Congratulations on your admission to the MSW Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM)!

This web page contains a lot of information that will be helpful to you as you begin to determine your next steps to beginning graduate school in fall. The amount of information to absorb can be overwhelming, so take your time, read through this carefully, and bookmark this page so it is easy to come back to.

What Now?

Set up an appointment with your advisor, become familiar with your PAWS account, learn the UWM email system, make a course plan for fall, enroll in courses, attend orientation – maybe not all in that order!

UWM Student Resources

UWM Technology Systems

Your e-Panther ID and password information should come to you from the University soon – you will need this for setting up your student technology systems.

Two systems to move forward with right away:

PAWS (Panther Access to Web Services)

PAWS is the system through which you will enroll in courses and manage your student account. You can access tutorials through the PAWS log-in page – before you log in, click on the word ‘Students’ in the upper left-hand corner of the log-in page.


Our University email system is through Microsoft Office 365. We use email as a critical means for communicating with students – so check it regularly (especially once the Fall term approaches).

It is advised that you set up your email account right away and become familiar with all the features that the 365 system has to offer (including the calendar and One Drive). The University’s Tech Training has a number of useful tutorials and on-demand learning options for using Office 365.

MSW Curriculum for New Admits with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

BSW degrees from 2017-present

If your BSW degree was earned from an accredited BSW program within the past seven years (2017 or after) then you automatically begin in the advanced standing portion of the MSW curriculum and will have 34 credits to complete to earn the MSW degree. These 34 credits include a number of required courses, six credits of electives, and three total semesters that will involve field placement (consecutive semesters).

BSW degrees prior to 2017

If your BSW was earned more than seven years ago (prior to 2017) then you are required to satisfy the MSW professional foundation curriculum prior to beginning the advanced curriculum. Refer to the section of information and requirements for new admits without a BSW.

Full-time students

If your intention is to be a full-time student, you can move through the MSW program in as little time as three semesters (fall, spring and summer) at a maximum load each semester (field plus three classroom courses a semester).

Sometimes full-time students extend it out by a semester, and take the minimum full-time course load for four semesters (fall, spring, summer, fall). This would be field and two classroom courses for three consecutive semesters, plus one semester with just three classroom classes.

Part-time students

If you choose to be a part-time student, you will generally be taking two courses a semester. During the three consecutive semesters you do field, you would be taking one additional classroom course. The estimated time to complete the 34 credits of the MSW degree for a part-time student is approximately two years, including summer.

Field placement

If you plan to be a full-time student, you will likely want to start field placement right away in the fall semester. In order for the Field Department to begin the process of assisting you to find a field placement for fall, you will need to apply for Field as soon as possible, but no later than the fall field application deadline of May 15.

Students interested in School Social Work or a placement at the VA Medical Center must submit their field applications as soon as possible in order to ensure placement.

Please see the Social Work Field Department web pages for full application instructions and details. Applying for field will also be discussed at new MSW student orientation sessions, but don’t wait to attend one to begin your field application. Questions about field and applying for field may be directed to: Jeanne Wagner, Director of Social Work Field Programs, at

MSW Curriculum for New Admits with a Bachelor’s Degree that is not Social Work

If your bachelor’s degree is not from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Social Work degree program or your bachelor’s degree in Social Work was earned more than seven years prior to your start of the MSW program – then you will need to satisfy both the professional foundation and the advanced curriculum portions of the MSW curriculum. Students needing to satisfy both professional foundation and advanced curriculum course work will need to satisfy 58 credits total to earn the MSW degree. The professional foundation courses contain the first 24 credits, and the advanced curriculum contains the final 34 credits towards the 58 credits of the degree. These 58 credits will include 14 total credits of field placement (internship) completed across four semesters.  

Full-time students

If your intention is to be a full-time student, you can move through the MSW program in about two years, including summer(s). Students who can take on a maximum full-time load each semester (four courses each semester) can start the program in fall and complete the program in the second year’s spring semester. Sometimes full-time students extend out to finishing their degree in the second year’s summer semester by taking the minimum full-time course load (three courses each semester).

Part-time students

If you choose to be a part-time student, you will generally be taking two courses a semester. During the semesters in which you are in field placement, you would be taking one additional classroom course. The estimated time to complete the 58 credits of the MSW degree for a part-time student is approximately four years (including summer semesters).

Field placement for full-time students

If you plan to be a full-time student, you will not start field placement right away. You will have all classroom courses for your first semester. You will likely be wanting to start field in your spring (second) semester. In order to do this you will want to be sure that you satisfy foundation course 708 in the fall (first semester). Most students will satisfy this course by taking it in fall, a few students may exempt from the course due to having had a similar course in your undergraduate studies (see exemptions).

Field placement for part-time students

If you plan to be a part-time student, field placement will not be an immediate scheduling consideration, and in fact you may be able to schedule in your first year or two with just classroom courses before you will need to consider field placement as a part of your student schedule.


Sometimes students can exempt from or waive out of certain professional foundation curriculum classes.

Exemptions: Based on previous course work

If a student has had significantly similar course content to the professional foundation courses in their undergraduate background and those similar courses were taken within five years of the student starting the MSW program, they may apply for exemption from the corresponding professional foundation course(s). When applying for exemption, a student must supply evidence of the previous course work taken through a copy of a syllabus or a course description (syllabus preferred) of the previous course(s) that the student believes fits the same course content. More information: 2024 MSW Foundation Course Exemption Request

One example of a very common exemption based on previous course work is for undergraduate psychology majors to become exempted from our Professional Foundation 662 Methods of Social Welfare Research based on the research methods and statistics courses the student had towards their major as a psychology student. Sometimes this can be true of research and statistics from other social science disciplines too.

Information for All Newly Admitted MSW Students

We hold orientation sessions online in the spring. The orientation session covers an introduction to the program and group advising.

Financial Aid

Students requiring Financial Aid should apply for federal aid using the FAFSA process as soon as possible.

Contact the UWM Financial Aid Office for further advice and information about financial aid and student loans for graduate students.

IMPORTANT: Your financial aid award amount is based on a whole academic year – including the summer semester – BUT disbursement of aid generally defaults to the Fall and Spring semesters only. Most MSW students do take courses in the Summer. If you want financial aid money for Summer – your options are: 1.) save for yourself a portion of your Fall and Spring aid money for Summer, or 2.) work directly with the Financial Aid office to change the disbursement schedule to hold aside an amount of your yearly award for Summer. When you have questions or are in doubt about anything related to Financial Aid – contact the UWM Financial Aid Office.