The Master of Social Work curriculum has been developed with a strong conviction that preparation for professional practice necessitates the integration of knowledge, values, and skills. This integration is purposefully facilitated by structuring classroom instruction and field experiences so that they can mutually support and reinforce students’ educational learning objectives. The MSW curriculum is divided into two parts: the foundation curriculum, which provides an orientation to the profession and a basis for understanding practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities, and the advanced curriculum, which enables students to focus on their chosen area of practice (clinical or macro).
Mission, Goals & Objectives
Mission Statement of the MSW Program
The MSW program promotes the profession of social work by educating students to become leaders for social change. We prepare them to be highly competent professionals who are skilled at providing effective service, integrating interdisciplinary knowledge, theory, and social work values with practice to address social needs. The MSW program generates knowledge for application in the field and inspires students to academic and practice excellence. The philosophy of the program embraces diversity and promotes social change in order to achieve a more just society.
Goals of the MSW Program
Prepare students for professional practice.
- Prepare students for professional social work practice in a variety of systems and settings with diverse client populations.
- Educate students for advanced practice in an identified area of concentration in either clinical or macro practice.
- Foster the use of social work knowledge, skills, values, and ethics in all aspects of their professional activities.
- Cultivate leadership for social change and in the development of social service delivery systems.
- Cultivate a climate of critical inquiry.
Advance knowledge relevant to social work practice and social welfare.
- Infuse and develop interdisciplinary knowledge into social work and social welfare.
- Develop and evaluate innovative models of social work practice and service delivery to respond to extant and emerging needs of client systems.
- Identify and analyze existing and emerging social problems.
- Disseminate knowledge on social problems.
Critically examine the historical and contemporary manifestations of institutional oppression and promote distributive and social justice.
- Develop a critical framework for understanding racism and other forms of oppression.
- Learn and apply change strategies in social agencies to promote social justice, including race and gender equity.
Foundation Curriculum Objectives
- Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice.
- Understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards and principles, and practice accordingly.
- Practice without discrimination and with respect, knowledge, and skills related to clients’ age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, family structure, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.
- Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and apply strategies of advocacy and social change that advance social and economic justice.
- Understand and interpret the history of the social work profession and its contemporary structures and issues.
- Apply knowledge and skills of a generalist social work perspective to practice with systems of all sizes.
- Use theoretical frameworks supported by empirical evidence to understand individual development and behavior across the life span and the interactions among individuals and between individuals and families, groups, organizations, and communities.
- Analyze, formulate, and influence social policies.
- Evaluate research studies, apply research findings to practice, and evaluate their own practice interventions.
- Use communication skills differentially across client populations, colleagues, and communities.
- Use supervision and consultation appropriate to social work practice.
- Function within the structure of organizations and service delivery systems and seek necessary organizational change.
The Clinical and Macro Practice Concentrations have the same objectives. They are realized, however, in relation to the requirements of each concentration. The two concentrations address the following concentration objectives in their respective courses and field work:
Students will master advanced knowledge that supports their development as a clinical or macro social work practitioner in:
- practice intervention theories and frameworks;
- social work research methods; and
- the environmental context.
Students will demonstrate the following skills in a highly differentiated, discriminating, and self-critical way in either a clinical or macro practice setting:
- apply practice skills based on relevant and current conceptual frameworks or practice theories in their area of practice;
- use methods of intervention that are specific to their concentration; and
- assess the effectiveness of interventions in their practice.
Students will apply professional ethics and values to increasingly complex and nuanced situations in their practice, including:
- integration of strategies of ethical decision-making to guide intervention in clinical or macro practice; and
- integration of the centrality of diversity and ethical responsibility as a change agent (social justice) into all aspects of one’s professional behavior.
Students are required under the accreditation standards of the Council of Social Work Education to take courses in the areas of social welfare history and policy, research, human behavior, and the social environment (individual and social processes), American racism, and social work practice. All courses in the MSW program fall within one of these curricular areas (also known as sequences). The faculty views the profession of social work practice holistically. It seeks to integrate these essential curricular elements, i.e., sequences, into a unified whole.
Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE)
Required HBSE coursework:
Social Change and American Racism
Social Work Practice
All MSW students are required to take SWRK 6150: Introduction to Social Work Research as well as a Research Option of their choice. This curricular requirement ensures that students acquire the basic research skills for enhancing their own practice and acquire an appreciation of the role of research in theory development. Students learn the range of methodological strategies available for social work research while developing a commitment to the use of research in the student’s own area of specialization as well as in dealing with problems of racism and other oppressions in contemporary American society.
Due to the rigor of the regular MSW curriculum (3 full days of field placement and 4 classes), most MSW students choose not to pursue additional research opportunities. Additional opportunities are offered in two formats, which are dependent upon field placement availability, faculty projects, and available research funding.
Research in Field Placements
Some field placements are available in agencies focused on research and policy. Advanced year students are eligible to pursue these field placement opportunities; in these settings, students may have an opportunity to focus on data collection, a research role in policy development, and conduct or design evaluation research. Field placement areas of interest may include:
- Child welfare
- Criminal justice
- Drug & alcohol treatment
- Mental health
Please note that opportunities in these areas of interest are not guaranteed every year.
Research with Faculty
In previous years, students have participated in projects related to:
- Child welfare
- Domestic violence
- Mental health interventions
- Youth aging out of foster care
The availability of research opportunities is dependent upon faculty projects and research funding. Students interested in participating in research opportunities should contact faculty directly.
The Nancy Glickenhaus Student Fellowship in Child Welfare
The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research, an SP2 research center, will offer The Nancy Glickenhaus Student Fellowship in Child Welfare beginning in the 2024-2025 Academic Year. The Fellowship allows a talented student to engage in research and advocacy projects focusing on children and families.