Academic Catalog

Social Work (M.S.W.)

The School offers full-time and planned part-time study programs leading to the Master of Social Work. This program prepares graduates for advanced professional practice in social work. The full-time degree program consists of four semesters of study in which field work is concurrent with class work. Students spend two full days a week in the field and two days in classes for two consecutive years. With approval of the graduate officer, students in the second year may elect to have three full days a week in the field. Required classes in the full-time program may be offered in day, evening, and Saturday sessions. Web-based online courses are also offered.

The planned part-time program permits students to complete degree requirements over a three-year or a four-year period. Part-time study is open only to students who have been formally admitted to the program by the Admissions Director. Details of the several phases of class and field work involved in this program, as well as specific information on admissions requirements, may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Student Services, School of Social Work.

Academic Regulations (M.S.W.)

For complete information regarding the academic rules and regulations of the University, students should consult the Academic Regulations section of this bulletin. The following additions and amendments pertain to the School of Social Work.

Students in the School of Social Work are responsible for informing themselves of all rules, regulations, and requirements, complying with all official policies and procedures, and fulfilling all course and degree requirements in proper sequence with satisfactory scholarship. The student should consult the Academic Services Officer or the M.S.W. Academic Advisor concerning any academic matter. Students should consult the Academic Services Officer or the M.S.W. Academic Advisor when developing a Plan of Work or selecting electives. The primary responsibility for counseling with the Academic Services Officer or Academic Advisor and for seeking information on policies, procedures, degree requirements, and all academic matters rests with the student.

The faculty of the School of Social Work has the responsibility to require a student to withdraw at any time prior to receipt of the degree when, in its judgment, the student fails to do satisfactory work. Such decisions may be based on deficiencies in performance in class or field or in personal fitness for the profession. The faculty has adopted a set of criteria and procedures for academic termination. Every effort is made to assist students whose work suffers as a result of conditions beyond their control such as personal illness, serious illness in the immediate family, or similar emergencies. The School’s Policies and Procedures related to Academic Performance (Termination, Grade Appeals, and Reinstatement) and Student Professional Performance Standards are available in the Office of the Dean and the Office of Admissions and Student Services.

Admission Requirements

Eligibility for admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited undergraduate program and an earned minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 or above. A G.P.A. of 2.75 to 2.9 may be considered based on program capacity and strength of the application. Admissions applications are reviewed when all required supporting materials have been received by the program. New students admitted into the foundation (core) year of the Master of Social Work program begin in the Fall term of each academic year. Applicants admitted into the advanced standing program begin in the summer semester of the academic year. All applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible as admissions will close once program capacity has been reached. Applications to the program may be submitted up to one year prior to the start of the beginning term of the selected program. The MSW‐Pre‐Candidate Master with Advanced Standing Status Program begins the summer term. All application materials must be submitted by the application deadline of March 1. The MSW‐Core/Regular Status Program begins the fall term. Applicants are encouraged to apply and submit all application materials to the program by the priority processing date of October 1st. All application materials must be submitted by the admissions deadline of April 1st.

Applicants to the full-time or part-time program leading to the Master of Social Work must complete the online application and submit payment of the application fee. All application documents are submitted online. Official transcripts are to be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions, Wayne State University, directly from all previous college(s) or universities where college credits have been earned. A resume, personal interest statement, and two references are included in the online application documents to WSU. Applicants must

  1. hold a four year baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution;
  2. have completed thirty semester credits in academic work distributed in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences, and in English and the humanities;
  3. show evidence of suitability and fitness for the profession and the ability to successfully undertake graduate professional education in social work.

Applications for admission to the School of Social Work for the Master of Social Work degree are given careful review in order to select those students best able to fulfill the requirements for professional social work education. The School reserves the right to make the final determination about all admissions decisions.

Admission to the Advanced Standing Program

An applicant for admission to the Master of Social Work program who holds a baccalaureate degree from an undergraduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (or accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW) may be admitted with advanced standing. The School reserves the right to make the final determination about all Advanced Standing Program admissions decisions.

Students admitted with advanced standing status are required to complete three graduate credits toward the M.S.W. degree during the summer term following admission but are strongly encouraged to complete six graduate credits. In order to complete the degree program, a total of thirty-six credits are required in the advanced year of the curriculum as prescribed within the student's selected concentration area. Students must complete SW 7160 or SW 7840 before enrolling in the advanced concentration area curriculum courses.

Students admitted with advanced standing may be permitted to complete the requirements for the Master of Social Work on a part-time basis. Students admitted to such a planned part-time program are required to complete SW 7160 or SW 7840 and encouraged to complete an elective during the summer term immediately following admission. The additional credits may be completed in subsequent semesters. The School does not grant credit for life experience or previous work experience.

Admission to Non-Degree Study

Students may enroll in certain classes as pre-master’s registrants and will be permitted to accumulate a maximum of nine credits in this status. Pre-master’s students may not enroll in the field work courses and certain other courses in which specific prerequisites and/or corequisites preclude their registration. If the student is subsequently admitted to a program leading to the Master of Social Work, credits earned in a pre-master’s classification may be applied toward the degree.

Applicants for pre-master’s, non-degree study must hold a baccalaureate degree from a college or university of recognized standing and have completed a minimum of thirty semester credits of academic work distributed in the social and biological sciences and in the humanities.

Applicants must complete the online application indicating non-degree status in the School of Social Work and payment of application fee. 

Students applying for pre-master’s study in the School of Social Work who have already been admitted and registered in the Graduate School of Wayne State University should consult the School of Social Work Office of Admissions and Student Services regarding the procedure for a change of college and/or status.

Transfer of Graduate Credits

Credits for professional social work courses earned at other graduate programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education may be accepted toward the Master of Social Work degree. Students, however, must meet all of the specific course requirements or equivalencies in the program leading to the Master of Social Work at this school. A maximum of thirty credits may have been completed in another accredited school of social work. Transfer students must be in good standing in the school from which they transfer, must meet all other requirements of this school, earn a minimum of thirty credits at this school, and must be in residence during the final semester prior to graduation.

A maximum of nine graduate credits from the social work curriculum or from curricula closely related to social work earned in an accredited graduate program may be accepted toward the Master of Social Work if, in the judgment of the faculty, the credits are appropriate as elective credits in the social work curriculum.

Transfer credit must be of a ‘B’ grade or better and certified as graduate level credit on an official transcript. Courses approved for transfer from outside or within the University cannot have been applied as credit toward a prior degree. Extension credits earned at institutions outside the State of Michigan cannot be applied toward a graduate degree.

Transfer credits do not alter the residency policy and time limitations governing School of Social Work degrees. Students may petition for the transfer of graduate credit only after they have been admitted to the M.S.W. degree program.

Nondiscrimination Policies

The School is bound by and actively endorses University policies of nondiscrimination respecting all persons regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or physical or mental disability, and which expressly forbid sexual harassment or discrimination in hiring. The School prohibits discrimination against individuals because of political orientation. Copies of School and University nondiscrimination policies may be obtained in the Office of the Dean.

Withdrawal from the M.S.W. Program

A student who has been admitted to the Master of Social Work program shall be considered to have withdrawn from the program if the student is not enrolled in a course and/or field work during any semester of a planned program of study within the framework of the plan which has been approved. In order to withdraw in good standing, either permanently or temporarily, students must formalize their withdrawal with the School of Social Work Office of Admissions and Student Services. Under certain circumstances, with approval from the M.S.W. Coordinator, a student may be granted a leave of absence from the school for up to one calendar year. Copies of procedures for withdrawal or leaves of absence may be obtained from the SSW Office of Admissions and Student Services.


Students who had been enrolled in a planned program leading to the Master of Social Work, who have withdrawn from the program and who wish to be considered for readmission to complete degree requirements, must follow regular procedures for admission to the School. Generally, students are required to complete two continuous terms of field work; readmitted students who had previously completed one term of field work will be required to repeat this term, and may be required to enroll concurrently in a course or courses in social work practice methods. Students who have withdrawn and wish to be readmitted may be required to obtain an assessment of their physical or mental health (or both) from a health professional approved and/or selected by the School.

Degree Application

Application for the degree must be filed no later than the end of the fourth week of classes in the semester in which student expects to complete the requirements for the degree.

Time Limitation

Students have a six-year time limit to complete requirements for the Master of Social Work.


Students are expected to attend all sessions of courses for which they are registered and to notify the instructor or the instructor’s secretary prior to the class session, if possible, when the student may be absent due to illness or similar emergency. Each instructor may specify an attendance policy in the course syllabus, and announce it at the beginning of a course. Consistent or extended absences may jeopardize the student’s grade in the course and, possibly, the student’s enrollment in the School.

Field Education

All students enrolled in and , Field Work for Social Workers I and II, are required to carry professional liability insurance (now provided by the school) as a condition of field placement. The Field Education Manual contains a description of the field education program, and the policies and procedures related to the program. Students are responsible for observing the procedures governing field work practice which are detailed in the manual. The Field Education Manual is posted on the School's website and may be downloaded and saved.

Field Education Health Clearance Policy

The School may require students in field placement to obtain assessments of their physical or mental health from health or mental health professionals approved by the School. The School of Social Work reserves the right to refuse to place or direct a student in field education if the physical or mental health status of the student indicates such action is warranted in order to safeguard clients, agencies, the student, other students, or the School.

Program Requirements

The Master of Social Work degree requires a minimum of sixty credits of graduate course work, completed in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and the School of Social Work. The program includes a generalist curriculum at the first level, and at the second level, one of two specialized concentrations: Interpersonal Practice or Innovation in Community, Policy and Leadership. The generalist curriculum provides the foundation for the specialized curriculum.

Online Program: The MSW degree is also offered as a fully online asynchronous program for full-time students interested in the Interpersonal Concentration. Online curriculum requirements are identical to the traditional MSW main campus program. The MSW online program offers select electives, guaranteeing students enrollment in these online courses. Students in the online program may choose to take different electives available online or on campus, but they are not guaranteed enrollment in those courses. Field placement must be completed at the physical site of the organization to which the student is assigned. Some courses require students to work in teams or conduct research in the community as part of their course requirements. 

Students interested in matriculating in the online program must have access to a reliable computer and the Internet to complete all courses successfully. Students must also be able to manage their time and schedules to accommodate the demands of an online program and the field placement. The admissions process is the same as the traditional program except that the program utilizes a cohort model structure. Once enrolled, students may NOT register for any MSW courses offered in a campus classroom except electives. Interested students should visit the SSW website for additional information. Curriculum requirements are described below.

Generalist Curriculum

The generalist curriculum provides a knowledge base for later study of advanced practice in the concentration. The generalist curriculum has content in the six major curricular areas: social work practice, human rights and social justice, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, research, and field education. The generalist curriculum stresses fundamentals and knowledge of social work practice as they relate to individuals, families, small groups, organizations, and communities. In field education, theory is translated into practice and includes micro, mezzo and macro practice experiences.

SW 7040Methods of Social Work Practice3
SW 7055Social Work Practice with Groups3
SW 7065Generalist Macro Theory and Practice3
SW 7560Lifespan Development in the Social Context3
SW 7720Social Policy and Advocacy3
SW 7680Human Rights, Social Justice, and Diversity in an Urban Context3
SW 7820Evidence for Social Work Practice3
SW 7998Concentration Field Work for Social Workers I8
Total Credits29

Students may waive one or more of these generalist courses by successfully completing a waiver exam. Successful completion of a waiver exam will signify the course is waived without graduate credit thus freeing the student to take other courses to meet degree requirements.

Declaring Your Concentration

During the generalist year, students declare their interest in a concentration by the end of the Fall semester. Full-time MSW students take their first concentration course – either SW 7160 DSM in Clinical Social Work Practice or SW 7840 Community and Organizational Measures during the Winter semester of their first year. Students admitted with advanced standing status declare their interest in a concentration when they enroll and take their first concentration course during the summer semester of their first year   

Advanced Curriculum - Concentrations

The advanced curriculum builds on the knowledge, values, and skills gained in the generalist curriculum, with the objective of increasing the student’s competence for dealing with greater complexities of social work practice by focusing on areas of social concern. This advanced portion of the M.S.W. program is designed to provide specialized advanced knowledge and practice skills. Students choose one of two concentrations in the advanced year.

Students must meet the requirements for a concentration:

  1. satisfactory completion of specific concentration courses in practice methods and policy
  2. satisfactory completion of a field education placement in the concentration for each of the semesters of the advanced curriculum.

OPTION I: Interpersonal Practice (IP)

The Interpersonal Practice (IP) concentration is for students who want to focus their practice primarily on individuals, families, and groups.  The concentration provides students with broad-based knowledge and skills needed for IP practice in a variety of settings, with opportunities to focus on specific practice areas, theoretical approaches or modes of intervention.

This concentration area offers students grounding in contemporary Interpersonal Practice theories and methods. Students are required to take three foundation Interpersonal Practice courses: DSM in Clinical Social Work Practice (taken during the winter semester of the first year of the MSW program or in the summer semester prior to the second year), Interpersonal Practice Theories and Application, Assessment Skills for Interpersonal Practice, and one intervention course (SW 8345, SW 8355 or SW 8335). Students may then choose from a range of interpersonal practice electives that focus on contemporary techniques and evidence-based interventions in interpersonal practice with children, families, and adults across a wide range of social work settings and practice areas. Students may also choose to take electives from the Innovations in Community Policy, and Leadership specialization or from specific focus areas to deepen their knowledge and skills in specific areas. 

Students select field placements in areas of their special interest: among these choices: families at risk, child welfare, substance abuse services, schools, mental health, health care, and gerontology.

SW 7160DSM in Clinical Social Work Practice 3
SW 8305Assessment for Interpersonal Social Work Practice Effective Fall 20223
SW 8315Integrative Theories and Practice Approaches for Interpersonal Social Work Practice Effective Fall 20223
SW 8325Cognitive Behavioral Interventions in Social Work Practice3
or SW 8335 Client-Centered Interventions in Social Work Practice
or SW 8345 Psychodynamic Interventions in Social Work Practice
or SW 8355 Family Interventions in Social Work Practice
SW 8770Advanced Policy Analysis3
or SW 8771 Advanced Policy Analysis in Aging
or SW 8772 Advanced Policy Analysis in Child and Family Wellbeing
or SW 8773 Advanced Policy Analysis in Mental Health and Substance Use
SW 8998Concentration Field Work for Social Workers II8-12
Additional Electives8-13
Total Credits31-40

OPTION II: Innovation in Community, Policy and Leadership (I-CPL)

The Innovation in Community, Policy and Leadership (I-CPL) concentration contextualizes student learning into three streams of practice including developing and sustaining effective communities, developing and sustaining effective policies and developing and sustaining effective organizations through leadership. Students may choose from a range of I-CPL electives or electives from the Interpersonal Practice curriculum or from social work focus areas that will extend and enhance their knowledge and skills in specific areas. 

I-CPL students will deepen their understanding of settings where this practice can take place through field placements which relate to urban social planning, community development, policy analysis and advocacy, program development and system coordination.

SW 7840Community and Organizational Measures3
SW 8048Social Action Research and Evaluation3
or SW 8025 Community Assessment and Evaluation
or SW 8035 Techniques of Quantitative Data Analysis
or SW 8045 Techniques of Data Interpretation and Presentation
or SW 7999 Master's Research Essay Direction
or SW 8996 Group Project Research and Direction
or SW 8999 Master's Thesis Research and Direction
SW 8065Advanced Systems Theories and Practices Effective Fall 20223
or SW 8075 Theories and Practice of Community Building and Development
or SW 8085 Theories and Practice of Social Policy and Social Action
SW 8770Advanced Policy Analysis (or equivalent) Effective Fall 20223
or SW 8771 Advanced Policy Analysis in Aging
or SW 8772 Advanced Policy Analysis in Child and Family Wellbeing
or SW 8773 Advanced Policy Analysis in Mental Health and Substance Use
SW 8998Concentration Field Work for Social Workers II8
Additional Electives11-16
Total Credits31-36
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