Department Detail

Social Work

The School of Social Work have educated more than 4,000 social workers since 1969. Our BSW and MSW programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

We offer flexible scheduling and a welcoming learning environment, which are responsive to beginning, career changing, and mid-career students.

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Master of Social Work Program

Mission Statement

The Marywood University School of Social Work MSW Program, rooted in the University’s core values of respect, empowerment, service, excellence, and Catholic identity, is committed to an accessible education which prepares advanced, ethical social work practitioners and leaders. Utilizing a social justice lens and global perspective, the program prepares culturally responsive social work practitioners to provide competent, evidence-informed, inter professional collaborative services to all client systems, with particular attention to the oppressed and marginalized client systems. The program is dedicated to creating an inclusive learning environment which values diversity and difference.


The Master of Social Work (MSW) is a sixty credit program which can be earned in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study.  The program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1969.

Curriculum Structure

The Master of Social Work curriculum is organized as an integrated whole, including foundation and advanced content. It is designed to prepare graduates for advanced practice. Each semester builds upon knowledge from the previous semester, and the completion of the foundation content is preparatory to advanced content with opportunities for specializations.

A system of organizing principles threads throughout the curriculum to form a foundation based upon the ecological perspective, social work values and ethics, appreciation of diversity, social and economic justice, the strengths perspective, professional use of self, systematic mode of inquiry, and populations at risk.

Course of Instruction

The courses of the M.S.W. degree curriculum may be classified generally into two categories: those in the foundation curriculum and those that provide opportunity for advanced study. Listed below are the course descriptions for the foundation curriculum and information about elective courses. The School of Social Work reserves the right to modify or change the courses of instruction.

500 number courses are in Social Work Practice and include field education.
600 number courses are in the area of Human Behavior and the Social Environment.
700 number courses are in the Social Work Research curriculum area.
800 number courses are in Social Welfare Policy and Services.
900 number courses are in areas of practice or fields of practice or indicate courses that are interdisciplinary.

Foundation Curriculum

SW 500 Professional Foundations: Educating for Tomorrow’s Practice 3
SW 501 Practice I: Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families
SW 502 Practice II: Social Work Practice with Groups
SW 503 Practice III: Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations 3
SW 591 Field Education I: Foundation Field
SW 592 Field Education II: Foundation Field
SW 601 Human Behavior I
SW 621 Social Work Perspectives on Psychopathology
SW 701 Research I
SW 702 Research II
SW 801 Social Justice, Welfare Policy, and Professional Legacy
SW 971 Ethical Issues in Social Work Practice

Advanced Curriculum

As students move to more advanced levels of their studies, more specialized courses are offered to assist in the acquisition of knowledge and skills in greater depth.

In addition, students may elect a specialization in Behavioral Health, Child and Family Studies, or Administration by choosing specific electives and completing a field placement offering experience in that practice area.

SW 504 Practice IV: Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families 3
SW 505 Practice V: Administration in Social Work 3
SW 506 Practice VI: Culminating Integrative Seminar 3
SW 595 Field Education III: Advanced Practice 3
SW 596 Field Education IV: Advanced Practice 3
SW 802 Social Policy Advocacy 3


Electives allow study of a particular intervention methodology or area of significance for social work and usually follow completion of foundation coursework. The M.S.W. Program offers a range of elective choices to respond flexibly to priority concerns and emerging issues in social welfare, in accord with faculty resources and student interests.

SW 535 Child Welfare Practice and Services
SW 536 Social Work Practice with Children
SW 561 Family Focused Social Work Practice
SW 571 Supervision in Social Work Practice
SW 625 Critical Issues in Chemical Dependence
SW 705 Social Work Thesis
SW 900 Social Work Perspectives on Trauma 3
SW 908 Women’s Issues in the Practice of Social Work
SW 920 Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of Social Work Practice
SW 925 Critical Issues in Ethnic and Racial Experience
SW 941 Concepts and Issues in Gerontology
SW 950 Independent Study
SW 950I International Independent Study
SW 965 Human Sexuality: Issues for Social Work
SW 989 Global Perspectives on Social & Administrative Practice 3

Advanced Standing

Students who have earned a B.S.W. in a CSWE accredited program may be eligible for advanced standing. Based on the review of the student’s undergraduate transcript, up to 21 credits may be applied to the foundation year of the MSW program. Students must have earned a minimum grade of “B” for the individual course to be considered for advanced standing. 

Independent Study

Independent study is open to students who have completed one year of full-time or the equivalent part-time study in Marywood’s Master of Social Work program. A 3.50 quality point average is required in order to be eligible. No more than two independent study courses may be taken by non-advanced-standing students, or one by advanced-standing students during their Master of Social Work programs. Only one independent study may be taken per semester, and no more than one independent study may be taken with any given faculty member.

Independent study courses may be taken for variable credit (one-, two- or three-credit hours). The exact number of credits assigned to a particular course is determined by the faculty member who agrees to monitor and evaluate the student’s performance. The determination of credit hours is consistent with the purpose, the nature, and the extent of the proposed independent study. All independent study courses must be of comparable rigor to other courses in the curriculum of similar value.

Field Education

In addition to classroom courses, Field Education is an essential and integral part of the M.S.W. program. Through the Field Education experience students engage in experiential, collaborative, and integrative learning through practice in a field placement setting, under the supervision of a qualified Field Instructor and with the support of a Faculty Field Liaison from the M.S.W. program. The Field Education experience provides students with the opportunity to bridge and apply classroom theory, knowledge, and practice skills in real-life practice situations while developing professional competence and a professional identity.

Students complete a total of 920 hours of Field, 440 hours over two semesters in their Foundation Field placement (first year Field) and 480 hours over two semesters in their Advanced Practice Field placement (second year Field). Students with B.S.W.’s who receive Advanced Standing status for Foundation Field complete a total 480 hours in an Advanced Practice Field Placement. Foundation Field placements must be taken concurrently with core practice methods courses since a primary objective of the field experience is to facilitate the integration of practice learning with theoretical content. Advanced Practice placements are normally taken concurrently with Advanced Theory and Practice courses.

Placement decisions involve collaboration between the Director of Field Education for the student’s respective program and the student in order to select a field setting that meets the student’s interests, provides appropriate learning opportunities, and whose location and operating hours are accessible to the student.Students do not arrange their own field placements.

The M.S.W. Program has field opportunities located throughout Pennsylvania, the Southern Tier and upstate New York, and New Jersey, providing every type of social work practice. Assignment of placements is at the discretion of the Director of Field Education.

Students with full- or part-time employment have the opportunity to do employer-based placements which utilize field learning opportunities through their employer. This option may be available for those who work in agencies able to provide the equivalent of a social work experience that is different from the student’s employment responsibilities. The student must have been employed by the agency for a minimum of six months.

Approval for an employer-based field placement is based on the Field Education Department’s evaluation of a comprehensive plan submitted by the student and the agency as part of the placement process.

The Field Education Office requires all students registering for field experience to obtain Criminal Background Check, FBI Clearance, and Child Abuse Clearance. Students in the M.S.W. Program should recognize that a negative information report in any background check may:

  • disqualify a student from placement at a field education site of his/her choice. Inability to obtain an appropriate placement may lead to dismissal from the program or otherwise prevent the student from obtaining a degree.
  • bar a graduate of the program from obtaining a license to practice as a social worker.

Students should be aware that state licensing boards, many employers, and many Field education placement agency administrators require background checks for M.S.W. students and professional social workers. These checks include State Police, FBI, child abuse, current health or other requirements particular to the work the student or social worker may be expected to do.

In addition, many agencies require medical exams, immunizations and drug testing. Students are required to comply with individual agency requirements and are responsible for any associated costs in completing the requirements. Agency requirements must be met prior to the beginning of a field placement.

Students with circumstances in their backgrounds that may emerge during background checks are encouraged to discuss the potential implications of these circumstances with the Director of Field Education for their program.

Standard for Ethical Behavior

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics is the established standard of ethical behavior for professional social workers. Students in the Social Work Program are preparing for positions of professional responsibility, and their conduct while students is guided by this code. Students are referred for further information about the Code to the Student Handbook, to the Field Manual, and to the NASW publication, “Code of Ethics,” available from NASW online.

Suitability for Professional Social Work

An Academic and Professional Standards Review Committee is established when concerns arise pertaining to the academic or professional performance of individual students. The committee is responsible for gathering and evaluating information concerning the student’s academic and professional performance for the purpose of formulating recommendations to the director for resolution of these situations. Recommended resolutions may include: 1) continuation in the program in good standing without remedial action; 2) continuation in the program in good standing contingent on successful completion of remedial action; and 3) dismissal from the program. The committee does not reconsider grades.

Formal review by an Academic and Professional Standards Review Committee will occur for any of the following reasons:

  1. Alleged violation of the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers by written report from the field instructor, faculty liaison, educational coordinator, faculty member or peer.
  2. Alleged violation of the Code of Academic Honesty of Marywood University by written report from the field instructor, faculty liaison, educational coordinator, faculty member, or peer.
  3. Alleged failure to demonstrate the capacity to engage in appropriate social work roles, by written report from the field instructor, faculty liaison, educational coordinator, faculty member, or peer.
  4. Attainment of an F or U grade in a course or field placement or a semester GPA 2.85 or below.

Academic and Professional Standards Review procedures are detailed in the School of Social Work Student Handbook.

Program Plans

The M.S.W. Program at Marywood has developed full- and part-time program plans for persons seeking the degree: Standard full-time and part-time and Advanced Standing full-time and part-time. All plans have the same standards and require both classroom study and field education, working under supervision in a social work setting.

Full-time programs are available on weekdays at Marywood University in Scranton, and evenings in the Lehigh Valley Center at DeSales University. Part-time programs are available on Scranton at Marywood University, evenings in the Lehigh Valley at DeSales University, and Saturdays in Central Pennsylvania at Bloomsburg University and in the Pocono Pennsylvania area at East Stroudsburg University.

Dual Degree Programs

M.S.W./M.P.A., M.S.W./M.H.S.A., M.S.W./M.S. Gerontology

These programs are designed for those who wish to combine the development of administrative and managerial expertise in defined service areas—public or non-profit agency administration, health services administration, or gerontological services administration—with the knowledge, skills, and values of the social work profession. The joint focus prepares students for a range of professional options and opportunities. Participation in a dual degree program permits the student to earn the M.S.W. degree with the M.P.A., M.H.S.A., or M.S. Gerontology at Marywood University in a manner that expedites the time required, by crediting some work earned for one degree to the requirements of the other.

M.S.W./Master in Clinical Counseling and M.S.W./Master in Divinity

Dual degree programs have been established with Moravian Theological Seminary. Students must apply to each school separately and be accepted by each. Several courses taken in each program are credited to the degree requirements in the other, allowing persons to earn either pair of degrees jointly with fewer credits than if taken separately.

Home and School Visitor Certification

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Home and School Visitor Certification coursework can be completed in combination with the M.S.W., Post-M.S.W., or through a separate Home and School Certification program only, which is a 40-credit course of study. The certification curriculum is presented as an interprofessional preparation for social work practice in elementary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania.

Students develop the competencies required for certification through coursework in both the School Work program and in the Education Department of the Reap College of Education and Human Development. A total of six specific education courses are required (18 credits) in addition to the M.S.W. coursework.

Preparation for certification includes a minimum 360 hours of supervised social work practice in school settings. M.S.W. and HSV Certification only candidates will accomplish the practice requirement through first-year field placements; Post-M.S.W. certification candidates who have completed a school-based field placement have met the requirement or can complete a 360-hour field placement in a school setting.

International Study Opportunities

The Marywood University M.S.W. Program offers students opportunities for international social work with various agencies. To qualify, a student must have completed the equivalent of half of the M.S.W. program, be returning the following September, and have a QPA of 3.50 or higher. The placement agencies have education and experience requirements. The positions are all volunteer, and travel and any other costs are at the student’s own expense. The following September, the student registers to complete an independent study under the supervision of a member of the M.S.W. faculty, based upon some aspect of the international experience. The independent study fulfills an elective requirement.

It is possible to earn field education credit in an international placement. The requisite coursework may be arranged to be taken concurrently at a university in the country where the student is placed. Placement can be developed for well-qualified students in a variety of international settings, but fluency in the language of the client system of the field placement is essential.

Transfer of Credits and Credit for Life or Work Experience

Only credits earned in CSWE-accredited schools of social work are accepted for transfer. Prior to enrolling in the Marywood University M.S.W. Program, a student may request the transfer of up to twenty-one (21) credits.

When an applicant requests transfer of credits from another accredited M.S.W. program, the following considerations will apply. Each application will be evaluated on its own merits. Credits may be transferred provided the work is at the level of 3.00 or better on a 4.00 point scale, at least three graduate level credits, deemed relevant to the student’s area of concentration, and completed not more than five years prior to the date of application. All decisions regarding the acceptability of courses transferred into the M.S.W. Program from another institution will be the responsibility of the Director in consultation with appropriate faculty in the area of the curriculum in which the course falls. It is the responsibility of the applicant to have an official copy of the transcript, listing the courses for which transfer credit is sought, sent to the Admissions Office along with a detailed description, or syllabus, of the courses in question.

Once enrolled in the M.S.W. Program, a student may request transfer of up to six (6) credits of electives that were earned in accredited schools of social work subsequent to the student’s enrollment at Marywood. The same grade requirements as above must be met.

The School of Social Work does not grant academic credit for life or work experience.

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