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Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
300 Airdale Road
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-1697
Phone: 610-520-2600
Fax: 610-520-2655

Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research


The Master of Social Service curriculum includes foundation courses, practice courses, field education, and elective courses.



Through a series of common required courses in addition to two units of field education, studentsare introduced to the knowledge, skills, and values essential to practice with individuals, families,groups, communities, and organizations. These foundation courses provide students with theframework for more specialized practice skills and are divided into five substantive areas.

  • Foundation Practice
  • Social Policy Foundations and Analysis
  • Assessment and Psychopathology Across the Lifespan
  • Community Strategies and Assessment: Advocacy and Action
  • Multiculturalism and Diversity: Advanced Perspectives

Building on this foundation of knowledge, analysis, and critical reflection, students chooseone of two practice concentrations: Clinical Social Work or Community Practice, Policy, and Advocacy.Each concentration consists of a practice course and concurrent field education taken in the two consecutive semesters following the foundation practice courses and accompanying field education units.


Clinical social work is a specialized form of social work practice with individuals, families, and groups. Theconcentration reflects the School’s mission to promote social and economic justice and enhance individual, regional, national, and global well-being, and emphasizes the School’s focus on critical and creative thinking and social work practice within a professional code of ethics that respects the rights of clients, especially as related to self-determination, privacy, and confidentiality. The two practice courses in the Clinical Social Work concentration, set in a biopsychosocial framework that encompasses the eco-systemic and strengths perspectives, are informed by a risk and protective factor framework and by psychodynamic, psychosocial, and developmental theories. Emphasis is placed on the knowledge, skills, and values required to enter the social work profession as a clinical social worker. In addition, there is a strong focus on the enhancement of the processes of engagement, multisystemic differential assessment, intervention planning, implementation, and termination, the sociocultural context of practice, and the differential use of self.



The Community Practice, Policy, and Advocacy concentration prepares students for professional macro-level social work practice that promotes the ability to analyze, develop, and implement public policy to most effectively advocate for those served by professional social work. The concentration emphasizes community organization and development, needs assessment, organizational analysis, frameworks for policy analysis, and program development related to the evolution of social policyin local, national, and global settings. It prepares students with the knowledge, skills, and values required to promote social change that can improve the lives of vulnerable and at-risk individuals,

families, groups, and communities. Finally, this concentration stresses the critical analysis of currenttrends in relation to policy, advocacy, and activism, paying particular attention to the socioculturalcontext of social work practice and to issues that can affect not only policy practice but also how institutional practices impact groups differentially, raising critical advocacy and practice dilemmas.



Electives, based on the belief that direct service practitioners, policy analysts, advocates, andadministrators all need breadth and depth for effective practice and leadership in a rapidlychanging world, have been designed to build on foundation content and support and enhance thetwo concentrations. While all electives reflect the nexus among practice, policy, and research, some like Child Welfare: Policy, Practice, and Research; To Protect the Health of the Public; Mental HealthPolicy: Child, Adolescent, and Family; Social Work Practice with the Aging; Social Determinants ofHealth; Perspectives on Inequality in the United States; Perspectives on Global Social Welfare; and Education Law for Social Workers,  are most explicit in this integration. Other electives focus on particular intervention modalities, populations, and skills, and include Organizational Behavior; Managing theWork of Others; Family Therapy; Clinical Social Work with Children and Adolescents; Group Treatment;Adolescents in Family Therapy; Clinical Social Work with Substance Abuse; Clinical Social Workand Trauma; Attachment-Based Couples Therapy; The Therapeutic Relationship in Gestalt Therapy;Psychopathology; Human Sexuality, and Public Education Issues in School Social Work.