New information following the change in COVID-19 alert levels.

Master of Applied Social Work

Key facts

  • Available at Auckland
  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Available for international students studying in NZ

Develop your passion for helping others into a rewarding career

If you are motivated to make a positive difference in people’s lives or improve the quality of life in a range of communities, a social work career may be for you.

The Master of Applied Social Work is for graduates of bachelor’s degrees in related disciplines.

What is it like?

Find out more about entry requirements, fees and courses in the planning section.

Want to be a social worker?

If you want to be a social worker, but don’t have a bachelor’s degree in social work, then this programme is for you. The Master of Applied Social Work is designed for students with bachelor’s degrees in related disciplines such as psychology, education, law, medicine, nursing, sociology, anthropology, theology, case management or with relevant practice experience who want to become registered social workers.

This programme will prepare you for practice and registration as a social worker in New Zealand and most other countries.

Gain experience in the field

The qualification conforms to national and international guidelines by including two different supervised field experiences organised and supervised by Massey. You will spend a minimum of 120 days in social services settings gaining experience in social work practice. If you’re already working in social services, one of your two placements could be at your current workplace.

Add to social work knowledge

You will be able to make cutting-edge contributions to your discipline. You’ll benefit from our research-informed, research-leading, forward-thinking and academically credible courses. They’ll help you contribute to knowledge-building in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

Small engaging classes

Your passionate teachers have loads of practical experience. You will participate in small class sizes where interactive teaching methods will challenge your attitudes and beliefs. In addition, you will have opportunities to participate in field trips and Marae Noho.

Study while you work

It is possible to work part-time while completing this qualification. This programme can be completed in two years studying full-time or in up to five years studying part-time. The courses are offered internally on Auckland campus or by distance. Most of the courses are taught in block mode where the class contact is in a compressed time period. Even better, all of the courses are assessed internally - there are no exams!

A good fit if you:

  • Dream of helping people from all walks of life
  • Believe in social justice
  • Are intrigued by how systems and people work and how to manage relationships
Ansie Jansen van Vuuren
Master of Applied Social Work
NZ Red Cross

“Similar to my thesis abstract “walking alongside me”, I felt Massey was beside me and really supported me…”

I started my studies at Massey University after a 22-year break from my previous studies in Psychology and Education in South Africa. After such a long break, I was very apprehensive about studying at a post-graduate level in what was a new field for me, but also because English was my second language. However, I felt very well supported by the staff at Massey every step of the way and was able to complete my studies successfully and find appropriate employment. Similar to my thesis abstract “walking alongside me”, I felt Massey was beside me and really supported me. 

My interest in social work started while I was working with a student from a refugee background in a primary school in New Zealand. It was through this exposure that I became aware of the unique challenges for refugees. This experience encouraged me to pursue a career in social work, especially in migrant and refugee care.

Although I had extensive experience in working with people from a disadvantaged background, I had a huge gap in knowledge and practice of social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Master of Applied Social work programme provided me with an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge while upskilling in the field of my interest. 

The contact courses were very interactive which allowed for good learning, both practical skills and theory. The fieldwork placements were challenging, but also very rewarding as I did my placements in my field of interest. I was very fortunate to be offered a full-time position after I completed my first fieldwork placement.

The most valuable skills that I have learnt from my studies are reflective practice and critical thinking. I have learnt the importance of analysing day-to day politics, either on a macro or meso level and the impact on people at a micro level. This is really a crucial skill for my work in the NGO sector which has an international presence and as I work with some of the most vulnerable people.

The programme prepared me for real life working challenges in the social work field.  My current work in the field of refugee care is influenced by politics on an international level, but also at a national level. I do feel that my studies have provided me with a much better understanding of the impact of those global events, national politics and the impact on agencies at the grass-roots level.


A social work degree means you can work in many different areas. You could be a field operator working in the community or you could be a professional advisor in a hospital or a district health board. You might choose to be a policy expert working with government. Or you could travel overseas to the jungles of Papua New Guinea to work within a village setting. The options are endless. And endlessly meaningful.

Social workers make a difference in many areas around the world including:

  • hospitals and primary health care
  • mental health and addictions
  • voluntary and community organisations and government organisations
  • child protection
  • youth justice
  • housing
  • offenders
  • residential care
  • management and supervision
  • tertiary education
  • community work and community development
  • refugees and migrants
  • schools

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