Take the next step in your social work career

Excellent social workers are always striving to gain new knowledge. The Master of Social Work (MSW) is the right programme for you if you already have a professional qualification in social work and want to improve your practice.

  • Level

  • Postgraduate, NZQF Level 9
  • Distance learning

  • Available
  • Credits

  • 240
  • Duration

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

Note: This programme may have an on-campus or in-person requirement and therefore requires that students submit a current My Vaccine Pass on enrolment.

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 programme is 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 practice.

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:

Careers and further study


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.

Entry requirements

University admission

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

Programme admission


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 programme 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:

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

  • 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.

Courses for this programme

Part One

Compulsory course

179702 Advanced Research Methods 30

Elective courses

179736 Substance Misuse and Addictions 30
179740 Social Service Supervision: Theory and Practice 30
179741 Social Service Management 30
179742 Learning in Social Service Supervision 30
179743 Clinical Supervision 30
179761 Current Issues and Theories in Social Service Practice 30
179763 Clinical Practice 30
179771 Child Welfare 30
179773 Disability Studies 30
179777 Disability, Consumer Rights and Advocacy 30
179778 Mental Health and Social Work 30
179783 Māori Development and the Social Services 30
279703 Social Policy Studies 30

Part Two

At least 90 credits from
179816 Thesis 120 Credit Part 1 60
179817 Thesis 120 Credit Part 2 60
179896 Thesis 90 Credit Part 1 45
179897 Thesis 90 Credit Part 2 45
179898 Thesis 90
179899 Thesis 120

Planning your programme

Planning overview

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 179.702 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 179.702 Advanced Research Methods.

Read the regulations for this programme to find out more.

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:

  • 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.

Meet our students

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