MSW Curriculum

MSW CURRICULUM

Foundation Courses

The School’s Mission and MSW Program Goals recognize the importance of building on the core competencies identified by CSWE for foundation level knowledge, skills and values. Some of the students received this basic foundation in a BA Social Work or BSW program. For these students, redundancy is addressed by eliminating some of the coursework requirements in the MSW program. For students who come to the program from other disciplines, the MSW program provides the full foundation curriculum to ensure that students have sufficient knowledge and skills to move to the advanced competencies.

The MSW Goals recognize that graduates of the program will be not only advanced practitioners in autonomous practice but also the future leaders of the profession. Without the attainment of the core competencies, students would not be prepared to move into their advanced concentrations. In the advanced concentrations, students learn in-depth practice skills and knowledge based upon the concentration of their choice.

Below are the CSWE core competencies expected of students completing the foundation courses. (Taken from

CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards 2008)

Educational Policy 2.1Core Competencies

Competency-based education is an outcome performance approach to curriculum design. Competencies are measurable practice behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, and skills. The goal of the outcome approach is to demonstrate the integration and application of the competencies in practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The ten core competencies are listed below [EP 2.1.1–EP 2.1.10(d)], followed by a description of characteristic knowledge, values, skills, and the resulting practice behaviors that may be used to operationalize the curriculum and assessment methods. Programs may add competencies consistent with their missions and goals.

1Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.

Social workers serve as representatives of the profession, its mission, and its core values. They know the profession’s history. Social workers commit themselves to the profession’s enhancement and to their own professional conduct and growth. Social workers

• advocate for client access to the services of social work;

• practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development;

• attend to professional roles and boundaries;

• demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication;

• engage in career-long learning;

• use supervision and consultation.

2Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.

Social workers have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically and to engage in ethical decision making. Social workers are knowledgeable about the value base of the profession, its ethical standards, and relevant law. Social workers

• recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide

• practice;

• make ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers

• Code of Ethics2 and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social

• Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work,

• Statement of Principles;3

• tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts; and

• apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions.

3Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.

Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis communication of relevant information. Social workers

• distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based

• knowledge, and practice wisdom;

• analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation; and

• demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families,

• groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues.

4Engage diversity and difference in practice.

Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple National Association of Social Workers (approved 1996, revised 1999). Code of Ethics for Social Workers. Washington, DC:

NASS factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim. Social workers

• recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize,

• alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power;

• gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in

• working with diverse groups;

• recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping

• life experiences; and

• view themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants.

5Advance human rights and social and economic justice.

Each person, regardless of position in society, has basic human rights, such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers recognize the global interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights. Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions, and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice. Social workers

• understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination;

• advocate for human rights and social and economic justice; and

• engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.

6Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.

Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery. Social workers comprehend quantitative and qualitative research and understand scientific and ethical approaches to building knowledge. Social workers

• use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry and

• use research evidence to inform practice.

7Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.

Social workers are knowledgeable about human behavior across the life course; the range of social systems in which people live; and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Social workers apply theories and knowledge from the liberal arts to understand biological, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development. Social workers

• utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation;

• critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.

8Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.

Social work practitioners understand that policy affects service delivery, and they actively engage in policy practice.

Social workers know the history and current structures of social policies and services; the role of policy in service delivery; and the role of practice in policy development. Social workers

• analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being; and

• collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.

9Respond to contexts that shape practice.

Social workers are informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice. Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic, and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively. Social workers

• continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and

• technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services; and

• provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to

• improve the quality of social services.

10Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Professional practice involves the dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and

evaluation at multiple levels. Social workers have the knowledge and skills to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances; evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness; developing, analyzing, advocating, and providing leadership for policies and services; and promoting social and economic justice.

(a)Engagement

Social workers

• substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups,

• organizations, and communities;

• use empathy and other interpersonal skills; and

• develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes.

(b)Assessment

Social workers

• collect, organize, and interpret client data;

• assess client strengths and limitations;

• develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives; and

• select appropriate intervention strategies.

(c)Intervention

Social workers

• initiate actions to achieve organizational goals;

• implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities;

• help clients resolve problems;

• negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients; and

• facilitate transitions and endings.

(d)Evaluation

Social workers critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions.

Advanced Courses

CSWE requires that the advanced curriculum be built on the liberal arts perspective and the professional foundation content. A concentration of specialized knowledge and practice skills; including relevant practice theories and methods, social policy and research is required. Advanced students should develop the ability to assess critically the practice theories associated with their concentrations, to evaluate their own practice, and to identify those areas of knowledge and skill that should be the focus of continuing personal and collective professional development beyond graduation.

Family Centered and Integrated Practice Concentrations Overview

The School's advanced curriculum offers students a choice between two concentrations: Family Centered Practice and Integrated Practice. Advanced students take courses in theory, policy, practice, practicum and practicum seminar in one of these concentrations. The concentrations are briefly described below and more thoroughly compared beginning on page 32.

Family Centered Practice

The Family Centered Practice concentration prepares students to provide direct services to individuals and families experiencing problems which have impaired personal or family functioning such as mental illness, family violence, abuse and neglect, juvenile offenses, substance abuse, relationship problems, and parenting skills. The goals of such work are to increase competence of individuals, to support family functioning, and to decrease the need for various types of institutionalization.

The Family Centered Practice curriculum enables students to work directly with individuals and families as well as with the larger systems on their behalf. The term family is broadly defined to include step families, single parent families, same sex couples, adult child-parent families, as well as the more traditional families. Thus, sensitivity to a variety of family structures is emphasized.

Graduates of this concentration work in mental health, traditional family service as well as the intensive family based service, and child welfare agencies. As the only graduate social work program in a rural state, practice knowledge and skills need to be generalizable; thus, students are prepared for practice in a variety of settings and a variety of populations across the life span.

The theoretical basis for this concentration is Family Centered Theory and Practice I, which emphasizes interpersonal and social forces over intrapsychic factors in explaining human behavior and change. Under this view, mobilizing strengths in the system is emphasized over diagnosing pathology in creating change. While the truth of other explanatory theories are not denied, systemic approaches and the post systemic approaches (such as the narrative approaches) are the basis for this concentration because they seem most generalizable to more populations; they are more contextual, thus compatible with the social work person-in-environment philosophy; they are generally briefer and less intrusive than other approaches; and they can be practiced in offices, clients' homes, or neutral territories. While several specific approaches fall under the general rubric of "family systems" theory, they share some common assumptions about human behavior and a practice approach has been developed and is taught based on this contextual view. This systemic approach to clinical social work practice is one that fits well with involvement of clients' natural helping networks, paraprofessionals, and volunteers.

Advanced Competencies for Family Centered Practice

Competencies appear in bold type followed by practice behaviors. 

2.1.1—Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.

FC1a) Adhere to and model professional social work roles and boundaries.

FC1b) Demonstrate understanding of continuous professional improvement using research informed practices, continuing education, supervision and consultation.

FC1c) Advocate for client systems to reduce culturally influenced barriers to services presented by practitioners, organizations and larger systems.

2.1.2—Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.

FC2a) Identify ethical issues and apply NASW Code of Ethics standards to their resolution.

FC2b) Demonstrate leadership in applying ethical decision making models for problem resolution

FC2c) Apply ethical decision making models in research and evaluation of practice

2.1.3—Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments

FC3a) Design/select, and implement when feasible, strategies for assessment and intervention utilizing evidence-based and best practice methods.

FC3b) Produce professional quality documents and presentations such as case presentations, journal articles, grant applications, or legislative briefs.

FC3c) Design/select strategies to inform policy-related decisions

2.1.4—Engage diversity and difference in practice.

FC4a) Continuously assess the role of culture in family centered approaches and their impact on diverse populations.

FC4b) Based on assessment, identify strategies (including research/policy) to better meet the needs of diverse populations and to challenge oppression.

FC4c) Seek feedback and reflect on one’s personal biases and modify one’s behavior to ensure culturally responsive practice.

FC4d) Critically evaluate information about diverse groups and continuously apply it to practice.

2.1.5—Advance human rights and social and economic justice

FC5a) Demonstrate the skills needed to make social institutions and policies more responsive to marginalized and oppressed groups.

FC5b) Use organizational and/or social change theory and strategies to promote social justice practices and policies.

2.1.6—Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research

FC6a) Use quantitative and/or qualitative research methods to evaluate one’s professional development and/or practice effectiveness.

FC6b) Identify research strategies to fill gaps in research and/or practice knowledge.

2.1.7—Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment

FC7a) Critically evaluate and appropriately apply practice theories and frameworks to multiple client systems recognizing underlying assumptions, values, strengths and weaknesses.

FC7b) Utilize practice theories to guide engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation.

2.1.8—Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.

FC8a) Demonstrate understanding of the role of ideology and the economy in shaping social programs and policies that affect vulnerable individuals and families.

FC8b) Design strategies to iNfluence the development and/or implementation of agency or public policy (e.g. local/state/national).

FC8c) Demonstrate an understanding of how policies impact clients and programs.

2.1.9—Respond to contexts that shape practice

FC9a) Demonstrate ability to respond to emerging needs and trends at the local/regional/societal level(s).

FC9b) Identify, and when feasible, apply strategies to improve organizational response to emerging needs and trends

2.1.10—Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities

FC10a) Develop culturally responsive and effective working relationships with client systems.

FC10b) Establish a relationally based process that encourages clients to be equal partners in establishing treatment goals and outcomes.

FC10c) Conduct a comprehensive assessment viewing the client system in context using clients’ strengths and resources and obtaining multiple perspectives of the problem definition.

FC10d) Based on assessment, develop differential intervention plans to promote individual and family capacity to function more effectively

FC10e) Establish measurable goals and outcomes with clients that facilitate goal achievement

FC10f) Apply evidence-based practice interventions with client systems

FC10g) Utilize community resources effectively with client systems

FC10h) With clients, monitor progress, assess outcomes, terminate, and follow-up appropriately

FC10i) Use evaluation of the process and /or outcomes to develop best practices for individual and family interventions.

Integrated Practice

The Integrated Practice Concentration teaches a model of practice which aims to meet the multiple needs of individuals and families through culturally sensitive assessing, planning, intervening, and evaluating in multiple systems. These skills are needed for a broad set of interventions (direct practice, planning and program development, team building, networking, and client information management) that are used by social workers doing family-centered, case management, and community practice.

The Integrated Practice curriculum is designed for students who will work in settings where advanced generalist interventions are necessary, such as community-based and family-based agencies, rural settings, and large complex organizations (hospitals, schools, and correctional facilities). In these settings, social workers function as team members and team leaders, and must often coordinate activities across different departments and agencies.

The Integrated Practice concentration is based on the concept of person-in-environment and is an extension of multi- systemic practice first conceptualized by Jane Addams. The theoretical foundations of the Integrated Practice concentration are social network and social systems theory (family and organizational systems), and empowerment models, as well as mid-range theories of communication, power, conflict, political economy, and decision theory as they apply to changing the circumstances of oppressed/distressed individuals and families. The policy framework for the concentration includes both a comparative analysis of policy and programs, and an understanding of the reciprocal relationships between the problems of individuals and families and those of the systems in which they are enmeshed. The Integrated Practice concentration teaches students to broadly assess needs of individuals and families, and it develops in students the skills needed to enable their clients to solve or remediate these difficult situations. In addition, when these needs are associated with problems located in larger systems--such as organizations, support networks, and inter-agency service delivery systems--the concentration teaches planning and intervention skills designed to directly change these larger systems. The concentration prepares students to competently perform these direct interventions at an advanced level of skill: needs assessment research, planning and mobilizing resources (including grant writing), intervening in multiple systems using parallel processes (including team and network building) and designing and managing computerized information systems for the purpose of client assessment and program evaluation. These skills are particularly useful for students who will serve in the roles of case manager, service coordinator, supervisor, and program planner and developer.

Advanced Competencies/Practice Behaviors for Integrated Practice

Competencies are in bold followed by practice behaviors.

 2.1.1—Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.

IP1a) Describe, adhere to, and model when feasible, professional social work roles and boundaries. .

IP1b) Demonstrate a commitment to continuous professional improvement using evidence-based practices, supervision and consultation.

IP1c) Advocate for client systems to reduce culturally influenced barriers to services presented by practitioners, organizations and larger systems.

2.1.2—Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.

IP2a) Identify ethical issues and use the NASW Code of Ethics to guide professional practice.

IP2b) Present ethical issues to colleagues for problem resolution.

IP2c) Apply ethical decision making models in research and evaluation of practice or programs.

2.1.3—Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments

IP3a) Design/select, and implement when feasible, strategies for assessment and intervention utilizing evidence-based and best practice methods.

IP3b) Produce professional quality documents and presentations such as journal articles, grant applications, or legislative briefs.

IP3c) Design/select strategies to inform policy-related decisions.

2.1.4—Engage diversity and difference in practice.

IP4a) Continuously assess the role of culture in practice interventions, systems and policies and their impact on diverse populations in multiple settings.

IP4b) Based on assessment, identify strategies to better meet the needs of diverse populations and to challenge oppression.

IP4c) Seek feedback and reflect on one’s personal biases and modify one’s behavior to ensure culturally responsive practice. .

IP4d) Critically evaluate information about diverse groups and continuously apply it to practice.

2.1.5—Advance human rights and social and economic justice

IP5a) Demonstrate the skills needed to make social institutions and policies more responsive to marginalized and oppressed groups.

IP5b) Use organizational and/or social change theory and strategies to promote social justice practices and policies

2.1.6—Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research

IP6a) Use quantitative and/or qualitative research methods to evaluate one’s professional development and/or practice effectiveness.

IP6b) Identify research strategies to fill gaps in research and/or practice knowledge.

2.1.7—Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment

IP7a) Critically evaluate and appropriately apply practice theories and frameworks at multiple system levels recognizing underlying assumptions, values, strengths and weaknesses.

IP7b) Utilize practice theories to guide engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation.

2.1.8—Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.

IP8a) Demonstrate understanding of the role of ideology and the economy in shaping social programs and policies that affect vulnerable individuals and families.

IP8b) Design strategies to influence the development and/or implementation of agency or public policy (e.g. local/state/national).

IP8c) Demonstrate an understanding of how policies impact clients, programs, and larger systems.

2.1.9—Respond to contexts that shape practice

IP9a) Demonstrate ability to respond to emerging needs and trends within communities/ organizations.

IP9b) Identify and when feasible, apply strategies to improve organizations / inter-organizational coalitions.

2.1.10—Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities

IP10a) Develop culturally responsive and effective working relationships with people at multiple system levels.

IP10b) Demonstrate multidisciplinary collaboration.

IP10c) Conduct a needs assessment and identify challenges, strengths and resources to inform interventions.

IP 10d) Evaluate, and modify as needed, assessment tools and methods to fit organizational or community contexts.

IP10e) Design, and as feasible, implement evidence-based and/or practice informed interventions.

IP10f) Establish measureable goals and outcomes with clients and/or larger systems to facilitate goal achievement

IP10g) Monitor progress towards goals and evaluate practice outcomes.

IP10h) Disseminate evaluation results to stakeholders to inform best practices and/or policy development.

Research Practice II

All advanced students also take 042:270 Research Practice II in which students learn both clinical and program evaluation research processes and conduct a research project. Policy and forms related to human subjects review are distributed in class.

Final Examination

Final Exam is optional for MSW students. If students elect to complete a thesis, they must complete an Oral Examination to Defend Thesis: Students who elect the thesis option will be examined by the thesis committee, on a date to be scheduled within the Graduate College Final Examination period, following the first deposit of the thesis and preceding the final deposit of the thesis. See Final Examination Thesis Information in Appendix B.

Electives

The requirements on the previous pages leave opportunity for up to 11-14 hours of electives. An elective course (2-3 s.h. minimum) directly related to the student's advanced practicum is required no later than the summer prior to advanced practicum. Other electives may be taken either within the School of Social Work or in other departments of the University.

Fields of Practice

While there are no formal requirements in the curriculum design for coursework in specific fields of practice, the School does make an effort to organize clusters of courses that give focus to curriculum in certain fields. Currently the following fields of practice have been identified and developed: child welfare, children and families; juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice; gerontology; health and mental health; marriage and family; rural social work; social work in the schools; substance abuse and end of life care. Students who have interests in one of these fields are encouraged to make use of the flexibility of the curriculum to choose practicum, electives, research projects and practice evaluation projects that will provide opportunity for increased knowledge of the field and skills in working within that field. Descriptions of each field of practice, suggested courses and practicum placements are listed in Appendix A.

Structure and Sequence of the Program

The School admits full-time and part-time students in either the 60 or 48 hour program. The full time program can be completed in 2 years (4-5 semesters) and the part-time program must be completed within 4 years.

Programs are offered in a year-round, three semester sequenced format. Students generally have only one opportunity each year to take each course so it is essential that the sequence be understood and observed.

Completion of the foundation coursework is prerequisite to beginning advanced courses.

Students may not advance from 1st semester practicum to 2nd semester practicum if the 1st semester practicum seminar has not been satisfactorily completed.