MSW Coursework

As a Master of Social Work (MSW) student, you become completely embedded in the school community, allowing you to develop meaningful relationships with faculty who will support your success. Our graduates are prepared to shape practice, advocate and improve social policies, services, and communities, locally and globally.

Concentration-Based Curriculum

The UConn School of Social Work is unique. Here, students have the opportunity to pursue a concentration in social work practice in addition to our professional foundational curriculum. Students can choose an area of concentration: Individuals, Groups, and Families Practice; Community Organizing; or Policy Practice. Within a chosen area of concentration, students will learn specific skills as they apply in a variety of professional settings. Explore our concentrations below!

Learn more about MSW Admissions.

Concentrations Offered

Individuals, Groups & Families

Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families (IGFP) is the advanced practice method through which individual clients, family and group members are helped to:

  • Improve the level of fit between personal and environmental strengths and limitations
  • Empower themselves personally and politically
  • Ensure their rights and entitlements
  • Maintain, restore or enhance their social functioning
  • Resolve life stressors as these arise

Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families teaches students knowledge and skills in mobilizing, sustaining and creating personal, interpersonal, and environmental resources.

IGF social workers are involved in preventive activity at practice and program levels, in both urban and rural settings.

IGF social workers find career opportunities in:

  • Child welfare agencies
  • Schools
  • Youth, children, & family service agencies
  • Mental health clinics and hospitals
  • Health care settings
  • Criminal justice settings
  • Senior citizen centers and facilities
  • Community and neighborhood centers
  • Neighborhood development and citizen action programs

MSW_Pete_Ortiz

Community Organizing

Community Organizing (CORG) is the advanced practice method that combines direct service with advocacy, education, and social action to empower communities to work for change. It is a process that brings people together to collectively:

  • Enhance self-determination
  • Achieve greater equality
  • Shift in power relationships to benefit members of oppressed communities

Community organizing social workers address political, social, and economic factors relating to issues of power, inequality, culture, values, and problem-solving by using a broad repertoire of social change skills.

Community organizers build community, create solidarities, and deliver services at the grassroots level to empower people working together to make their own changes, meet their own needs, and participate more fully in public life and the democratic process.

Community organizing alumni have diverse careers in:

  • Community and neighborhood centers
  • Nonprofit and advocacy organizations
  • Social change coalitions
  • Government agencies
  • Universities
  • Labor unions
  • Congressional offices
  • Human rights organizations
  • International organizations

MSW_Renee_Hamel

Policy Practice

Policy Practice (POPR) is the advanced practice concentration that prepares social workers to intervene at the levels of service delivery in organizations and government to improve laws, regulations, and policies affecting populations in vulnerable situations. Policy practice involves policy development and policy analysis, program design and implementation, and policy and legislative advocacy. This method of social work practice leads to social change of macro structures to increase equity, and reduce oppression and discrimination in policies and programs. Policy practice activities include:

  • Define the root causes of social problems on local, national, and global levels
  • Conduct needs and community assessments
  • Use research methodologies, data and information in the policy-making process
  • Learn proposal grant writing
  • Develop, lead and implement policies and programs
  • Write legislative policy briefs

Policy Practice social workers engage in strategies that ensure participation of diverse and marginalized populations in assessing, planning and implementing interventions for social change within a range of public and private institutions, organizations, and client systems. A critical element of policy practice is the ability to leverage resources, influence social change by using a professional network and having an advance understanding of the social, economic, political factors and contexts that promote social welfare and legislative policies.

Policy Practice social workers find career opportunities in:

  • Public and private not-for-profit agencies
  • Government or legislative offices
  • United Nations and international NGOs
  • Peace Corps
  • Veteran Administration
  • Behavioral health and mental health settings
  • Court or criminal justice settings
  • Public education system
  • Reproductive rights organizations
  • Higher education

“The Policy Practice concentration transcends common narratives about social work. As a policy practitioner, I make an impact and implement change on a large scale. I chose the UConn MSW program because of the faculty’s range of specializations that ensure a diverse learning experience.”

Rebecca Washington
MSW Policy Practice Student

Study Options

We understand that many of you have full-time jobs and families of your own, and we make every effort to make your busy life easier. By offering a variety of study options, we help you make your schedule work for you.

Full-Time, 2-Year Program

Most MSW students are engaged in full-time study and obtain their degrees in two years. Students select from daytime or evening course options. Students in the full-time program take their required field placement requirement during both years.

Part-Time Program: 3-Year and 4-Year Plans

For economic, personal, or educational reasons, some students choose not to complete the program in the typical pattern of two years of full-time study. In these situations, students may opt for the part-time program options, in which they may take up to four years to earn their degree.

Part-Time Three-Year Plan

Students would complete coursework during only the first year of the program, taking an average of three classes per semester. In the final two years, students will take field education.

Part-Time Four-Year Plan

Students would complete coursework during the first two years of the program, with an average of two classes per semester to lighten the load. Students will take field education in the final two years.

Part-Time Cohort Program: 3-Year Plan

The MSW Part-Time Cohort Program provides students with the opportunity to complete their MSW degree in 3 years with a cohort of approximately 12-20 students. Students will take an average of three courses per semester.

A cohort program is one in which the same group of students take the same courses and work together all the way through to receiving their degree. This offers the predictability and consistency of learning among the same group of people. In this program students take a fixed schedule of evening and some weekend courses, which provides flexibility for those who have obligations during daytime hours. Only students that select the Individuals, Groups, and Families (IGFP) concentration will be able to participate in the Part-Time Cohort Program. Students will take the field placement requirement in the final two years of their program. The field placement would primarily occur during the hours of 9-5.

Seats for this Part-Time Cohort Program are limited. Therefore, we encourage applicants to apply sooner rather than later.

Read our Part-Time Cohort Program FAQs.

Advanced Standing

Advanced Standing is designed for individuals who have graduated within the last six years from an undergraduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). If you have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (3.5 preferred), this may be an opportunity for you to earn your MSW degree in a summer and two semesters. Learn more about Advanced Standing.

Non-Degree Program

If you are ready to move ahead with your career, but not ready to return to school full-time, the Non-Degree Program is for you. You can earn credits toward your degree prior to admission. The Non-Degree Program allows you to earn a maximum of 15 credits toward your MSW degree. Learn more about the Non-Degree Program here. Please note that non-degree status does not constitute, guarantee, or imply admission or readmission into any program at UConn.

Dual and Joint Degree Programs

Students who wish to graduate with two college diplomas either at the same school or an affiliated university can pursue a dual or joint degree. This option allows students to finish both degrees in less time, compared to earning each degree independently. Students must be enrolled concurrently in both schools and earn both degrees simultaneously to benefit from this arrangement.

Reflecting the School’s commitment to interdisciplinary teaching, practice, and research, dual and joint degree programs offer students an opportunity to seek degrees in two professions simultaneously. Students must apply separately and be admitted to each school. Candidates are encouraged to apply and begin both programs at the same time; however, a student may apply prior to the completion of their first year in either program. Once accepted into both programs, students will meet with the designated persons from each program to develop an individualized program plan that will account for the course requirements of each degree. Advanced standing students are not eligible for dual and joint degree programs. 

Dual Degrees

Business Administration (MBA)/Social Work (MSW) Dual Degree Program with UConn Business School (MSW/MBA)

In conjunction with the UConn Business School, the MSW/MBA program is designed to prepare individuals for managerial careers in social work in both the private and the public sectors. MSW/MBA students are required to take a minimum of 42 credits in the MBA program. The MSW program will accept up to nine credits of electives and will waive the MSW program credits from 60 to 51 for IGFP students and from 60 to 54 for CORG and POPR students. Students will complete the core courses required for the MBA and MSW programs.

Public Health (MPH)/Social Work (MSW) Dual Degree Program with UConn in Applied Public Health Sciences (MSW/MPH)

In conjunction with the Program in Applied Public Health Sciences in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the School of Medicine, the School of Social Work offers a program in which students may earn an MSW/MPH concurrently in three or four years. The MSW/MPH Joint Program offers students interdisciplinary preparation in the fields of both public health and social work.

The Program in Applied Public Health Sciences will accept up to 12 credits from the MSW program, reducing the credit requirements from 48 to 36 credits for the MPH. The MSW program will accept 9 or 12 credits from the MPH program reducing the credit requirements from 60 to 48 for IGFP students and from 60 to 51 for POPR or CORG students. Students in the MSW/MPH program take the first research course in social work. Their second and third research courses are the MPH program’s two-semester epidemiology/biostatistics courses. All requirements for the MSW/MPH may be completed in 3-4 years in general. Because the social work program requires four semesters of field placements, the MPH practicum is fulfilled for MSW/MPH students if at least one of the social work field placements (typically the advanced year placement) is relevant to public health and the corresponding assignments are completed. To determine if the social work field placement meets the public health component, a meeting with the MPH Practicum Coordinator is recommended.

Application to the MSW and MPH programs can be submitted at the same time. MPH program application must be made no later than the end of the first year of the MSW program.

  • SSW Contact: Brenda Kurz, PhD, MSW Program Director, 959-200-3635
  • MPH Contact: Stacey L. Brown, PhD, Associate Director and Coordinator of the Dual Degree Programs, Program in Applied Public Health Sciences, 860-679-2927

Juris Doctor (JD)/Social Work (MSW) Dual Degree Program with UConn Law School (MSW/JD)

In cooperation with the UConn School of Law, students have the opportunity to earn a dual degree of Juris Doctor JD/Social Work MSW. The MSW/JD degree is designed for students who are interested in

the social impact of the legal system upon individuals. Students pursue this degree to prepare for careers in fields such as public interest law, mental health law, elder law, women’s rights, penology, juvenile advocacy, human services administration, community organizing, and public policy and planning. The dual degree program is highly individualistic in nature in order to provide each student with the best possible combination of these two disciplines. Students in the dual degree program may obtain both degrees in four years, compared with five years, if both degrees were pursued separately. Due to the program being highly individualized, a student may choose to take five years to complete the two programs.

Ideally, students begin their study at the School of Law, where during the first year students must complete a total of 32 credits if attending full-time. During the second year, students will complete a minimum of six social work courses as well as their required 560-hour, first-year social work field placement. During the third and fourth years, students will take a combination of law and social work courses, complete the required second-year social work field placement, and complete a law school clinic or field placement. The two schools’ respective clinical/fieldwork requirements generally cannot be satisfied by a combined placement due to the distinct professional roles that students assume, and that are sought to be developed, in the two types of placements.

Additionally, all students must comply with the rules regarding credit load limitations. Without prior approval from the Associate Dean of the Law School, full-time students may not exceed 16 credits and part-time students may not exceed 12 credits per semester. Permission may be granted by the Law School for 17 credits. The limit per semester at the School of Social Work is 20 credits. Students must be enrolled concurrently in both schools and earn both degrees simultaneously to benefit from this arrangement.

  • SSW Contact: Milagros Marrero-Johnson, MSW, Director of Strategic Programming 959-200-3606, marrero-johnson@uconn.edu
  • JD Contact: Paul Chill, PhD, Associate Dean, 860-570-5201, Chill, chill@uconn.edu

Joint Degrees

Public Administration (MPA) and Social Work (MSW) Joint Program with UConn School of Public Policy (MSW/MPA)

In conjunction with the UConn Department of Public Policy, the School of Social work offers a program in which students may earn an MSW/MPA concurrently in three years, rather than the normally required four. The opportunity offers students interdisciplinary preparation, competencies and knowledge in public administration and social work. Students must be accepted into both programs prior to the completion of their first year in either program. The MSW program will accept up to nine credits of electives and three credits for BASC 5333 and will waive the MSW program credits from 60 to 48 for IGFP students and from 60 to 51 for CORG and POPR students.

  • SSW Contact: Milagros Marrero-Johnson, MSW, Director of Strategic Planning, 959-200-3606, marrero-johnson@uconn.edu
  • SPP Contact: Catherine Guarino, MPA, Administrative Program Director, 959-200-3753, guarino@uconn.edu

Divinity (M.Div.) and Social Work (MSW) Joint Program with Yale Divinity School (MSW/M.Div.)

In conjunction with the Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, the School of Social Work offers a program in which students may earn the MSW degree from UConn and the M.Div. degree from Yale in four years instead of the five years required when these programs are taken separately. Yale University will accept up to nine elective credits earned in UConn’s MSW program. Students in the joint program will have their MSW elective credits waived (six credits for CO and POPR students and nine credits for IGFP students), thereby reducing the required MSW credits from 60 to 54 for CORG and POPR students and from 60 to 51 for IGFP students. Students should consult with the School of Social Work Joint Degree liaison to discuss the approval of their Yale elective coursework. Students must be enrolled concurrently in both schools and earn both degrees simultaneously to benefit from this arrangement. When a student is not enrolled in courses at the School of Social Work, they must go on continuous registration and pay the required fee.

  • SSW Contact: Milagros Marrero-Johnson, MSW, Director of Strategic Planning, 959-200-3606, marrero-johnson@uconn.edu
  • Yale Divinity Contact: Lisabeth Huck, Director of Academic Services and Registrar and Records Officer, 203-432-5312, lisabeth.huck@yale.edu

Focused Areas of Study (Optional)

In addition to areas of concentration, students can focus on a current social work issue through our Focused Areas of Study option. Using elective credits, you can focus your study on a particular population or social problem that complements your concentration, such as:

  • Health and Wellness through the Lifespan
  • International Issues in Social Work
  • Intersectionality, Human Agency, and Social Justice
  • Urban Issues in Social Work
  • Violence Prevention in Families and Communities.

Students with a record of coherent academic accomplishment completing all requirements in an area of study will receive a letter of recognition.