The School of Social Work at St. Ambrose University has developed three different programs for those seeking Master of Social Work degrees: standard full-time, advanced standing, and part-time. All three have the same standards and require both classroom study and practicum experience, working under supervision in a social work agency or setting.
The MSW Program recognizes that a student may be unable to carry out the program as scheduled. Students who make changes in the course sequence should anticipate adding one or more semesters to their original schedules. Any changes should be carefully planned with the student's academic advisor and permission sought from the Director.
Both full-time and part-time students follow the same sequence of courses. Students are expected to be able to arrange time for 16 hours per week to carry out practicum requirement in a social agency or setting.
First Year (Generalist Foundation Year) Objectives
In the foundation year of the program, students will prepare in the classroom and in their field settings for generalist practice. Generalist practice provides the basic helping strategies and competencies which underlie social work practice at its beginning level of competency. Additionally, as will be true throughout the program, the foundation year stresses practice with diverse groups in diverse communities. Diversity in clients includes but is not limited to groups distinguished by race, ethnicity, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, political orientation, religion, physical or mental ability, age, national origin, and level of social and emotional functioning.
Second Year (Empowerment Concentration Year) Objectives
The concentration year stresses a number of change strategies which include, but are not limited to: case management, mediation, solution-focused approaches, use of community resources, psychotherapy and play therapy, systems approaches, organizational and community change strategies, and advocacy and networking. This range of change strategies taught in the required and elective classes in the specialization year, as well as the specialized field placements, will provide a series of practice competencies which have applicability to a wide range of social service settings in both urban and rural communities.
Field practice is a central component in each student's professional education. Field work placements provide the student with a range of practice experiences to promote the integration of theoretical learning from class work, and to develop knowledge, values, and skills for social work practice. Students benefit from an extensive network of over 400 public and voluntary agencies and organizations in Iowa and Illinois for their field work education. These include social action agencies, public schools, community mental health settings, medical clinics and hospitals, child welfare settings, family service agencies, criminal justice settings, substance abuse settings, aging services, agencies serving persons with mental retardation, planning and coordinating councils, and other community-based settings.
Students are placed in a field work setting only during the years in which they are taking complementary research and practice courses. Students in the two-year program are assigned for sixteen hours per week in different placements each academic year. Students in the Advanced Standing Program are assigned to field work during their one year in full-time residence. Part-time students complete field work requirements in sixteen hours per week during the fall and spring terms of their second and third years of study.
Post-MSW School Social Work Preparation
The St. Ambrose University School of Social Work offers coursework leading to the recognition and certification as a school social worker in Iowa and Illinois. Persons holding MSW degrees from CSWE accredited programs who wish to meet eligibility requirements as a school social worker must speak with the Director of Field Education regarding the process for determining required coursework and the availability of school social work internship site. Students in good standing with their former programs may apply to the SAU School of Social Work for the Post-MSW school social work program to complete up to nine credit hours of coursework.