Social Work Master’s Degree:

Cleveland Campus

We award a Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA, equivalent to an MSW or Master of Social Work), which is offered in full time (2-year), part time, and Intensive Weekend formats on our Cleveland campus.

Since 1915, the Mandel School has been educating social work leaders. With a groundbreaking curriculum taught by a world-renowned faculty and an 8:1 student/faculty ratio – one of the nation’s lowest among schools of social work – you’ll receive personalized instruction that will elevate your understanding of social work practice, theory, and research and will enhance the practical knowledge you attain in the field.

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The Mandel School awards an MSSA degree – a Master of Science in Social Administration – which is equivalent to an MSW and is recognized as such by employers, state licensing boards, other universities, and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Our social work master’s degree program is designed to be comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and academically rigorous – combining practice, policy, advocacy, research, theory, and experiential learning. We believe – and our 7,800 alumni confirm – that an MSSA translates into social workers who have received top-ranked academic training, who are better prepared for leadership, and who have more options in their future careers.

When our school was first chartered by Western Reserve University back in 1915, social work was not considered to be a profession. Consequently, the MSW was not considered to be a professional degree program at that time. Our founders created the Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA), which was designated as the first professional degree program in social work at a university in the United States in 1915 and was accredited in 1919 (the first year social work accreditation was given).

For the past 100 years, the Mandel School and our MSSA have been at the forefront in professional social work education and training, and we continue that legacy today.

The Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA, equivalent to an MSW) at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). In fact, we have been accredited since 1919, the first year graduate social work education was available. We will be undergoing Reaffirmation of Accreditation in 2017.

Case Western Reserve University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

The MSSA degree fulfills many of the requirements of social work licensure in all 50 states in the United States. To become licensed in any state, you must also complete the licensure exam and complete supervised hours (post-masters). For an explanation of the various licensing requirements for social workers, please visit the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

The Mandel School is the only social work school in the U.S. that provides ALL on-campus, full-time MSSA students with a $1,000 per semester award for their required work in the field, to help defray any expenses the may incur related to it. This special award is paid for by the school – not the agency or institution at which the student is working.

How is the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve ranked among its peers? Highly.

We are ranked #9 in the nation and #1 in Ohio for top Graduate Social Work Schools by U.S. News & World Report (2018).

The Best Schools also ranked the Mandel School #8 among social work programs.

And Case Western Reserve University is considered one of the best universities in the United States.

Our MSSA program offers the flexibility to customize your education to pursue your passions and achieve your career goals.

Community Practice for Social Change
A macro social work focus to develop the practical skills and values needed to lead and organize comprehensive social change on a broad scale. This specialization addresses a range of issues including globalization, poverty, inequality and oppression, cultural diversity, human rights, gay rights, women’s rights, and more – understanding their context, opportunities, and lasting solutions. Learn more >

Direct Practice
A micro social work focus to address complex human needs in the context an evolving practice environment. Develop the practical skills and values needed to engage individuals, families, and groups; assess client needs and strengths; provide or help arrange needed services and support; weigh intervention alternatives; implement change strategies; and evaluate results.


Substance Abuse Disorders and Recovery
Children, Youth and Families
Mental Health (Children and Adolescents)
Mental Health (Adults)

A wide variety of graduate certificate programs are available to MSSA students that can help enhance knowledge in specific areas and meet career goals. Students who are considering certificates may also want to consider Dual Degree options as well.

Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CNM)
The CNM is designed for social work students and individuals who know they want to manage or lead a nonprofit. For more information, contact Robert Fischer, PhD, director of the Master of Nonprofit Organizations program.

Certificate in Gerontology
A multidisciplinary certificate offered through CWRU’s University Center on Aging and Health. For more information, contact Dr. Aloen Townsend, PhD.

Certificate in Global Health
This interdisciplinary certificate is for students with interests in health issues that transcend national boundaries and are best addressed by cooperative actions and solutions. For more information, contact CWRU’s Center for Global Health and Diseases or Sharon E. Milligan, MSW, MPH, PhD

Certificate in School Social Work
The School Social Work Certificate trains school social workers to provide them with the competencies to practice in a variety of traditional and non-traditional primary and secondary education settings. Such competencies include assessing the needs of school children, designing and implementing interventions, and making referrals to other professionals and agencies as needed. For more information, please refer to the School Social Work Program.

As with all accredited social work master’s programs, we require field education as an integral part of our MSSA degree. It’s your opportunity to put what you’re learning in the classroom into practice, offers a unique chance to work with senior-level social work leaders in the community, and helps you develop a professional identity that can help you be successful in your future career.

With the help of our experienced field education faculty and staff, you can choose a field placement in your concentration or specialization. Additional program highlights include:

  • a paid stipend for field placements for all full-time on-campus MSSA students
  • a mutual selection process for field placements (student interviews) at a broad range of community-based organizations
  • the ability to learn in multiple evidence-based environments and work with diverse populations
  • community-based field seminars
Applicants with a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) are automatically considered for Advanced Standing. Advanced Standing students receive up to 24 credits toward the MSSA degree and can complete the MSSA program in just 36 credit hours. Your BSW must have been earned within the last seven years from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited institution with grades of B or better in all social-work-related courses. As an Advanced Standing applicant, you will be asked in the essay portion of the application to provide a description of your field education, including roles, responsibilities, and key learning objectives.
Want a flexible way to pursue your MSSA while maintaining a full-time job? Enroll in our Intensive Weekend program, which provides professional graduate-level education for employed social workers particularly interested in Direct Practice specializing in Alcohol and Other Drugs, Children Youth and Families, or Mental Health (Adults). By attending the Mandel School just one weekend per month, the program takes two to three years to complete based on your prior social work education. Contact us at  mandelschool@case.edu to learn more about your options or to connect with the Director of the Intensive Weekend Program.
Our on-campus dual degree programs let you take advantage of other high-caliber graduate programs at the Mandel School and Case Western Reserve University, can help you achieve your professional goals, and will expand your career options by becoming a social worker who has additional knowledge and skills in diverse fields such as nonprofit management, law, and bioethics. We offer:

MSSA/MNO: This social work/nonprofit management program is designed for individuals who have set their sights on becoming managers of human services organizations. For the MSSA, students may pursue either Direct Practice or Community Practice for Social Change concentrations.

MSSA/JD: This dual social work/law degree reflects the transformation in social services, as social workers increasingly enroll in law schools to add to their legal knowledge, while lawyers have expanded their activities into the arena of social work.

MSSA/MBA:  Combining a social work master’s degree with a master’s degree in business administration is ideal for people wishing to prepare for advanced social work practice and gain management-level skills.

MSSA/MA:  A dual Master of Arts in Bioethics and MSSA blends the values of social work with clinical ethics to create an outstanding interdisciplinary experience.

MSSA/MPH: Combining a master’s in social work with a Master’s in Public Health prepares students for leadership in a broad range of health and social services within communities and organizations. Areas of study include prevention program planning, development, and evaluation.

Are you an exceptional undergraduate who wants to get a head start on our social work Master’s program? Consider our 3+2 (Senior Year in Professional Studies) program, which enables undergraduates majoring in social or behavioral sciences at participating schools to begin their first year of MSSA graduate study during what would normally be their last year of undergraduate work.

Receive your MSSA in less time so that you can begin making a difference in your chosen career at an accelerated pace. Your bachelor’s degree will be granted by your undergraduate college when you’ve successfully completed your first year of our MSSA program.

Case Western Reserve University
Hiram College
College of Wooster
Baldwin-Wallace University
John Carroll University
Fisk University
Ohio Northern University
Wittenberg University

You must apply to the Mandel School before the second semester of your junior year. To qualify, you must demonstrate superior academic ability and achievement during your first three years of undergraduate study, have sufficient coursework in the social and behavioral sciences by the end of your junior year, have a 3.2 GPA or higher, and obtain a letter of eligibility from the University Registrar at your undergraduate school.

The 8 Abilities is a triad of knowledge, skills, and values identified by our faculty as essential for competent practice at the master’s level. This groundbreaking Ability Based Learning Environment (ABLE) is the model for social work education throughout the United States. Our MSSA courses, field education, and other learning opportunities are intentionally designed to help you develop and demonstrate competence in the following 8 Abilities:

  • Identify as a Reflective Professional Social Worker
  • Advocate for Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
  • Apply Social Work Practice Methods
  • Uphold Social Work Values and Ethics
  • Integrate Cultural, Economic, and Global Diversity
  • Think Critically About Theory and Research Knowledge
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Develop as a Social Work Leader

How are we doing? Check out our Outcome Assessment Data provided to CSWE in 2015.

Apply Now! There is no application fee ($0) and every application is automatically considered for scholarship awards. Learn more >