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Master of Social Work Online: Curriculum

Curriculum Details

Learn to deliver quality practice to individuals, groups, organizations, and communities in the University of Kentucky’s online CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work. The MSW offers two options:

  • The Regular Standing program is 60 credit hours.
  • The Advanced Standing program requires that prospective students have earned their BSW within the past seven years and have a 3.5 GPA in social work classes. This program is 30 credit hours.

With each program option, you’ll complete either a 9-credit certificate in Clinical Social Work Practice or Substance Use Disorder or an Individualized Plan of Study (IPS). The courses within the certificate or IPS replace elective course options and do not increase the credits required to complete your MSW curriculum.

No matter which MSW option, you’ll graduate from UK’s program ready for advanced practice roles across the social work profession.

Note that courses offered during the fall and spring semesters are 16 weeks, while the summer session courses are eight weeks.

An essential component of the curriculum of UK’s MSW is the Field Education Program, which prepares students to engage with different communities as they develop proficiency in the social work core competencies and gain professional practice.

Students work closely with program coordinators to identify and secure internship opportunities that provide supportive and positive learning environments. As a result, students will procure valuable, real-world experience to bolster their career options as they enter the field upon graduation.

The online MSW requires 900 hours of clinical social work practicums in the regular standing program and 600 hours in the advanced standing program.

Regular Standing

This course introduces students to generalist practice theory and skills in professional practice with individuals and families. Essential critical thinking skills are examined as is the planned change process: engagement, interviewing, assessment, planning/intervention, implementation, evaluation, and termination.

This course helps students develop and apply the theoretical and philosophical formulations that underlie direct practice with groups.

Theory informs individual’s cultural influences and transactional relationships within families, groups, organizations, and communities. This course implements evidence-based theories to understand and ultimately help change behavior.

This course provides an exploration of the historical and current context of social problems utilizing a justice informed framework and allows students to understand the complexities of social problems as and how social work defines and addresses these issues.

This course utilizes philosophical formulations that underlie ethics and relevant concepts to develop ethical reasoning and decision-making, addressing dilemmas faced in practice and cultivating professionalism to build and sustain relationships.

This course provides a foundation to understand the critical analyses of social policies and policy making processes and the impact of such on clients and human service delivery systems within a social justice framework.

Students start supervised fieldwork in a generalist setting to practice what you’ve learned in working with individuals, families, small groups, organizations, and communities.

This course provides systematic approaches to scientific thinking necessary for building knowledge and evaluating one’s own practice as well as the ethical use of scientific inquiry.

Focus on a strengths-based approach to empower marginalized populations, build human capacity, advocate for just policy, and create sustainable justice.

Regular and Advanced Standing

This course will build knowledge of the major mental disorders typically encountered by social workers along with diagnostic classifications, criteria, etiologies, and natural histories of disorders and treatments.

This course prepares students to conduct culturally sensitive clinical assessments and treatment plans of adults, children and families including diagnostic assessments, substance use evaluations, lethality assessments and other evidence-informed approaches.

Students will examine and engage various models/frameworks for conceptualizing, implementing, and analyzing contemporary social welfare policy.

This course delves further into theory and practice appropriate for work with organizations and community systems and continues to explore community practice models that engage effective social work practitioners within organizations and communities.

Students will complete a 300 hour practicum in a public or private agency that provides services to a wide range of individuals and practice theory, knowledge, and skills in clinical decision-making, assessment, and treatment planning under supervision.

In the final practicum, students prepare to practice as social workers at the advanced level in public and private settings by focusing on the application of theory, knowledge and skills developed in the advanced curriculum year with practice experience in community-based agencies.

This course provides a foundation for students to become sophisticated consumers of research by applying quantitative research methods in executing single-subject designs and participating in clinical intervention studies to test the effectiveness of interventions.

Clinical Social Work Practice Certificate

This course provides the Master’s level social work student an opportunity for advanced study of differential diagnostic assessment using the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The course also provides an opportunity for more detailed study of the more common mental disorders seen in social work practice. In conjunction with the Decision Making course it provides an opportunity for advanced study of clinical decision making as it pertains to current mental health assessment.

This course builds on previous content related to clinical decision-making, psychopathology and clinical assessment, and is designed to 1) apply a range of intervention theories to children, adults, families and groups, 2) facilitate the student’s capacity to conduct a comparative analysis of the approaches across common, conceptual, clinical, cultural and ethical domains, and to provide the forum for a critique of each approach using the latest empirical evidence on efficacy and effectiveness.

This course offers an intensive study of three evidence based practices: one for adult, one for children and one group intervention. It is designed to increase the social worker’s familiarity with evidence based practices for social work treatment of mental health disorders.

Substance Use Disorder Certificate

This course is designed to challenge and develop the student’s knowledge of and ways of thinking about substance use and misuse. It provides clinical and scientific knowledge about the nature of substance misuse and the effect of substance misuse on individuals, families, health, and development. It also introduces current evidence-based treatment and prevention approaches.

This online course examines social work practice theories, intervention approaches and skills as they apply to practice with childhood and adult survivors of physical, sexual and other forms of abuse and trauma. Particular attention will be made to the use of engagement, assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation and follow up on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice. An emphasis will also be placed on diversity and use of social work ethics and values when working with survivors of abuse and trauma.

Students will complete a 300 hour practicum in a public or private agency that provides services to a wide range of individuals and practice theory, knowledge, and skills in clinical decision-making, assessment, and treatment planning under supervision.

In the final practicum, students prepare to practice as social workers at the advanced level in public and private settings by focusing on the application of theory, knowledge and skills developed in the advanced curriculum year with practice experience in community-based agencies.

*Students complete either SW 740 or SW 741. Students are required to complete either course with a SUD-related agency.

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