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The mission of the Union University Master of Social Work program is to prepare competent and effective professionals for leadership in advanced practice. In a context of Christian higher education, the program fosters compassionate service, promotes social and economic justice, and equips students for excellence in social work practice.

The Advanced Standing MSW and Traditional MSW programs are now being offered on the Germantown Campus (a suburb of Memphis).

MSW Mission Statement

The mission of the Union University Master of Social Work program is to prepare competent and effective professionals for leadership in advanced practice. In a context of Christian higher education, the program fosters compassionate service, promotes social and economic justice, and equips students for excellence in social work practice.

Admission Requirements

Advanced Standing 33 semester hour MSW program (full and part time)

  • Curriculum Map (.pdf)
  • BSW degree from a CSWE accredited program
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Successful completion of Advanced Standing Bridge Class (meets first 3 weekends in August prior to beginning of fall semester)

Traditional 60 semester hour MSW program (full and part time)

  • Curriculum Map (.pdf)
  • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited or internationally listed college or university
  • Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.65 on a 4 point scale

Application Process

  • 2015-16 Application (.pdf) - new deadline for Fall 2015 applications: April 30
  • Application with non refundable $25.00 application fee (priority deadlines listed on application)
  • Official transcript from each college or university previously attended (undergraduate and graduate)
  • References
    1. Previous professor or instructor
    2. Current supervisor or professional
    3. One other professional contact, work associate, or professor/instructor
      *If you have graduated with a BSW in the past 12 months, one of these references must include your previous field placement supervisor.
  • Admission Essay (follow instructions outlined in application)
  • Final Field Evaluation (advanced standing applicants only)
  • Immunization Form
  • Interviews at the discretion of the admissions committee and/or MSW Program Director
  • GRE is not required for admission to Union University's MSW program

Advanced Generalist Concentration Practice Framework

The advanced concentration objectives broaden and deepen the generalist foundation and prepare students for competent and effective social work practice as advanced generalist practitioners. The program conceptualizes professional development and education as a continuum beginning with the BSW, or foundation year in the MSW program, progressing to advanced practice in the second year of the MSW program, and beyond the MSW to include continuing education.

Building on the foundation year objectives and curriculum, the MSW program prepares students for advanced generalist practice in social work. The advanced generalist practitioner is a leader in direct service delivery with individuals, families, groups, and communities, and has indirect practice management capabilities in the areas of supervision, administration, program development, and evaluation. The advanced generalist model at Union University builds on the four concepts adopted by the faculty - social justice, strengths-based perspective, evidence-based practice, and ecological perspective - for its framework. In the foundation year, students are grounded in these concepts and in direct and indirect practice skills so that in the advanced concentration year, they may prepare to effectively maximize opportunities to "encompass the full spectrum of direct and indirect services" (GlenMaye, Lewandowski, & Bolin, 2004, 127), regardless of the practice setting or client.

The complexities of ever-changing practice environments require direct practitioners who are also skilled in supervision and administration while fully committed to respecting and prioritizing client needs. Agency services struggle with limited resources while facing increased human needs requiring complex intervention modalities. The advanced generalist model assumes that human events represent multi-layered and multi-dimensional realities best addressed by social workers utilizing theoretically sound, empirically driven, culturally competent approaches to practice. These social workers recognize the characteristics of change at individual, community, and organizational levels and the elements of chaos that often accompany change. The advanced generalist practitioner tolerates and manages change amid the chaos of complex systems, valuing the process and envisioning the transformative potential. "The goal of advanced generalist practice is not to understand the complexity of the client system, but rather to understand the natural movement of systems through stable, bifurcated, and chaotic states and to help promote self-organization" (GlenMaye, Lewandowski, & Bolin, 2004, p. 128). As such the social work leader will bring together important roles of advocate, broker, counselor, presenter, listener, presence, supervisor, researcher, policy maker, fund raiser, problem-solver, and evaluator while conscious of process and its impact on outcomes.

Foundation Year Course Descriptions

  • SW 500: Human Behavior and the Social Environment I: Theoretical Foundations (3)
    A foundational course providing a framework for creating, organizing, and understanding theory, research, and practice issues of human behavior and the social environment.
  • SW 501: Human Behavior and the Social Environment II: Assessment through the Lifespan (3)
    This course uses a person-in-environment theoretical framework to provide the knowledge, values, and skills necessary for understanding human behavior as a function of biological, psychological, social, spiritual, and cultural systems across the lifespan.
  • SW 510: Social Justice and Social Welfare: (3)
    This course provides an introductory background to the history, policy, programs, practice, and values of the social work profession.
  • SW 520: Social Work Practice I: Communities and Organizations (3)
    An examination of practice theory and methods with communities and organizations, including community organization and development, organizational theory and behavior, and advocacy.
  • SW521: Foundations for Research (3)
    The conceptual foundations and methods of evidence-based research. Qualitative and quantitative research will be explored, as well as beginning practice research.
  • SW 530: Social Work Practice II: Individuals and Families (3)
    An examination of practice theories and methods for work with individuals and families. The course will emphasize client engagement, assessment, cultural competence, and problem solving.
  • SW 535: Policy Analysis and Advocacy (3)
    Social policy focusing on major social welfare issues to equip students to analyze and evaluate policy and to develop knowledge and skills for advocacy.
  • SW 540: Social Work Practice 111: Social Work with Groups (3)
    An introduction to group therapy, group development and methods of practice, various types of groups, and ethical issues that arise in work with groups.
  • SW 590 and 591: Field Seminar I and II
    Students participate in Field Seminar when placed in a field practicum. Field Seminars I and II are designed to assist students with processing graduate level foundation year field experiences and in applying classroom learning to practice.

Concentration Year Course Descriptions

  • SW 599: Advanced Standing Bridge Course (3)
    A concentrated, rigorous seminar-styled course designed to prepare the Advanced Standing student for the concentration year of the MSW curriculum. It links the student's undergraduate BSW education and practice experience in preparation for the year of the MSW.
  • SW 605: Psychopathology; Assessment, Diagnostics, and Treatment (3)
    Preparation for clinical social work practice by establishing the knowledge and skills for assessment, diagnostics, and treatment in mental health and mental disorders.
  • SW 623: Theory and Ethics for Advanced Practice (3)
    The capstone course for the MSW degree addressing the integration of professional knowledge, values, and skills under a rubric of theoretical and ethical practice.
  • SW 631: Practice and Program Evaluation (3)
    Advanced graduate level research course designed to offer the student an opportunity to demonstrate advanced theoretical and practical approaches to program planning, development, grant writing, evaluation, and monitoring.
  • SW 650: Advanced Practice with Individuals and Families (3)
    An advanced course in social work practice with individuals and families focusing on evidence-based and culturally competent practice. Various theories and methods for work with individuals and families will be explored in depth with an aim toward equipping the advanced practitioner for skilled practice.
  • SW 660: Advanced Practice in Community Development and Administration (3)
    This advanced course in administration and community practice builds on the foundation practices to advance skills in planned change processes, program development and administration, assessment and evaluation, grant writing and management, and navigating ethical dilemmas that arise in practice.
  • SW 690 and 691: Field Seminar III and IV (3 each)
    Students participate in the advanced field seminars during the graduate level concentration year field practicum. Field seminar III and IV are designed to assist the student with processing the advanced year field experiences and in applying classroom learning to practice.

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