Social Work, MSW (Online)

David Miller, Chair, Master of Social Work Program

Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Program Overview

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares students for advanced social work practice in a variety of settings. The master’s curriculum is designed to address the wide range of skills and functions required of a professional social worker. Mandel School students are instructed on the various theories of individual and group behavior as well as community systems theory. The application of this knowledge, along with the appropriate use of practice principles and techniques, is a major educational objective.

The curriculum is divided into two levels: generalist and advanced. The generalist curriculum (27 credit hours) includes the knowledge, values, processes, and skills essential for the general practice of social work. It consists of generalist courses in social work methods, human development theory, social policy, research methods, and an introductory semester of field education. The advanced curriculum (33 credit hours) builds on the professional foundation and provides for advanced knowledge and practice skills in the concentration selected by the student. Concentrations (Direct Practice and Community Practice)  include specializations in aging; substance use disorders and recovery children, youth and families; mental health with adults; and community practice for social change.

Online Program

The online social work master’s experience at the Mandel School includes weekly live classes, in-person field education and continuous student support. We designed our online social work master’s program to fit seamlessly into a variety of lifestyles. The rigor of the program is the same as our on-campus and intensive weekend options—the only difference is that the program is delivered entirely online, with no campus visits required.

The Online MSW Program option is designed to provide online graduate social work education for employed professionals who plan to maintain full-time employment. Classes meet online to complete all program requirements in two years for advanced standing, and three years for non-advanced standing.

Advanced standing may be granted to students who have earned a Bachelor's degree in Social Work (BSW) within the last seven years from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Students must have earned a B or better in any social work course for which advanced standing is sought.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
  • Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
  • Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic and Environmental Justice
  • Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-Informed Practice
  • Engage in Policy Practice
  • Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations and Communities
  • Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations and Communities
  • Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  • Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  • Develop as a Social Work Leader

Ability Based Learning Environment (ABLE)

The MSW program incorporates an ability-based learning environment that enables students to develop and demonstrate mastery of eight core social work abilities. Classroom courses and field education are designed to help students develop each ability and continuously assess their learning throughout the educational experience. Mastery of the abilities is demonstrated in the field practicum and documented in a cumulative learning portfolio.

  • Identify as a Reflective Professional Social Worker:  Students will demonstrate an awareness of the potential influence of their actions and words as a professional social worker upon individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Students will demonstrate the ability to reflect on practice decisions and activities, using self-correction to assure continual professional development.
  • Advocate for Social, Economic and Environmental Justice: Graduates will advocate for human rights and social and economic justice as one of their primary responsibilities.
  • Apply Social Work Methods: Graduates of the Mandel School's master's program are prepared to function as advanced practitioners in a changing arena of social work and social welfare. They are able to engage clients and client systems, assess client needs and strengths, provide or help arrange needed services and support, weigh intervention alternatives, implement change strategies, and evaluate results.
  • Uphold Social Work Values and Ethics: Students will integrate social work values and ethics into their learning and professional practice.
  • Integrate Cultural, Economic and Global Diversity: Students will integrate into their practice the knowledge, skills, and values needed for understanding and appreciation of a diverse world, and for ongoing development of competence in working with diverse populations and settings.
  • Think Critically About Theory and Research Knowledge: Graduating students will be able to think critically about their practice and its knowledge base, and about the social problems and situations they encounter. Critical thinking in social work includes selecting appropriate theoretical approaches and strategies to apply in practice, using research findings to improve practice, evaluating one's own practice, and making contributions to knowledge in the field.
  • Communicate Effectively: Graduating students will have the oral, written, nonverbal, and information technology skills that will enable them to communicate effectively and appropriately in professional roles and settings.
  • Develop as a Social Work Leader: Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic, and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively. Social work leaders are informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, societal and global contexts at all levels of practice in ways that improve quality of life.

Mandel School faculty place a high priority on the integration of theory with practice. To facilitate this integration, fieldwork is done concurrently with coursework. Through field education, students have the opportunity to acquire new skills and apply their classroom learning in their practice setting. The school is affiliated with over 1000 agencies throughout the United States, creating a vast network of field education as well as employment opportunities. Students are required to complete a minimum of 900 clock hours of field education. The school and the affiliated agency or field setting agree on the content and conditions of field education, including the qualifications of social workers who serve as field instructors. Field placement decisions are based on educational criteria, with student interests and career objectives taken into consideration.