Western Colorado MSW Program
Preparation for Rural Social Work Practice
Based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, our Western Colorado MSW Program and Western Colorado Advanced-Standing MSW Program bring our top-ranked master of social work program to the state’s Western Slope, strengthening the region’s professional social work infrastructure. With a specialization in Advanced Social Work Practice and an emphasis on equity, you’ll be prepared to meet the unique needs of rural and mountain communities, such as the urgent need for more behavioral health treatment providers.
Social work is one of the nation’s most in-demand professions, and the need for social workers in rural areas is particularly acute. Whether you’re seeking a new career in social work or seeking an MSW to advance your current career, the Western Colorado programs will prepare you to practice social work in a variety of settings, such as behavioral and integrated health, counseling and therapy, substance abuse treatment, school social work, nonprofits and more. You also will be on track to pursue licensure as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) after graduation.
Get to Know Glenwood Springs
Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is a gateway to the state’s Western Slope and a hub for its mountain communities. From Montrose in the south to mountain communities such as Leadville, Steamboat Springs or Breckenridge, you can live anywhere on the Western Slope while pursuing your MSW. You won’t find the congestion or fast pace of major cities. What you will find is a relaxed rural lifestyle in an area known for its hot springs, scenic beauty and outdoor recreation (skiing, mountain biking, river rafting, rock climbing, fly fishing and more). You’ll also discover that it’s easier to network and build relationships in a smaller community like Glenwood Springs.
Want to learn more about the Western Colorado MSW Programs?
16-18 With a cohort of no more than 18 people, you’ll start and finish your degree with the same group of students, forming close bonds with classmates and your professors
Western Colorado MSW Program Format
You’ll take classes on Friday afternoons and evenings, which means you can work while completing your degree. Our field team can help you locate employment that can be combined with your field placements (depending on site employment availability).
Courses are taught in person in Glenwood Springs, online and through video conferencing with faculty on the Denver campus. During summer, Graduate School of Social Work faculty and local social work professionals teach intensive courses in Western Colorado. Students have online access to the University of Denver Library and on-site access to a full-time faculty member. Our career services team will support you in your job search after graduation.
MSW Program Options
Western Colorado MSW Program
This format is for students who have a bachelor’s degree in any field other than social work. You’ll focus on the foundation curriculum in your first year, developing a generalist perspective and basic skills for working with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations. In your second year, you’ll start your specialization curriculum in Advanced Social Work Practice. You will complete two field internships — one each year — in your community.
- Program length: 6 quarters (students have summers off)
- Final application deadline: November 15, 2024
- Next start date: September 2025
Western Colorado Advanced-Standing MSW Program
This format is for students who already have a bachelor of social work degree that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. You’ll take courses rooted in social justice during the first quarter and then start your specialization curriculum in Advanced Social Work Practice while completing a field internship in your community.
- Program length: 4 quarters
- Early application deadline: November 15, 2023
- Next start date: July 2024
Explore some of our Western Colorado field internship placements
YouthZone is an award-winning, evidence-based diversion and advocacy program that has served youth and families from Aspen to Parachute for more than 40 years. Interns engage in direct clinical services, community outreach and education.
Garfield County Department of Human Services
The Department of Human Services works with doctors, hospitals, law enforcement officials, schools and others to identify maltreatment and intervene with families where children have been abused or neglected. Service areas include intake and assessment, sexual abuse intervention and family education, child protective services and a foster care program. Interns participate in team-based family risk assessments, work with caseworkers in the development and monitoring of family treatment plans, train in forensic interviewing for child sex abuse, and learn techniques for working with adolescents as a life skills/behavior coach.
Mind Springs Health
Mind Springs Health uses a trauma-informed approach to provide comprehensive mental health services in 13 locations throughout Colorado’s Western Slope. Interns participate in case management, train in outpatient therapy for mental health and substance abuse issues, work in detox and crisis services, co-facilitate groups, and shadow professionals in the provision of evidence-based treatments for children, adolescents, adults and seniors.
Family Intercultural Resource Center: Building Hope Initiative
Building Hope is a multifaceted community initiative that works to create a more coordinated, effective and responsive mental health system focused on suicide prevention, stigma reduction and support. Interns participate in community outreach events and activities, provide training and education in mental illness and suicide prevention, and facilitate increased access to care.
Mesa University, Student Wellness Center
The Student Wellness Center strives to provide quality, accessible medical and behavioral health services for all students and their dependents. Interns work in behavioral health services providing one-on-one counseling to help students address mental health wellness concerns. They administer mental health assessments, initiate access to mental health resources, facilitate groups and participate in mental health wellness initiatives, events and activities.
Western Colorado MSW Program Director Rachel Forbes, Faculty Read Bio
I am proud to represent social work in Western Colorado. Issues of social and environmental justice in our rural and mountain communities are important. It's exciting to bring social work to this part of the state as we build the local workforce.
Growing Rural Social Work
The Graduate School of Social Work’s Western Colorado MSW Program is developing a social work workforce for the state’s underserved Western Slope and mountain communities.
Improving Community Health
With a $1.9 million grant, GSSW and community partners statewide are working to address a shortage of behavioral health providers in rural and medically underserved areas.
MSW Grad Stays Grounded
Graduate Yesenia Arreola wants to make change happen in her Western Colorado home, where she works with low-income and first-generation college students through TRIO outreach and student services programs.
2023 Western Colorado Advanced-Standing MSW Program Early Application Deadline