Master of Social Work Course Descriptions
The UNE Online MSW program is a fully CSWE-accredited program. Courses are offered 100% online with timely, relevant content taught by dynamic faculty of practitioners, researchers, and educators. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks are available in the online MSW.
Please note the following when making course selections:
- Degree requirements, course plans, and the curriculum framework vary for each track.
- Required courses are offered three times a year.
- Electives are designated as either clinical or community.
- Traditional students MUST complete their generalist year field experience (SSW 522) before taking specialization courses (required or electives).
- Advanced Standing students can take clinical or community electives. However, if a student is seeking licensure after graduation, they should research the licensing requirements for the state in which they intend to practice.
View degree plans for our two tracks:
In addition to the “Required Courses (Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks)” below.
The HBSE sequence is constructed as theory for practice courses. Theories for practice form a conceptual framework to develop understanding of the impact of social context on health (broadly defined) and well-being and on social work. These theories attempt to explain how and why people live their lives as they do: how we construct ways to understand our lives; how we develop actions to sustain ourselves and develop as a species and as a community (both local and global). Theories for practice permit us to articulate a value-driven, human rights and social justice vision within which we construct and operationalize our mission and our practice. HBSE I begins with an examination of human rights with particular attention paid to health as a human right. Students also consider how their own beliefs and ideas about the core values of human dignity, social justice, individual and cultural diversity, and self-determination have been shaped, how they have contributed to the formation of their identities and they contribute to students own developing knowledge and professional practice. The lens for reflection is grounded in the belief that health is a human right.
HBSE is designed to develop and refine our consciousness of the continuous, dynamic and relationship that persists between human beings in any social context. HSBE II explores different theories about how human beings develop, understand, and participate in social relationships that include societal structures and distributions of power and resources necessary for healthy human development; how we formulate and act on basic assumptions about ourselves and others; and how the identity and experience of individuals is affected by class, gender, race or ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and other factors as these are reflected in different political-economic and cultural contexts. Students explore how these different contexts are embodied in people¿s physical, mental, and relational lives.
Research I provides an orientation to the history of science and the range of methods for informing evidence-guided social work practice. Knowledge generation and its application to social work research will be examined critically from a paradigmatic level. Students will explore the continuous relationship between research, theory development, and practice principles and will develop an understanding of the context of research, ethics and values, use of research resources, problem formulation, measurement, sampling, and research design.
Research II builds upon the knowledge, methods, and skills provided in Research I. Students will continue to learn how to critically assess research from ethical, multicultural, and social justice perspectives, particularly in the context of agency-based research and program evaluation. Students will conduct a research evaluation project. This includes 1) formulating a question, 2) designing and implementing a study, and 3) interpreting and presenting the study findings. An expectation is for students to collaborate with their field placement instructors, employers, or a community group with the aim of improving individual or community health (using the WHO definition).
Policy I course examines social welfare policy and practice with a primary focus on the role professional Social Work plays in the development, implementation and evaluation of social welfare policy and the impact social welfare policy has on professional Social Work practice. This course provides an historical overview of social welfare policy and Social Work as a profession. Course content includes the values and ideologies that informed the evolution of Social Work and social welfare and the contradictions that have historically plagued them. The impact of social movements and political action on social welfare policy will be discussed, including policy advocacy and social protest. Social Work history will be explored from its 17th through 19th century origins to its 20th and 21st century controversies. This course focuses on how systemic oppression and social justice emerge in social welfare policy and community settings. Professional Social Work ethics, which require social workers to engage in advocacy practice that promotes social justice, equity, and equality will be examined, as will the potential for the profession to be used as an agent of social control. Must be enrolled in one of the following: Master of Social Work, Non-Matriculated Social Work, Conditional Social Work.
Policy II presents the opportunity for students to apply their knowledge and skills for advocacy practice, policy development, and policy evaluation either at the Federal, state, municipal, or community level. This examination also includes how social policies are funded and how they affect the lives of people, organizations and communities. Professional Social Work ethics, which require social workers to engage in advocacy practice that promotes social justice, equity, and equality will be examined, as will the potential for the profession to be used as an agent of social control.
Social Work Practice I introduces students to generalist social work practice defined as planned change, at every system level, implemented through collaborative relationships with clients, colleagues, and community partners. The theoretical framework of this course is based on empowering and relational theories for practice and concentrates on the integration and application of health promoting knowledge, values and skills that support and sustain client resiliency informed by the core social work values of self-determination, diversity, human dignity and social justice. Students are encouraged to critically examine knowledge and to develop skills for culturally attuned practice. Students are exposed to tenets of evidence-guided practice. Students learn and apply skills for health-promoting practice with individuals, families, and groups including assessment, engagement, interpersonal relationship building and intervention planning. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This course builds on students understanding of generalist social work practice, beginning with the planned change process within larger systems and moving into integrative multilevel practice. The theoretical framework of this course is based on empowering and organizational change theories for practice, informed by the core social work values of self-determination, diversity, human dignity and social justice. Students are encouraged to critically examine knowledge and to develop skills for culturally attuned practice. Students are exposed to tenets of evidence-guided practice utilized within larger systems. Students learn and apply skills for change with and within organizations and communities including assessment and planned change strategies. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
Foundation Practicum I provides students with a supervised practice experience in a social service agency/organization. The practicum includes experiential learning in social work practice skills in a specialized setting. A weekly seminar provides students with an opportunity to discuss and reflect on professional social work issues from their practicum experience regarding assessment, specific interventions with client systems, and the application of practice theories. The seminar introduces the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the WHO Definition of Health into discussions of how resource equity, social justice, and universal health care across the life spans impacts work with client systems.
Foundation Practicum II provides students with a supervised practice experience in a social service agency/organization. The practicum includes experiential learning in social work practice skills in a specialized setting. A weekly seminar provides students with an opportunity to discuss and reflect on professional social work issues from their practicum experience regarding assessment, specific interventions with client systems, and the application of practice theories. The seminar introduces the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the WHO Definition of Health into discussions of how resource equity, social justice, and universal health care across the life spans impacts work with client systems.
In addition to the “Required Courses (Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks)” below.
Integrating Clinical / Community Practice Frameworks (SSW 526) is a required course for students enrolled in the MSW/MSWO program as Advanced Standing. It is designed to introduce social work scholarship, values, and skills embedded in the UNE School of Social Work vision and mission that envision a world where social workers are at the forefront of advocating with individuals and communities for human dignity, social inclusion, and efforts to end inequities, exploitation, and violence. Course content fully integrates clinical (micro) and community (macro) perspectives and practices with an emphasis on cultural, relational, and evidence-based competencies. This course serves as a bridge to the Concentration Year of the MSW program by preparing new students for the advanced curriculum.
Building on the foundation year practice content, this course further prepares students for direct practice with individuals, families and groups. Students critically examine social work theory and methods for direct practice with attention to how clinical social work values inform theory to promote social justice, human dignity, capacity building, and individual empowerment. Life course and development theories are critically examined within the contexts of socioeconomics, multiculturalism and human diversity. Methods of practice to be explored include therapeutic, supportive, educational, advocacy and community-based strategies and also the dynamic relationship that occurs across and between these interventions. Teaching methods encourage students to develop intellectual curiosity, self-awareness and skillful use of personal values, theoretical orientations, and practice approaches in working with a range of client systems in varied social work settings. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This second semester course critically analyzes how contemporary clinical theories explain the inner dynamics and external experiences of family systems. Practical applications of family theory are explored through case examples, role play and self-reflective writing that includes both self-analysis and critique of how sociocultural factors influence how we assess and work with families. Students are exposed to a range of family structures and caregiving systems and also to the larger social contexts of race, social class, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identification, and culture, which influence the distribution of resources made available to these families. The role of the clinician as activist is explored as students reflect upon what their professional roles will be as community practitioners. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
Administration and Supervision (SSWO 565) will focus on nonprofit organizations and other systems to examine administrative roles within the context of competing organizational values. Various types of leadership will be explored and applied to practice at the organization and individual levels in order to support students’ development of administrative and supervisory skills that can be employed in professional social work practice. Students will be prepared to engage in social work practice as leaders of sustainable, equitable, and diverse programs, organizations, and systems that promote social inclusion and create change.
Integrating Seminar/Practicum III & IV are a one-semester sequenced course designed to provide students with a supervised advanced practice experience in a social service agency/organization. The practicum includes experiential learning in advanced social work skills in a specialized setting. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the World Health Organization Definition of Health and the International Federation of Social Works’ Policy Statement on Health will continue to be incorporated into discussions of how resource equity, social justice and universal health and healthcare across the lifespan impacts work with client systems. Students in block placement complete 560 hours (35-40 hours per week) in the agency/organization setting in one semester. Each student receives 1 to 1½ hours of weekly, individual field instruction from a MSW level social worker.
Advanced Practicum IV provides students with a supervised advanced practice experience in a social service agency/organization. The practicum includes experiential learning in advanced social work practice skills in a specialized setting. A weekly seminar provides students with an opportunity to discuss and reflect on professional social work issues from their practicum experience regarding assessment, specific interventions with client systems, and the application of practice theories. The seminar introduces the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the WHO Definition of Health into discussions of how resource equity, social justice, and universal health care across the life spans impacts work with client systems.
APA provides students advanced knowledge and skills in the assessment of client concerns. The course emphasizes the impact of the structural and personal effects of inequity and cultural oppression on assessment and on psychopathology. APA provides substantial content on understanding psychopathology while placing this understanding within the context of social work’s historical emphasis on the person in environment. Students taking this course will be prepared to understand the major concepts and presentations of psychopathology, and have skills in the diagnostic process. They will also be able to exhibit advanced skills in assessing the full psychosocial context and to bring a social work perspective to interventive planning.
This course introduces students to social work research specific to program evaluation methods. Students will learn and discuss program evaluation assessment types and the research methodologies conducted in research and applied in practice. Students will conceptualize the steps involved in a program evaluation, for a human services organization, to demonstrate evidence-based practices and the potential for social change among clients, organizations, and communities. The content of this course integrates other elements of the MSW curriculum and is designed to include resources that are relevant to direct and macro levels of practice.
This course builds upon the foundation year and introduces students to the changing context of community and inter- organizational linkages across human service systems. Major content focuses on community and organizational needs assessment, community building, understanding and working in multi-system service environments. Client empowerment, collaborative relationship building across various system levels, including coalition building, and across problem areas and settings are emphasized. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This course teaches the conceptual base, professional values, ethics, and practice skills of social group work. Emphasizing social work with groups as integrative practice, this course encompasses the continuum from therapy groups to task-oriented groups. Course content highlights the health promoting, empowerment, and relational aspects of social group work and its potential for mutual aid, community building, and social justice. The use of groups to achieve individual and social change goals is emphasized. Group dynamics and development will be assessed with attention to agency, community, cultural, and societal contexts. This course emphasizes ethical group work practice and evidence-based group approaches. Group work with diverse populations and the use of groups with client populations experiencing the structural and personal impacts of inequity and cultural oppression is a unifying course theme.
The focus of this course is to examine issues associated with substance use and the intersection of multiple individual, family, organizational and societal systems that contribute to risk and resilience. We will explore the impact of social exclusion on the way in which substance use disorders are defined, who receives treatment, at what level, and at what cost. Students will learn to identify, through a person-centered, biopsychosocial lens, the strengths and challenges of those who are impacted by substance abuse. Students will develop competency and resources to aid in prevention and intervention with individuals, families, organizations and policy makers.
This course is designed to introduce students to the various components of the social determinants of health and how those components contribute to the inequality in the distribution of health and its fundamental social causes. This course will provide an introductory examination of the health disparities among vulnerable populations. Further exploration through evidence-based research, students will be able to develop a basic understanding of the wealth/health relationship, how class and ethnicity has an impact on morbidity and mortality. The goal of this course is to understand the patterns of inequality in health and health care as a social structure that contributes to the relevance of understanding social determinants of health and shaping appropriate interventions for clients.
This course discusses the concepts and practices of the discipline of grant research and proposal writing; the techniques and strategies of grant research and proposal writing and tracking of proposals once submitted, and follow up on submitted proposals. We will also explore the types of financial assistance available to agencies and individuals. Using the Internet and relevant published materials as well as lecture and discussion, students will develop the skills to develop and submit grant proposals.
This course examines the political environment of the policy process through several sets of lenses. We will examine the motives of actors, institutional constraints and how these politics are altered at different stages of the policy process. This is not an examination of any single stage or actor in the policy process, but rather it is a calculated effort to provide you with an understanding of the critical issues involved in policy making. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This course will examine policy, varying service delivery systems, funding and the role of social workers in the areas of partner abuse, child abuse and elder abuse. This course will help students understand the context in which domestic violence practice occurs. The course will also focus on the role of the social worker in assessing for domestic violence with their clients. Culturally sensitive practice issues will be discussed and their impact on individuals seeking services. The course will also focus on developing student’s abilities in assessment and intervention techniques with both survivors and individuals that batter. The course focuses on developing students’ abilities to identify and explore ethical issues in domestic violence practice. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This course explores working with survivors in a trauma-based practice which validates the experience, respects the survivor, and helps her/him to become empowered. An examination of personal beliefs and definitions of trauma will serve as a first step toward the study of advanced trauma based practice. Using Trauma Theory as a foundation, students will learn practice methods and approaches that may be helpful in working with survivors. Case presentations will allow students the opportunity to discuss alternative practice approaches, understand the trauma survivor’s experience, and support & critique peers. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This seminar provides an opportunity for students to engage in critical examination of controversial issues that impact the profession of social work today. The course focuses on developing students’ abilities to research, examine and critically evaluate a variety of positions on controversial issues and to develop and defend, both verbally and in writing, a personal position that is ethical and consistent with the student’s values and beliefs. Course content will be determined to a large extent by issues of interest to students in the class. Issues to be examined will also include controversial issues of interest to the instructor and other faculty members, who will present on controversial issues relevant to their own practice and research interests. Controversial Issues in social policy, social welfare policy, multicultural practice, child welfare, social work ethics and professional practice may all be addressed. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
Homelessness and Social Work: Voices from the Street. This course is aimed at increasing student awareness of contemporary social welfare policies, programs and practice issues relevant to providing social work services to homeless and other poor people. The homeless experience is examined in the context of societal oppression and political resistance. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This course examines concepts in psycho- pharmacology, neurophysiology, psychoactive drug classification. Physiological, and psychological aspects of psychopharmacological agents used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders are presented. Psychopharmacology with the geriatric population are explored. The parts of the brain affected by alcohol, marijuana, opiates, cocaine, and other street drugs are discussed. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This course relates the application of creative arts, including music, literature, theatre, art, poetry, movement, and dance, to increasing self-awareness, working directly with clients, enhancing social awareness of core social issues, and enhancing civic dialogue. Includes presentations by diverse community artists. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This concentration year elective focuses on the challenges and capacities of children, adolescents, parents and caregivers that come to our attention in clinical social work practice across diverse settings. Students explore and critically analyze a range of theories used to explain child and adolescent development and caregiving structures. Particular attention is given to theories of attachment, caregiving, relationship and neurobiology. Focus is also placed on the social and institutional policies and dominant cultural attitudes that determine the distribution and access to social resources that affect child and family well-being. Interdisciplinary models of practice, including the development of networks and partnerships between social workers and other child-centered professionals are covered. Methods of building relationships with children, adolescents and caregivers are explored as are specific child-centered techniques including art and play therapy. Must be enrolled in: Master of Social Work.
This course is a progressive overview of the field of aging beginning with the history and theories of gerontology and transitioning to the methods providers use with older consumers to maintain wellness and high functional levels in the later years. The latest research on exercise, nutrition and alternative and complementary health care for an aging population is emphasized.
This is an enrichment elective - no prerequisites required. The purpose of this course is for students to develop advanced knowledge and skills necessary for culturally relevant practice. Culturally relevant social work practice is described as a life-long learning process that is rooted in the client's experiences. The first goal of the course is for students to have an advanced understanding of the role that culture plays in the development of self, individuals, families, communities, and society. The second goal is for students to apply acquired knowledge and skills to practice effectively in cross-cultural situations that reflects an understanding of diversity between and within cultures.
This advanced practice course provides students with the opportunity to learn the theory and practice of Narrative Therapy. The UNE School of Social Work Mission and Values state; “the School embraces a comprehensive definition of health as a state of complete physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being… teaching empowering theories for practice and developing collaborative relationships based on mutuality and respect”. Narrative Therapy is one such empowering theory. Students will have the opportunity to explore the historical development of this contemporary theory and to observe and practice Narrative Therapy through interactive role-plays and videotaped sessions with classmates and the instructor.
Motivational interviewing is a way of collaborating with clients emphatically and in a person-centered way that helps clients to find their own motivations for change. In this course students will learn the fundamentals of Motivational Interviewing and will have the opportunity to practice intensively within the context of the social work profession. Students will learn core principles of motivational interviewing including expressing empathy and avoiding arguing, developing discrepancy, rolling with resistance and supporting self-efficacy. We will explore enhancing strategies for promoting individual change in primary healthcare settings and the use of motivational interviewing in achieving better health outcomes.
An interdisciplinary course on death and dying, we will explore the death system, funerals, economic considerations of death, care of the dying and the bereaved of all ages, psychological dynamics dealing with the death, and ultimate questions in relationship to death and bereavement. The course will examine the basic principles of palliative care, bereavement and grief in all age groups, suicide and grief, issues around refugee and immigrant experience with death, various philosophical and religious understandings of death, meaning of life, ethical issues related to the care of the dying and the bereaved. We will explore the nature of grief and loss, the personal characteristics of effective practitioners, communication skills used in practice, the goals and techniques of practice with people who are grieving, approaches to helping those who are dying, and specific interventions that are helpful to bereaved clients in cases of prolonged grief, mourning a child or those whose deaths were stigmatized or unanticipated. Students will explore their own personal, cultural, and spiritual experiences, beliefs and values around death and dying.
This course is designed to introduce students to the various components of law and how the exchanges between legal professionals and a social worker coincide when an individual, family, or group is faced with legal issues. It provides an introductory examination of historical frameworks of both law/social work and how the two systems interact with one another within all of the legal and social work domains. This course showcases the systems perspective as well as practice techniques in communicating and collaborating across professional fields. The goal of this course is to understand the context of law, social work, and their continuing relevance to understanding and meeting a client’s legal needs.
This elective course is designed to provide students with an overview of micro, mezzo, and macro social work practice in rural environments. Students will be introduced to the unique characteristics of rural environments with attention to various populations, geographic factors, local resources, and issues specific to diversity, health, and social exclusion, environmental justice, and community development. Students will learn empowering practice skills needed to provide services in the rural environment and the critical importance of establishing collaborative partnerships with individuals and private, governmental, and not-for-profit organizations.
This course presents content about the theory and practice of community organizing. Community organizing is a means of bringing people together to address problematic social conditions such as health inequities. As a purposeful collective effort, organizing requires sound analytical, political, and interactional skills. Community organizing is rooted in the reform tradition of professional social work and in such values as self-determination, self-sufficiency, empowerment, and social justice. Therefore this course is particularly relevant to direct practice with and advocacy for marginalized groups. This methods course is aimed at students who seek to expand and refine their skills in organization-building and collective action.
Students also have the option to take electives from our other online graduate programs. A full list of these interprofessional courses can be found here:
Regardless of specialization, all graduates of the UNE School of Social Work will demonstrate knowledge, skills, and leadership in the following:
- Practice social inclusion to enable people, populations, and communities to fully participate in society, enhance human bonds in the context of cultural diversity and ensure improved quality of life and equitable resource distribution.
- Engage in culturally-informed relationship building respectful of the complexity and diversity of contexts and circumstances.
- Utilize theories of human behavior, social systems, and social inclusion when offering interventions with people and their environments.
- Promote ethical reflection, critical consciousness and shared decision-making based on social work values and with consideration of the broader contexts of the world in which we live.
- Balance the roles of helpers, activists, and advocates through collaboration with communities to build healthy and sustainable resources.
- Engage as critical consumers and producers of research and evaluation applied to clinical and community practices.
- Practice person-centered and collaborative community partnerships across diverse settings.
Defining academic success
Measurement of student learning outcomes will be accomplished through a combination of exams, written papers, and authentic real-world projects.