M.S.S. Advanced Specializations
The Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research utilizes an intersectional lens, nurturing a holistic perspective that allows students to bridge micro and macro practice through deep analyses of power, positionality, and structural oppression.
Clinical Social Work Practice
Our advanced specialization in Clinical Social Work Practice focuses on practice with individuals, families, and groups. Grounded in the history of the social work profession, this advanced specialization emphasizes practice within the profession’s code of ethics, and with special regard for social, economic, racial and environmental justice.
Across the courses that comprise the clinical social work advanced specialization, students learn how scientific inquiry and evidence is used to inform practice, and how practice experiences can be used to raise new questions. The two core practice classes in this advanced specialization are set within a biopsychosocialspiritual framework, the person-in-environment model, and a strengths perspective.
Students build on the generalist introduction to practice and deepen their capacity to employ the cognitive and affective processes of critical thinking, creativity, and self-reflection. Students utilize a risk and protective factor framework and an understanding of a developmentally informed approach to social work practice. Emphasis is placed on the knowledge, values, and skills required for effective practice.
Students are expected to extend their understanding of the helping process gained in the generalist curriculum and show a higher level of competency attainment in all phases of the helping process including engagement, assessment, intervention planning, ending process, and practice evaluation.
Throughout the clinical social work advanced specialization, courses emphasize diversity and difference in practice. Students who satisfactorily complete the clinical social work advanced specialization can compare and contrast, from a critical theory perspective, multiple theoretical frameworks, including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, social-constructionist and integrative frameworks.
Our definition of clinical social work is expansive, based on scientific inquiry and best practices, and builds upon the generalist practice competencies mastered in the generalist year of the program. Grounded in a strong understanding of social work values and ethics, the clinical social work advanced specialization builds on the knowledge, values, skills and cognitive and affective processes associated with social work practice at the generalist level, to develop advanced knowledge and skills such as:
- Providing psychotherapy that consists of collaborative assessment, diagnosis, and treatment-related work.
- Supportive counseling that emphasizes the clinician’s work to bolster a client’s functioning through a difficult experience or period, or in support of other forms of treatment (e.g. medical intervention).
- Clinically-informed case management where clinicians work to collaboratively assess a client’s needs, connect the client with resources and services, and help clients address conflicts and gaps in care, community connection, and support.
The advanced specialization in clinical social work includes five required courses and three advanced electives. The required courses include two advanced practice courses (Clinical Social Work I and Clinical Social Work II), a specialization course in assessment (Assessment and Psychopathology), and two semesters of Field Education taken concurrently with Clinical Social Work I and Clinical Social Work II.
In addition, students are required to take three elective courses but may choose these courses autonomously. Elective courses are structured to bridge micro- and macro- levels of practice. While a given course, such as Trauma-Informed Social Work with Children and Adolescents, may center a particular concentration (e.g., Clinical Social Work), every effort is made to move across systems levels by addressing issues relating to policy, and both organizational and community context.
Macro Practice: Communities, Organizations, Policy, & Advocacy
Our advanced specialization, Macro Practice: Communities, Organizations, Policy, & Advocacy, prepares students for professional social work that integrates multiple levels of practice: individual, family, community, and organizational, by focusing on understanding and aligning with the priorities of these communities and helping shape responsive, socially just programs and policies.
Equipped for macro social work careers, students emerge well-poised for positions of leadership, with keen understandings of organizational and community dynamics. In addition, graduates are knowledgeable about how to evaluate, grow, and sustain programs, organizations, and strategic alliances.
Graduates actively draw on multiple theories and frameworks within community and organizational engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation, including organizational and systems theories, theories of change, theories of community development and organizational behavior, theories of policy advocacy, legal processes, reasoning, and analysis. Students are encouraged to sit for the social work license and to bring their macro perspective to clinical and hybrid social work practice opportunities.
Conducted in a highly interactive and dialogical approach, our classes train students to demonstrate critical thinking and effective leadership, and equip students with the knowledge and skills needed for collaborative efforts within community and organizational development, engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation.
Students are trained in: policy advocacy; community organizing; distributive leadership; process facilitation; participatory problem/priority identification; decision making; conducting effective meetings; team building; communication; supervision; conflict resolution; management of organizational processes and services, individuals, and task groups; program planning and implementation; budgeting; fundraising.
This advanced specialization stresses the critical analysis of current trends in relation to policy, advocacy, and activism. Along with innovative macro practice-focused field placements, our courses prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and values required to understand the social, political, and economic contexts of social work.
The three-semester macro course sequence highlights the sociocultural context of social work practice and the ways institutional practices and oppression impact groups differently, requiring specific priorities related to consciousness raising, advocacy, and transformative practice. In line with the radical traditions of our profession that seek to discover and disrupt the ways that oppression creates barriers to well-being, our concentration emphasizes a systems and community-based orientation to practice, focusing on anti-oppressive engagement, community-led and directed assessment, analysis, and program development and evaluation, community education, and progressive frameworks for policy analysis and activism.
The advanced specialization in Communities, Organizations, Policy & Advocacy includes five required courses and three advanced electives. The required courses include two advanced practice courses (Community Practice, Policy & Advocacy I and II), a specialization course in assessment (Community Assessment) and two semesters of Field Education taken concurrently with Community Practice, Policy & Advocacy I and Community Practice, Policy & Advocacy II.
In addition, students are required to take three elective courses but may choose these courses autonomously. Elective courses are structured to bridge micro- and macro- levels of practice. While a given course, such as Trauma-Informed Social Work with Children and Adolescents, may center a particular advanced specialization (e.g., Clinical Social Work), every effort is made to move across systems levels by addressing issues relating to policy, and both organizational and community context.