Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Kristin Bolton
The School of Social Work offers an MSW degree program preparing graduates for advanced clinical practice or advanced macro practice in settings such as mental health, child welfare, family services, and medical social work. The degree program is offered as a full-time, two-year program, an extended three-year program, or as an advanced standing program (ASP), summer and one full academic year (fall & spring). Social work practice is the professional and ethical application of social work theory and interventions that, in collaboration with the client, promotes individual emotional wellness, mental health, and family functioning, as well as enhancing the social environment. The program includes coursework in advanced social work practice based on professional knowledge and the related aspects of program development and management associated with the delivery of social work services.
The full-time UNCW MSW program curriculum is constructed with a foundation first year and an advanced practice-focused second year. The foundation content includes human behavior and the social environment, research methods, social policy, professional values and ethics, clinical practice, and diversity issues in practice. The clinical advanced year content includes coursework in advanced clinical research, clinical practice, the organizational and financial context of practice, and psychopathology. The macro advanced year focuses on leadership, management and organizational development. Extensive field placement in practice settings with close supervision by faculty and field supervisors is a key component of the degree program. The Extended three-year program spreads this structure out over three years, including summers, to accommodate those students who are unable to attend full-time coursework, such as nontraditional students, military-affiliated students, etc.
The advanced standing program curriculum is a shortened MSW degree program for students who have a BSW degree from a CSWE accredited school of social work. The program is comprised of 37 credit hours. In the summer, the students will take 7 credit hours. This includes 4 credit hours of clinical practice courses and 3 credit hours of preparation for practice field. In the fall and spring semesters, students will enroll in courses that cover advanced research, specialty practice, the organizational and financial context of practice, and psychopathology. In addition, students will engage in an extensive field placement in a practice setting under the supervision of instructors and field supervisors.
Social work education is accredited in the U.S. by the Council on Social Work Education. Accreditation of programs is linked to eligibility for licensure and certification in N.C. and all other states. The N.C. Social Work Certification and Licensure Board was established by the North Carolina Legislature to provide a standard of practice for the social work profession. Graduates of the UNCW MSW Program will qualify for State Certification at three levels: Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Master Social Worker, and Certified Social Work Manager. In all of these cases, graduates must pass a state-sponsored exam. The LCSW requires, in addition, evidence of two years of post-masters clinical practice with LCSW supervision. The MSW program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
The guiding themes of curriculum and program development include up-to-date social work practice knowledge and skill, the strengths focus, knowledge-based practice, and leadership. The School of Social Work has extensive regional involvement in social development programs and projects and it is anticipated that opportunities for graduate student participation in such activities will be available.