MSW Areas of Study

Students choose and develop 2 areas of specialization: one in social work methods and one in an area of concentration. Students should select both the methods and concentration area at the beginning of the MSW program. This will enable them to enroll in the appropriate courses and to arrange suitable field placements.

Methods: Select one from the following:

  • Direct Practice. Students who wish to deal with the changing impact of interpersonal and social problems on individuals, families, and groups through direct service should choose this specialty.
  • Macro Practice. This method is for students who are interested in planned change with organizations and committees. Students will prepare for roles in planning, policy practice, administration, program development and community practice.
  • Double Methods. Students who are interested in gaining knowledge and skills in working with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations may want to consider a "Double Method" sequence. This involves taking methods coursework and field experience in both Direct Practice and Macro Practice and requires approximately one extra semester of coursework (4-5 additional credits). Coursework for the second method is taken instead of other course electives. Four semesters of field are required with two semesters for Direct Practice experience and two semesters of Macro Practice experience. Students who have interests in the range of social work practice methods would benefit from this option.

In addition, students select one area of concentration:

Physical, Mental and Behavioral Health

This concentration is designed to prepare students for advanced social work practice involving the delivery of health, mental health and addictions services to individuals, families, small groups, and the community. Students are exposed to issues, approaches, and technologies for application in prevention, treatment, administration, and policy. These are related to risks and problems with: alcohol and other drugs, mental health and mental illness, intimate partner violence, community violence, cognitive and physical disabilities, physical illness, and other behavioral health concerns across the lifespan. Course work provides students with knowledge, values, and skills to prepare them for professional practice in a variety of private and public settings related to physical health, mental health, addictions and substance abuse.


The concentration in gerontology is designed to aid students in understanding the complexity of the aging process from the perspective of the individual, family, society, and social policy. The concentration will cover the physical, psychological, and social processes of aging including family roles and responsibilities, cultural diversity, social support networks and the use of health and social services. Major developmental issues during the second half of life will be presented and interventions to facilitate adaptation to developmental change will be described. Course work will enable students to: understand late-life mental disorders; develop assessment skills; formulate, implement, and evaluate treatment plans; and, become aware of issues related to age and ageism as they influence social work practice.

Family and Child Welfare

The social work profession has a long history of commitment to ensuring the welfare of children. Furthermore, professionals recognize the family system as being significant in the lives of children. The family system, in its various forms, represents a significant social institution, essential to communities and to society as a whole. This concentration focuses on the study of family systems, child and family welfare, and interventions to enhance the lives of children and families. Students in this concentration develop the advanced practice knowledge and skills necessary to provide services to children and families in a wide variety of settings.