MSW in Social Work
The University of Southern Maine's School of Social Work is committed to educating culturally competent social work practitioners prepared for multi-level, strengths-based practice that values social justice and the centrality of community and environment in enhancing the well-being of diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The Master of Social Work (MSW) program will educate and produce advanced social work practitioners.
The MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The School of Social Work graduate program description and requirements contained here are supplemented by the MSW Handbook, which can be accessed online at http://usm.maine.edu/swo/handbooks. It is important to recognize that students will be held to the policies and standards in this catalog, the MSW Handbook, and the Field Work Manual.
There are three different cohorts for the regular MSW program: full-time (2 years), part-time (four years), low residency (3 years). We also offer two options for Advanced Standing students: full-time (1 year) and part-time (2 years). All students in the regular program options complete 61 credits; All advanced standing students complete the 600-level curriculum only which is 33 credits.
The first year curriculum (foundation year) provides a broad-based introduction to the social work profession. Students take 31 credits of study. During the first semester, students complete the course, SWO 501 Multicultural Social Work, which provides a framework for integrating and centering the issue of diversity within the profession of social work. Courses taken during the foundation year are:
SWO 501 Multicultural Social Work
SWO 502 Critical Thinking about Human Behavior I
SWO 503 Generalist Social Work Practice I
SWO 504 Social Welfare Policy I
SWO 505 Social Work Research I
SWO 552 Critical Thinking about Human Behavior II
SWO 553 Generalist Social Work Practice II
SWO 554 Field Seminar I
SWO 555 Field Seminar II
One Elective Course
During the second year of the full-time program, (concentration year), students deepen their competency for multi-level professional practice within the advanced social work practice curriculum. Increased emphasis is placed on the development of creativity, critical thinking, valuing diversity, social and economic justice, and leadership. Students are prepared to work with individuals and families as well as organizations and communities. During the concentration year, students complete 30 additional credits including two semesters of field work and two electives. In consultation with their faculty advisors, students can select graduate electives in the School of Social Work and/or other University programs. No more than six graduate credits can be taken outside the School, and elective courses should support the advanced social work practice concentration and the individual student's career goals.
Concentration year courses are:
SWO 603 Social Work Practice III: Group Practice
SWO 604 Social Welfare Policy II
SWO 605 Social Work Research II: Social Data Analysis
SWO 651 Social Work Practice IV: Individuals and Families
SWO 652 Social Work Research III: The Research Project
or SWO 695 Thesis Option
SWO 654 Field Seminar III
SWO 655 Field Experience IV
The graduation requirement for the regular MSW degree is 61 credits, which can be taken in a two, three or four year sequence. Students will be admitted as a cohort group either to the two year (full-time), three year (low residency), or four year (part-time) course sequence. In extenuating circumstances, an extension of the time requirement for completing the MSW program may be considered (see the MSW Student Handbook). The foundation year field placement includes 480 hours and the concentration year placement is 600 hours, each across two consecutive semesters. For low residency students, the two fieldwork placements are taken during the second and third years. All students enrolled in fieldwork are required to take the associated practice courses concurrently. Practice and field courses cannot be taken independently. Successful completion of foundation year fieldwork and practice is a prerequisite for entering concentration year field and practice.
The advanced standing program is 33 credits which is the concentration year of the MSW program (including three elective courses). Advanced standing students may matriculate into the program for one full-time year or two part-time years. The field placement requirement for the advanced standing program is 600 hours across two consecutive semesters, in line with the concentration year curriculum plan. It should be noted that the one-year advanced standing program is highly demanding and outside full-time employment is discouraged.
Once enrolled in the program, a change in cohort requires approval. Cohort changes must be requested by the end of fall semester for the following year in order for the School of Social Work to anticipate enrollment numbers. Please see the MSW Student Handbook for more details about this request process.
Field education is the heart of the MSW program. Professional social work education provides the necessary opportunity for students to apply and integrate classroom learning with social work practice in the community. A range of challenging field work placements exists in innovative and well-established social service agencies throughout Maine. Any decision about the suitability of a proposed placement rests with the School of Social Work.
The field work component of the MSW policies and procedures are detailed in the Field Work Manual that is available through the School of Social Work Web site. All MSW students are responsible for following the policies outlined in the manual.
Graduate Assistantships and Scholarships
A limited number of graduate assistantships are available to MSW students through the Office of Graduate Studies. Graduate assistants must carry a minimum of 6 credits of course work per semester. Duties may involve research and other projects for assisting social work faculty. Information on various types of scholarships and financial aid is available online at the USM Graduate Studies website at http://usm.maine.edu/grad/graduate-students-financial-support.
The following academic policies supplement and clarify those that are detailed at the beginning of this catalog.
Each student is assigned a faculty advisor upon admission to the program. Students should maintain regular contact with their faculty advisors throughout their course of study. Additionally, students are required to consult with their advisors each semester before registering for courses for the upcoming semester. The advisement session includes discussion of career goals, progress in the program, elective course selection, and change of student status.
Grade Policy: Course Grades and GPA
Students must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all course work in the program in order to remain in good standing and be eligible for a MSW degree. Students must receive a minimum of B- grade in all courses. Students receiving a grade below B- in a course must retake the course and receive a passing grade. Students who fall below 3.0 GPA will be placed on academic probation. If the student fails to bring the overall GPA up to a minimum of 3.0 by the end of the following semester, she/he may be dismissed from the MSW program. In addition, advanced standing students who fail to receive a minimum grade of a B- in a practice course will be withdrawn from field placement and may lose her/his advanced standing status. The student, upon losing the advanced standing status, may continue in the regular MSW program, pending the results of an Academic Review.
Grade Policy: Incompletes
Incomplete grades are granted only in extenuating circumstances at the discretion of the instructor. Students must request to be considered for an incomplete grade with the instructor well in advance of the end of a given semester. An incomplete grade must be changed to a full grade prior to progression to the next sequential course. Students who do not complete the required work by the designated time may be ineligible to take subsequent required courses and field practicum.
Academic Review Policy
Please refer to the MSW Student Handbook for a detailed description of the Academic Review Policy and Procedures as well as expectations and students rights (http://usm.maine.edu/swo/handbooks-0).
Academic Grade Appeal Policy
Refer to USM Grade Appeal Policy.
Leave of Absence
Matriculated students who have extenuating circumstances (illness, birth of a child, change in financial situation, etc.) requiring a leave of absence (LOA) from school may request this for up to one year and return without reapplying to the program. Students should discuss the request first with their faculty advisors and submit a LOA form for approval by the MSW Program Coordinator.
Continuous Enrollment Requirement
Graduate students in the School of Social Work must be continuously enrolled in the MSW program, with at least 6 credits every semester. Students who have completed all coursework and have opted to complete a thesis are required to register for GRS 601, a non-credit course that carries a fee and entitles the student to continued access to USM computers, library, and recreational facilities. In extenuating circumstances, a student may petition for a waiver of the continuous enrollment policy. In order to petition this, students must obtain the approval of their faculty advisor and the MSW Program Coordinator before being submitted to the Director and the CMHS Dean. A waiver notification will then be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies. Students who have been accepted into the program may apply to the MSW Admissions Chair to defer the admission for one year only. A deferment notification will be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions.
Students may take up to nine credits at USM on a non-matriculated basis. The following courses are open to non-matriculated students, space permitting: SWO 501 Multicultural Social Work; SWO 504, Social Welfare Policy I; SWO 505 Social Work Research I. Please note that current matriculated students have priority in registering for these courses. Non-matriculated students who are later admitted to the MSW program may apply these credits toward the program requirements. Non-matriculated students can register as non-degree graduate students through the USM Registrar's Office.
While the School of Social Work will make every effort to maintain consistency in its course offerings, it is important to note that the scheduling of courses is subject to change at any time without advance notice.
Please follow the links below to review course lists and curriculum sequences for each cohort.
Two and Four Year Regular Sequences and One and Two Year Advanced Standing Sequences:
Low Residency Three Year Regular Sequence