Learn More (877) 791-7181
  • On-campus Programs
  • Apply now button

Master of Social Work (MSW) Curriculum

Master of Social Work (MSW) Curriculum

The MSW online program provides you with a unique blend of knowledge at the micro-, mezzo-, and macro-levels of social work while offering you a choice in specialization: direct clinical practice or direct community practice.

You can complete your MSW degree online in as little as a year if you’re an Advanced Standing student, or between two and four years if you are a full or part-time student. The 60-credit program can be completed from anywhere in the U.S.

MSW Online Courses: Full Program

If you do not meet the requirements outlined for acceptance into the Advancing Standing track, you’ll need to complete the full MSW online program. You’ll still take classes and complete coursework online on your schedule, and you’ll complete your degree in two to four years, depending on full-time or part-time-student status.

Generalist Courses

The first year of the MSW online program highlights courses in human behavior in the social environment, the generalist practice, policy research, human diversity and social justice.

SW 565 Social Welfare as a Social Institution, 3 Credit Hours
This first course in the two-course policy sequence is designed to help students examine various aspects of the social welfare institution from both a contemporary and an historical perspective. The impact of socio-economic and political forces on social welfare policies and programs, as they respond to the complexities of human needs and social problems, are examined. Attention is also given to the organizational context of the social service delivery system.

SW 567 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I, 3 Credit Hours
The purpose of this first semester of a two-semester course sequence is to develop fully the notion of interchange between the individual and those systems that make up his/her environment. In exploring the environmental determinants of human behavior, the student is introduced to the study of individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations, and the influences that those systems produce upon social interaction and adaptive behavior.

SW 524 Human Diversity and Social Justice, 3 Credit Hours
The purpose of this course is to provide students with a framework for understanding how diversity characteristics shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity and the impact of oppression, power, and privilege.

SW 575 Generalist Practice I, 3 Credit Hours
This course is an introduction to generalist social work practice designed to provide students with the knowledge, understanding, and analytical skills utilized in the phases of the generalist social work helping process: engagement, data collection and differential assessment; goal setting and planning; intervention; evaluation; and disengagement and follow up focusing on the individual within environmental context.

SW 578-579 Generalist Field Practicum and Seminar I, 3 Credit Hours
Senior Field Practicum and Seminar I focus on the continuing integration of empirical knowledge, theoretical concepts, and analytical skills with interactional skills and professional values in the development of practice competencies. Students practice these skills in the field placement and the seminar provides integrative processes for the experiential and academic learning through group supervision and writing of the Capstone Paper.

SW 566 Social Welfare Policy and Services, 3 Credit Hours
The purpose of this course is to provide students with a framework for understanding: 1) social policy and the process through which social policy is formulated, implemented and analyzed; 2) inequalities and inequities in social welfare as policy manifestations of institutionalized racism and sexism; and, 3) the impact and interaction of policy with service delivery networks and organizational structures delivering services and resources.
Prerequisite: SW 565

SW 568 Human Behavior and the Social Environment II, 3 Credit Hours
The second course of a two-semester sequence intended to provide students with the theoretical resources and beginning skills necessary for identification of human problems, concerns, or needs, and differential assessment of situations in which people need help. The focus will include the biological, sociological, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development of individuals throughout the life span.
Prerequisite: SW 567

SW 570 Inter-Professional Education, 3 Credit Hours
This course is designed to develop inter-professional collaboration among multiple disciplines for those who will practice in a variety of settings including health care. Effective communication and problem-solving in collaboration with various professionals is essential to providing competent care.

SW 576 Generalist Practice II, 3 Credit Hours
The course continues the exploration of modalities which can be used in interventions with client systems of varying sizes: individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations. Emphasis is placed on the study and acquisition of practice knowledge and skills necessary to implement planned change with client populations representing cultural, racial, social, and life-style diversity.
Prerequisite: SW 575

SW 580-581 Generalist Field Practicum and Seminar II, 3 Credit Hours
Senior Field Practicum and Seminar II continues the focus on integration of empirical knowledge, theoretical concepts, and analytical skills with interactional skills and professional values in the development of practice competencies. Students practice these skills in the field placement and the seminar provides integrative processes for the experiential and academic learning through group supervision and writing of the Capstone Paper.
Prerequisite: SW 578-79, SW 575

Specialized Practice Courses

The second year of the program prepares you for leadership roles. It teaches you specialized skills in social work practice and includes assessment, treatment planning, interventions and practice evaluation.

SW 585 Assessment of Client Systems, 3 Credit Hours
This course reviews assessment strategies for all client systems at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels in order to understand the impact of an inter-systems perspective and the influence of each system on the other for case formulation in change efforts. A person-in-environment and environment-in-person perspective will be utilized to identify client system strengths, resources, areas of need, and opportunities for intervention. Human diversity considerations will be evaluated with regards to the intersectional impact across systems.
Prerequisites: SW 524, SW 566, SW 568, SW 576, SW 580-81

SW 590 Research Methods for Social Work, 3 Credit Hours
This course covers research methods for practice evaluation and specifically geared towards social work professionals. Students are taught the language of scientific discourse and the ability to critically appraise empirical research for evidence-based practice. Ethical and human diversity issues are discussed throughout the course and include unbiased research techniques and sensitivity to populations-at-risk.

SW 675 Social Work Specialized Practice I, 3 Credit Hours
The is the first of a two semester specialized practice course building on the Generalist Practice framework covered in Generalist Social Work Practice I & II. This course focuses on the specialized social work practice skills development working with client systems in either direct clinical practice or direct community practice. Students taking with course will also be enrolled in Specialized Field Practicum and Seminar I.
Prerequisites: SW 576, SW 580-81

SW 678 & 679 Specialized Field Practicum and Seminar I, 3 Credit Hours
This is a two-semester course where students will participate in an approved, specialized, social work practice field placement. Students apply and integrate theory and course material in professional practice with diverse client systems and further develop competency in their professional skills. The seminar provides integrative processes for the experiential and academic learning through group supervision and writing of the Capstone Paper.
Prerequisites: SW 576, SW 580-81

Choice of: 586 or 587

SW 586 Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis, 3 Credit Hours
This course focuses on the assessment and diagnosis of individuals and utilizes frameworks that place individuals within the context of their environment and the biopsychosocial-spiritual, cultural, and human diversity influences for understanding mental health conditions. A critical analysis of classification systems will be used for conducting assessment and diagnosis of individuals.
Prerequisite: SW 585

SW 587 Social Work Direct Community Practice
This course builds on the knowledge gained in Generalist Social Work Practice I and II on applying the generalist practice framework to community systems at the specialized level. This course looks at the interaction between person and environment and creating organizational and community change in order to better meet the needs of diverse populations. Strategies for engaging stakeholders in capacity building, problem-solving, and decision-making processes will be explored. Students will also consider the trends in the larger political, economic and social environment that impact community change.
Prerequisite: SW 585

SW 591 Research Practicum, 3 Credit Hours
This course enables students to further develop research knowledge through experiential learning allowing the student to implement and participant in a research study relevant to the social work profession. Students will work with their seminar instructor and field instructor to implement research methodology in line with the field placement.
Prerequisite: SW 591

SW 676 Social Work Specialized Practice I, 3 Credit Hours
This is the second semester of a two course series that expands and develops the specialized social work practice. Students taking with course will also be enrolled in Specialized Field Practicum and Seminar II.
Prerequisites: SW 675, SW 678-79

SW 680 & 681 Specialized Field Practicum and Seminar II, 3 Credit Hours
This course is the final of two courses where students will participate in an approved, specialized, social work practice field placement. Students apply and integrate theory and course material in professional practice with diverse client systems and further develop competency in their professional skills. The seminar provides integrative processes for the experiential and academic learning through group supervision and writing of the Capstone Paper.
Prerequisites: SW 675, SW 678-79

Electives

In your second year of the online MSW program at Sacred Heart, you’ll choose one elective course each semester from the options below to advance your knowledge of these areas.

SW 500 Substance Abuse, 3 Credit Hours
Provides an integrated understanding of substance use disorders from etiological, preventive, and treatment perspectives. This course integrates theory and empirically based knowledge from social work and other disciplines involved in addictions. Students will learn empirically supported prevention and treatment strategies.

SW 550 Loss and Life Transition, 3 Credit Hours
This course provides theoretical and conceptual frameworks for understanding loss and transition across the life cycle as a universal human experience and the varying influences affecting the grief process.

SW 545 Aging and Gerontology, 3 Credit Hours
This course provides an overview of the aging process from a biopsychosocial-spiritual, strengths perspective and the specific issues faced by the older adult population. Topics covered that influence this population include cultural perspectives, changing roles, access to resources and services, advocacy, and issues of social justice.

SW 560 Spirituality, 3 Credit Hours
This course provides a framework of knowledge, values, and skills to be applied to a social work practice that is sensitive to diverse spiritual and religious perspectives in social work with client systems. It will explore the importance of including spirituality in an assessment and understanding its impact on client experiences and the implications for intervention.

SW 555 Children & Families, 3 Credit Hours
This course provides specialized analytic and practice skills necessary for working with children, youth, and families. Students will learn assessment and intervention strategies that take into consideration the relevant environmental systems that are impacting the client system. A broad definition of family will be used acknowledging various diverse configurations.

MSW Online Courses: Advanced Standing

If you graduated from a Bachelor of Social Work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) with a 3.0 or better in the last six years, you may enter the program as an advanced standing student and complete your MSW degree online in as little as a year. The Advanced Standing option will be offered in the Fall of 2018.

SW 524 Human Diversity and Social Justice, 3 Credit Hours
The purpose of this course is to provide students with a framework for understanding how diversity characteristics shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity and the impact of oppression, power, and privilege.

SW 585 Assessment of Client Systems, 3 Credit Hours
This course reviews assessment strategies for all client systems at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels in order to understand the impact of an inter-systems perspective and the influence of each system on the other for case formulation in change efforts. A person-in-environment and environment-in-person perspective will be utilized to identify client system strengths, resources, areas of need, and opportunities for intervention. Human diversity considerations will be evaluated with regards to the intersectional impact across systems.
Prerequisites: SW 524, SW 566, SW 568, SW 576, SW 580-81

SW 578-579 Generalist Field Practicum and Seminar I, 3 Credit Hours
Senior Field Practicum and Seminar I focus on the continuing integration of empirical knowledge, theoretical concepts, and analytical skills with interactional skills and professional values in the development of practice competencies. Students practice these skills in the field placement and the seminar provides integrative processes for the experiential and academic learning through group supervision and writing of the Capstone Paper.

SW 570 Inter-Professional Education, 3 Credit Hours
This course is designed to develop inter-professional collaboration among multiple disciplines for those who will practice in a variety of settings including health care. Effective communication and problem-solving in collaboration with various professionals is essential to providing competent care.

Choice of: 586 or 587

SW 586 Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis, 3 Credit Hours
This course focuses on the assessment and diagnosis of individuals and utilizes frameworks that place individuals within the context of their environment and the biopsychosocial-spiritual, cultural, and human diversity influences for understanding mental health conditions. A critical analysis of classification systems will be used for conducting assessment and diagnosis of individuals.
Prerequisite: SW 585

SW 587 Social Work Direct Community Practice
This course builds on the knowledge gained in Generalist Social Work Practice I and II on applying the generalist practice framework to community systems at the specialized level. This course looks at the interaction between person and environment and creating organizational and community change in order to better meet the needs of diverse populations. Strategies for engaging stakeholders in capacity building, problem-solving, and decision-making processes will be explored. Students will also consider the trends in the larger political, economic and social environment that impact community change.
Prerequisite: SW 585

SW 675 Social Work Specialized Practice I, 3 Credit Hours
This is the second semester of a two course series that expands and develops the specialized social work practice. Students taking with course will also be enrolled in Specialized Field Practicum and Seminar II.
Prerequisites: SW 576, SW 580-81

SW 676 Social Work Specialized Practice II, 3 Credit Hours
This is the second semester of a two course series that expands and develops the specialized social work practice. Students taking with course will also be enrolled in Specialized Field Practicum and Seminar II.
Prerequisites: SW 675, SW 678-79

SW 680 & 681 Specialized Field Practicum and Seminar I & II, 3 Credit Hours
This course is the final of two courses where students will participate in an approved, specialized, social work practice field placement. Students apply and integrate theory and course material in professional practice with diverse client systems and further develop competency in their professional skills. The seminar provides integrative processes for the experiential and academic learning through group supervision and writing of the Capstone Paper.
Prerequisites: SW 675, SW 678-79