A look at our courses
Course offerings in the MSW program
(All SW Courses are 3 credits, unless otherwise noted.)
SW 501. Human Behavior in the Social Environment I
Theories and knowledge of human bio-psycho-social-spiritual-cultural development, including theories and knowledge about the range of social systems in which individuals live (families, groups, organizations, institutions and communities). Presents frameworks for understanding the interactions among human biological, social, psychological, cultural and spiritual systems as they affect and are affected by human behavior. The impact of social and economic forces on individuals and social systems is presented, including theoretical content about the patterns, dynamics and consequences of discrimination, economic deprivation and oppression. Content about values and ethical issues related to bio-psycho-social-spiritual-cultural theories is included. The secondary purpose of this course is to have an intensive writing focus in order to help students further develop and hone their writing skills early in the MSW program. (Offered in the fall semester.)
SW 503. Diversity and Oppression
The primary purpose of this course is for students to be able to grapple with and identify meaningful, working definitions of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression and to situate these definitions-and people's lived experiences-within historical and contemporary societal contexts in social work practice, research, policy, theory and activism. The course is designed to create explicit linkages between practice and policy. Students will discuss racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, ageism, classism, ableism, xenophobia, etc., as well as the ways in which these overlap and intersect, and the societal implications of such overlaps and intersections. Students will examine and develop models of culturally competent, ethical social work practice by integrating an understanding of the dynamics of prejudice, discrimination and oppression with a professional use of self and a commitment to social justice.
SW 504. Foundations of Scientific Inquiry with Social Systems
In order for social work practice to be effective, it is important that we be both consumers of and contributors to research efforts that aim to build knowledge and improve social work practice. Social work practice and research share common features and processes as both are fundamentally problem-solving enterprises. Students are encouraged to generalize the basic concepts and principles of research presented within this course for use in the knowledge building activities that take place throughout the broader curriculum. The course content will integrate the core themes related to clients' strengths, multiculturalism and diversity, social justice, social change and behavioral and social science research. This course will provide students with an understanding and appreciation of a scientific approach to building knowledge for social work practice and for evaluating service delivery in all areas of practice. Ethical standards of scientific inquiry will be presented. The course will include analysis of theoretical bases on which the research enterprise rests, research questions, quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, and analyses of data that include using both statistical procedures (with an introduction to SPSS) and theme analysis.
SW 505. Human Behavior in the Social Environment
This course introduces graduate level social work students to a set of foundational and influential theories that can be utilized to consider human bio-psycho-social-cultural-spiritual development in various contexts. In particular, we will explore theories about the range of social systems in which individuals live and work within families, groups, organizations, institutions, and communities. Using an interdisciplinary, liberal arts perspective, students will gain knowledge about human development across the life course and become familiarized with a variety of frameworks for interpreting the interactions among human biological, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual systems as they affect and are affected by human behavior. The impact of social and economic forces on individuals and social systems will be addressed, including theoretical content about the patterns, dynamics, and consequences of discrimination, economic imbalances, and oppression. Values and ethical issues related to theories presented will also be considered. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.
SW 506. Social Work Practice in Mental Health: Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology
This course will examine contemporary social work practice in mental health, both by familiarizing students with a range of diagnoses as presented in The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 4, Text Revised (DSM IV-TR) and the upcoming DSM V (scheduled for publication in May 2013), and also by examining the etiology of presenting conditions from a bio- psycho-social-cultural-spiritual perspective. A review of current psychopharmacological approaches for common disorders will be reviewed. Students will also be introduced to practice approaches that may be used with specific diagnoses and presenting conditions. Students will examine the mental health service delivery system, the technology it utilizes to treat mental health symptoms, and the effectiveness of the various technologies. Major social movements, which have altered the manner in which services are delivered, such as deinstitutionalization, the consumer movement, the advent of HMO's and the shift toward a biologically based conception of mental illness will be discussed and evaluated. Practice issues that may arise in working with consumers at all system levels will be examined and discussed.
SW 510. Generalist Social Work Practice I
Introduction to generalist social work practice with systems of all sizes. Knowledge, values, and skills to enhance the well being of people through ethical practice. Content on practice assessment focuses on the examination of client strengths and problems in the interactions among individuals and between people and their environments. Defining issues; collecting and assessing data; planning and contracting; identifying alternative interventions; selecting and implementing appropriate courses of actions; using appropriate research to monitor and evaluate outcomes; and, termination. Particular attention on working with individuals and family systems.
SW 511. Generalist Social Work Practice II
Continuation of SW 510. Knowledge, values, and skills to enhance the well being of people through generalist social work practice. Defining issues; collecting and assessing data; planning and contracting; identifying alternative interventions; selecting and implementing appropriate courses of actions; using appropriate research to monitor and evaluate outcomes; and, termination. Attention on working with families and groups.
SW 512. Generalist Social Work Practice III
Continuation of SW 510 and SW 511. Knowledge, values, and skills to enhance the well being of people through generalist social work practice. Defining issues; collecting and assessing data; planning and contracting; identifying alternative interventions; selecting and implementing appropriate courses of actions; using appropriate research to monitor and evaluate outcomes; and, termination. Attention on working with organizations, communities and other larger client systems around issues involving social justice and social change.
SW 515. Social Welfare Policy and Programs
History, philosophy, and structure of social welfare and social work within the American social system. Model for understanding social welfare issues, programs, and services and to enhance social work practice with clients. Role of social policy in helping or deterring people in the maintenance or attainment of optimal health and well being; effect of policy on social work practice. Analysis of current social policy within the context of historical and contemporary factors that shape policy. Political and organizational processes used to influence policy, process of policy formulation and frameworks for analyzing policies in light of principles of social and economic justice.
SW 520. Evaluations of Social Work Practice
Understanding and appreciation of a scientific, analytic approach to building knowledge for ethical, competent social work practice and for evaluating service delivery in all areas of practice. Emphasis on application of appropriate research principles and methods in design, implementation and evaluation of social work services in larger and more complex client systems. Intervention research and program evaluation. Fostering of thoughtful, self-reflective professional practice. Students apply course content to existing services in the context of the current field placement or work setting.
SW 521. Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals
This course will prepare the student to engage in therapeutic interventions with individuals in a culturally competent manner, taking into account the bio-psycho-social-spiritual-cultural realities of that individual's world. The course will be taught from a strength-based/ecological perspective and will focus on the following specific modalities: self psychology, object relations, relational/interpersonal, narrative/constructivist, and crisis and brief treatment approaches. Further content will be included on other evidence-based therapeutic approaches to familiarize students with their tenets and parameters. The role of individual treatment in social work's history and development will be explored as it relates to current practice. The effects of policy and societal influences on the practice of individual treatment in its various settings will be discussed. A reflective, critical, and integrative approach to practice will be emphasized throughout the course.
SW 522. Advanced Social Work Practice with Organizations
Organizational policies, processes, structures and roles that translate social policies into goals, service strategies, and case decisions. A number of conceptual frameworks for understanding the role of professional social workers in organizational settings that provide human services. Organizational theories of administration as a framework for examining administrative practices in human service organizations and other host settings in which social workers are employed. Role and practice of supervision within the profession within various organizational contexts.
SW 523. Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups
Deepen understanding of the major models of social work practice with groups relevant for agency-based practice. Beginning tools to apply these models in practice. All models viewed through an ecological lens, integrating the impact of policy, ethics, values, agency, economics, race, gender, sexual orientation, culture and oppression. Group work from a developmental perspective exploring group stages and tasks over time, as well as from a systematic perspective. Group work models to be examined include: remedial, reciprocal, psychosocial, problem solving, empowerment, cognitive-behavioral and task. Opportunities to apply these perspectives to a range of client situations in a variety of settings.
SW 524. Advanced Social Work Practice with Families
Deepen understanding of the major models of social work practice with families relevant for agency-based practice. Beginning tools to apply these models in practice. All models viewed through an ecological lens, integrating the impact of policy, ethics, values, agency, economics, race, gender, sexual orientation, culture and oppression. Family treatment from a developmental perspective through the family life cycle and from a systemic perspective. Systems models to be explored include the intergenerational, structural, brief strategic and solution-oriented approaches. Opportunities to apply these perspectives to a range of clients in a variety of settings.
SW 525. Advanced Social Work Practice with Communities
Broad range of interactional, analytical, and political skills needed to assist communities and community organizations and to serve as change agents to promote social and economic justice. Technical and practical elements of planning, organizing and development work, as well as social advocacy, with emphasis on values of democratic, participatory models and methods which empower individuals and groups. Content includes assessment of major social problems and how such assessment influences the choice of intervention strategies.
SW 526. Social Work Research Design and Methods
The overall purpose of this course is to enhance student's skills as research consumers and in performing research and statistical analyses in social work and social science. The course will emphasize application of appropriate research principles and methods in design. The students will prepare IRB application(s) and required documents for their selected research projects. Included in the course are the introduction of the basic concepts of qualitative analysis and capabilities of NVivo software and the descriptive statistical procedures including measures of central tendency, variability, shape and distribution along with associations between two variables. In addition inferential statistics will be covered including estimation and hypothesis testing.
SW 527. Evaluating Social Work Practice and Programs
This course will provide students with an understanding and appreciation of a scientific, analytic approach to building knowledge for ethical, competent social work practice and for evaluating service delivery in all areas of practice. The course will emphasize actual implementation of research plan prepare and evaluation of social work services in both individual and in larger and more complex client systems. The research plan prepared in research II class will be executed. Major frameworks will address intervention research and program evaluation. This course seeks to foster thoughtful, self-reflective professional practice, and students will have an opportunity to apply course content to existing services in the context of their current field placement.
Evidence Based Mental Health Practice
This course strives to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for working with individuals with a diagnosis of serious mental illness using recovery-oriented, evidence-based practices. It is designed for MSW students and MSW mental health practitioners. Students will become familiar with evidence-based practices, within a recovery-oriented paradigm, as a general approach to practice as well as specific evidence-based interventions and essential principles for translating research into practice as well as specific evidence-based interventions to use for individuals with a diagnosis of serious mental illness. Students will learn to examine research literature to determine the various levels of support for specific interventions and essential principles for translating research into practice. In addition, they will identify the appropriate treatment outcomes that reflect effective, quality mental health practice. Each evidence-based practice presented will also be examined for its usefulness with diverse groups. Providing assessment and treatment to a diverse group of individuals with a diagnosis of serious mental illness is the focus of this course and will be discussed in detail.
Grief, Loss and Bereavement in Social Work Practice
This course will familiarize students with the bio-psycho-social-cultural and spiritual contexts of grief, loss and bereavement. In addition to gaining knowledge and intervention skills in working with clients across the lifespan who are confronted with death, dying, and complicated and uncomplicated bereavement, students will also gain knowledge and intervention skills in working with individuals and families who are coping with a normative losses, including life/role transitions, divorce, economic hardship, illness, and foster placement and adoption. Gender, racial, ethnic, and religious influences that affect grief and loss reactions will be explored, as well as appropriate culturally-sensitive practice interventions. A number of theoretical perspectives will be reviewed as frameworks for understanding varying reactions to death and loss and for treating the bereaved. Students will also be asked to consider their own experiences with loss and death, and how these may affect their work with clients.
Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology
This course will examine contemporary social work practice in mental health, both by familiarizing students with a range of diagnoses as presented in The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 4, Text Revised (DSM IV-TR), and also by examining the etiology of presenting conditions from a bio- psycho-social-cultural-spiritual perspective. A review of current psychopharmacological approaches for common disorders will be reviewed. Students will be asked to identify practice approaches that may be used with specific diagnoses and presenting conditions. Practice issues that may arise in working with consumers at all system levels will be examined and explored.
Trauma and Recovery
The course will address the many different types of trauma, including traumatic loss, sexual trauma, childhood trauma, war trauma, 9/11 and holocaust survivors, developing an in-depth view and understanding of the impact of trauma on an individual, family and the community as a whole. Treatment modalities will be explored as the class learns about the most current methods in individual, family and group work, gaining an understanding about resiliency and recovery. The impact of organizational, community, and cultural factors on the experiences and interventions of those who experience trauma will also be addressed. The class will have an opportunity to explore new best practices through lecture/discussion, video, guest speaker and experiential exercises and role play practice opportunities in class.
SW 591, 592, 593, 594. Field Instruction I, II, III, IV
Field Instruction assists in preparing graduate students to practice social work both competently and ethically with clients/systems. The practicum provides students with structured supervised opportunities to integrate the values, skills and knowledge learned in the classroom into interactions with actual clients and systems in practice. The field experience focuses on problem solving at multiple levels, such as individual, family, groups and community. The student develops an awareness of how "who they are" impacts the process of intervention. Professional communication that is consistent with the language of the practice area is mastered by students. Professional supervision is utilized by students to enhance their own learning process. Finally, students will be asked to critique, implement and evaluate their host agency's policies/procedures while practicing within ethical guidelines.