Graduate Diploma and Master of Social Work

Graduate Diploma and Master of Social Work
Evolving societal, community and individual needs bring about heightened expectations of contemporary social workers, from both clients and employers.

To meet these challenges of the new era, leaders in the social services sector are required to play a vital role in guiding and grooming fellow social workers as well as to possess a wealth of knowledge in a specific field. This programme offers the key to satisfying this new role.

The Graduate Diploma and Master of Social Work Programme is a practice-based programme, designed to prepare social workers aspiring to take up leadership positions in the social service sector. The programme aims to equip graduates with clinical social work skills, administration skills and supervision skills to function at management positions in the sector. The Graduate Diploma and Master of Social Work is specially designed both for graduates with a social work degree and those with other degrees. For graduates without prior social work training, pre-requisite courses will equip you with the basic social work knowledge and skills so as to ease you into the Master programme.

Graduates from this programme will be recognised social work professionals with administrative and supervisory abilities as well as domain specialists, as accepted by the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) and the main employers of social workers namely the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

Unique features of the programme:
  • • A special feature of this programme is the option of exiting with a Graduate Diploma or graduating with a Master degree.
  • • All courses are taught by established academics and professionals in leadership positions with vast real-time experiences, ensuring that issues discussed are always kept current and relevant for practical application.

  • The programme offers a specialisation track in Couple and Family Therapy which will train the student to work with couples and families having relational issues. The various models of Family Therapy like Systemic, Structural, Strategic, Experiential and others will be covered.
    Applicants should be Singapore citizens, permanent residents or residents in Singapore. In addition, you will need to meet these minimum requirements:

    • An undergraduate degree or an equivalent qualification from a recognised institution
    • Good communication skills (written and spoken English)
    • At least two years of work experience *
    • 21 years and above
    *Applicants applying for the Social Work programme should preferably have at least two (2) years of experience in the social service or related sector.

    For Couple and Family Therapy specialisation track, applicants should have good individual counselling skills, with at least one year of working experience with couples and families.

    Applicants must complete and submit an online application to Singapore University of Social Sciences by the specified deadline.

    Shortlisted candidates may be required to undergo one or more interviews and/or take such written admission or other evaluation tests as may be prescribed by Singapore University of Social Sciences.

    The offer of admission is dependent on the number of places available in individual programmes.

    In the event of overwhelming demand and limited vacancy, priority will be given to eligible applicants who applied early. You are encouraged to submit your application early to avoid disappointment.

    The decision of the Admissions Committee of Singapore University of Social Sciences is final and binding. Singapore University of Social Sciences reserves the right to refuse admission and is not obliged to offer an explanation for the non-admission of unsuccessful candidates.
    For Master of Social Work, students are required to complete a total of 60 credit units (cu) with a minimum CGPA of 3.0 to graduate. The breakdown of the cu to be completed is:

    • 30 cu of Core courses
    • 20 cu of Electives courses1
    • 10 cu of Applied Research Project2
    1The electives included in the programme are identified to enhance the expertise of social work professionals by allowing for specialisation in specific settings and with specific client groups.
    2The applied research project may be substituted for two other elective courses.

    For Graduate Diploma in Social Work, students are required to complete a total of 30 credit units (cu) with a minimum CGPA of 2.5 to graduate.

    For Master of Social Work with Couple and Family Therapy specialisation, students are required to complete a total of 60 credit units (cu) with a minimum CGPA of 3.0 to graduate. The breakdown of the cu to be completed is:

    • 30 cu of Social Work Core courses
    • 20 cu of CFT Core courses
    • 10 cu of CFT Elective courses
    Three pre-requisite courses are designed to prepare the non-social work degree holders for entry into the Master programme. A supervised practicum (400 hours) is also required for graduates to apply their knowledge in an actual social service setting.

    Click here​ to view the programme curriculum for Graduate Diploma in Social Work.
    Click here​ to view the programme curriculum for Master of Social Work.
    Click here​ to view the programme curriculum for Master of Social Work Specialising in Couple and Family Therapy.
    Tuition Fee
    For current tuition fee, click here.

    This programme is fully subscribed. The next intake will be confirmed at a later date.


    Graduate Diploma and Master of Social Work
  • 1. How many intake(s) are there in a year for Graduate Diploma and Master of Social Work (MSWK)?
    There are 2 intakes a year; every January and July.

  • 2. What is the duration to complete the programme?
    Pre-requisite courses take 1 semester to complete, followed by core courses (GDSWK) for 2 semesters, and electives (MSWK/MSWK-CFT) for another 2 semesters. This is based on the recommendation of 3 courses per semester.

  • 3. Do all students have to complete pre-requisite courses?
    Only students without a Social Work degree have to complete the pre-requisite courses.

  • 4. How many courses students take in each semester?
    Students are recommended to take up to 3 courses per semester.

  • 5. When are the lessons scheduled?
    Lessons are scheduled on 4 Saturdays per course, from 8.30am to 5.30pm, with a lunch break of an hour.

  • 6. Currently I'm holding a full-time job. How should I go about completing the supervised practicum sessions?
    The practicum stretches over 2 semesters and students who are not able to do the block practicum (full-time) will be assisted to complete the 400 hours in smaller stretches.

  • 7. Will Singapore University of Social Sciences help to source for practicum sites or must the student self-source the practicum sites?
    The University will assist to source for practicum sites for students. However, students may also nominate their preferred self-sourced practicum sites which are subjected to screening and approval.

  • 8. How long does it take to complete the practicum?
    Students have up to 2 semesters to complete the practicum.

  • 9. How long will the applied research project take?
    Students can take up to 2 semesters to complete the applied research project.

  • Master of Social Work Specialising in Couple and Family Therapy
  • 1. How does the Master of Social Work specialising in Couple and Family Therapy enhance a career in counselling or social work?
    Prospective graduate students contemplating this degree are probably practicing counsellors, or social workers involved in counselling work. Having acquired this Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) specialisation, it will broaden their repertoire of clinical skills needed to treat couples and families with emotional and relational issues. Couple and family therapy skills are higher form of clinical skill set, ideal for counsellors/social workers/clinicians who already possess individual counselling skills. Thus, CFT graduates will be in a much better position to train and supervise other counsellors/social workers, equipping them with the necessary therapeutic skills to address and treat individuals, and members of the family from a systemic perspective. These CFT graduates may also take up managerial and clinical leadership role in their agencies/organisations.

  • 2. Is there a need for couple and family therapists? Why?
    We are social beings, and we cannot but communicate. In our communication, we often hold different views and opinions about a given situation, which may give rise to certain misunderstanding and disagreements, especially among those in close relationship, like couples and family members. Given the stresses of work, social and family demands, couples do face different challenges/difficulties in their relationship. Hence, they may need a therapist specially trained in clinical and relational skills to help them better manage those challenges/difficulties.

    Furthermore, with the rise in childhood developmental issues (e.g. ADHD, ADD, behavioural and emotional problems, like depression and self-harm), these have to be treated more effectively by systemic couple and family therapists. These therapists are trained to engage and get parent(s) to support and assist in the treatment process of the child, especially when the child is at home. Thus, CFT therapists possess those relational and clinical skills to effectively engage parents to better manage/handle their child with developmental issue(s).

  • 3. What is taught in this programme?
    The trainee therapists have to complete 6 core CFT courses, which consists of Advanced Couple and Family Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT), Minuchin Family Therapy, CFT Supervised Practicum, Narrative Therapy, Medical Family Therapy, or Gottman Couples Therapy. In the initial years, this programme hopes to invite known CFT experts from Hong Kong, Taiwan, S. Korea, Japan, Australia, as well as the United States to conduct some of these courses at Singapore University of Social Sciences, so as to enhance the clinical competency of its CFT graduates.

  • 4. What are the evidence-based practices in this programme?
    Evidence-based practices refer to the process of using research to inform clinical work with clients. The programme will employ evidence-based practices, where research findings as well as practical experience are used to inform the clinical decisions that best addresses the needs of the couples and families in therapy. Over the years, the research findings of John Gottman, Sue Johnson and colleagues in couple relationship are incorporated in Gottman Couples Therapy, and Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples respectively. Likewise, the clinical experience and research work on families by Salvador Minuchin and Lee Wai-Yung are weaved into Minuchin Family Therapy.

  • 5. Could you give examples of specific things students need to know to be a couple or family therapist?
    A couple and family therapist needs to appreciate the complexity of working with couples and family from a systemic perspective. Has a good understanding of her/his own family-of-origin influences on her therapeutic work so as to avoid counter-transference in therapy, be culturally sensitive to the different couples and families coming for help, understand that relationship issues/problems are often challenging and demanding (no quick solution since the problem often originated years ago, and it will take more than one or two therapy sessions to resolve), and there is always "more than meet the eyes", e.g. extra-marital affair, co-parenting responsibilities, personality and gender differences, where hearing from one spouse is only 50% of the reality regarding a given situation.

  • 6. What are the key differences between couple and family therapy and other forms of therapy?
    Couple and family therapists are experts in relational issues, skilled in facilitating the healing process for distressed couples and families from a systemic perspective. These systemic CFT therapists have a sound working knowledge of couple relationship and issues including family interactions/dynamics. Couple and family therapy is short-term systemic therapy, usually it takes about 4-8 sessions. Relational issues or problems in couples and families are interconnected and interrelated. Therefore, to treat these issues/problems, couple and family therapy addresses those who influenced and are affected by the distressed individual(s). Emotional wounds are often caused by individuals in relationship, therefore those individuals need to help heal each other’s wounds along the therapeutic process. And the healing of these wounds may begin in the therapy session, and hopefully continues beyond the therapy room. The CFT therapist will facilitate this healing process, which happen "here and now" in the therapy room.

  • 7. What kind of students are you looking for, in terms of personal attributes and goals?
    Trainee couple and family therapists must enjoy working with couples and families, despite the many challenges and difficulties in relationship issues. Able to "hold" the couple/family in moment of doubts and emotional struggles, and create a "safe place" for therapy/healing to happen, as well as instil hope in couples and families. Have a good sense of oneself, as in the "person-of-the-therapist", acknowledging one's abilities, strengths and limitations. Have the ability for work and capacity to love, including not taking oneself too seriously in this work, trusting that individuals, couples and families have the inner strengths and resources to help themselves.
  • For Application and Admission Enquiries

    (Graduate Programmes & Part-time Undergraduate Programmes):

    8:30am to 7:30pm (Mon-Fri), 9:00am to 1:00pm (Sat)

    Telephone: +65 6248 9777
    Fax : +65 6763 9077
    Email : [email protected]