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Master of Social Work


Course Descriptions

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All courses are 3 credit hours, unless otherwise noted.

MSW 510. Generalist Practice I (Required)
3 credits

This course teaches a generalist approach to social work practice based on an empowerment model. Students will acquire the knowledge, skills, values, and methods of generalist social work to facilitate the assessment, planning, intervention, and ending phases of the practice process. This course emphasizes social justice, cultural competence, and practice with members of oppressed groups.

MSW 520. Generalist Practice II (Required)
3 credits

This course broadens students' understanding of generalist practice processes with special emphasis on methods and skills for effecting change in groups, organizations, and communities. The focus on empowerment, cultural competence, and social justice introduced in MSW 510 continues in this course. (Prerequisite: MSW 510)

MSW 530. Empowerment Practice I (Required) 
3 credits
This course advances students' abilities to implement empowerment-oriented strategies with individuals and families. Students will integrate contemporary practice models to develop a collaborative approach focused on client strengths, sensitive to cultural and gender diversity, and centered in interpersonal, situational, organizational, and social change. Students will become proficient in completing assessments from multiple perspectives, facilitating a solution-focused dialogue, placing clients at the center of the planning, and implementing strength-based interventions focused on achievable outcomes. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 540. Empowerment Practice II (Required) 
3 credits
This course focuses on empowerment practice through designing and implementing change efforts within organizational and socio-political realms. Students will acquire knowledge and skills to mobilize client groups toward social change, reshape organizations to empower rather than oppress clientele, to create opportunity structures through societal resource expansion, and to fashion a just and responsive community environment. (Prerequisite: MSW 530)

MSW 550. Empowerment Social Work in Mental Health (Elective) 
3 credits

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the provision of mental health services in the United States as they are provided in mental health settings and in other health and human service settings. The course addresses definitions of mental health and mental illness, the effect of mental illness on diverse client systems, utilization and critical evaluation of the DSM IV, and the strengths model of case management in working with persons with severe and persistent mental illness. Mental health policy, the impact of managed care in mental health services, and advances in mental health research will be examined. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 560. Empowerment Social Work in Child Welfare (Elective)
3 credits 

This course provides a foundation for empowerment practice in child welfare. The class will review the entire field of child welfare policy and practice, focusing on assessment and decision-making in child welfare from a strengths perspective and empowering families to provide nurturing and safe environments for their children. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 570. Couple and Family Therapy (Elective)
3 credits
Prepares students broadly to collaborate with couples and families of varying characteristics, including heterosexual, cohabitating, and marital couples, and nuclear, traditional, same sex, blended, and multi-generational families. Students will also learn practice strategies effective in overcoming challenges in many areas of family life. The course utilizes a dynamic and experiential format to involve students in theorybased activities, observation groups, and roleplays exemplifying empowerment-influenced
ways to intervene with couples and families. Students will also learn to integrate diverse perspectives and methods to construct their own personal style and approach to couple and family therapy. (Prerequisite: MSW 530)

MSW 580. Empowerment Social Work in Aging (Elective) 
3 credits
Designed to introduce students to the conceptual and theoretical components of social gerontology. In doing this, issues related to human development, generally, and specific concerns and problems of the later years, including social policies as they affect the aged, will be examined. Designed to provide students with a social theoretical
perspective on the aging process which will aid them in understanding and analyzing
social policies and treatment programs for aging persons. Gives focus to the varying ethnic and cultural contexts within which individuals live and move in the later years. This will further aid students in distinguishing normative from nonnormative patterns of aging. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 590. Advanced Group Work (Elective)
3 credits
This course builds on the knowledge of group theories, processes, and dynamics taught in the foundation year. Students will learn the contemporary practices of empowerment social work with groups including those with purposes of therapeutic change, identity development, skill attainment, interpersonal support, rehabilitation, social control, or social action. Students will develop advanced practice skills through group leadership and group membership activities, observations, readings, discussions, and reflective journaling. Students will plan, initiate, lead, and evaluate a social work group in the field, work, or other pre-arranged setting. Recognizing group work as a key to achieving social justice, this course emphasizes work with populations at risk. Registration is restricted to concentration year students. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 591, 592, Field Instruction and Seminar I and II - Foundation Year (Required)
3 credits
Field instruction takes place in community agency settings 16 hours per week over both fall and spring semesters for a total of 512 hours.  The generalist foundation field practicum experiences place emphasis on the application of skills for generalist social work practice in an agency setting.  This practicum prepares students for generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, neighborhoods, communities, and the society.  Field seminar meets for a total of 24 hours during the year and is included in the 512 total hours of field instruction.   

MSW 593, 594. Field Instruction III and IV - Empowerment Year (Required) 
4 credits

Field instruction is an integral component in the student's professional education for social work where students apply what they learn in theory and practice classes in community agency settings sixteen hours a week. The second year of field education builds upon the generalist preparation of the foundation field experience and fosters students' abilities to further develop competencies in advanced empowerment practice. The focus during this second year concentration field practicum is to develop mastery in the area of concentration by increasing skills in practice approaches, furthering the agency mission, examining relevant policies, integrating organizational and behavior theory, and applying research knowledge. (Co-requisites: MSW 603 for MSW 593; MSW 604 for MSW 594.)

MSW 603, 604. Field Seminar III and IV - Empowerment Year (Required) 
2 credits

Provides students with support and opportunities for integrating classroom learning with the practicum experience and in developing knowledge and skills in the advanced empowerment method. Core components of this seminar include social work values and ethical principles in practice and research; program evaluation and outcomes measurement; and consideration of future issues in social work practice. The field seminar serves as a professional support group and provides opportunity for professional leadership and skills development. (Corequisites: MSW 593 for MSW 603 and MSW 594 for MSW 604).

MSW 610. Human Behavior Theories (Required)
3 credits

The goal of this course is to provide information about the multiple factors which affect human biological growth, personality development, and behavior. This course will focus on the interactions between the developing person, his/her family, and the social systems in which that lifelong development takes place. Human development is studied within the context of those biological, psychological, and socio-cultural systems which affect, and are affected by, human beings. Incorporated into this context is current knowledge related to ethnic minorities and oppressed groups. In connection with such course content, attention is also focused on differences in values and life styles, and the issues that they generate for the understanding of human development, and for the role of the social work practitioner.

MSW 620. Diversity and Social Systems (Required)
3 credits

Aspects of human behavior are examined in their socio-cultural context emphasizing structure, class, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and age as major themes. This course will examine a number of social and social-cultural theories which contribute to an understanding of the interactions between individuals and the social environment. Contemporary human-social problems, which are evidenced at societal, organizational, and group levels of interaction, will be discussed not only from the perspective of socio-cultural theory, but in terms of personal and collective ethical stances as well. (Prerequisite: MSW 610)

MSW 710. Social Work Research Design (Required) 
3 credits
The purpose of this course is to assist students in gaining knowledge and skills and to understand the problems generalist social workers encounter and the methods for evaluating change. Students in the course will develop the ability to understand research on conceptual, theoretical and practical levels in order to become an effective consumer and practitioner of research.

MSW 720. Social Work Program Evaluation (Required) 
3 credits

This course focuses on research methods and tools to understand and assess specific social work problems by using observations of behavior and social environments, needs assessment, assessment of client system functioning, program evaluation and practice effectiveness. Both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies are studied in research designs ranging from single subject designs through group designs to program evaluation. (Prerequisites: MSW 710; Co-requisites: MSW 520 and MSW 592)

MSW 810. Social Welfare Policy (Required)
3 credits

This course examines the history of the social work profession and its contribution to the development of social welfare programs and policies in the United States. This course covers policy considerations in various fields of social work practice with special attention to social policies and their effects on women and dependent children, and people deprived of power because of race, age, physical or mental disability, and diverse political, religious, and sexual orientation.

MSW 820. Social Policy Analysis (Required)
3 credits

This course features application of an analytical framework to critically study and analyze current public policy issues and legislation that affect various fields of practice in the social services delivery system. The course focuses on the role of the social worker as policy practitioners for social policy development, implementation, and analysis. (Prerequisite: MSW 810)

MSW 830. Supervision (Elective) 
3 credits

This course is designed to provide students with the requisite knowledge for effective and empowering supervision of personnel and program administration in social service organizations. The course examines the purpose, principles, and methods of supervision and consultation which are applicable to many settings in social work. The course integrates theories of organizational behavior and legal considerations for the supervisor in job analysis and design, personnel recruitment and selection, training and development, performance evaluation, and retention and dismissal. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 840. Exceptional Child for Social Work (Elective) 
3 credits
Introduction to the educational, social, and personal issues facing children and youth with disabilities in school and social settings. Examines legal and ethical issues in assessment and social work intervention. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 850. Empowerment Social Work in School Settings (Elective)
3 credits 

This course partially prepares students for social work practice in public school settings. Using an ecological approach, the course explores a variety of theoretical orientations and interventions that can be used at all systems levels and examines the range of policy and practice issues related to social work delivery in school settings. This course will include strategies for working with students and families, consultation with school personnel and community professionals, methods for organizational change, and participation in multi disciplinary teams. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 860. Economic and Social Justice (Elective)
3 credits

In this course, selected principles and skills of social justice applicable to social welfare settings are introduced. The influences of the U.S. economic system on funding patterns, organizational environments, structure and staff roles within social welfare settings are considered. Issues to be faced and resolved in the global competition for scarce resources will receive special attention. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 870. Management in Human Services (Elective)
3 credits
This course will emphasize content that will inform the following aspects of fiscal management: planning to plan; needs assessment techniques; service objective formulation; building budgets based on service objectives; evaluation of program and service objectives; grant-writing. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 910. Mental Health Policies and Practices in India and the United States (Elective)
3 credits
This elective course in social work will take place at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham at Kollam.  Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is an autonomous university that offers a Master's program in social work and is engaged in numerous social initiatives in the local community and across the state of Kerala.
The course will take a comparative approach to the analysis of mental health policies and practices in India and in the United States by studying: mental health as an area within International Social Work; international and comparative approaches in social welfare policy and practice; mental health practice and policy in India and in the United States; cultural compentency; and cross-cultural learning exchanges with social work students and mental health professionals in India.

MSW 920. Empowerment Social Work in Substance Abuse (Elective)
3 credits
This course provides an overview of the problems caused by the use of chemical substances for the individual, the family, and the society at large. Students will focus on the differences in categories of available drugs, the causes of use, the processes involved in becoming dependent on drugs, behaviors and consequences of drug use, diagnosis and assessment tools, treatment options, prevention, drug policies, drug use in special populations (adolescents, ethnic groups, the elderly, etc.) and gender issues. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 930. International Social Work and Social Welfare (Elective)
3 credits
Apply social work principles and social justice and empowerment perspectives to international social and economic development and cross-cultural social work practice. Designed for students interested in international social work practice abroad and/or transnational work in the United States. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 940. Feminist Social Work (Elective)
3 credits

This course focuses on the unique pressures and problems that confront women today, with emphasis on the barriers and stresses facing poor women, women of color, and aged women. Attention will be directed toward evolving a practice perspective that is most suited to meeting the particular needs of women clients. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 950. Empowerment Social Work in Health Care (Elective)
3 credits 

The purpose of this course is to identify and to develop an understanding of the issues inherent in working in a health care setting. This course will explore the current issues in the U.S. health care system, including managed care, ethical issues and the most commonly seen health care issues in various developmental stages. Registration is restricted to concentration year students. (Prerequisite: Completion of foundation coursework)

MSW 960. Collaborative Practice with Clients in Difficult Situations (Elective)
3 credits 

This course develops the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to work with reluctant, resistant, and overwhelmed clients-those defined as deviant or in crisis. Students will practice solution- focused approaches, narrative strategies, and crisis intervention skills as alternative to controlbased treatment methods to work with clients in the field of domestic violence, sexual violence, and crisis management. (Prerequisite: MSW 530)

MSW 970. Spirituality and Social Work (Elective)
3 credits

A holistic perspective of human systems requires assessment and intervention with attention to biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual aspects of the human condition. This course offers a framework and practice competencies for social workers to ethically respond to spiritual components of client experience, strength and need. Included in this course are principles for spiritually sensitive social work practice, including ethical principles; meaning of spirituality; human diversity and spirituality; spiritual development; and creating a spiritually sensitive context for practice.

MSW 980. Trauma Informed Child Welfare Practice (Elective)
3 credits

This course will introduce students to the core concepts informing evidence-based assessment and intervention for traumatized children and adolescents who are in the child welfare system. Specific attention will be given to the role of development, culture and empirical evidence in trauma-specific assessment, referral and interventions with children, adolescents and their families within a child welfare context.

MSW 99*. Special Topics (Elective) 
Presents special topics from the social work field that are not covered in the regular curriculum (varies).