"Therapy should always be designed to fit the client and not the client to fit the therapy."

Milton Erickson

Foundation Courses || Advanced Curriculum || Electives || Candidacy Policy  MSW Program Specializations

Foundation Courses

501 Social Work Practice I (3)
This course introduces the student to conceptual frameworks that encompass practice with all levels of client systems. Students use critical thinking skills to assess client systems, develop intervention strategies, and evaluate practice using a scientific mode of inquiry. Professional relationship, ethical practice, diversity, social and economic justice, professional use of self, problem-solving process, and organizational context for practice are stressed. Focus is on work with individuals and families. This course is taken concurrently with SW 591 and integrates practice experience and course learning.

502 Social Work Practice II (3)
This is the second foundation practice course. It prepares students to assess larger systems such as groups, organizations, and communities. Special attention is paid to social work practice with diverse groups, those oppressed and at-risk, and to institutional patterns of discrimination. This course is taken concurrently with SW Field 592 and integrates practice experience and course learning. (Prerequisite: SW 501.)

591 Field Education I (3)
592 Field Education II (4)
Students must complete a total of 440 clock hours in the foundation year. The goal is to foster understanding of the organizational context and social, economic, environmental, and cultural factors with which client systems interact. Students learn the fundamental role of social work values and ethics, identify issues of social and economic justice for oppressed and at-risk persons, and develop a professional identity as they engage in social work practice. SW 591 is taken concurrently with SW 501 and SW 592 with SW 502.

601 Human Behavior in the Social Environment I (3)
This is an introduction to bio-psychosocial-spiritual factors important to understanding and assessing human growth, personal development, and behavior over the life span. Focus is on interactions among individuals, families, groups, and the social system, and diverse, vulnerable, and oppressed populations.

621 Social Work Perspectives on Psychopathology (3)
This course allows students to identify and to develop an understanding of the issues inherent in the study and assessment of individual behavior.  The course will explore DSM-5, the primary paradigm for viewing behavior used to diagnose mental disorders.  The intent of this analysis is to identify those defining characteristics of behavior which present obstacles in life in relation to possible explanations of causality as they influence the process of designing practice approaches, with emphasis on building on client strengths. The course reviews explanations of “abnormal” behavior, as well as ways that such behavior can be classified. Major diagnostic groupings will be addressed within the framework of the current DSM-5 classification system.   

701 Social Work Research: Design and Methodology (3)
This course introduces principles and methods of conducting and evaluating social research, the importance of ethical issues related to research, and qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It includes examination of selected literature relevant to issues of social and economic justice, diversity, and systems of various sizes.

702 Social Work Research: Implementation and Analysis (3)
Overview of the role and function of qualitative and quantitative analyses in addressing research questions and testing hypotheses. Examines approaches to qualitative analysis and the logic behind the application of descriptive and inferential statistical analyses. Examines analytical techniques and the unbiased interpretation of results as they relate to issues of diversity, oppression, and populations at risk. Students learn to use statistical software for processing data and apply theoretical and methodological materials in a required research report. (Prerequisite: SW 701.) Students must take both courses with the same professor.

801 Introduction to Social Welfare (3)
This is the first of two required policy courses. Examination of the history and development of U.S. social welfare programs and policies as they pertain to marginalized groups of people and populations-at-risk. Present day policies are analyzed through the lenses of history and contemporary economic, social, political, value, and spiritual milieus. Using professional ethics and value, and cross-cultural knowledge as foundation, the rich contribution and strengths of a diverse range of individuals and groups, in particular women and people of color, are brought to bear in evidence-based analyses of historical and contemporary policy.

971 Ethical Issues in Social Work Practice (3)
This course has been designed to foster sensitivity to ethical concerns and to provide knowledge and experience in ethical decision-making. Students will become familiar with the philosophical base of Social Work ethics and the profession's Code of Ethics. Ethical principles and models of ethical decision-making grounded by critical thinking will be presented in relation to case materials reflecting a variety of issues, levels of practice, a diversity of populations, and social justice concerns.

[Go to top]Advanced Curriculum

504 Advanced Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups I (3)
This course presents theories and techniques applicable to social work practice with individuals and families, including those from diverse and at-risk populations. Field education experiences serve as basis for integration and application of theories, assessment of the cultural competence of their interventions with specific populations, examination of strengths and limitations of evidence-based practice, and articulate a personal practice stance. This course is taken concurrently with SW595. (Prerequisites: SW502, SW592.)

505 Administration in Social Work Practice I (3)
Focus on social work practice from an administrative perspective, including theories and principles of culturally competent management and organization issues in administration, within the context of professional social work. Includes consideration of social and economic justice and ethical imperatives and influences of funding patterns, legislation, organizational culture, and structure on program planning and implementation. (Prerequisites: SW 502, SW 592.)

506 Advanced Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities (3)
This course builds on foundation content and theoretical perspectives explored in SW 511. It advances skills in differential interventions with a variety of systems and focuses on organizations and communities as systems for assessment, intervention, and evaluation. The course examines discrimination and oppression with an organizational and community context and the complex interface between individual, family, and group needs and organizational and community context. (Prerequisites: SW511, SW595.)

595 Field Education III: Advanced Practice with Client Systems Concentration (3)
596 Field Education IV: Advanced Practice with Client Systems Concentration (3)
These courses build on the knowledge and skills gained in the foundation Field Education placement. Students gain additional experience working with individuals, families, small groups, communities, and organizations within the political, social, and cultural context of the setting. Issues of social and economic justice within organizational and community contexts and how they are addressed through policy or program development and evaluation. Students must complete 480 clock hours in the concentration year. SW 595 is taken concurrently with SW 511 and SW 596 with SW 512.

802 Social Welfare Systems and Services (3)
This course teaches policy practice skills that enable students to use evidence-based data to frame for intervention social issues that affect the lives of marginalized groups of people and populations-at-risk. Using professional values and ethics and the employment of critical thinking skills as a base, students will demonstrate their ability to evaluate the effectiveness of culturally competent policy practice interventions.
(Prerequisite: SW 801.)

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532 Administration in Social Work Practice II (3)
This course develops additional management competencies, with emphasis on the role of middle management and its relationship to social and economic justice, especially internal and external resource development. The course examines issues of cultural and social diversity as they affect the constituency served by the agency in relation to its mission. Students apply research and evaluation principles in examining access to service, quality of service, and cost/benefit of services. Includes a review of nonprofit fiscal management, budgeting and social marketing, resource development, grant writing, and effective human resource utilization. Taken concurrently with SW 598, Advanced Field Education IV. (Prerequisites: SW 505.)

535 Child Welfare Practice and Services (3)
The course provides an historical and theoretical framework for understanding the ecological context of child welfare practice. The societal values which shape current policy and legislation are considered in addition to the concepts of strength and resilience as underlying philosophies of effective, family-focused interventions. The course also examines evaluative research in child welfare and differential intervention for culturally competent child welfare practice.

536 Social Work Practice with Children (3)
This course builds upon the basic skills, values, and knowledge introduced in other areas of the curriculum and, particularly, in the human behavior and practice foundation courses. The course focuses on the application of theories, concepts, and research to guide empirically-based social work practice with children and young adolescents. The course is designed for students who have an interest in working directly with children, their caregivers, and their families. Case materials illustrate the ethical and practice challenges in working with a variety of children including those who live in out-of-home placements, in substance-disordered families, in families affected by illness and death, in nontraditional families, and those who are victims and witnesses of family violence. The special circumstances surrounding children at risk as well as those with special needs and social/emotional issues are also addressed. A range of therapeutic approaches and modalities is presented, including individual, family, and group interventions, developmental, non-directive and cognitive/behavioral play therapy, as well as interdisciplinary collaborative and psycho-educational approaches. A strengths perspective is highlighted as an approach to intervention, and attention is given to development of student self-awareness around children's issues.

561 Family Focused Social Work Practice (3)
Builds on the history and traditions of family intervention in the basic social services. This course examines pertinent practice issues, family therapy concepts approaches used in contemporary social work intervention, with an emphasis on family resilience, family intervention concepts are applied to families under economic stress, families within vulnerable populations and with diverse family structures, and current research. A strengths perspective is highlighted as an approach to treatment.

571 Supervision in Social Work Practice (3)
This course provides the requisite knowledge and skills for assuming basic responsibilities of supervision. The course examines the purpose, principles, and methods of supervision applicable to many social work settings and the demands upon the supervisor and supervisee. Emphasis is on the supportive, educational, and administrative elements of supervision. Issues specific to women and other minority groups are also addressed. (Prerequisites: SW 502, SW 592.)


625 Critical Issues in Chemical Dependence (3)
The course provides an overview of the major psychoactive drugs of abuse, the role of drugs in today's society, theories of causation, actions on the central nervous system, and the pharmacology of individual substances. Using systems and strengths perspectives and bio-psychosocial understandings, examines the roles of the individual and society with respect to development of chemical dependence. Addresses intervention with individuals, families and groups; policy issues; prevention efforts, and the relationship to HIV/AIDS.

705 Social Work Thesis (3)
The elective component of the research sequence, this course is recommended especially, but not exclusively, for those students who plan to pursue doctoral-level education. The course is designed to strengthen the student's overall research knowledge and skills through the development and presentation of individual research projects related to practice issues. The course offers students the opportunity to refine and implement a research proposal designed prior to admission to the course, and supports student research designs and data analysis, advanced statistical analysis, and multivariate analyses. (Prerequisite: SW 702.)

900 Social Work Perspectives on Trauma (3)

Contemporary knowledge about psychological trauma will be analyzed in terms of its relevance for social work.  This will include the examination of human responses to stress on a continuum of adaptation and ways in which trauma can impact human development and social functioning.  Forces within individuals, families, communities and institutions that influence clients' abilities to cope with critical events will be explored.  Specific populations studied will include crime victims, refugees, veterans of war and survivors of natural disaster; however, the focus will be on the comonality of these groups in their responses to unmanageable stress.  Typical diagnoses accompanying trauma (such as PTSD) will be described and the role of psychopharmacology will be touched on.  The impact of social attitudes toward victims of trauma will be examined in relation to victims' healing processes; in addition, students will be encouraged to explore their own acceptance of stigmatizing cultural myths.  Approaches to treatment, related to general social work practice principles and ethical stances, will be explored.  These will include client self determination, strengths, advocacy and cultural competency.  In addition, the impact of vicarious traumatizatiton on social workers and the development of effective coping strategies will be explored. 

908 Women's Issues and the Practice of Social Work (3)
An overview of perspectives on the development of women including the complex, interplay of gender and human systems, social forces, and social policies. The course focuses on institutionalized oppression experienced by women in the forms of sexism, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, and heterosexism. Students are encouraged to examine their own value systems related to these issues and how these belief systems may affect their practice as social workers.

920 Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of Social Work Practice (3)
This course allows for an in-depth, comprehensive concentration on spirituality and religion in social work services to individuals, families, groups, and communities. Reviewing major religious as well as non-religious spiritual practices in the United States and the world, students gain an understanding of the diversity of religious and spiritual traditions that frame clients' lives. Students learn to incorporate an examination of religion and spirituality as part of social work assessment, intervention, and evaluation.

925 Critical Issues in Racial and Ethnic Experience (3)
An examination of the nature of devaluing attitudes toward others, and the ethnocentrism, prejudice, bias, discrimination, and racism in society. The course explores the ways in which racial and ethnic attitudes have shaped the experiences of selected groups in the U.S. Culturally competent social work practice is stressed, with particular emphasis on the role of diversity in practice, policy, and research. Literature related to the development of social policies and research related to diverse groups is also examined.

941 Concepts and Issues in Gerontology (3)
Reviews social gerontological theories, social policy issues of aging, and skills integration with the bio-psychosocial processes of middle and late lifespan development impacting individuals, families, and groups. Special attention is given to the strengths perspective, poverty, elder abuse, and cultural and gender issues as they relate to racism, sexism, and ageism in populations at risk.

950 Independent Study (3)
An independent study course planned by the student and a faculty mentor that focuses on a specific program of readings or field experience. The student is responsible for developing a proposal that addresses specific learning objectives and incorporates current social work theories and literature. The student is evaluated on a measurable project or paper. The faculty mentor guides the student's progress through approximately five tutorial sessions for a three-credit study.

950I International Independent Study (3)
This independent study course is based on international practice experience. The student is responsible for developing a proposal that addresses specific learning objectives and incorporates current social work theories and literature. The student is evaluated on a measurable project or paper. The faculty mentor guides the student's progress through approximately five tutorial sessions for a three-credit study.

965 Human Sexuality: Issues for Social Work (3)
An overview of the theoretical perspectives on the development process of human sexuality. The course covers the biological, psychological, and sociological aspects of sexual development across the life span including contemporary issues and their implications for social work practice, policy, and research. Particular attention is given to the wide range of beliefs and behaviors related to sexuality. Issues of discrimination and oppression are addressed as they apply to various groups (e.g. gays, lesbians, bisexuals, women, elderly, disabled, etc.). Social work and related literature is examined to assess the ways in which we develop knowledge of human sexuality and the limitations of research regarding sexual issues. Ethical dilemmas related to human sexuality are considered throughout the course.

989 Global Perspectives on Social and Administrative Practice (3)

This course will examine the need for international social work, given the global context and concerns.  The course will also examine four perspectives, namely, global perspective, human rights perspective, ecological perspective and social development perspective, which are crucial for international social work practice.  Students will explore how the processes of colonization and neocolonialism have subjected some countries to imposed development.  Attention will be paid to the key roles being played by international social work organizations, such as, International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), and International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW).  Students will also explore the strategies followed by Global South in dealing with poverty, conflict, forced migration, AIDS, child labor and many other social problems.  An important requirement of this course will be a study abroad program during Spring/Summer break, intended to enhance students' understanding of human rights, social and economic justice issues and social problems and also the strategies followed in the host country dealing with such issues.


MSW Program Specializations

Requirements for Behavioral Health Specialization:

Required Elective courses:   Both of the following two (2) electives are required:

SW 621 Social Work Perspectives on Psychopathology (prerequisite SW 601 and pre- or corequisite SW 602)

SW 625 Critical Issues in Chemical Dependency (no prerequisites)

Required Field Placement:  2nd year Field Placement must be in a setting that offers the opportunity to gain practice experience in a Mental Health or Substance Abuse Treatment setting.


Requirements for Child and Family Practice Specialization:

Required Elective courses:  Two (2) of the following three electives:

SW 535 Child Welfare Practices and Services (no prerequisites)

SW 536 Social Work Practice with Children (prerequisites:  SW 502 and SW 592)

SW 561 Family Focused Social Work Practice (prerequisites:  SW 502 and SW 592)

Required Field Placement:  2nd year Field Placement must be in a setting that offers the opportunity to gain experience in child and family practice.