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MSW Degree Curriculum

Curriculum Details

39-60 total credits required

The MSW curriculum is designed for working professionals who want to advance their careers in social work. The flexible format accommodates your other commitments while challenging you to become a competent and compassionate leader in the field of social work. Our courses encompass all social worker education requirements and more, allowing you to enter either macro or direct practice.

The program features two tracks for students entering into the program. The advanced standing track is offered to students who already have a BSW and consists of 39 credits. The traditional track is for students who do not have a BSW but want to pursue a higher degree in social work. This track requires 60 credits to complete.

Field placement and seminars will give you hands-on experience in addition to the knowledge base you gain from expert instructors. Our tailored approach to field placement allows you to work one-on-one with an advisor to find the exact fit for you based on your goals. In your final semester, you’ll also benefit from LSW exam preparation and graduate prepared to sit for licensure.

Students in the traditional track may select one elective. Students in the advanced standing track may select three electives. You also have the option to take electives available through the on-ground Master of Arts in Psychology (MAP), online MBA and on-ground Master of Arts in Professional Counseling programs. Consult with your academic adviser when selecting courses.

Generalist Courses


This course is a required graduate course and it is designed to provide social work foundation knowledge for working with individuals, families, and small groups. It is designed to simulate the practice environment. Students will be introduced to concepts and skills in the course and then participate in Skill Labs to practice intervention techniques, prepare written reports, and evaluate generalist practice knowledge and skills. Like work in a social service agency environment, it is expected that written assignments will be clear, well organizes and turned in on time.

This course is both an introduction to social welfare and public policy. The course will introduce the social welfare institution with an emphasis on understanding the historical development of social welfare as a response to human need, social welfare services, the philosophical base of social welfare, and the role of social work in service delivery. This course will also help students understand the role of social work practitioners in shaping public policy and policies in social service agencies within the United States. PREREQUISITES: MSW 700

This is a required graduate course designed to introduce students to ethics and moral decision-making related to the field of social work. Students will develop a theoretical, conceptual, and practical understanding of ethics by actively participating in discussions, activities, and assignments. The course will begin by addressing the history of ethics in social work practice, the NASW Code of Ethics, and current ethical issues in direct and macro social work practice after which more specific concepts will be explored; human dignity, cultural competency, stigma, and the use of technology. The course will conclude with briefings on broad areas of ethics that will impact professional social workers; healthcare, public health, global bioethics, and human rights.

This course focuses on human behavior as understood through the interplay of psychological, biological, and social dimensions of human development. The life cycle of individuals is reviewed in the context of families, groups, and larger social systems including the cultural, social, and physical environment. This knowledge is useful to social workers and other practitioners in dealing with problem situations, whether created by individuals or by environmental factors. The course explores theoretical perspectives in a holistic approach grounded in the liberal arts. The advanced version of the course, open to students in the MSW Program, requires an in-depth case study analysis in which students demonstrate integrative knowledge and critical thinking in their application of the theories within the multidimensional perspective.

This course is designed to increase students’ awareness, knowledge, and skills related to diversity and cultural humility, including race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability status, and the intersections between and among these social identity groups. Students will learn to promote social work values, including anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion in all levels of practice including micro, mezzo, and macro. Additionally, students will learn essential skills needed to successfully work with underrepresented groups and cultures to appropriately provide services. The goal of this course is to help students develop an understanding of practical social work approaches to diverse populations. Coursework ensures the consideration of diversity in decision making through personal reflection and growth. Students will develop: A critical understanding of the role of culture and difference in the delivery of human service; A critical understanding of the varied and diverse makeup of communities and their citizens who engage with human services, and; Cultural humility skills necessary for working as a professional social worker to dismantle oppressive practices.

This course explores behavior in groups, organizations, and communities to achieve a theoretical, conceptual, and practical understanding of the workings of the macro social environment. Students take an active role in their learning through engagement with a community, organization, and group. An ecosystems perspective is combined with sociology and group psychology theories that promote a working knowledge of the operation and interrelatedness of macro systems and human behavior. Primary consideration is given to concepts of empowerment, diversity, populations-at-risk, and the promotion of social and economic justice at the local, national, and global levels. Students in the MSW Program (Advanced) will engage develop a more in-depth perspective on the relationship between an organization and its community environment.

This is a required foundation graduate course designed to introduce all students to frameworks for treatment, therapeutic modalities, specialized clinical, organizational and community issues. Topics covered include social work values, multidimensional assessment, contemporary theories of social work as they relate to practice with diverse client systems, organizations, and communities. Students will gain knowledge and skills related to the theories behind various methods and techniques and continue to build upon them as lifelong learning takes place. In addition, skill-building sessions are included as a key component of the course for students to practice various aspects of knowledge. PRE-REQUISITE: ADVANCED STANDING OR MSW 700

Program evaluation can occur on the micro and the macro level of practice and is centered around the essential notion that social work services and
practice occur in a world with limited resources. There remain increasing demands for more effective and efficient programs combined with accountability that meets the needs which confront our society and the vulnerable populations that live in communities everywhere. In the realm of social welfare services, program evaluations can make recommendations for systems that are in the process of developing, fully working, and those that may need to be augmented for improvement.

This course is designed for social work graduate students preparing for a career in team-based settings and leadership positions. This course focuses on self-reflection as a tool for students to examine their motivations, challenge their biases, and learn how to leverage their strengths when serving in the capacity of a social worker. In addition to self-reflection, this course informs students on transformational leadership practices and skills, clinical supervision, and feminist topics to create added value to their leadership style when serving as leaders in practice settings. PRE-REQUISITES: MSW 700, MSW 701, MSW 703, MSW 714, and MSW 715

A supervised field placement in a selected human service agency that allows the student to apply theory, methods, and values in micro, mezzo, and macro practice in pursuit of mastery of knowledge, skills, and values of professional social work.

A seminar designed to bring students together in a group setting to help integrate the field experience with practice skills and theories. This course prepares students to apply practice theories, models, and ethical principles in a specific social service delivery system. Emphasis is placed on promoting competence through strength-based, culturally competent, ethically grounded, trauma informed generalist practice.

A supervised field placement in a selected human service agency that allows the student to apply theory, methods, and values in micro, mezzo, and macro practice.

A seminar designed to bring students together in a group setting to help integrate the field experience with practice skills and theories.

A supervised field placement in a selected human service agency that allows the student to apply theory, methods, and values in micro, mezzo, and macro practice.

MSW-735 is a seminar designed to bring students together in a group setting to help integrate the field experience with practice skills and theories.

This advanced practice colloquium will be taken in the final semester of the MSW program and focuses on developing an integrative, professional orientation that links classroom learning and field learning to social work licensure and employment. The colloquium will also continue to address cutting edge issues, evidence supported practices and trauma informed approaches to both direct and macro settings.

Direct Practice Specialization Courses


This course enhances student’s understanding of the most commonly used mental health diagnoses by social work professionals. Learning the history of the treatment of mental illness to treatment in the present day, students will learn cultural, psychosocial, and life experiences along with the diagnosable behaviors. The process of diagnosis will include learning about Depressive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia Spectrum and other Psychotic Disorders, Bi-polar Disorders, Trauma and Stress Related Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders, Personality Disorders and Autism Spectrum and other disorders of childhood. All mental disorders cannot be taught in one course; however the student will learn the process of diagnosis using the DSM5 and will be able to use this process with all diagnoses. The DSM5 is taught as a clinical assessment tool. PRE-REQUISITE: ADVANCED STANDING OR MSW 700

This course examines an array of basic treatment approaches to provide a foundation for direct social work practice. It includes models based on Mindfulness/Person Centered, Cognitive-Behavioral, and Trauma-Informed and other trauma focused treatment approaches with individuals, groups, and communities. Students will apply and practice assessment, intervention, and evaluation skills using these approaches, while comparing and contrasting their application. This is a course in the direct practice concentration in the Carlow Social Work program. PRE-REQUISITE: ADVANCED STANDING OR MSW 700

This course is designed to introduce the graduate student to the field of complex trauma. Topics covered include the brain and trauma, veterans and trauma, living in captivity, women and trauma, diagnosis and treatment. Students will learn skills about engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation for people who have complex trauma. On-line and skill building in person sessions are important for this class. PRE-REQUISITE: ADVANCED STANDING OR MSW 700 AND MSW 720

Macro Practice Specialization Courses


This advanced practice course is designed to prepare advanced generalist practitioners to assume middle management leadership positions and engage in the facilitation of change in contemporary human service practice. As outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics, social workers’ ethical responsibilities in practice settings include the use of supervision and consultation to enhance professional practice, administration within and outside of agencies to advocate for adequate resources to meet clients’ needs, and the assurance that social workers are diligent stewards of the resources of their employing organizations. The course introduces the processes and practices involved in organizational management, program advocacy, and grant writing. Organizational Management and Grant Writing is a course to develop the skills necessary to develop a funding grant proposal and to integrate the administrative responsibilities while working with non-profits and government agencies. This course is required for MSW students in the macro practice specialization and is an elective option for students in other specializations.

This advanced practice course examines selected historical phenomena to better understand future prospects. The course assists students in developing the repertoire of macro knowledge, skills, and values needed to analyze and assess social policies and political systems as they relate to client welfare. The course teaches students how to formulate macro interventions, advocate for, and work collaboratively in change and capacity building processes within organizations and communities, and to influence social policies and the political processes that affect the everyday lives and opportunities of clients. In addition, the course seeks to deepen students’ understanding of distributive justice, human and civil rights, and the dynamics of oppression as well as the saliency of advocacy and social change action in pursuit of social and economic justice through responsible policy and political practice. This course is required for MSW students in the macro specialization and is an elective option for students in other specializations.

This course prepares graduate social work students to engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate practice at the community-level using a trauma-informed perspective. While trauma-informed care is widely used and recognized in work with individuals, families, and groups, it is equally important for work with larger systems, particularly communities that have experienced historic or contemporary trauma. Addressing community-wide trauma is an essential step for communities pursuing strategies of community building and economic development. This course emphasizes evidence-based strategies in community social and economic development, including models used in the United States and in the global south, in urban and rural contexts. This course is required for MSW students in the macro practice specialization and is an elective option for students in other specializations.

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