MSW Course Descriptions

MSW 500: Ethical Decision Making in Social Work

This course provides students with an exploration of values, ethical issues, and theory, and teaches the use of a systematic decision making process to resolve ethical dilemmas. Students will apply this process to practice issues with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

MSW 510: Human Behavior in the Social Environment

This course examines the theoretical underpinnings for understanding the bio-psychosocial-spiritual dimensions of human development across the life cycle. Social and economic marginalization of groups will be discussed, as well as values and ethical issues. Students will use conceptual frameworks to inform understanding of people and their social environments.

MSW 520: Professional Writing and Documentation

Students will develop written communication skills necessary in a variety of micro, mezzo, and macro practice settings. They will learn to effectively and professionally write documents that are necessary in a changing environment of regulatory requirements, risk of legal liability, and funding source requirements.

MSW 530: Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups

This course provides the foundation for social work practice with individuals, families and groups. It teaches practice skills using a problem-solving process underpinned by caring theory. Special emphasis will be given to engaging, assessing, planning with, and evaluating individuals, families, and groups of diverse populations.

MSW 540: Field 1

This seminar course, the first in a series of four, gives students a chance to integrate the theoretical knowledge, values, and abilities they are learning in the classroom within the dynamic context of a human services agency. Self-awareness; professional use of self; empathy and genuineness; identification with social work values; professional, ethical behavior; and the effect of social welfare policies upon clients will be examined. Students must complete a total of 150 clock hours–approximately two days per week for 10 weeks. Proof of professional liability insurance is required prior to beginning the practicum.

MSW 550: Social Work Research Methods

This course introduces the scientific approach to knowledge building and how it applies to practice. Students will learn about the formulation of research questions/hypotheses, operational definitions of research constructs, IRB approval, sampling methods, experimental and quasi-experimental designs, threats to validity, statistical methods, quantitative and qualitative inquiry, data analysis and research report writing. Students will also be introduced to community needs assessments and program evaluation.

MSW 560: Practice with Organizations and Communities

This course addresses the development and implementation of community-level interventions that promote social justice and inclusive communities, and are sensitive to issues of diversity. It introduces macro practice theories and models and uses caring theory and a systems perspective for understanding organizational and community change. It prepares students for advanced practice within a broad array of community systems.

MSW 570: Social Welfare and Policy Practice

Fundamental concepts and theories of social welfare policy are examined. The competing values and beliefs that influence social welfare policy are discussed and analyzed. An overview of the history of social welfare policy in the United States is explored. Social welfare policies and programs are examined within the context of the associated social problems. The themes of poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression are addressed.

MSW 580: Psychopathology

This course will introduce students to major mental disorders using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as the organizing framework. Students will learn differential diagnostic skills within the context of biopsychosocial-spiritual influences and ethno-cultural differences. Students will learn about psychopharmacological treatments and the role of medications in the therapeutic process.

MSW 590: Field 2

This seminar course, the second in a series of four, gives students a chance to discuss the issues and dilemmas they face in the second-semester field placement. This course emphasizes the further integration of foundational practice skills with clients in a field agency. Engaging people from diverse groups, assessment, service planning, and evaluation will be emphasized. Students must complete a total of 250 clock hours – approximately two days per week for 16 weeks.

MSW 600: The Intersection of Poverty, Human Rights, and of Caritas

This course explores the social justice concerns associated with poverty and protections of human rights using a philosophy of caritas, caring theory, and a moral framework of the ethic of care. Students will learn how to synthesize, integrate, and translate the philosophy, values, and ethic of care as a context for social work practice. They will identify and initiate actions that improve the life conditions of people who are poor.

MSW 620: Appreciation of Diversity and the Dynamics of Oppression

This course will examine how power and other dynamics manage and sustain oppression at the individual and institutional levels. Students will learn about the adaptive capabilities and strengths of marginalized groups and how such capabilities and strengths can be used in culturally competent social work practice.

MSW 630: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This course presents the theoretical basis of cognitive behavior therapy, the principles of this therapeutic approach, its use in the context of brief treatment and managed care, and the associated techniques for promoting the behavior change process.

MSW 650: Field 3

This seminar course, the third in a series of four, provides students with the opportunity to apply specialized macro practice skills that are necessary for a Master’s level social worker in today’s world. This course emphasizes specialized knowledge, values, skills, cognitive and affective processes, and behaviors necessary at the Master’s level. Students must complete a total of 250 clock hours – approximately two days per week for 16 weeks.

MSW 660: Applied Research

Students will apply a research design that contributes to the knowledge base of the profession. The focus of this course will be on the collection and analysis of data using statistical processes and dissemination of findings that improve practice, policy, and service delivery.

MSW 670: Advanced Policy Advocacy

This course gives students the opportunity to engage in policy advocacy to improve the resources and opportunities for marginalized groups of people within their own communities. Students will learn the skills, tasks, and competencies that are needed to bring about policy changes.

MSW 680: Motivational Interviewing for Addictive Behaviors

This course presents the theoretical basis of motivational interviewing (MI), the principles of this counseling approach, and the key strategies for promoting the behavior change process.

MSW 690: Field 4

This seminar course, the last in a series of four, provides students with the opportunity to apply specialized micro and mezzo practice skills that are necessary for a Master’s level social worker in today’s world. This course emphasizes specialized knowledge, values, skills, cognitive and affective processes, and behaviors necessary at the Master’s level. Students must complete a total of 250 clock hours – approximately two days per week for 16 weeks.

Electives

MSW 641: Clinical Social Work with Children and Families

This course will use a social constructionist perspective to frame the conceptualization of problems experienced by children and families. Students will learn about the assessment and treatment of children and their families experiencing trauma through circumstances such as divorce, remarriage and the consequent formation of steprelationships, alcoholism and drug abuse, child abuse, family violence, etc.

MSW 642: Organizational Leadership

This course prepares students to perform leadership functions in public, nonprofit, and faith-based human service organizations. The philosophy, principles and methods of leadership, supervision, funding, and human resource development are covered. Attention is given to agency structure, governance, and linkage to a community-wide service delivery system.

MSW 643: Spiritual Issues in Later Life

This course helps students develop culturally competent skills for working with and understanding the spiritual worlds of older adults. Students will review theory related to faith development, as well as evidence-based practices. They will develop skills to assess and respond competently and ethically to the diverse spiritual and religious perspectives of adults in later life.