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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Western Colorado MSW Program

Launched in the fall of 2013, the Western Colorado MSW Program is helping to meet the place-based needs of rural and mountain communities across Western Colorado. The program is based in Glenwood Springs with offices at 1102 Grand Avenue and 1402 Blake Avenue. 

The Western Colorado MSW offers an Advanced Social Work Practice concentration curriculum whose focus areas include rural social work practice, integrated health, ecological health and sustainability, community mental health and child welfare practice.

Program objectives

  • provide professional education to support local workforce development
  • address community concerns and the special needs of rural and mountain communities
  • strengthen the professional social work infrastructure of Colorado's Western Slope and mountain regions

Teaching methods

  • summer intensive courses taught on-site in the Western Colorado region by GSSW faculty and local social work professionals
  • classes simulcast and broadcast from Denver using Interactive Video
  • online and hybrid courses using Web-based technology
  • field education internships throughout the Western Colorado area
  • online access to the University of Denver library for both students and faculty

Class schedule

The Western Colorado MSW program offers a weekend schedule of Friday afternoon and Saturday classes. This allows you to be in your community during the week and also work at your field internship sites.

For detailed curriculum requirements, please see the Western Colorado MSW Program Bulletin (PDF).

Applying to the program

Learn about admission requirements and financial aid for prospective Western Colorado MSW students.

For admission questions, please contact the GSSW Admission Office (303-871-2841)

Learn more

For general information about the Western Colorado MSW Program, please contact Rachel Forbes, Program Director and Assistant Professor of the Practice of Social Work.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to complete the program?

The program is designed to be completed in two years. While some students complete the program in that time frame, those that take longer typically complete by their fourth year. 

Can I complete the program on a part-time basis? 

The program is facilitated through a cohort model with full-time admissions only. On a case by case basis, you can move to part-time once admitted. You must consult with the Program Director, their academic advisor and the GSSW Office of Academic Affairs.

What aspects of the program make it different from the Denver Campus program?

While there are many similarities across the two MSW programs, the Western Colorado Program is unique in several ways: 

a. Condensed Weekend Course Offerings: One of the best aspects of the Western Colorado Program is the ability for students to take classes on Friday evenings at 5 pm and on Saturdays from 9-4:30 PM. This schedule provides an option for working individuals who cannot attend classes during a Monday-Friday schedule.

b. Cohort Based Model: The Western Colorado MSW program brings together a diverse community of learners from across the Western Slope. Students in the program work and live in mountain towns and Western Slope municipalities—from Gunnison, to Hot Sulphur Springs, Steamboat Springs, and Grand Junction just to name a few!

c. Emphasis on rural social work practice: The Western Colorado MSW Program offers a concentration curriculum with an emphasis on rural social work practice. Students will understand how to intervene in rural social service delivery systems, through a social and environmental justice lens. The local and adjunct faculty who teach in the program are a diverse mix of colleagues.

d. Commitment to Workforce Development in Western Colorado: The Western Colorado MSW Program partners with local health and human services organizations including MindSprings Health Inc. through employee incentive programs. The Western Colorado Program is dedicated to employer relationship building to provide students optimum job placement resources during the program and upon graduation. 

Before I apply to the program, I’d like to visit the campus in Glenwood Springs. Is that possible?

Absolutely! It is common for potential applicants to meet with the Program Director who can help you sort through some basic questions about whether an MSW is a good fit for your interests. If you live outside the Western Slope area and are not planning a visit in the near future, we can have that conversation over the phone. To set up an informational meeting or phone conversation, contact Rachel Forbes, Program Director, Western Colorado MSW Program.

How many applicants do you accept each year? 

On average, each graduating cohort is approximately 25 students with most being two-year students.

When can I apply? Does it matter if I have a BSW (bachelor of social work) degree or another kind of degree?  

The traditional 2-year program and the advanced standing program begins every other year. If you have a Bachelor’s degree in any other field besides social work, you qualify for the traditional program. The traditional cohort begins in fall, 2017; the application is available on October 1, 2016. If you have a BSW, you qualify for the advanced standing program. The next advanced standing cohort begins July 2018; the application is available on October 1, 2017.

I am thinking about transferring from another MSW program. What should I do? 

If you are interested in transferring from another MSW program, it is best to email or call the Program Director, Rachel Forbes (970) 945-1133 for more information.

When is the application deadline?

The deadline for the 2-year program is May 1, 2017.

What type of funding is available to support students in the Western Colorado Program?

The Western Colorado MSW program is offered at a reduced tuition rate. Students interested in CW may be eligible for the Title IV-E stipend program. Limited scholarship opportunities are available.

How is the academic job market in the field of social work?

Social Work is projected to be one of the most in-demand professions throughout the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the social work career is one of the fastest growing professions in the nation, expected to grow by 12% through 2024, which is faster than the average expected growth in other fields.

What types of jobs do graduates of the program receive after completion of the program?

The Western Colorado MSW Program works closely with employers throughout the region to facilitate job placement and workforce development. Students have obtained employment in non-profit organizations, government, hospital and integrated care settings, and schools. The Program Director works in collaboration with the Student and Career Services Director in Denver to best prepare students for the workforce upon graduation. 

Who should I talk to for more information?

For questions about the application process, contact the GSSW Office of Admission. For general questions about the Western Colorado Program, contact Program Director Rachel Forbes of call 970-945-1133.