OpusVi Launches Affordable Online Master of Social Work Degree with Northern Arizona University To Build a Sustainable Talent Pipeline of Licensed Medical Social Work Professionals

OpusVi (formerly Dignity Health Global Education) has launched an MSW degree program to bolster the talent pipeline of social work professionals with Northern Arizona University amid industry-wide healthcare staffing shortages. Alongside a Social Work Fellowship, the OpusVi suite of social work development programs aims to support health systems in improving retention of in-demand social workers and continuity of care while reducing costs.


PHOENIX, AZ, March 19, 2024 OpusVi™ (formerly Dignity Health Global Education), a leading workforce development solutions provider backed by CommonSpirit Health, Providence Health and Premier Inc., that exclusively enables healthcare systems and organizations to upskill and retain top talent, today announces the launch of an online, part-time and accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program with an emphasis in healthcare. Offered through Northern Arizona University (NAU), this degree is available for health systems nationwide. In conjunction with OpusVi’s Social Work Fellowship, launched in July of 2023 in partnership with CommonSpirit Health, this suite of offerings aims to build a sustainable talent pipeline of licensed medical social workers to improve continuity of care, increase the licensing exam pass rate and reduce overall costs across health systems.

The mission of the NAU MSW Program, grounded in the history, purpose and values of the social work profession, is to educate competent social workers for practice with diverse populations and multi-level social systems in local, regional and global contexts. Northern Arizona University has a longstanding tradition of community service and preparing professional social workers for generalist practice with Native Americans, Latinos and disenfranchised and vulnerable populations of the Southwest. NAU remains a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution since Spring 2021, demonstrating a commitment to serving underrepresented populations.

Andrew Malley 

CEO of OpusVi

At OpusVi, we know building a sustainable talent pipeline of social work professionals greatly impacts health systems in their ability to provide strong continuity of care and reduce the readmissions of patients. With this MSW program, we are working to build an ecosystem of talent support to enhance quality and continuity of care, increase social work retention rates and minimize overall costs for health systems. Social workers are vital to the health of our communities, small and large, and we’re proud to support these efforts by providing individuals with a more affordable and accessible opportunity to expand their skill sets, build their confidence and advance in their careers.

Josh Brewster

System Director of Social Work and Vulnerable Populations at CommonSpirit Health

At CommonSpirit Health, we recognize how crucial social workers are in addressing patients’ complex psychosocial needs, supporting patients and families during difficult times, navigating the healthcare continuum for patients and advocating for systemic changes. Through OpusVi’s engaging and affordable MSW program, social workers are given the opportunity to advance their careers and therefore improve patient outcomes and strengthen the health of their communities, without incurring significant student debt. I know this program will positively impact patient care across CommonSpirit Health, it will advance the social work profession in underserved areas and I look forward to seeing our hardworking social workers advance professionally in their careers.

Dr. Michael McCarthy

Chair and Associate Professor of Social Work at NAU

Offering this accessible and affordable MSW option in partnership with OpusVi drives our mission of empowering social work professionals in their journeys of commitment and dedication to the service of others forward. We know the widespread influence social work professionals have on their communities and we’re honored to take part in improving social health across the country.

Josh Brewster
NAU logo

The U.S. Faces A Social Work Staffing Crisis

The demand for social workers is projected to grow by 7 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)  predicts a shortfall of more than 10,000 full-time employees across social workers and behavioral health occupations by 2025. There are many contributing factors to this shortage including relatively high educational requirements, lack of funding and incentives for workers in rural areas, high professional demands and the looming retirement wave hitting the profession.

While hospital systems aim to have a workforce of experienced MSWs to address complex psychosocial needs, support successful transitions and reduce readmissions, many need to instead hire BSWs due to the massive shortages, especially in rural areas.

Inaccessibility of the Pathways to Social Work Licensure

Medical social work positions often require an MSW  due to scope of practice limitations for BSWs such as clinical assessments, therapeutic interventions, complex case management, crisis intervention and patient advocacy. Social workers hoping to earn this degree often face challenges such as a lack of access to high-quality, affordable MSW programs where they live, or a lack of flexible programs which minimize disruptions to their lives. While a few schools offer an accredited online master’s of social work program for as low as $40,000, others can cost as much as $89,000

Through innovative learning design strategies and a fully online curriculum, OpusVi is able to offer this CSWE-accredited degree for less than $24,000. The flexible and online format and engaging learning platform also enables working professionals to earn their degree while sustaining a full-time job, allowing them to maintain benefits such as health insurance and use their tuition reimbursement assistance.

A Holistic and Scalable Approach

This MSW degree program is designed to build sustainable social work talent pipelines, improve patient care and address patients' psychosocial needs, increase social work retention, reduce patient readmissions and contribute to impactful cost savings across health systems. This program allows system leaders to take their BSW workforce and provide them with in-demand career growth opportunities. Additionally, the part-time nature of the MSW program allows leaders to retain learners within their workforce for three or more years.

This program prepares BSW social workers with the knowledge, values and skills for engaging in individual, family, group, organization and community-planned change processes. Students are also empowered to enter leadership roles in developing, implementing and evaluating services with diverse rural, vulnerable and underserved populations. The healthcare emphasis in this degree program incorporates theoretical perspectives, including a strengths-based framework emphasizing culturally competent practice. Embracing the need to give voice to marginalized communities, the curriculum focuses on empowering diverse groups of clients to achieve their individualized goals.

The Master of Social Work is awarded by NAU, which is accredited by the HLC (Higher Learning Commission), and the MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

The first program cohort will begin on August 26th and applications are due by July 31st. For additional information on the OpusVi Master of Social Work degree program, please visit