MSW Program Description
Please feel free to explore the following topics on this page:
For the most in-depth view of the MSW Program feel free to open the MSW Program Manual (2022 edition).
If you have an interest in exploring the sequencing of classes in the MSW Program feel free to examine the MSW Completion Plans Page.
MSW Completion Plans PDF (downloadable).
The mission of the MSW program at Westfield State College 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 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 of developing theories for social work practice with children and families. 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.
Program Goals & Competencies
The MSW program has the following two overarching 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: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
Competency 4: Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice
Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
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 (3)
SOCW 0512 Research II (3)
SOCW 0521 Human Behavior & the Social Environment (HBSE) I (3)
SOCW 0522 Human Behavior & the Social Environment (HBSE) II (3)
SOCW 0523 Diversity & Social Justice (3)
SOCW 0531 Social Welfare Policy Analysis (3)
SOCW 0541 Generalist Practice I (3)
SOCW 0542 Generalist Practice II (3)
SOCW 0561 Foundation Practicum I (4)
SOCW 0562 Foundation Practicum II (4)
Total Credits for Foundation Curriculum=32
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 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 (3)
SOCW 0622 Mental Health & Adulthood (3)
SOCW 0631 Child Welfare Policy (3)
SOCW 0642 Advanced Practice with Adults (3)
SOCW 0643 Advanced Practice with Families (3)
SOCW 0661 Advanced Practicum I (5)
SOCW 0662 Advanced Practicum II (5)
One Advanced Practice Elective (3)
Two Electives (3 credits each) (6)
Total credits for Advanced Curriculum=34
Total Credits for MSW=66
Advanced Practice Electives Include:
SOCW 0653 Advanced Practice with Children & Youth (3)
SOCW 0698 Advanced Practice in Social Work Special Topics (3)
SOCW 0651 School Social Work (3)
SOCW 0652 Substance Abuse Treatment (3)
SOCW 0699 Special Topics in Social Work (3)
SOCW 0543 Advanced Standing Bridge Course (3) required or Advanced Standing students
SOCW 0511 Research I
The course will introduce students to the basics of social science research by examining the research process, purposes of research, and the philosophy of research. Students will learn about the basics of measurement, sampling, and causation. Students will review the basic approaches to research, including qualitative research, experiments, surveys, and historical and comparative research.
SOCW 0512 Research II
This course builds on Research 1, In this course students will develop knowledge and skills to complete quantitative and qualitative research. Students will learn how to apply research to social work practice. Specifically, Students will learn how to design and implement Single Subject Design research, design and implement program evaluation research and learn how to evaluate exiting research for its usefulness to social work practice.
SOCW 0521 Human Behavior & the Social Environment (HBSE) I
This is the first course of a two-course sequence that will focus on how aspects of the social environment affect human behavior and on individual development across the life cycle. This course examines human behavior in families, groups, communities, organizations, and cultures, and the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of human development. The course emphasizes the diversity of human experience, the negative impact of oppression on individuals, families, and groups, and the importance of resilience and empowerment.
SOCW 0522 Human Behavior & the Social Environment (HBSE) II
This is the second course of a two course sequence that will focus on how aspects of the social environment affect human behavior and on individual development across the life cycle. The major goal of the course is to help students understand the complex interactions between people and their environments and the importance of knowledge and theories about human behavior to social work practice.
SOCW 0523 Diversity & Social Justice
This course examines the histories of diverse social identity groups in the United States and the differential impacts of past and present attitudes, beliefs, practices, and policies on the lives of individuals, families, groups, and communities. The existence of multiple, intersecting, and interlocking systems of advantage and disadvantage and the centrality of diversity competent practice to the field of social work are emphasized.
SOCW 0531 Social Welfare Policy Analysis
Social science, historical, and ideological models, theories, and perspectives are used as a foundation to examine and analyze present social policies and social programs at the organizational, state, national, and international levels.
SOCW 0541 Generalist Practice I
This is the first of a two-part course sequence that introduces student to the knowledge, values, and skills that form the core of generalist social work practice. In this course, students examine the roles social workers take with client systems, critical thinking, evidence-based practice, and basic theories of social work, and explore the values and ethics of social work, including managing ethical dilemmas. The course continues with an examination of engaging and assessing systems of different sizes.
SOCW 0542 Generalist Practice II
This is the second of a two-part course that introduces student to the knowledge, values, and skills that form the core of generalist social work practice. In this course, the development of service plans with systems of different sizes is examined in-depth. The course continues with an examination of the application of theory, use of self, use of professional values, and development of skills for interventions with individuals, families, groups, and communities. The course concludes with an exploration of the values, knowledge, and skills needed to evaluation social work with clients systems of various sizes and of termination/transition with the client system.
SOCW 0543 Generalist Practice Bridge Course (required for Advanced Standing students)
This course is required for Advanced Standing students as a bridge that allows students to be fully ready to enter the advanced level of MSW education. This course focuses on the core knowledge, values and skills that form the foundation of generalist practice.
SOCW 0561 & 0562 Foundation Practicum I & II
First year MSW students are required to complete a two semester 400 hour, hands-on social work internship in an approved agency under the supervision of a professional social worker.
SOCW 0621 Mental Health & Children
This course examines mental health problems in childhood and adolescence from a bio psychosocial developmental perspective. A range of relevant theories will be studied as they shed light on the development of child and adolescent disorders. Specific clinical entities such as pervasive developmental delays, physiological disorders, and personality, cognitive, affective, and behavior disorders are considered in terms of their etiologies and features and in relation to the practice challenges they raise. Theories are critically examined with particular attention given to the influences of gender, race, ethnicity, and other forms of diversity on the development of deviations.
SOCW 0622 Mental Health & Adulthood
This course will provide the student with advanced exposure to several issues in the area of adult psychopathology and diagnostics. It is intended to provide students with the tools necessary to comfortably utilize the DSM system of classification while maintaining a coherent case conceptualization that is not bounded by this system. Course material will be organized by diagnostic categories.
SOCW 0631 Child Welfare Policy
This course examines the history and current status of child welfare policy in the United States. The theories, assumptions, politics, and economics underlying child welfare policies and practices are explored and evaluated in relationship to major theories and empirical knowledge about child development, children’s rights, human needs, and social work values and ethics.
SOCW 0642 Advanced Practice with Adults
This course examines theory, knowledge, and skills for advanced practice with adults. The therapeutic process and treatment strategies are examined, incorporating content from multiple theoretical orientations. Theories are compared and contrasted in terms of theoretical assumptions, intervention methods and techniques, and empirical evidence regarding practice outcomes.
SOCW 0643 Advanced Practice with Families
This course focuses on the knowledge, skills, and values needed for advanced social work practice with families. The course includes an in-depth look at clinical social work with families through the process of engagement, assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation, and termination. Further, the course examines multiple theories for clinical social work with families and the integration of current evidence into family practice.
SOCW 0651 School Social Work
This course explores the role of social workers in school settings including the changing nature of this role, the various roles school social workers play, and the interventions school social workers employ. Building on the social work foundation knowledge, the ecological model and the strengths perspective, this course examines the role of the social worker in helping students, families, and schools including adjusting to and coping with students with special needs and at-risk populations.
SOCW 0652 Substance Abuse Treatment
This course will provide an overview of the various types of addictive substances, the acute and chronic effects, and the relational impact to human behavior and the social environment. Using a trans-theoretical framework, students will increase their practice knowledge about prevention, assessment, treatment models and techniques, and the importance of aftercare when working with clients who are addicted and/or dually diagnosed.
SOCW 0653 Advanced Practice with Children & Youth
This course examines the knowledge, values, and skills needed to conduct effective interventions with children, adolescents, and significant adults within the context of their specific social environments. Special attention is given to issues of diversity and empowerment as they relate to assessment, building relationships with children and adolescents and their families, treatment planning, intervention, and practice evaluation.
SOCW 0661 Advanced Practicum I
This is the first of a two-part final year MSW practicum experience. Second year MSW students are required to complete a 500 hour, hands-on social work internship in an approved agency under the supervision of a professional social worker. Each semester the student is expected to complete 250 hours of practicum. Included is a weekly seminar that provides further integration of practice with the skills, knowledge, and values and ethics of the field. In this first semester skills around engagement, assessment and service planning will be the focus.
SOCW 0662 Advanced Practicum II
This is the second of a two-part final year MSW practicum experience. Second year MSW students are required to complete a 500 hour, hands-on social work internship in an approved agency under the supervision of a professional social worker. Each semester the student is expected to complete 250 hours of practicum. Included is a weekly seminar that provides further integration of practice with the skills, knowledge, and values and ethics of the field. In this second semester skills around intervention, evaluation and termination will be the focus.