All MSW classes are taught online and are fifteen weeks long.
Classes meet weekly in real-time using distance learning software to provide maximum support and instruction to students. Students participate in a dynamic learning community and develop professional relationships that endure even after graduation.
Visiting the physical campus in Owensboro, Kentucky is not required, but is encouraged.
The advanced year of the program will teach Advanced Generalist Practice skills. As an online program, students are served from all over the country. The needs of students’ communities are diverse, and students will need the skills to practice in a variety of contexts. Advanced Generalist Practice is distinguished from Generalist Practice in that it involves more sophisticated generalist skills, as well as the ability to engage in clinical social work. Advanced Generalist social workers are able to address complex problems in multi-system settings. They synthesize the aspects of unique, and sometimes ambiguous, multifaceted situations, which are often laden with value conflicts. They conceptualize the broader implications of current practice situations and engage in related advocacy. They use evidence-based practice interventions and creativity to solve problems. When empirical evidence is absent, they engage in scientific inquiry to advance knowledge building in the profession. They take leadership roles, both within their work environments and on behalf of the profession. (Lavitt, 2009)
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 509: Social Work in Criminal Justice
This course is designed to familiarize students with the criminal justice system from the perspectives of professional social work and other stakeholder groups. Students will learn the various roles of social workers in the criminal justice setting. They will explore the dynamics of the system, while considering the core values of the social work profession and evidence-based practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities who find themselves involved in the criminal justice process.
MSW 510: Human Behavior in the Social Environment
This course examines the theoretical underpinnings for understanding the bio-psycho-social-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 512: Death and Dying
The study of death and dying in American society; changes in attitudes and norms; future trends; services to clients and families. Course may be taken as either undergraduate or graduate elective but not in both programs.
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 ethic of care theory. Special emphasis will be given to engaging, assessing, planning with, and evaluating individuals, families, and groups of diverse populations.
MSW 540: Field 1 and Seminar
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 541: Child Abuse and Neglect
This course is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to child abuse and neglect from a social work perspective. Social workers in all professional work settings must know how to identify child maltreatment and domestic violence. Students will learn the family dynamics and indicators of maltreatment and effective interventions on the micro and macro level. Additionally, students will learn the extent of the problem, its effects on children, treatment issues, the social worker’s role in a multidisciplinary team approach, and how to advocate for individuals and families.
MSW 550: 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 a systems perspective for understanding organizational and community change, in combination with an ethic of care. 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. Prerequisite: Completion of generalist year or admission to advanced standing.
MSW 590: Field 2 and Seminar
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 15 weeks.
MSW 600: Intersection of Poverty, Human Rights, and Caritas
This course explores the social justice concerns associated with poverty and protections of human rights using a philosophy of caritas and a moral framework of the ethic of care. Students will learn how to synthesize, integrate, and translate the philosophy, values, ethics, 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 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. Prerequisite: Admission to the MSW program; course usually taken during second semester of first or generalist year.
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 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 step-relationships, 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.
MSW 644: Caritas in Action
This course prepares students to manage a grassroots campaign that addresses humanitarian crises, in the spirit of caritas – to serve the poor and to promote charity and social and economic justice. Domestic and/or international travel will be required and requires 100 face-to-face contact hours in the host agency.
MSW 650: Field 3 and Seminar
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 15 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 Practice
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 and Seminar
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 15 weeks.
MSW 699: Capstone Project
This course gives students the opportunity to integrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they have developed throughout the program. Students will select a topic and investigate the micro, mezzo, and macro practice implications for a specific population within their community. They will create a final product that culminates in the application of what they have learned in the MSW program.