a crucial skill for my work in the NGO sector which has an international presence and as I work with some of the most vulnerable people.

The programme prepared me for real life working challenges in the social work field.  My current work in the field of refugee care is influenced by politics on an international level, but also at a national level. I do feel that my studies have provided me with a much better understanding of the impact of those global events, national politics and the impact on agencies at the grass-roots level.


What kind of jobs can you get in social work?

A social work degree means you can work in many different areas. You could be a field operator working in the community or you could be a professional advisor in a hospital or a district health board. You might choose to be a policy expert working with government. Or you could travel overseas to the jungles of Papua New Guinea to work within a village setting. The options are endless. And endlessly meaningful. Social workers make a difference in many areas around the world 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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