Social Work

The School of Social Work and Administrative Studies 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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Director: Lloyd L. Lyter, Ph.D., L.S.W.

Master of Social Work Program

Mission Statement

The Marywood University M.S.W. Program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1969, honors and promotes the core values of the social work profession: dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, professional competence, social justice, and service, especially with oppressed and marginalized groups, to maximize their physical, mental, social, and spiritual health in interactions with their environments.

Grounded in these values, the Marywood University Social Work Program educates full- and part-time graduate students (M.S.W. and interdisciplinary doctorate) and prepares them for advanced levels of social work practice across a broad spectrum of settings and methods. Our students become practitioners who are resourceful, creative, self-reflective, culturally and ethically competent, critically thinking lifelong learners, and leaders committed to social justice. The M.S.W. Program’s hallmark flexibility in both scheduling and locations, as well as its welcoming learning environment, is responsive to beginning, career changing, and mid-career social work students.

The M.S.W. Program is an engaged participant in the community, fostering mutually helpful partnerships between the School and community agencies that: identify talented prospective students, facilitate successful practice experiences for current students, and provide professional opportunities for graduating students, while fulfilling client/community needs. These partnerships also create opportunities for the School to advocate for and lead systemic change that enhances the agency, community, and profession’s ability to serve emerging needs.

Mission of the M.S.W. Program:

The M.S.W. Program educates students for advanced, self-critical, competent, creative, resourceful, and ethical social work practice in a learning atmosphere of respect and flexibility. A commitment to knowledge-based practice and life-long learning is fostered. The curriculum is grounded in the core values of the social work profession, which advocates for the right of all persons to dignity, service and justice, and the amelioration of oppression. Knowledge, values, and skills to enhance societal well-being are taught, with emphasis on the strengths and potential of persons in interaction with ever-changing environments. Engagement of diversity is a keystone of the curriculum. The school is an active participant in the community, facilitating mutually helpful partnerships that both contribute to student education and promote strategies that address current and emergent social service needs, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through scholarship and leadership in professional organizations.

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 advancement to concentrations.

A system of organizing principles threads throughout the core content areas of 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.

Foundation coursework provides students with educational experiences designed to assure the acquisition of knowledge, values, and skills that form the basis of professional practice. Coursework consists of 31 credits and includes six areas of core content: Social Policy (three credits), Human Behavior and the Social Environment (six credits), Research (six credits), Ethics for Social Work (three credits), Social Work Practice (six credits), and two concurrent field experiences (seven credits). The foundation is designed to develop basic knowledge of social welfare policy, issues of oppression and social justice, bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of human behavior, utilization of the specific methods and processes, and methods of assessment, intervention, and evaluation with sensitivity to diversity among people.

Upon completion of the foundation curriculum students begin the concentration. Students choose a concentration in either Advanced Social Work Practice with Client Systems or Administration in Social Work. Each concentration consists of six courses. During the first semester of the advanced curriculum, students take the first advanced practice course in their concentration (3 credits) and are required to take the first advanced course in the alternate concentration (3 credits). The two semesters of advanced practicum are taken concurrently with practice courses and are specific to the area of concentration. Advanced content in Social Policy (3 credits) is also taken as part of the advanced curriculum. Electives round out the curriculum.

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 concentration and elective courses. The School of Social Work and Administrative Studies reserves the right to modify or change the courses of instruction.
500 number courses are in Social Work Practice and include practicum placements.
600 number courses are in the area of Human Behavior and the Social Environment.
700 number courses are in the Social Work Research curriculum content 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 cross content area lines in an interdisciplinary manner.

Foundation Curriculum

SW 501 Social Work Practice I
SW 502 Social Work Practice II
SW 591 Field Education I
SW 592 Field Education II
SW 601 Human Behavior I
SW 602 Human Behavior II
SW 701 Social Work Research I: Design and Methodology
SW 702 Social Work Research II: Implementation and Analysis
SW 801 Introduction to Social Welfare
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.

The Program offers concentrations in Advanced Practice with Client Systems and Administration in Social Work. Students who have completed the foundation courses are required to take a two-semester Concentration in either Advanced Practice with Client Systems or Administration. The choice of their concentration is the focus of their field assignment, which is taken concurrently with concentration coursework.

Students at the advanced level of study also take coursework in Advanced Practice with Client Systems (for those concentrating in Administration), or in Administration (for those concentrating in Advanced Practice with Client Systems). It is out of the convergence of the methods concentration, complementary methods work and field experience, supported by elective choices, that the student is expected to develop skill and competence for advanced social work practice.

Concentration Courses

SW 511
Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups
SW 512 Advanced Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities
SW 531 Administration in Social Work Practice I
SW 532 Administration in Social Work Practice II
SW 595 Field Education III: Advanced Practice with Client Systems
SW 596 Field Education IV: Advanced Practice with Client Systems
SW 597 Field Education III: Administration in Social Work
SW 598 Field Education IV: Administration in Social Work
SW 802 Social Welfare Policy and Services


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 565 Social Work Practice in Groups
SW 571 Supervision in Social Work Practice
SW 621 Social Work Perspectives on Psychopathology
SW 625 Critical Issues in Chemical Dependence
SW 705 Social Work Thesis
SW 900 Social Work Perspectives on Trauma: Theory & Practice 3
SW 908 Women’s Issues and 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 898 Global Perspectives on Social & Administrative Practice 3

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 the classroom courses, social work education places great emphasis on the experiential learning acquired by students through their field placements, which provide actual practice in social services agencies and settings. Field education provides the opportunity for students to obtain first-hand experience in working with people and situations under the supervision of qualified and experienced social work practitioners.

Students are required to spend a total of 920 clock hours, in field education placements, acquiring progressively more developed and sensitive skills in helping people as “beginning professionals.” Students with Advanced Standing status complete three semesters of field for a total of 720 hours. Advanced Standing students who choose summer field placements will spend 24 hours per week in field placement during the summer. Field placements must be taken concurrently with core practice methods courses since the primary objective of field experience is to facilitate the integration of practice learning with theoretical content.

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 with full-time employment may seek placements with nontraditional hours. Such placements are available in a very limited number of agencies.

The M.S.W. Program has field placement agencies 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.

The Field Department prepares a Field Manual, updated annually, for students and field instructors.

Employer-Based Field Placements

An employer-based field placement allows graduate social work students to utilize field learning opportunities at their social service employment sites as their field placement settings.

This option may be available for those who work in agencies able to provide the equivalent of 16 hours a week social work experience that is different from the student’s employment responsibilities. The agency should provide a field instructor with an M.S.W. and two years post-master’s experience, who is not the student’s regular work supervisor. Generally the student must have been employed by the agency for one year.

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.

Clearances, Medical Examinations, and Immunizations

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.
  • disqualify a licensed social worker from employment.

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 on-line.

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 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 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 report from the field instructor, faculty liaison, educational coordinator, faculty member, or peer.

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 at the Lehigh Valley Center at DeSales University. Part-time programs are available on Saturdays in Scranton, evenings at the Lehigh Valley and Reading Centers, and Saturdays at the Central Pennsylvania Center.

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 in a manner that expedites the time required, by crediting work earned for one degree to the requirements of the other.

M.S.W./Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and M.S.W./Master of 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.

The program develops the competencies required for certification through coursework in both the Social Work and Administrative Studies programs 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. To balance the extra costs of travel, Marywood University charges students for only two of the three credits in their international independent study.

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 credits graduate level, 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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