Master of Social Work (by thesis)


The Master of Social Work degree requires candidates to complete a thesis on a full or part-time basis. The MSW is particularly aimed at practitioners with specialist practice, supervisory, management, or policy analysis and development responsibilities.

The programme of study and research can be designed to meet each candidate’s professional needs and interests.

The degree may be awarded with Distinction or Merit.

Entry requirements

Normally the minimum requirement is a three-year bachelor’s degree from a New Zealand university, or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered to be equivalent. If you gained your qualifications overseas, these will need to be assessed to make sure they are of an equivalent standard. You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Qualification specific requirements

Candidates must have completed one of the following:

  • Bachelor of Social Work degree with First Class or Second Class honours Division 1, or
  • bachelor’s degree and the Graduate Diploma in Social Work (if conferred before 2009), or 
  • bachelor's degree and a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work with a B+ average or above, or equivalent, or
  • completed a qualifying course prescribed by the Head of the Department of Social Work and Human Services, and approved by the Dean of Arts of a standard to the prerequisite courses.

The MSW by thesis is accessible only to those students who have obtained a professional qualification in Social Work. This means they have completed fieldwork requirements. For more details, contact the Social Work programme.

For the full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Social Work or use the admission requirements checker

Qualification structure and duration

The MSW degree requires candidates to complete a thesis on a full or part-time basis. It can take one to three years full-time or up to six years part-time. Students can begin their thesis at the beginning of any month.

How to apply

Find out how to apply for graduate and postgraduate qualifications

Further study

UC also offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work.

Career opportunities

Postgraduate study can bring many career benefits eg, specialist skills and enhanced knowledge, entry into specific occupations, higher starting salary/progression rates, research capability/achievement and evidence of high academic attainment/self-discipline. 

Useful resources:

More information

For full requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Social Work.

For study planning help contact the Social Work programme or the College of Arts:

College of Arts
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
New Zealand

Phone +64 3 364 2176
Email arts@canterbury.ac.nz