Master of Social Work Course Descriptions

*Please review the UNE Academic Catalog for the full and most up-to-date UNE online MSW course descriptions and program information.

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.
  • Traditional students MUST complete their generalist year field experience (SSW 520 and 522) before taking specialization courses (required or electives).
  • If a student is seeking licensure after graduation, they should research the licensing requirements for the state in which they intend to practice.
  • Our Vision Blog has a plethora of resources including admissions tips, student and faculty spotlights, highlights of social work courses, and other useful information.


NEW! UNE Online offers an embedded Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care that can be earned after acceptance to the MSW program and in the course of your MSW studies. The Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care requires completion of two courses and a project. Please note that while you are welcome to emphasize completion of this certificate on your resume, it will not appear on your official transcript or diploma. For more information, please contact an Enrollment Counselor at (877) 863-6791 or socialworkonline@une.edu.

View degree plans for our two tracks:

Traditional Track (64 Credits) Advanced Standing Track (35 Credits)

Social Work Course Descriptions

Traditional Track | Advanced Standing Track | Social Work Electives | Interprofessional Electives

Traditional Track (64 credits)

Traditional Track: Generalist Year Courses (32 credits)

Generalist year courses emphasize an integrated social work perspective involving the social context and its impact on social policy, programs, and the social work profession.

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.

This course 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.

Action Research for Social Work Practice 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).

The Social Policy and Advocacy 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.

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.

Social Work Practice with Groups 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.

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.

 

Traditional Track: Specialist Year Courses (32 credits)

Specialization year courses prepare students with knowledge and skills for advanced practice with individuals, families, and groups across multiple settings. In addition to the ten Generalist Year courses above and the seven Specialist Year courses below, students will also choose three electives.

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.

Leadership, Administration & Supervision in Social Work (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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Advanced Standing Track (35 credits)

In addition to the required courses below, Advanced Standing students will also choose three electives.

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.

Leadership, Administration & Supervision in Social Work (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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Social Work Electives

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.

Social Work Practice with Groups 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 explores the multiple relationships between human sexuality and social work practice. The focus is on critical examination of the dominant discourse about sex, gender and sexual orientation and its relation to social work practice. Students develop skills to sensitively and effectively address both client concerns about sexuality and social policies as they relate to sex, gender and sexual orientation.

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.

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 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.

This course will prepare students to become practitioners and leaders versed in Adverse Childhood Experiences, resiliency, historical and intergenerational trauma, and trauma-informed theory. Students will explore these trauma-informed principles and apply them on micro and macro levels through a focus on implementation science for trauma-informed organizational and individual practice change. This course provides a strong foundation that complements clinical electives such as Advanced Trauma Practices.

This course examines how social, political, and contextual factors influence mental health, psychosocial, and behavioral outcomes and treatment-seeking behaviors among military personnel, veterans, and their families. Students will examine the military from a variety of perspectives, including its background and organization, social systems, core values, artifacts, language and socially acceptable practices as these practices impact soldiers. This course addresses the needs of active duty, deployed service members, Veterans, and their families at different developmental phases of the military life course. A range of physical, mental, and psychosocial issues including deployment stressors and post-deployment mental health (i.e., physical challenges, posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, anxiety and depressive symptoms, substance use/abuse, suicidal ideation, and interpersonal conflicts) will be addressed in this course.

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 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.

 

Interprofessional Electives

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:

Shared Interprofessional Course List

Learning Outcomes

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.

 

 

Questions?

If you have any questions about application requirements, the coursework or program requirements, please speak to one of our enrollment counselors at the email or phone number below.