Social Work, MSW

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 (31-33 credit hours) builds on the professional foundation and provides for advanced knowledge and practice skills in the concentration selected by the student. The Mandel School offers two Concentrations (Direct Practice and Community Practice for Social Change). The Direct Practice concentration includes these specializations:  aging; substance use disorders and recovery; children, youth and families; health; mental health with children and adolescents; mental health with adults. School social work is available as a special emphasis.

On-Campus Weekly Program

The Campus-Based Weekly Program takes four semesters to complete. Students enroll for fall and spring semesters and are scheduled concurrently for classes and fieldwork on a full-time basis. This program is demanding in depth and scope of experience. It is not advisable for students to assume extensive employment during their semesters of enrollment.

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.

Part-Time Degree Program

The part-time program may be completed in three years. Students granted advanced standing may complete the program in fewer semesters. Part-time students are required to register for a minimum of six credit hours per semester. A student must complete all degree requirements in a maximum of five years.

Part-time students select classes from the full-time weekday schedule. These classes meet once a week for two-three hours. Employed professionals may participate in this program if they can arrange a flexible work schedule.

Non-Degree Study

Some designated courses may be taken on a non-degree basis with the permission of the assistant dean of academic affairs and the course instructor. A maximum of 12 hours earned on a non-degree basis may be counted toward requirements for the master's degree if the student is subsequently admitted as a degree-seeking candidate. A bachelor's degree is required for enrollment.

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 1,000 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.