M.S.W. Core Courses

Students on sidewalk

The core courses offered for the Master of Social Work are listed below. Permanent electives offered in each sequence are listed on the individual sequence page. Current students will find the semester course/section offerings are found on BannerWeb. 

The course numbers listed are effective beginning summer 2019. Former course number equivalencies can be found here.

Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 3
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer
 
Addresses the fundamental purposes, functions, and methods of social work practice with individuals and families. Links to social work practice with groups, agencies and communities are made in this course, as well as linkages to select policy and research issues. This course will focus on developing practice knowledge, values and skills applicable to practice with individuals and families which are also applicable to practice at all levels of scale (micro-, mezzo-, and macro-). These include: relationship building, data collection, strengths assessment, problem formulation, intermediate and final goal setting, contracting, work with collaterals, resource development, a range of interventions, and practice monitoring and evaluation. Attention will also be given to the stages of intervention, the use of self in helping relationships, modifications in approaches based on racial and cultural variation, experience of social oppression, selection of most relevant interventions and modalities, as well as policy-and agency-based considerations affecting practice, including time-limits, outreach, supervision and case advocacy. Case materials reflecting individual and family practice in a range of service settings and a range of populations at risk are presented. The course will address psychosocial assessment from psychodynamic, family, and social-contextual theoretical perspectives and provide an introduction to the specialization of the School: clinical social work. Issues of social and economic justice are also integrated with individual and family practice. Ten week course, second five weeks Is SOCW 501.

Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 3
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer
 
Addresses the fundamental purposes, functions, and methods of social work practice with individuals and families. Links to social work practice with groups, agencies and communities are made in this course, as well as linkages to select policy and research issues. This course will focus on developing practice knowledge, values and skills applicable to practice with individuals and families which are also applicable to practice at all levels of scale (micro-, mezzo-, and macro-). These include: relationship building, data collection, strengths assessment, problem formulation, intermediate and final goal setting, contracting, work with collaterals, resource development, a range of interventions, and practice monitoring and evaluation. Attention will also be given to the stages of intervention, the use of self in helping relationships, modifications in approaches based on racial and cultural variation, experience of social oppression, selection of most relevant interventions and modalities, as well as policy-and agency-based considerations affecting practice, including time-limits, outreach, supervision and case advocacy. Case materials reflecting individual and family practice in a range of service settings and a range of populations at risk are presented. The course will address psychosocial assessment from psychodynamic, family, and social-contextual theoretical perspectives and provide an introduction to the specialization of the School: clinical social work. Issues of social and economic justice are also integrated with individual and family practice. Ten week course, first five weeks is SOCW 500.

Quarter Hours: 2

Coordinating Sequence: Practice

Fulfills: Core Requirement

Eligibility: First Year Summer

 

Introduces students to the history of social group work and focuses on applying the values, skills, and knowledge of the social work profession to a variety of groups. Theoretical and practical principles of group work are introduced to enhance understanding and use of group as a complex system of roles and interrelationships. Students learn how to construct task and treatment groups and how to mobilize the resources of existing groups. Primary focus is given to those dynamics which are common to all groups, and students will begin to explore how issues of difference (gender, race, sexual orientation, age, culture, class, ability, religion) affect group processes.

Quarter Hours: 1
Coordinating Sequence: Field
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Winter

 

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Human Behavior
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer
 
Introduces students to major theories of clinical social work practice. We will focus on major theoretical approaches that will include: psychodynamic theories (including classical theory, object-relations and attachment theory, and relational approaches), humanist-existential theories, and cognitive-behavioral theories. We will begin by examining what constitutes a clinical theory, why theory is important and how clinical theory may guide clinical practice. We will proceed by examining the basic tenets of each clinical theory, while focusing on the theory’s conceptualization of the therapeutic change process. We will compare and contrast theories to promote critical and flexible clinical thought which will support a deliberate engagement with the question of what works? For whom? When?
 
Throughout the course we will consider how each theory interfaces with an intersectional analysis of the identities of the individuals in the therapeutic dyad (i.e., intersectional framework suggests that individuals experience various social positions synchronously rather than independently); as well as differential forms of oppression and racism in the clinical encounter. We will also examine relevant clinical research applicable to each theoretical framework. We will begin to query about the role of research in informing clinical practice, and, how clinical practice informs research. As we critically review the theoretical foundation of each theory, students will develop the ability to discern what theoretical approach best informs our clinical understanding of individual development and associated clinical practice when working with diverse populations and complex issues.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Human Behavior
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer
 
Draws upon the individual personality theories taught in 130, Theories of Individual Development, to provide a context in which to understand problems in biopsychosocial functioning. The course will provide students with an opportunity to explore how the relationships between biological, psychological, and environmental factors can lead to the development of individual problems in functioning. Students will learn some of the tools with which to make descriptive developmental assessments in examining psychosis, personality disorders, depressive disorders, and anxiety disorders, as well as how ethnicity, race, social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other social variables intersect with assessment and practice issues.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Human Behavior
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer
 
Theories framing the foundation for social work practice with families are explored and critiqued as they assist in understanding (1) the relationship between the family and its environment, (2) intergenerational family culture, structure, and process; (3) family life cycle processes; (4) internal family organization and process and (5) individual family meanings and narratives. Attention will be given to those theories that have dominated the early family therapy movement as well as newer epistemological positions and concepts deriving from more current feminist and social constructionist critiques. Implications for clinical practice are addressed. Cross-cutting the exploration of family theory are issues of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability as well as varying family forms. Topics related to gay and lesbian families, divorce, remarriage and single parenting will also be explored. The interface between family theories and the promotion of social justice concerns is addressed.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Human Behavior
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer
 
Introduces students to the sociocultural concepts that define the context of human experience. While exploring the broad thematic areas of culture, social structures, inter-group relationships and identity, concepts of ethnicity, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, and disability will be explored so as to understand how these variables impact individual lives. Implications for practice will be explored. Special attention will be given to the uses and misuses of power in constructing social identities and meanings as well as personal and group experiences, and to the ways that social identity and position affect access to services and resources.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Human Behavior
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer

This foundation course will examine the bio-psycho-social development of children and adolescents as a basis for understanding healthy functioning and the ways that environments and circumstances shape us at physical, cognitive, emotional and neurological levels. Special attention will be paid to the impacts of oppression on development with focuses on the impacts of racism and poverty. Developmentally appropriate clinical interventions for children will also be introduced. Through Moodle video lectures, in-class lectures, readings and case examples, students will develop the ability to identify appropriate development across ages and contexts and to consider developmental issues in clinical practice. Students will be evaluated through Moodle quizzes, in-class case assessments and a final group case assessment report.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Policy
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer
 
This is the foundation course, representing two of three policy courses required of M.S.W. students. The course is designed as an introduction to the field of social welfare in the United States and the development of the social work profession. The course provides a framework for the analysis of social welfare policy and then uses that framework to explore selected social policy areas. Part of the framework involves an examination of the history both of social welfare in the United States and of the social work profession. Finally, the course offers an opportunity to view social work in an international context. Attention will also be paid to ways in which social workers can advocate for needed policy changes. 
 

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Summer

Social work practice requires clinicians to employ evidence to inform their clinical practice, and to use their practice expertise to inform new research. This course introduces key conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and empirical concepts at the foundation of social work research. Students will engage with these concepts as both consumers and producers of clinically relevant social work research.

Quarter Hours: 30
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Field

Students work directly with clients (as individuals or groups), supported by on-site supervisors and training directors at our affiliated centers and by our faculty advisers. Work with advisers will include assignments such as monthly narrative and statistical reports, developing a learning plan, an issue-oriented report, and a major case study.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: First Year Field

Designed to help students successfully enter into and engage in the learning of the first year field internship.  The seminar will address issues related to the Essential Attributes and Abilities and is designed to support students in achieving the defined learning objectives for first year field and to deepen their understanding and integration of content from the summer course work. Students are expected to use the seminar as a forum to discuss their own clinical work and to actively engage in the integration of theory and practice as relevant to their own internship setting. The course meets for 10 sessions September-April for 2 hours/month.
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
Builds upon the academic and clinical foundations of the introductory practice course and the first year field placement and develops more intensively and precisely the biopsychosocial framework for assessment and intervention. Students will learn to assess clients' functioning using a psychodynamic developmental model, descriptive diagnosis and social theories which explore the fit between person and environment. The course will focus primarily on clinical interventions with individual adult and adolescent clients. Students will examine the practice implications of different theoretical frameworks with particular attention to the usefulness of these theoretical and practice models with populations at risk. In addition, critical aspects of the therapeutic relationship which promote growth and change, the application of social work values and evaluation of practice are areas of focus. Ten week course, second five weeks is SOCW 601.
 
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
Builds upon the academic and clinical foundations of the introductory practice course and the first year field placement and develops more intensively and precisely the biopsychosocial framework for assessment and intervention. Students will learn to assess clients' functioning using a psychodynamic developmental model, descriptive diagnosis and social theories which explore the fit between person and environment. The course will focus primarily on clinical interventions with individual adult and adolescent clients. Students will examine the practice implications of different theoretical frameworks with particular attention to the usefulness of these theoretical and practice models with populations at risk. In addition, critical aspects of the therapeutic relationship which promote growth and change, the application of social work values and evaluation of practice are areas of focus. Ten week course, first five weeks is SOCW 600.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Human Behavior
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
Introduces and compares psychodynamic principles within their social and historical contexts. We will present and compare the theoretical approaches of drive, ego, object relations, and self psychology as they help us to theoretically understand the developmental origins of psychopathology. We will also compare these theories for their utility in social work practice. Attention will be paid to the application of these theories with oppressed and vulnerable clients, and to the impact of trauma on development. The complexities of race, class, gender, and culture will be woven into our discussions about psychodynamic theories and practice. Finally, we will use these theories to understand a range of social identity as they emerge in practice as well as in everyday life.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Human Behavior
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
Examines the historical and contemporary functioning of racism in the United States for their implications for social work practice. This course is founded on the person-in-environment framework, the foundational eco-systemic social work perspective that views individuals and their multiple environments as a dynamic, interactive system in which each component affects and is affected by the other. From this perspective, an individual’s views and experiences of race and racism cannot be understood without consideration of the ways in which ideas and practices of race and racism operate within the multiple systems that constitute that individual’s environment. The course will, thus, examine the ways in which racism operates at the macro (structural), meso (institutional), and the micro (individual) levels within our society, with an emphasis on examinations of the multiple ways in which those systems influence, shape, and define one another. Recognizing that an individual’s social location influences the system of lens through which we engage clinical social work practice, students choose one of three course sections available: From the Perspective of Whiteness; Perspectives from Clinicians of Color; and Multiple Perspectives. The overarching goal of the course is to aid students in becoming effective social work practitioners attentive to the dynamics of race and racism in the clinical setting. Because the main instrument of clinical practice is the clinician’s use-of-self, the course aims to encourage students to engage in critical self-reflection that is anchored in an informed analysis of the larger institutional and social structures in which they live and practice. The course will utilize a wide range of pedagogical methods, including lectures, discussions, experiential learning, and clinical case analyses. The course materials and assignment are designed to guide students in developing an on-going practice of assessment, analysis, reflection, and evaluation that informs their engagement with the individuals, institutions, and systems they will encounter in the second year field placement, as well as in students’ efforts to formulate an appropriate and effective anti-racism field assignment. The study of the complex history and contemporary functioning of race and racism in the United States and their implications for social work practice cannot be accomplished in any single course. This foundational course aims, therefore, to begin the conversations, examinations, and reflections that can aid students in developing a life-long engagement in the process of learning to become social work practitioners whose work is grounded in the principles of social justice.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Policy
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
Introduces students to the macro-component for community-based practice. It will introduce students to selected concepts from organizational theory that help them understand and bring about change in human service organizations. It will also introduce students to the processes of community development, organizing, planning, empowerment, and change -- to bring about change at the community level. It will provide conceptual frameworks that support ways that clinical social workers can change organizations and communities. Finally, it will prepare students for and provide knowledge, skills and tools to engage in practice aimed at promoting social and economic justice.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Policy
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
This is the foundation course, representing two of three policy courses required of M.S.W. students. The course is designed as an introduction to the field of social welfare in the United States and the development of the social work profession. The course provides a framework for the analysis of social welfare policy and then uses that framework to explore selected social policy areas. Part of the framework involves an examination of the history both of social welfare in the United States and of the social work profession. Finally, the course offers an opportunity to view social work in an international context. Attention will also be paid to ways in which social workers can advocate for needed policy changes. 
 
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
The two-term required course will introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods pertinent to social work. Principles of research methodology will be emphasized. This course constitutes foundation content in the research sequence. The emphasis in the first term will be on flexible and fixed research designs, ethics, evidence-based practice, sampling and data collection methods. Emphasis in the second term will be on the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data with learning experiences using the electronic classroom. The importance of knowledge development for the profession is emphasized throughout. In addition to a research methods text, recent studies drawn from social work literature will be read and discussed. Course objectives will be met through activities in classroom, the electronic classroom and through individual written assignments in which students apply research knowledge and skills in an area of social work which interests them. The goals of this course are: (1) to develop critical thinking and knowledge of the basic principles of the scientific method; (2) to learn a range of research methods relevant to clinical social work and practice evaluation; including evidence-based practice; (3) to read research reports critically; (4) to learn the basic processes and skills necessary to the conduct of professionally relevant research and evaluation; (5) to articulate ethical issues in research and understand methods to apply them and (6) to learn a range of skills to incorporate the impact of human diversity in all aspects of research. The course prepares students for the application of research knowledge and skills in the required Research Project (Thesis). Required course second summer for students with little prior research background. Ten week course, second five weeks is SOCW 641.
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
The two-term required course will introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods pertinent to social work. Principles of research methodology will be emphasized. This course constitutes foundation content in the research sequence. The emphasis in the first term will be on flexible and fixed research designs, ethics, evidence-based practice, sampling and data collection methods. Emphasis in the second term will be on the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data with learning experiences using the electronic classroom. The importance of knowledge development for the profession is emphasized throughout. In addition to a research methods text, recent studies drawn from social work literature will be read and discussed. Course objectives will be met through activities in classroom, the electronic classroom and through individual written assignments in which students apply research knowledge and skills in an area of social work which interests them. The goals of this course are: (1) to develop critical thinking and knowledge of the basic principles of the scientific method; (2) to learn a range of research methods relevant to clinical social work and practice evaluation; including evidence-based practice; (3) to read research reports critically; (4) to learn the basic processes and skills necessary to the conduct of professionally relevant research and evaluation; (5) to articulate ethical issues in research and understand methods to apply them and (6) to learn a range of skills to incorporate the impact of human diversity in all aspects of research. The course prepares students for the application of research knowledge and skills in the required Research Project (Thesis). Required course second summer for students with little prior research background. Ten week course, first five weeks is SOCW 640.
 
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
The two-term required course will introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods pertinent to social work. Principles of research methodology will be emphasized. This course constitutes foundation content in the research sequence. The emphasis in the first term will be on flexible and fixed research designs, ethics, evidence-based practice, sampling and data collection methods. Emphasis in the second term will be on the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data with learning experiences using the electronic classroom. The importance of knowledge development for the profession is emphasized throughout. In addition to a research methods text, recent studies drawn from social work literature will be read and discussed. In the intermediate section, some prior knowledge of research methods is assumed. Emphasis will be on review, consolidation and application of knowledge as well as on developing a clinical social work perspective on research. Course objectives will be met through activities in classroom, the electronic classroom and through individual written assignments in which students apply research knowledge and skills in an area of social work which interests them. The goals of this course are: (1) to develop critical thinking and knowledge of the basic principles of the scientific method; (2) to learn a range of research methods relevant to clinical social work and practice evaluation; including evidence-based practice; (3) to read research reports critically; (4) to learn the basic processes and skills necessary to the conduct of professionally relevant research and evaluation; (5) to articulate ethical issues in research and understand methods to apply them and (6) to learn a range of skills to incorporate the impact of human diversity in all aspects of research. The course prepares students for the application of research knowledge and skills in the required Research Project (Thesis). Placement sections are based on the prior background and experience students bring to the program. Ten week course, second five weeks is SOCW 643.
 
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer
 
The two-term required course will introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods pertinent to social work. Principles of research methodology will be emphasized. This course constitutes foundation content in the research sequence. The emphasis in the first term will be on flexible and fixed research designs, ethics, evidence-based practice, sampling and data collection methods. Emphasis in the second term will be on the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data with learning experiences using the electronic classroom. The importance of knowledge development for the profession is emphasized throughout. In addition to a research methods text, recent studies drawn from social work literature will be read and discussed. In the intermediate section, some prior knowledge of research methods is assumed. Emphasis will be on review, consolidation and application of knowledge as well as on developing a clinical social work perspective on research. Course objectives will be met through activities in classroom, the electronic classroom and through individual written assignments in which students apply research knowledge and skills in an area of social work which interests them. The goals of this course are: (1) to develop critical thinking and knowledge of the basic principles of the scientific method; (2) to learn a range of research methods relevant to clinical social work and practice evaluation; including evidence-based practice; (3) to read research reports critically; (4) to learn the basic processes and skills necessary to the conduct of professionally relevant research and evaluation; (5) to articulate ethical issues in research and understand methods to apply them and (6) to learn a range of skills to incorporate the impact of human diversity in all aspects of research. The course prepares students for the application of research knowledge and skills in the required Research Project (Thesis). Placement sections are based on the prior background and experience students bring to the program. Ten week course, first five weeks is SOCW 642.
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer

Ten week course, second five weeks is SOCW 645.
Ten-Week Course
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer

Ten week course, first five weeks is SOCW 644.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Summer

Focuses on social work research within our clinical specialization. In particular, this course generates skills for clinical social work practitioners to engage critically and employ existing research in their clinical practice as well as to use their clinical practice experience to inform new social work research. General social work research principles will be applied to clinical practice, and additional theoretical / conceptual, and methodological ideas specific to clinical research will be introduced. Students will engage in clinical case examples as a starting point to identify and appraise research that could inform their practice within a given case example and to generate clinical practice-informed questions based on this case material for further research.

Quarter Hours: 30
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Field

Students work directly with clients (as individuals or groups), supported by on-site supervisors and training directors at our affiliated centers and by our faculty advisers. Work with advisers will include assignments such as monthly narrative and statistical reports, developing a learning plan, an issue-oriented report, and a major case study.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Field

Designed to support second year students’ academic learning process during their field internships.  The goal is to foster students’ abilities to successfully engage with and integrate multiple conceptual frameworks into direct clinical practice.  The seminar will revisit summer course content to provide further continuity and integration during the second year field internship. Students will present their own clinical work and critically examine the treatment process including: systemic and structural dynamics in which the therapeutic relationship unfolds, internal transferential and countertransferential dynamics, and meaning making processes that inform treatment formulations, interventions, and evaluation.  The course meets for 10 sessions September-April for 2 hours/month.
Quarter Hours: 6
Coordinating Sequence: Policy
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Second Year Field

Students identify a coalition, network or community-based organization engaging in efforts to promote social and racial justice within their community. Students are required to join the work of the coalition or organization and engage in a total of 75 hours to strengthen knowledge and skills in organizational and community level social work practice. The Community Based Anti-Racism Experience involves students in social work activity that goes beyond direct clinical work with individuals, families and small groups to promote anti-racism in organizations, neighborhoods and our larger social systems.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Core Requirement
Eligibility: Third Year Summer
 
Evidence-based practice [EBP] has become a major influence on contemporary clinical social work practice.  This course will review the history and goals of the EBP movement and its connection to social work purposes and values.  It will introduce and apply the steps of EBP and detail its core methods.  These include defining questions to guide practice; strategies to search for current, relevant research findings; critically appraising located research findings for their quality and applicability to the chosen practice question, client and setting; active collaboration with the client to ensure their understanding of and support for possible intervention plans; and practical challenges of doing EBP in clinical practice.  Emphasis will be placed on searching the research literature and on critically appraising both individual research articles, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews.  How the needs of socially diverse clients are included in, or limited in, available research findings, and how diverse clients can be supported to make their own intervention choices are examined.  The similarities and differences between EBP and approaches to client-level practice evaluation are explored.