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Programme list > Master of Applied Social Work

Master of Applied Social Work


Develop your passion for helping others

If you are motivated to make a positive difference in people’s lives, or improve the quality of life in a range of communities, a social work career may be for you.

  • Level

  • Postgraduate, NZQF Level 9
  • Campus

  • Auckland
  • Distance learning

  • Available
  • Credits

  • 240
  • Duration

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

  • Available for international students studying in NZ
  • Other

  • Selected entry programme.

Note: This programme is covered by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Amendment Order 2021. Students are required to provide details of their vaccination status on enrolment.

If you want to become a registered social worker, but don’t have a bachelor’s degree in social work, then this programme is for you.

The Master of Applied Social Work is designed for those with relevant practice experience, or a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline. That could include psychology, education, law, medicine, nursing, sociology, anthropology, theology or case management.

This programme will prepare you for practice and registration as a social worker in New Zealand and most other countries.

Add to social work knowledge

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 courses. They’ll help you contribute to knowledge-building in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

Small engaging classes

Classes are small. Our interactive and transformative teaching methods will challenge your attitudes and beliefs. In addition, you will have opportunities to participate in field trips and Marae Noho. There are no exams and all work is assessed through assignments that cater for a range of learning styles.

Study while you work

It is possible to work part-time while completing this qualification. This programme can be completed in two years studying full-time or in up to five years studying part-time.

Gain experience in the field

The Master of Applied Social Work includes two different supervised field experiences organised and supervised by Massey. You will spend a minimum of 120 days over a course of your study in social services settings gaining experience in social work practice. If you’re already working in social services, one of your two placements could be at your current workplace.

Careers and further study


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 adviser 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.

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

To enter the Master of Applied Social Work you will:

  • have been awarded or qualified for an undergraduate degree, either in the social sciences (such as social and cultural studies, psychology, human development) or an alternative degree with substantial relevant experience in a social or community setting
  • hold a driver’s licence that is valid in New Zealand unless otherwise exempted
  • be selected into the programme on the basis of a process which includes: 
    • providing a personal statement explaining why you wish to enter the social work programme and profession 
    • providing two character referees – these must not be family or friends
    • providing a curriculum vitae that includes academic and work history
    • undertaking an interview.

You will provide verified copies of all academic transcripts for studies taken at all universities other than Massey University.

Once you are successful at gaining a place in the Master of Applied Social Work programme, you will also need to complete further tasks. These are to meet the requirements set down by the Social Workers Registration Act 2003 for registration as a social worker in New Zealand (to ensure you are a “fit and proper person to practise social work”). You will need to:

  • 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 12 months or more in the last 10 years.

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.

Application closing date

If you are a new-to-Massey student, applications for this programme close on 31 January of the year of study (Semester One).

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.

Prior learning, credit and exemptions

For information on prior learning, exemptions and transfer of credit or other questions:

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 qualifications that may help.

Courses and planning

Credit summary

240 credits

  • Compulsory courses – 210 credits
  • Research report – 30 credits
  • 120 days of field education and associated reports

During your study you must continue to meet requirements for registration set down by the New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board.

Courses for this programme

Compulsory courses

240 credits
179781 Social and Community Work Theory and Practice I 30
179782 Social Policy Analysis 30
179783 Māori Development and the Social Services 30
179784 Social and Community Work Theory and Practice II 30
179789 Field Work Practice I 30
179792 Management in the Social Services 15
179890 Field Work Practice II 30
179891 Applied Research in Social Work 15
179895 Research Report (30) 30

Planning your programme

Planning overview

While the structure of the programme is set, there is scope within the courses to choose your particular emphasis from within the fields of social or community work practice.

If you study full-time, you’ll take 120 credits per year or 60 credits per semester.

Mode of study

Most of the courses are taught in block mode where the class contact is in a compressed time period.

Maximum time limits for completion

There are maximum time limits to complete 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

Where your qualification is completed within the stated time limit and to a high standard, you may be able to graduate with a class of Honours, Distinction or Merit. 

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?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

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 can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

A good fit if you:

  • have a goal of helping people from all walks of life
  • believe in social justice
  • are intrigued by how systems and people work and how to manage relationships.

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.

Postgraduate regulations

General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas and Postgraduate 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.

In some cases the programme or specialisation you enrolled in may 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