Master of Social Work – MSW

Take the next step in your social work career. Improve your practice and gain new knowledge to become an excellent social worker who makes a difference.

Type of qualification

Master's degree

Level of study

Postgraduate study

Once you’ve graduated with a bachelor’s degree – or have equal experience – you can study at the postgraduate level. Doctoral qualifications require additional entry requirements.

NZQF level 9

Our courses follow the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) levels.

Find out more about NZQF levels

Time to complete

2 year(s) full-time (240 credits)
Up to 6 years part-time
Part-time available

Where you can study

Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Not open to international students

Study a Master of Social Work – MSW

Excellent social workers are always striving to gain new knowledge. If you already have a professional qualification in social work and want to improve your practice, this qualification is for you.

The Master of Social Work qualification is an advanced study of a specific aspect of social and community work. The programme is flexible and offers you opportunities for both full and part-time study.

This is a thesis-based programme that encourages you to pursue research in a particular field of practice, population, or area of interest. It equips you to develop and use research skills in their practice settings. You’ll also keep current with the very latest theories and practices.

Practice-based social work research can include needs assessments, programme development, implementation assessment and programme evaluation. Your study will also include theory development in a New Zealand context.

Want to become a social worker?

The Master of Social Work is a research-focused master’s. If you wish to undertake a professional social work qualification that will prepare you for social work registration in New Zealand you should study either the:

A MSW is a good fit if you:

  • already have a professional qualification in social work
  • wish to undertake advanced study of a specific aspect of social and community work
  • want to do practice-based social work research.

Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

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

Specific requirements

To enter the Master of Social Work programme you will:

  • have been awarded or qualified for the Bachelor of Social Work or Bachelor of Social Work with Honours or equivalent, or
  • have been awarded or qualified for the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work or equivalent with a B grade average across all courses.

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

English language requirements

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

Prior learning, credit and exemptions

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

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

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 qualification 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. 

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas, and Postgraduate Certificates.

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 qualification 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 qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

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

Structure of the Master of Social Work

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

For progression to Part Two of the Master of Social Work, you must achieve:

  • a minimum B grade average over the courses completed in Part One, and
  • at least a B grade in 179702 Advanced Research Methods.

120 credit Master of Social Work

If you are admitted to the Master of Social Work with a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work you may complete the Master of Social Work with 120 credits. This  must include the compulsory course 179702 Advanced Research Methods.

Read the regulations for this qualification to find out more.

Courses and specialisations

Key terms

Courses
Each qualification has its own specific set of courses. Some universities call these papers. You enrol in courses after you get accepted into Massey.
Course code
Each course is numbered using 6 digits. The fourth number shows the level of the course. For example, in course 219206, the fourth number is a 2, so it is a 200-level course (usually studied in the second year of full-time study).
Credits
Each course is worth a number of credits. You combine courses (credits) to meet the total number of credits needed for your qualification.
Specialisations
Some qualifications let you choose what subject you'd like to specialise in. Your major or endorsement is what you will take the majority of your courses in.

Credit summary

240 credits

  • Part One compulsory research methods course – 30 credits
  • Part One courses selected from the Schedule – 90 or 120 credits
  • Part Two thesis – 90 or 120 credits

Advanced entry: Those who have already completed specified qualifications in advance of the minimum entry requirements may be able to complete this degree in 120 or 180 credits.

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

Course planning key

Prerequisites
Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Corequisites
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Restrictions
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Part One

Compulsory course

Course code: 179702 Advanced Research Methods 30 credits

An examination of research methods, traditions and techniques used in social and health research. The course is designed to assist the planning of Master and Doctoral theses.

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Elective courses

Course code: 179736 Substance Misuse and Addictions 30 credits

An advanced study of current treatment and intervention models in the substance misuse and addictions area.

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Course code: 179740 Social Service Supervision: Theory and Practice 30 credits

An examination of the functions and practice and selected theories and models of professional social service supervision.

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Course code: 179741 Social Service Management 30 credits

An examination of current management theory and its application to the management, administrative systems and professional practice in social service agencies.

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Course code: 179742 Learning in Social Service Supervision 30 credits

An advanced study of learning in social service supervision including identity development in both the supervisor and the person supervised.

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Course code: 179743 Clinical Supervision 30 credits

An advanced study of selected theoretical models and clinical supervision skills in professional practice.

Prerequisites: 179740

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Course code: 179761 Current Issues and Theories in Social Service Practice 30 credits

An examination of contemporary practice in the context of current trends in social service delivery. Selected fields of practice are analysed with a view to understanding the theoretical underpinnings of practice. Issues relevant to service delivery are identified, and alternative approaches to practice are explored.

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Course code: 179763 Clinical Practice 30 credits

An advanced study of theoretical models, research evidence and clinical skills in professional social work practice.

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Course code: 179771 Child Welfare 30 credits

An examination of current social work practice in the area of child welfare. While there is a particular emphasis placed upon child welfare services, programmes and practices in Aotearoa/New Zealand, students are also encouraged to examine international literature and practice.

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Course code: 179773 Disability Studies 30 credits

An examination of the experience of disability, the delivery of disability support services, and the disability industry in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Major theoretical and current policy debates in the area of disability both here and overseas are examined.

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Course code: 179777 Disability, Consumer Rights and Advocacy 30 credits

A critical examination of the disability rights movement from historical, social and political perspectives. Particular attention will be paid to models of service provision and to consumers as self advocates, parents as mediators and advocates for their children.

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Course code: 179778 Mental Health and Social Work 30 credits

An advanced study of the field of mental health from a social work perspective. It considers conceptual and contextual issues, intervention strategies and current debates.

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Course code: 179783 Māori Development and the Social Services 30 credits

Themes in contemporary Māori development (kaupapa Māori) with particular reference to the aspirations of Māori people. Emphasis will be placed on the implications of such themes for the social services as well as for the development of appropriate social policies.

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Course code: 279703 Social Policy Studies 30 credits

A critical review of social policy in New Zealand with particular emphasis on policy processes, institutional frameworks, social policy delivery systems, outcomes.

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Part Two (Choose at least 90 credits from)

Choose at least 90 credits from
Course code: 179816 Thesis 120 Credit Part 1 60 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

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Course code: 179817 Thesis 120 Credit Part 2 60 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

Corequisites: 179816

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Course code: 179896 Thesis 90 Credit Part 1 45 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

Prerequisites: 179702

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Course code: 179897 Thesis 90 Credit Part 2 45 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

Prerequisites: 179702 Corequisites: 179896

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Course code: 179898 Thesis 90 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

Prerequisites: 179702

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Course code: 179899 Thesis 120 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

Prerequisites: 179702

View full course details

Fees and scholarships

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.

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

Professionally trained people working in the social services make a vital contribution to present day New Zealand society. Their skills are in increasing demand.

The Master of Social Work (MSW) will enable you to practice at senior levels in New Zealand and many other countries in a wide range of social service fields. These include government services, such as Child, Youth and Family and Community Probation, Hospitals, and Iwi, hapu, and Pacific Island organisations.

Graduates with the MSW can expect to take up leadership roles in all these settings, and they may achieve senior positions in a variety of career paths, including roles in:

  • social work
  • social work education
  • management of social service agencies
  • policy analysis
  • social work research.

What our students say

“I would recommend Massey’s social work programme for anyone who is interested addressing global inequalities and promoting the rights of others in a culturally appropriate and strengths based way.”
Zoey Henley

Managing Director, Children’s Future International

Master of Social Work

“Completing a Master of Social Work has taught me how to do research. It has enabled me to explore what I am passionate about: Whānau Ora, whānau-centred practice, kaupapa Māori practice and going beyond crisis intervention by focussing on the moemoeā (dreams and aspirations) of whānau. ”
James Martin Cherrington

Ko Ngapuhi te Iwi, Ko Ngati Hine te hapu. Māori, Niuean, Samoan, Irish and English.

He Puna Hauora, Kaiwhakaaraara (person doing awakening) / Whanau Ora Navigator

Master of Social Work, First Class Honours.

“Completing my Master of Social Work with Massey was a life changing journey for both me and my family. It was challenging but allowed me to explore and discover issues within my community, which has enhanced my social work practice and experiences.”
Jasmin Marie Albert

Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whātua, Te-Whānau-ā-Apanui

Turuki Health Care. Senior Practitioner Teen Parenting Social Worker. Supervisor Engaging Priority Families.

Master of Social Work

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