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Master of Social Work

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M.S.W. Degree Requirements

The School of Social Welfare requires a total of 64 credit hours for the M.S.W. degree, consisting of

  • 36 credit hours of classroom work maintaining a grade-point average of 3.0 (B) — a total of 108 grade points on a 4.0 grading scale.*
  • 28 credit hours of field practicum with an S grade for satisfactory performance.
  • 2 sequential semesters of 10-credit-hour enrollments are necessary to meet residence requirements.
  • Recommendation of the faculty of the School of Social Welfare to the University Registrar that the master’s degree be granted.

*Students who maintain grade-point averages of at least 3.0 in the foundation courses are eligible to take additional courses beyond the minimum requirement.

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M.S.W. Foundation Curriculum

Social Work Practice (SW 710, SW 711). Based on the school’s unique strengths perspective, courses provide core knowledge and skills essential for working with individuals, families, and groups.

Community and Organizational Practice (SW 713). This practice class gives students an understanding of the core elements of practice in organizations and communities.

Social Policy and Program Analysis (SW 720). Course emphasizes the effect of social problems, policies, and programs on people and gives students the skills to analyze the effectiveness of policies and programs.

Human Behavior in the Social Environment (SW 730). Theoretical underpinnings essential for effective social work practice and for understanding the behavior of individuals, families, groups, and communities.

Social Work Research (SW 740). Course offers students the opportunity to become informed consumers of social-work-relevant research and to develop skill in evaluating the effectiveness of their own work with clients and the effectiveness of the programs in which they work.

Field Practicum (SW 701). Community agencies throughout Kansas and western Missouri offer practicum opportunities for the application of knowledge gained in other sequences. Field experiences for foundation-level students extend the curriculum goal of generalist social work and are designed so that fundamental skills across multiple levels of intervention are acquired.

Foundation Courses

The following courses are required (32 credit hours):

Semester 1 (16 credit hours)   Semester 2 (16 credit hours)  
SW 701 Basic Field Practicum 7 SW 701 Basic Field Practicum 7
SW 710 Social Work Practice I 3 SW 711 Social Work Practice II 3
SW 713 Community and Organizational Practice 3 SW 730 Human Behavior in the Social Environment 3
SW 720 Social Policy and Program Analysis 3 SW 740 Social Work Research 3
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M.S.W. Advanced-Level Curriculum

Students at the advanced level select a concentration in either clinical social work practice or social work administrative and advocacy practice. This selection is based on their goals of working directly with individuals, families, and groups or at the macro-level of practice in advocacy and community practice. With the exception of study abroad courses, students may not enroll in advanced-level classes before completing foundation requirements.

All students completing the M.S.W. degree are eligible for licensure in the State of Kansas as Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW). Students who anticipate working towards meeting the requirements for the Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW) examination should enroll in the clinical social work practice concentration.

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Clinical Social Work Concentration

This 32-credit-hour concentration prepares students for social work practice with individuals, families, and small groups. The focus of the student’s academic preparation is twofold: on developing the assessment skills needed to identify the client’s personal, interpersonal, environmental and/or systems needs; and on selecting, in concert with the client, appropriate interventions that are evidence based and supported as best practices. Students are exposed to social work theories and methods applicable to the range of practice settings in which clinical social work services are provided; they simultaneously have the opportunity to apply this developing knowledge in the field education component of their graduate programs. Students who anticipate taking the Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW) examination should enroll in the clinical social work practice concentration.

Semester 3   Semester 4
SW 801 Advanced Field Practicum — Clinical Practice 7 SW 801 Advanced Field Practicum — Clinical Practice 7
SW 810 Clinical Social Work Practice 3 SW 811 Topics in Advanced Clinical Social Work: _____ (Clinical Practice Selective)
This selection of offerings emphasizes application of advanced theoretical and practice principles to client systems.
Integrative seminar
Students must select an integrative seminar that complements the advanced field practicum. Courses include SW 830 Social Work in Child and Family Settings, SW 832 Social Work in Health Care and Mental Health Settings, and SW 833 Social Work and Aging.
3 Diversity selective
This cluster of courses is organized around understanding diversity and applying that understanding to specific populations of people who have been marginalized and oppressed.
Clinical practice elective
The clinical practice elective offers students an opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge in a core area of clinical social work practice.
3 Additional elective
Students may satisfy this requirement by taking another clinical practice elective, Study Abroad, SW 846 Advanced Community and Advocacy Practice, or SW 847 Grantwriting and Fundraising.

(For students expecting to sit for the LSCSW license in the future, at least one of the clinical electives must meet the BSRB requirement for diagnosis and treatment. Those interested in school social work should take SW 834 as one of their elective courses.)

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Social Work Administrative and Advocacy Practice Concentration

The 32-credit-hour social work administrative and advocacy practice curriculum prepares graduates for management or academic positions in public and voluntary human services organizations. The concentration helps students achieve competence in managerial and advocacy practice grounded in the knowledge and values of social work. Knowledge and skill areas include program design, managing information, managing people, managing resources, community advocacy, and program evaluation. This concentration prepares students to be program managers, supervisors, agency administrators, program monitors, advocates and evaluators, and social planners with voluntary health and welfare planning agencies; federal, state, and local planning bodies; and advocacy and self-help organizations. Students graduating from the social work administrative and advocacy practice concentration are eligible for licensure at the LMSW level in the state of Kansas.

Semester 3   Semester 4
SW 804 Advanced Field Practicum — Social Work
7 SW 804 Advanced Field Practicum — Social Work
SW 840 Social Program Design and Management 3 SW 842 Using Outcomes for Administrative
and Advocacy Practice
SW 841 Advanced Policy and Programs 3 SW 843 Strengthening Staff Performance
in a Diverse Workplace
SW 849 Mastering the Use of Financial Records
for Social Work Practices
3 Advanced administrative practice selective
This selective extends and deepens students’
skills and knowledge in administrative practice
and expands their expertise in client-centered
change at the community and organizational level.
Study abroad courses may also be taken to
fulfill this requirement.
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M.S.W. Advanced-Standing Program

The Advanced-Standing program requires an enrollment of 38 credit hours, as follows:

  • A summer enrollment in 2 classes:
    (1) SW 712, a social work practice class organized around the school’s major curriculum themes, and
    (2) an elective course selected by the student to broaden the base of knowledge. Electives are offered in various locations. (Students must earn a minimum grade of B in SW 712 to continue.)
  • The advanced level of the M.S.W. program in Lawrence or Kansas City on the KU Edwards Campus (32 credit hours).

No credit is given for courses taken before admission. The advanced level of this program may be taken full time or extended up to 2 years, with approval of the M.S.W. program director. 2 sequential semesters of 10-credit-hour enrollments are necessary to meet residence requirements.

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Field Practicum

The field education office works with community agencies throughout Kansas and western Missouri to provide field education opportunities for students. Students are placed in these agencies through a collaborative process between the office, the student, and the community agency. The field education office is responsible for ensuring that all field placements are able to provide the appropriate learning opportunities for students and that qualified field instructors are available to the student. The field education office arranges all placements.

Students have 2 practicum placements, 1 during the foundation level and 1 during the advanced level of the program. Each placement is for 2 consecutive semesters, 14 credit hours a year. Foundation-level students engage in practicum for 20 hours a week, for a 2-semester period of 30 weeks for a minimum of 600 clock hours. Advanced-level students spend 24 hours a week in practicum for a 2-semester period for a minimum of 720 clock hours. In both years, the practicum is concurrent with required practice courses. Practicum is graded on an S/U basis. A satisfactory (S) grade in both the foundation and advanced-level practicum is a requirement for the M.S.W. degree. At the end of the first semester, a grade of P is given for satisfactory progress toward completion of the course. No credit is given for partial completion (fewer than 14 credit hours) of either practicum.

The foundation-level practicum provides the necessary learning opportunities for the achievement of foundation curriculum objectives and development of a generalist perspective on practice. Advanced-level practicum provides the learning opportunities essential for completing the objectives of either the clinical or social work administrative and advocacy concentrations. Clinical concentration practica are linked to integrative seminars in the following fields of practice: children and families, health/mental health, or aging.

An orientation is held in the fall, before the beginning of classes, for all students entering a field practicum and the field liaisons who represent the school. Students are responsible for the material in the handbook. The Field Education Handbook is available on the school’s website. Upon request, a printed copy may be obtained through the University Bookstore for a fee.

Every student in practicum has both an M.S.W. practicum instructor and a field liaison. The practicum instructor is responsible for designating learning opportunities, planning practicum assignments, and serving as the student’s teacher in the practicum. The field liaison is employed by the School of Social Welfare to work with practicum instructors and students in each agency, to help integrate practicum and class instruction, to evaluate student performance, and to assist if difficulties arise.

Field placements are mainly in the Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita areas, with a limited number of settings in Lawrence, Leavenworth, and other Kansas and Missouri communities. Most agencies also require a student to have transportation available for agency assignments. Students are responsible for transportation to the assigned field practicum.

Because of the necessity for continuity in both client service and learning, the maximum time for a break between semesters is 3 weeks, regardless of time allowable according to the university calendar.

Field Practicum Alternative Plans

Concurrent Practicum Exception

A student applies for a concurrent practicum exception through the director of field education. To qualify for a concurrent practicum exception, a student must be at the M.S.W. level and working in a social service agency that offers work experiences the student can draw upon to complete assignments in the practice classes.

A concurrent practicum exception, when approved by the M.S.W. program director, allows the student to opt out of practicum until a later time (usually during the summer — summer block). The student still completes the 3 required courses. As part of the application for a concurrent practicum exception, a student must identify his or her plan for completing the required practicum hours.

Summer Block Practicum

When the M.S.W. program director has approved a student's concurrent practicum exception, the student makes arrangements to complete the full required practicum hours during the summer. The student is assigned 40 hours a week in the practicum for 15 weeks to complete the required hours for the foundation practicum. The student is assigned 40 hours a week for 18 weeks to complete the required hours for the advanced-level practicum.

A student typically must be able to quit daytime employment and be available 40 hours a week for practicum (this cannot be an employment-based practicum).

Employment-Based Practicum (EBP)

Most students are placed in a regular practicum setting by the field education office. A small number of students consider applying for an EBP, in which they use their current place of employment (but not their job) as the site for the field practicum. The student’s employment agency must be able to show that it will reduce the student’s regular work responsibilities and reassign the student to new responsibilities (typically a different unit, client population, etc.) for practicum hours. The student’s practicum responsibilities must be very different from his or her work responsibilities (a student would still essentially be working full time, but half of it would be the current job and the other half — practicum — would be in a different unit with different job responsibilities).

The same educational requirements and standards apply to an EBP as to other regular practicum placements. The employing agency must agree to support the educational program and the Council on Social Work Education standards.

A small number of advanced-level field practicum placements may pay a stipend to students. Effort is made to assign these settings to students whose financial need is high.

Prior Work Experience

In accordance with national curriculum policy, prior employment and life experience may not be credited toward classroom course work or practicum requirements.

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