Master of Social Work - Standard
The MSW curriculum for the Standard degree option consists of 60 credit hours, which includes credit for generalist practice and specialized internships. The foundation year of study provides the student with knowledge, skills, and values for generalist social work practice as well as the foundation for advanced or specialized social work practice. Students enroll in internship seminars during the terms indicated on their degree plans for both the foundation and specialized years. Students must complete the field application process according to a designated timeline prior to the first placement term. In the specialized year of study, the students choose one of two areas of specialized practice, community practice and clinical practice.
Foundation (Generalist) Year
First Year in the Standard Degree Option
The foundation year provides a generalist education in social work at an advanced level and is required of every student in the standard degree option.
The standard curriculum is organized around these five curriculum content areas:
- Human Behavior and the Social Environment (SWO 5561 Professional Practice with Individuals and Families and SWO 5463 Professional Practice with Communities and Organizations)
- Social Welfare Policy and Services (SWO 5221 Introduction to the Profession; SWO 5322 Social Policy For Social Work Practice),
- Social Work Practice (SWO 5561 Professional Practice with Individuals and Families; SWO 5362 Professional Practice with Groups; SWO 5463 Professional Practice with Communities and Organizations)
- Research (SWO 5381 Research for Social Work Practice), and
- Field Practicum (SWO 5491 Foundation Internship I and SWO 5492 Foundation Internship II)
Students enroll in foundation internship courses for two consecutive terms of the foundation year in the standard program (see degree plan for specific terms). Students must earn at least a “B” in Foundation Internship I, Practice with Individuals & Families and Practice with Groups in order to enroll for Foundation Internship II. Required Field orientation must be completed before the first week of the Foundation Internship I course. Foundation Internship I & II consist of professional preparation for practice in an approved setting for a minimum of 240 clock hours in addition to a weekly integrative seminar. Foundation Internship II is designed to be a continuation of the internship and learning from Foundation Internship I, in the same placement setting. Foundation Internship II consists of an additional minimum of 240 clock hours of training practice in the agency. Students will apply the foundations of knowledge, values, and skills they have learned in the standard courses in Foundation Internship I & II. Students must earn at least a B in Foundation Internship II and Practice with Communities & Organizations in order to enroll in practice and internship courses for the specialized year. Students should pay careful attention to requirements for prerequisites and enrollment in courses concurrently, following the appropriate course sequence options on the following pages.
The program offers two areas of specialized practice. In each specialization, students acquire advanced practice skills and knowledge that build on the standard curriculum. The program’s areas of specialized practice are defined by fields of practice: Clinical Practice and Community Practice. Students complete the Advanced Internship in a setting that allows them the opportunity to prepare for practice in these areas. Students are expected to further refine their learning in their chosen specialization by use of electives.
Each area of specialized practice areas consists of a combination of courses taken exclusively with others in the specialization. In addition, students in all specializations take the Administrative Practice in Social Work, a Capstone course, and Evaluation of Practice courses. These combined courses allow students an opportunity to learn from each other and gain exposure to other areas of specialized practice.
Students must have completed all standard requirements before enrolling in the advanced social work practice courses. These courses are designed to provide an intensive experience of applying learning in the standard curriculum and advanced practice methods and principles in the specialization to actual practice situations. Students will learn the skills for advanced practice in the area of their specialization and assess their own practice and establish ongoing professional development.
Students will enroll in advanced internship seminar courses during the terms they are completing the Advanced Internship (see degree plans). Advanced Internship consists of social work preparatory practice in a setting appropriate to the student’s specialization for a minimum of 225-275 hours per term.
During the final term of the specialized year, students engage in a capstone experience, during which they prepare a practice-oriented workshop to present to colleagues and professional social workers, including a faculty evaluator. The Colloquium presentation takes place the last week of the trimester.
Brief Description of Master of Social Work Areas of Specialized Practice
The clinical practice specialization prepares students for advanced, direct practice with individuals, families, and groups in a variety of clinical settings. Students learn to apply evidence-based practice theories and methods of intervention that reflect a person-environment orientation and a strengths perspective. Specific philosophical frameworks include humanism, positivism, and evidence-based methods. The program is based on the development of an eclectic method that offers the opportunity to investigate more specific practice models. Some examples include cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, narrative approaches, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), structural family therapy, therapeutic use of play, and dialectical behavior therapy. Assessment tools and techniques, especially focusing on DSM-5, are critical to the program.
Common professional opportunities for social workers in clinical practice include practice in health settings and practice with children and families. Students in the clinical practice specialization will take practice courses focused on health settings (SWO 5376 Advanced Clinical Practice: Health Settings) and children and families (SWO 5377 Advanced Clinical Practice: Children and Families).
The community practice specialization prepares students for advanced practice with public and/or nonprofit organizations, neighborhoods, communities, congregations, and religiously affiliated agencies. Students learn a variety of professional community practice models that serve to strengthen and enrich communities in local and global settings. Communities can be defined as both geographic (e.g., neighborhoods) and relational (e.g., ethnic communities). The central models are rooted in professional literature, research, and theory, and they include advanced skills in community development, community organizing, and community planning.
The advanced model of development is asset-based community development, which recognizes community struggles but responds most centrally to community assets. Asset mapping is a key skill learned when studying this model.
The advanced model of organizing is consensus-based. Consensual organizing is rooted in consensus-building rather than building on the potential conflict. Negotiation and facilitation are key skills learned with regard to this model.
The advanced model of planning is emergent-based. While most planning requires a rational approach to planning (e.g. the logic model), the emergent model allows for greater flexibility and adaptability when working in diverse contexts. The engagement of stakeholders is a key skill here.
All degree plans may be found on the Garland School of Social Work website, linked below. Students may see what their prescribed program is based on the Clinical and Community Practice specializations.