Master of Social Work

Curriculum


Program Information

The MSW program prepares practitioners to address social services needs in the Greater Los Angeles and Southern California regions and enhance social services for people in urban environments. The program uses a strengths-based, community-oriented, urban family practice model that promotes social justice, with sensitivity to the multicultural population.

The program prepares graduates to work with a variety of client systems and is grounded in a framework to promote the well-being of urban families and communities. The curriculum incorporates the profession's history, purposes and philosophy. It emphasizes critical and creative thinking that enables graduates to initiate, adapt and evaluate interventions for urban families while remaining alert to relevant national and global issues. The program trains professionals to practice ethically and competently, and to integrate knowledge, process and values into professional social work practice.

The MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

For information about the on-campus MSW program, see the Master of Social Work Program.

Classes

Classes are taught in a cohort model, with students moving through the program as a unit. The cohorts start and finish together. Once a cohort starts, no additional students are accepted into the cohort.

Advantages:

  • Students have guaranteed enrollment in their classes.
  • The class schedule is fixed and pre-determined.
  • Students have an opportunity to work as a team.

In addition to traditional classes, this program includes a field practicum, which is the keystone of graduate social work education.

Course Descriptions

course name units description
SWRK 501 Human Behavior and Social Environment

3

Prerequisite: Graduate admission; Acceptance to the MSW Program. This is the first of 2 human behavior and social environment courses that provide understanding of human behavior and social environmental relationships from an ecological perspective. This course focuses on child development from pre-birth to maturity. Child development is a complex interplay between the emerging child and his/her primary caregiver; the caregiver’s intimate relationships; the extended family; and the family’s relationships to larger social systems. This class examines the transactions between family members and their transactions in 3 primary arenas–the intimate relationships within the family, daycare/school and the neighborhood. Students will understand the impact of risks and protective factors in human development as identified in groundbreaking longitudinal studies. Additionally, the family’s systems of interdependence with political, social, cultural, economic and natural environments are explored.
SWRK 502 Human Behavior and Social Environment II

3

Prerequisites: SWRK 501; Graduate admission; Acceptance to the MSW Program. This is the second of 2 human behavior and social environment courses that provide understanding of human behavior and social environmental relationships from an ecological perspective. It will focus on the developmental dynamics of larger social systems, specifically groups, organizations and communities and their influence on individuals and families. The systems’ interdependence with political, social, cultural, economic and natural environments is explored. Content emphasizes multiculturalism, diversity and social justice in relation to social systems. This course will examine adult development in the context of social relationships and societal systems (both as shaped by and as shapers of) across early, middle and late adulthood. The class will focus on individuals and families living in an urban setting from a strengths-based perspective. Special attention will be given to diverse and vulnerable individuals and families living in urban settings–LGBTQIA, emancipating foster youths, community-released prisoners, immigrant families and returning veterans.
SWRK 503 Psychosocial Assessment and Diagnostic Formulation

3

Prerequisite: Acceptance to the MSW Program. Social workers are often required to practice within multidisciplinary teams of professionals. The role of the social worker within the larger mental health arena is the conceptualization of an individual or family system within a social/cultural/political/economic context and from a strengths-based perspective. This course will teach students to conduct a comprehensive psychosocial assessment of individuals and families living in an urban setting. Students will critique assessment and diagnostic tools, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students completing the course will demonstrate competency in writing and orally presenting a psychosocial assessment, including a multiaxial diagnostic formulation.
SWRK 510 Generalist Social Work Theory and Practice

3

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; Acceptance to the MSW Program. This is an introductory course in generalist social work knowledge, values and skills. Attention is given to the historic development of social work practice; the nature and application of social work values and ethical principles; the theoretical framework of helping methods; and the helping process of engagement, assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation. Emphasis is on a generalist approach to helping within the person-in-environment and eco-systems perspectives of services with individuals, couples, families and small groups.
SWRK 520 Social Work Practice in Multicultural Contexts

3

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; Acceptance to the MSW Program.  This course is designed to assist graduate social work students in understanding and interacting in a culturally competent manner with the multitude of groups that are identified by race, culture, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, and regional and national origins that compose the diverse cultural mosaic of the U.S. The course also will cover issues relating to international social work practice and the increasingly interconnected global economy.
SWRK 521 Generalist Social Work Theory and Practice II

3

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; Acceptance to the MSW Program.  This course is designed to help students understand organizations, institutions and communities, and the knowledge bases of social work generalist practice for interventions at this level. It provides an opportunity to explore selected macro models of practice and learn about human service organizations that often serve as an immediate context for community practice.
SWRK 522/
SWRK 522P
Foundations of Field Education I & Placement

3

Prerequisites: Acceptance to the MSW program.  Field education in the professional foundation year is designed to permit the student to apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in courses in the liberal arts, social work practice, social welfare policy and services, human behavior in the social environment, and social research in an educationally supervised experience. Students are required to complete approximately 200-250 hours of supervised practice during the course in an assigned social service agency. Agency assignments are made by the field coordinator after consultation with the student. (Letter grade only)
SWRK 523/
SWRK 523P
Foundations of Field Education II & Placement

3

Prerequisite: SWRK 522 & SWRK 522P. Field education in the professional foundation year is designed to permit the student to apply the knowledge, skills and values learned in courses in the liberal arts, social work practice, social welfare policy and services, human behavior in the social environment, and social research in an educationally supervised experience. Students are required to complete approximately 250-300 hours of supervised practice during the course in an assigned social service agency. Agency assignments are made by the field coordinator after consultation with the student. (Letter grade only)
SWRK 525 Social Welfare Policy and Services

3

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; Acceptance to the MSW Program.  This course examines economic, historical, political, intellectual, socio-cultural, leadership, values, ideologies and other such factors shaping social welfare, economic policy, programs and services. It addresses various frameworks for studying social welfare policy, programs and services, and examines the roles of policy-makers, the processes of social change and the roles of social workers as facilitators of positive social change. Emphasis is placed on effects of social and economic policy decisions on impoverished and oppressed people.
SWRK 535 Social Work Research Methods I

3

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; Acceptance to the MSW Program.  This foundation course is designed to provide an introduction to research methods and to produce an appreciation of the research process. The course provides an overview of social science research methods useful for social work practice. The class provides the foundation of knowledge and skills that enable students to be intelligent consumers of science-based information, to conduct social research and to critically evaluate social work practice. Students will be prepared to participate in a range of social work research activities, including: (a) conceptualization of research problems; (b) review of the literature; (c) research designs; (e) measurement; (f) data collection; and (g) evaluation of data. The student will gain an understanding of how research can facilitate and inform practice decisions and on-going evaluation of one’s practice.
SWRK 601 Advanced Social Work Practice with Urban Families I

3

Prerequisite: Second Year standing.  This course advances students’ theoretical knowledge and practice skills in working with urban families and small groups. The course utilizes a family-systems perspective and integrates such concepts as family stress and resilience, prevention and recovery in understanding and treating families through the phases of treatment from engagement and assessment to termination and evaluation. Emphasis is placed on the development and enhancement of knowledge, skill, theories and values specific to family practice. Various family therapy models will be introduced, with an emphasis on those substantiated by evidence-based research. Theories of the family, family development and diverse family structures are examined. Several specific issues commonly faced by families in urban environments also are examined, including specific models in prevention and recovery.
SWRK 602 Advanced Social Work Practice with Urban Families II

3

Prerequisite: Second Year standing.  This course advances student’s knowledge and practice skills in working with individuals and couples. Utilizing a strengths-based, person-in-environment perspective, students are taught engagement, assessment, intervention, evaluation and termination skills. Evidence-based practice models will be introduced, teaching students to evaluate and critique their effectiveness with diverse clients. The major focus is on developing skill and competence with individuals within the context of their urban family and system.
SWRK 621 Advanced Social Work Practice in Urban Communities

3

Prerequisite: SWRK 521. Recommended preparatory: First Year (Generalist) Courses.  This course is designed around social justice and critical multicultural theoretical frameworks to help students understand and apply mezzo-macro social work interventions in urban settings with families/groups, communities, organizations and institutions. Building upon the material in SWRK 521, the course will provide an opportunity to explore and apply selected advanced social work mezzo-macro practice skills such as planning, organizing, program development and implementation, organizational assessment, and evaluation. In addition, students will learn about leadership integration and human service organizations that often serve as an immediate context for community practice.
SWRK 622/
SWRK 622P
Advanced Field Practicum with Urban Families I & Placement

3

Prerequisite: Second Year standing, SWRK 523 & SWRK 523P.  Advanced Field Practicum I is the first semester of the advanced concentration field practicum courses. In the advanced field practicum, students continue to build upon the knowledge and skills gained during the Foundation program. The course provides field education about the advanced concentration curriculum, which focuses on social work with urban families. The first practicum is designed to provide experience in direct work with families or subsets of families, offering an opportunity to put classroom learning into practice. Students are required to complete approximately 250-300 hours of supervised practice in their assigned social service agency and attend the field practicum course designed to integrate classroom learning and field experience. (Letter grade only)

SWRK 623/
SWRK 623P
Advanced Field Practicum with Urban Families II & Placement

3

Prerequisite: Second Year standing, SWRK 622 & SWRK 622P.  Advanced Practice with Urban Families Field Practicum II is the second semester of the advanced concentration field practicum courses. The course provides field education about the advanced concentration curriculum, which focuses on social work with urban families. This second practicum is designed to provide experience in larger system work with and on behalf of families, coordinating with the content classroom learning. During the second semester of field practicum, students continue at their first semester assigned placement site while continuing to enhance their social work practice skills. Students are required to complete approximately 300-360 hours of supervised practice in their assigned social service agency. (Letter grade only)
SWRK 630 Family Crisis, Trauma and Grief

3

Prerequisite: Second year standing.  This course examines the complex issues of family crisis, trauma and grief for social workers working with urban families and individuals who have experienced these conditions. Several theoretical approaches are examined, with an emphasis on crisis intervention in traumatic and stressful situations, as well as issues of death and dying and the grief and loss associated with them. In the modern urban environments, many people experience traumatic events in their daily lives. The purpose of the course is to acquaint social work students with the nature and impact as well as some of the concepts, theories and principles for dealing with client systems of all sizes when they face crisis, trauma and grief. The significance of crisis, trauma and grief for fields of such practice as mental health, hospital social work, child welfare, gerontology and other social services, and in community violence and terrorism are explored.
SWRK 635 Social Work Research Methods II

3

Prerequisites: Second year standing; SWRK 535.  This course provides a more in-depth view of social science research methods useful for social work practice with urban families. It provides the knowledge and skills that enable students to be intelligent consumers of information, to conduct social research and to critically evaluate social work practice. Students also will learn how to use research to scientifically evaluate their own practice. This advanced-year course builds on knowledge of research concepts and methods developed during foundation year research courses, particularly SWRK 535, as well as on the expansion of knowledge students acquire about human behavior, social work practice and social welfare policies and programs. It extends students’ understanding of research methods and their ability to evaluate social work practice using a variety of research designs. Students will learn the skills of problem formulation, operationalization and examination, and utilization of the peer-reviewed literature by focusing on a research topic they are passionate about. This work will serve as the foundation on which students’ Capstone projects will be based.
SWRK 645 Urban Social Policy and Advocacy

3

Prerequisite: Second Year standing.  This course is designed to help students gain knowledge and skills of policy practice (including both analysis and advocacy) to effectively participate in the development and advancement of policies that support and effect change at multiple levels of diverse client systems in urban environments. This course helps build skills in both formal and informal policy analysis, identifying underlying values and communicating and organizing to effect policy formation and change.
SWRK 650A-Z Selected Topics in Social Work

3

Prerequisite: Second Year standing.  In-depth study of a selected theme or issue in social work. Topics offered may change from semester to semester. Critical writing and reading is required. (A) Child Welfare Services; (B) Addictions; (C) Mental Health Wellness and Recovery; (D) Practice in Child Welfare Settings; (F) Suicide Prevention; (G) Macro Practice; (I) Aging and Families; (J) Immigration; (K) Dreams; (L) LGBT; (M) Group Therapy; (N) Couples Therapy; (O) Health-Care Settings; (P) Family Therapy; (Q) Pre-Licensure Course; (R) Social Work in Schools; (S) Pre-Licensure Course; (U) International Social Work: Issues and Challenges; (V) Integrative Healthcare.
SWRK 698 Capstone Project

3

Prerequisites: Second Year standing.  Offered as the culminating experience of the Graduate Program, students complete an individual or group research project reflecting the students’ interests and needs in working with urban families. Outcomes of this seminar will require students to collect, analyze and report direct observations; write a research paper that includes a title page, abstract, background, methods and discussion sections conforming to APA Publication Manual guidelines; and present a poster in an open community-invited forum. This project meets the culminating experience requirements.