Academic Programs Catalog

College of Social Science

School of Social Work

Steven G. Anderson, Director 


Social work is a profession that focuses on helping vulnerable and oppressed people improve their lives. Social work uses a wide range of approaches toward this end, with the intent of improving both personal life circumstances as well as the broader institutions and social forces that affect these populations. Our field stresses the interaction between the person and the person’s environment as we develop solutions. Social work is guided by a code of ethics that encompasses values fundamental to our practice, such as respect for diversity, self-determination, empowerment, and focus on the most vulnerable members of society.

Our programs prepare students for social work practice in a wide range of settings, including at the individual, community, state, national, and international levels. Social workers engage populations experiencing diverse needs, such as in child welfare, aging, schools, health care, criminal justice, or poor communities. Experiential learning is critical to social work education; all students complete structured field placements in community-based and other service agencies that introduce students to real social work practice issues. These field placements comprise a significant portion of study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

 

Undergraduate Program

The Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The primary educational goal of the program is to prepare students for beginning generalist social work practice. Students apply for admission to the social work major and primarily complete course work in their junior and senior years. Students also complete a field practicum in their senior year. For a detailed program description visit www.socialwork.msu.edu.

For a detailed program description visit www.socialwork.msu.edu.

 


Social Work

Admission as a Junior

The number of students who can be admitted as juniors to the bachelor's degree program in social work is limited. Applications are accepted and reviewed only during the spring semester of each year.

All persons who are interested in applying for admission as juniors to the bachelor's degree program in social work must request a special application form and detailed information regarding admission requirements and procedures from the School of Social Work Web site at http://www.socialwork.msu.edu/Programs/BASW.

Students who are enrolled in colleges and universities other than Michigan State University should contact Michigan State University's Office of Admissions and the School of Social Work regarding admission to the bachelor's degree program in social work as transfer students.

To be considered for admission as a junior to the bachelor's degree program in social work, a student must have:

  1. Submitted a completed application form by the deadline specified by the school.
  2. Completed Social Work 200, which is a prerequisite for the 300–400 level courses required for the bachelor's degree.
  3. Completed the courses in related areas referenced in items 3. a. (1), (2), (3), and (4) under the heading Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work.

Admission to the bachelor's degree program in social work is competitive, and there is no guarantee that students with a major preference in social work will be admitted to the bachelor's degree program as juniors.  In making admissions decisions, the faculty considers the relative qualifications of applicants, their suitability for the program, and the enrollment capacity of the program.

A student who has been admitted to the bachelor’s degree program in social work for a given semester, but then decides not to enroll for that semester, would need to reapply for admission to the program. There is no guarantee that the student would be admitted to the program again.

Honors Study

Students interested in honors study in social work should consult with academic advisors in the school.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Social Work major is met by completing Social Work 440. That course is referenced in item 3. below.
  2. The requirements of the College of Social Science for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
  3. The following required major courses:
                   
    a. The following courses in related areas (20 or 21 credits):
    (1) All of the following courses (11 credits):
    PLS 100 Introduction to American Politics 3
    PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
    SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology 4
    (2) One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):
    MMG 141 Introductory Human Genetics 3
    PSL 250 Introductory Physiology 4
    PSY 209 Brain and Behavior 3
    (3) One of the following courses (3 credits):
    EC 201 Introduction to Microeconomics 3
    EC 202 Introduction to Macroeconomics 3
    (4) One of the following courses (3 credits):
    PSY 200 Cognitive Psychology 3
    PSY 235 Social Psychology 3
    PSY 236 Personality 3
    PSY 244 Developmental Psychology: Infancy Through Childhood 3
    PSY 270 Community Psychology 3
    PSY 280 Abnormal Psychology 3
    b. All of the following Social Work courses (38 credits):
    A grade of 2.0 must be earned in each of the following courses:
      Social Work 310, 320, 420, 430, 431, 440, 441, 494A, and 494B.
    A minimum of 2.0 must be earned to progress to a course for which one of these courses is a prerequisite.
    SW 200 Introduction to Social Work 3
    SW 310 Human Behavior and Social Environment 3
    SW 320 Social Work and Social Policy I 3
    SW 340 Foundations of Social Work Practice 3
    SW 420 Social Work and Social Policy II 3
    SW 430 Research Methods in Social Work I 4
    SW 431 Research Methods in Social Work II 3
    SW 440 Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups (W) 3
    SW 441 Social Work Practice with Task Groups, Organizations and Communities 3
    SW 494A Social Work Field Education: Foundation I 5
    SW 494B Social Work Field Education: Foundation II 5
    c. One of the following courses (3 credits):
    ANP 201 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology 3
    HDFS 442 Ethnic Families in America 3
    SOC 215 Race and Ethnicity 3
    SOC 216 Sex and Gender 3


Minor in Human Behavior and Social Services

The Minor in Human Behavior and Social Services, administered by the School of Social Work, provides an interdisciplinary study of the human behavior and social services that prepare students to critically assess the different perspectives on aspects of human behavior which may create the need for assistance and how social service programs respond to those needs. 

The minor is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in the College of Social Science. With the approval of the department and college that administer the student’s degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the minor may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the bachelor’s degree.

Students who plan to complete the requirements of the minor should consult their major undergraduate advisor in the College of Social Science.

Requirements for the Minor in Human Behavior and Social Services

Complete a minimum of 15 credits from the following: 

1. The following course (3 credits):
SW 200 Introduction to Social Work 3
2. One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):
ANP 320 Social and Cultural Theory 3
ANP 370 Culture, Health and Illness 3
ANP 423 Psychological Anthropology 3
PSY 101 Introductory Psychology 4
SOC 241 Social Psychology 3
SOC 475 Health and Society 3
3. One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):
HNF 150 Introduction to Human Nutrition 3
MMG 141 Introductory Human Genetics 3
PSL 250 Introductory Physiology 4
4. One of the following courses (3 credits):
CEP 260 Dynamics of Personal Adjustment 3
CEP 261 Substance Abuse 3
CEP 470 Disability in a Diverse Society 3
PHL 340 Ethics 3
PHL 344 Ethical Issues in Health Care 3
PHL 350 Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy 3
TE 150 Reflections on Learning 3
TE 250 Human Diversity, Power, and Opportunity in Social Institutions 3
5. One of the following capstone courses (3 or 5 credits):
SW 471 Child Welfare 3
SW 494B Social Work Field Education: Foundation II 5
Students interested in SW 494B must be a social work major.


 

Graduate Study

Our fully accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program prepares students for advanced and more specialized social work practice. Students select either Clinical Social Work or Organization and Community Leadership as an advanced concentration. The Clinical Social Work track prepares students to engage in professional practice with individuals, families, and small groups, using many different intervention techniques. The Organization and Community Leadership concentration trains students for work in policy, advocacy, community development, and administrative positions. 

The school emphasizes access to social work education, and we have developed a wide range of options to meet the diverse needs of students. The school offers full MSW programs in Flint, Saginaw, and Oakland County in addition to our East Lansing campus. We also operate a Weekend MSW program in Lansing, and a Statewide Blended program that that utilizes a mix of online courses, videoconferencing, and small group face-to-face education to provide MSW access across Michigan. For all of these options, students can complete their field placements near where they live or work. 

The school offers both regular and advanced standing MSW program options. The regular program requires 57 credits for degree completion. Students admitted after having completed the equivalent of the first year of this program at another university must complete a minimum of 31 credits in the MSW program at Michigan State University. A maximum of 26 credits of graduate level work in another Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program may be applied to the credit requirements under the MSW degree. 

Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the CSWE may apply for admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program. The Advanced Standing program requires a minimum of 38 credits for the MSW degree, and may be completed with full-time study over one year or part-time study over two years. 

Students enrolled in the MSW degree program may complete an optional degree certificate program in areas including school social work, law and social work, advanced clinical practice with families, social work with older adults, substance abuse, social work and health, or trauma-focused social work practice.

Students who are enrolled in the Master of Social Work degree program in the School of Social Work may elect specializations in Infancy and Early Childhood. For additional information, refer to the statement on Interdepartmental Graduate Specializations in Infancy and Early Childhood.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Social Work, which is open to students who have earned an MSW degree, emphasizes the development, analysis, and application of social work knowledge, and is designed to prepare social workers for research and teaching positions in the academy and/or applied research settings. 

 

Social Work - Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work degree program includes extensive required courses and course sequences in social work. Only Plan B (without thesis) is available.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission to the Master of Social Work Degree Program

All students, with the exception of those applying for the Blended Statewide Clinical program and the Weekend Program with a major in organization and community leadership, begin the Master of Social Work degree program in the fall semester to align their enrollment with the sequencing of required courses. Therefore, applicants should seek admission during the previous fall semester.  Applicants interested in the Blended Statewide Clinical program should apply for summer admission because it begins in a summer session. Students wishing to be considered for admission must submit the application materials requested on the School of Social Work Web site at www.socialwork.msu.edu. Although an undergraduate major or concentration in the social sciences or in social work may be helpful, it is not required.

To be considered for admission to the Master of Social Work degree program, a person must have:

  1. A bachelor's degree from a recognized institution.
  2. A grade–point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) during undergraduate study or in 14 or more credits of graduate study.  The grade-point average in the last 60 credits or their equivalents of undergraduate course work is primarily considered.
  3. Prior academic record including at least 19 credits in liberal arts.

Applicants will be evaluated on a combination of factors:

  1. Grade–point average in undergraduate study or in 14 or more credits of graduate study.
  2. Evidence of personal qualities considered important for the practice of social work.
  3. Judgments by the faculty of the candidate’s commitment to social work and suitability for the  profession, based on a reading of the application.
  4. Length and type of work and volunteer experience.
  5. Three letters of reference.

In addition to these requirements, applicants to the Blended Statewide Clinical program must:

  1. Live more than 50 miles from both the East Lansing and Flint campuses.
  2. Have regular access to high-speed internet service.
  3. Have at least two years of full-time experience, or equivalent, in human services during the last  five years, generally after completion of the bachelor’s degree.
  4. Complete an online assessment and orientation program on how to learn effectively in the  online environment.
  5. Participate in a personal interview.

 Requirements for the Master of Social Work Degree Program

The student must complete 57 credits in specified instruction in social work. Detailed plans of study are available in the Master of Social Work Manual which is available at www.socialwork.msu.edu. Required course work for both the Clinical Social Work major and the Organization and Community Leadership major are taken in the following areas:  social work practice methods, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, research methods, and field education.

Admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program

Persons who hold a recent bachelor’s degree in social work from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) may apply for admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program.

Students are admitted only for summer session. Applicants should therefore seek admission during the previous fall semester. Students wishing to be considered for admission must submit all the application materials available on the School of Social Work website (www.socialwork.msu.edu), as well as the application to the university for Graduate Study.

To be considered for admission to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program, a person must have:

  1. A bachelor’s degree in social work from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and was granted within the last six years.
  2. A grade-point average of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) during undergraduate study. The grade-point average in the last 60 credits or their equivalents of undergraduate course work is also considered.

Applicants will be evaluated on a combination of factors:

  1. Judgments by the faculty of the candidate’s commitment to social work and suitability for the profession, based on a reading of the application.
  2. Length and type of work and volunteer experience.
  3. Two letters of reference and a field/practicum employment evaluation from the undergraduate faculty or agency practicum instructor or from the most recent social work agency at which the applicant was employed.
  4. Evidence of personal qualities considered important for the practice of social work.

Persons who are admitted to the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program must have successfully completed an undergraduate course in statistics or an approved equivalent at the time of matriculation.

Requirements for the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program

The student must complete 38 credits in specified instruction in social work. Detailed plans of study are available in the Master of Social Work Manual which is available at www.socialwork.msu.edu. Required course work for both the Clinical Social Work major and the Organization and Community Leadership major are taken in the following areas:  social work practice methods, social welfare policy, research methods, and field education.

Residence

One year of residence consisting of two consecutive semesters and involving at least 7 credits of graduate course work each semester is required. If students attend part–time, the residency requirement must be met in the year that the advanced methods and practicum courses are being completed.

Part–Time Students

Both the Master of Social Work program and the Accelerated Master of Social Work Advanced Standing program are available on a part–time basis.

At the time of admission, students must apply for either part–time or full–time study. Students may not transfer between part–time and full–time study without approval of the school.

Part–time students must progress through a plan of study as specified by the school. All students must meet their residence requirements during the year in which they are enrolled in the advanced practice and field instruction courses.



Social Work - Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work is an interdisciplinary program rooted in the historical, epistemological, and philosophical bases of social work. It is designed to prepare social workers for leadership positions in the profession as educators, researchers, policy makers, and/or administrators. It places emphasis on the development, analysis, and application of social work knowledge related to professional practice, and is designed to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the social work profession and field of social welfare.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

The doctoral program in social work invites applications from experienced social workers who hold a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited graduate program. Applicants must provide evidence of outstanding professional competence, academic excellence and a capacity to develop concepts and articulate issues related to the social work profession, and an interest in advanced social work research, education, and practice. Applicants with outstanding academic records may be admitted to the program provisionally and permitted to make up deficiencies on a collateral basis.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Social Work

The program requires 21 credits in post-master’s social work education, including the completion of a research internship. Students must also take 18 credits of course work outside the School of Social Work including 6 credits of statistics and 12 credits in a social science discipline or focused cognate. In addition, students must complete a comprehensive examination administered by the student’s guidance committee, complete 24 credits of dissertation research, and successfully defend the dissertation.