Social Work Master’s Degree (M.S.W.)

Why Choose a Master's Degree in Social Work?

The M.S.W. programs at WSU has a single concentration in clinical practice. Beyond this concentration students are able to explore practice areas of interest through elective offered by the program. These areas include practice with children, practice in health care settings, gerontology, school social work, and substance abuse treatment. The program prepares all students licensure at the entry graduate level (LCSW in MA) and ultimately for advanced independent licensure (LICSW in MA).

The clinical M.S.W. program at WSU begins with a generalist base and then builds clinical knowledge, values and skills on that base. The program emphasizes leadership throughout the practice community in evaluating and analyzing existing and emerging areas of knowledge to advance social service delivery, social policies, and direct practice with the vulnerable, disenfranchised and marginalized populations that are served by social workers.

Requirements for the Master's Degree in Social Work

Program Objectives

The mission of the MSW program at Westfield State University is to prepare advanced level social work practitioners who have specialized knowledge for clinical practice that is based on a firm generalist foundation.

The program places emphasis and value on the development of students who will practice in their areas of competence, maintain ethical standards, and demonstrate leadership within their community as collaborative practitioners who are committed to addressing social, racial, and economic injustice.

The clinical training program is built on a strong generalist foundation and is grounded in biological, psychological, and social theoretical paradigms that will promote a spirit of inquiry and critical analysis for developing theories for social work practice. Students will gain competencies in developing and applying practice modalities that are rooted in various forms of evidence.

As graduates complete their advanced training, they will develop a commitment to life-long learning through self reflection, meeting changing social needs, critically evaluating and integrating emerging practice proficiencies, increasing their levels of cultural competence, and engaging in ongoing skill development to meet the demands of advanced roles and responsibilities.

The program at Westfield is committed to providing leadership throughout the practice community in evaluating and analyzing existing and emerging areas of knowledge to advance social service delivery, social policies, and direct practice with the vulnerable, disenfranchised and marginalized populations that are served by social workers.

Goals

Goal # 1: The program prepares graduates who will have mastered the knowledge, values, and skills of the social work professional generalist practice core.

Goal #2: The program prepares graduates who will have advanced knowledge, values, and skills for clinical social work practice.

The accomplishment of these goals will be demonstrated by the following competencies:

Competency #1: Graduates will identify as professional social workers and as advanced social work practitioners and conduct themselves accordingly.

Competency #2: Graduates will conduct their professional practice according to the values and ethical principles of professional social work.

Competency #3: Graduates will apply critical thinking and communication skills to evaluate and inform professional judgments in practice.

Competency #4: Graduates will engage in informed, sensitive and competent practice with diverse and oppressed groups.

Competency #5: Graduates will promote human rights and social and economic justice.

Competency #6: Graduates will engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.

Competency #7: Graduates will apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment to professional practice.

Competency #8: Graduates will engage in policy analysis and practice to promote social and economic well-being and to deliver effective services.

Competency #9: Graduates will recognize and respond to the dynamic contexts that shape practice.

Competency #10: Graduates will have the knowledge and skills required for engaging, assessing, intervening and evaluating with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Competency #10(a) Graduates will have the knowledge and skills required to engage client systems of all sizes and specialized skills for clinical practice.

Competency #10(b) Graduates will have the knowledge and skills required for assessment of client systems of all sizes and specialized skills for clinical practice.

Competency #10(c) Graduates will have the knowledge and skills required to intervene with client systems of all sizes and specialized skills for clinical practice.

Competency #10(d) Graduates will have the knowledge and skills required for evaluating client systems of all sizes and specialized skills for clinical practice.

    Admission Requirements

     All applicants should follow the following process and meet the described requirements (Specific additional requirements for Advanced Standing applicants are identified)

    1. Applicants should obtain an application packet from the MSW Program or the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.
    2. Applicants must have a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university. To apply for Advanced Standing the candidate must have a BSW from a CSWE accredited program.
    3. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree that included a clear liberal arts base and a firm foundation in the social sciences, government, and human biology. (Applicants should identify their social science, government and human biology courses on the application. Students who do not meet this requirement may be accepted into the program but will be required to take courses to meet these requirements prior to starting the program.)
    4. Applicants need a 2.8 overall undergraduate GPA. For Advanced Standing candidates, the applicant should also have a 3.0 social work GPA. In extraordinary circumstances both requirements can be waived by the Admission Committee.
    5. Applicants need to complete the Graduate Admission form, specifying Traditional MSW program or Advanced Standing MSW Program and whether they would like to be full-time or part-time.
    6. Applicants must submit three references forms with accompanying recommendation letters, including one academic reference. Advanced Standing applicants need to have one of their letters of reference from their BSW Program Director (or his/her designee). A letter from their Field Placement Supervisor is highly recommended.
    7. Applicants need to submit a current resume.
    8. Applicants need to complete a professional statement that describes:
      • reason(s) for interest in entering the field of social work
      • assessment of personal strengths and limitations related to the profession;
      • examination of life experiences and relationship of these experiences to career choice. Discuss here evidence of your commitment to aiding people who are oppressed and/or members of vulnerable populations (good examples are prior work, civic or volunteer experiences); and
      • assessment of personal values and congruence of these beliefs with the social work profession's value system. (We suggest that you review the NASW Code of Ethics prior to writing the professional statement.)

    The professional statement will be evaluated regarding the above material and also will be considered a writing sample to evaluate your ability to express yourself in written form. Applicants who believe that they have extraordinary circumstances regarding the GPA requirements must include their rationale for their request to have the GPA requirement waived.

    Though human services experience is not required, applicants are strongly encouraged to describe any prior volunteer or work experience in their professional statement. Professional experience is viewed positively and considered when making decisions regarding waiving GPA requirements.

    The MSW Program does not require standardized testing (GRE or MAT) for admission to the program.

    Application Deadlines

    The closing date for receipt of all admission materials is February 1. Applicants whose admission files are not completed by February 1 may not be considered for the academic year which begins the following September. Normally, four to six weeks are required for the School of Social Work to receive transcripts; applicants should therefore make every effort to ensure that all relevant documents are requested well before the deadline date. The Department of Social Work reserves the right to change the closing date for the receipt of application materials. Notice of any deadline extension will be posted.

    Notification of Acceptance

    Notice of acceptance will occur on or about April 15 for study beginning the following September (there are no midyear admissions). Within ten days of receiving notification, accepted applicants must confirm in writing their intention to enroll in the program. Confirmation of acceptance should be mailed or emailed to the DGCE Director of Admissions.

    Due to the competitive nature of this program, we require a nonrefundable "competitive program deposit" of $150.00 within 10 days of acceptance. This deposit is used to ensure your space in the program. The deposit is applied to your first registration as a matriculated student in the Fall semester immediately following your acceptance. If we do not hear from you within 10 days, we will assume you have selected an alternative direction, and we will close your matriculation.

      Program Requirements

       

        Foundation Curriculum - 32 Credits

        The program curriculum is divided into two parts. The first part is designed to give students the generalist practice foundation that is common to all social work programs. The foundation curriculum includes classroom work and a 400 hour hands -on practicum. The following courses make up the foundation curriculum (number of credits in parenthesis):

        • SOCW 0511 - Research I
        • SOCW 0512 - Research II
        • SOCW 0521 - Human Behavior & the Social Environment (HBSE) I
        • SOCW 0522 - Human Behavior & the Social Environment (HBSE) II
        • SOCW 0523 - Diversity & Social Justice
        • SOCW 0531 - Social Welfare Policy Analysis
        • SOCW 0541 - Generalist Practice I
        • SOCW 0542 - Generalist Practice II
        • SOCW 0561 - Foundation Practicum I
        • SOCW 0562 - Foundation Practicum II

        Advanced Curriculum - 34 Credits

        The second part of the curriculum is designed to give students advanced knowledge, values, and skills for clinical practice. The advanced curriculum includes required classroom work, one advanced practice elective, two general electives, and a 500 hour hands-on practicum. Students who have completed a BSW from a CSWE accredited program can apply for advanced standing and start the program in the second year after completing a summer bridge course. The following courses make up the advanced curriculum:

        • SOCW 0621 - Mental Health & Children
        • SOCW 0622 - Mental Health & Adulthood
        • SOCW 0631 - Child Welfare Policy
        • SOCW 0642 - Advanced Practice with Adults
        • SOCW 0643 - Advanced Practice with Families
        • SOCW 0661 - Advanced Practicum I
        • SOCW 0662 - Advanced Practicum II
        • Two General Electives (3 credits each) Credits: 6 (SOCW 0651, 0652, and/or 0699) One Advanced Practice Elective (3 credits) Credits: 3 (SOCW 0653 or 0698)
        • Required for Advanced Standing Students Only:
        • SOCW 0543 - Generalist Practice Bridge Course

        Total Credits for MSW - 66 Credits

         

          Electives Include

          General Electives

          • SOCW 0651 - School Social Work
          • SOCW 0652 - Substance Abuse Treatment
          • SOCW 0697 - Independent Study in Social Work
          • SOCW 0699 - Special Topics In Social Work

          Electives Include

          Advanced Practice Electives

          • SOCW 0653 - Advanced Practice with Children & Youth
          • SOCW 0698 - Advanced Practice in Social Work Special Topics