Dec 06, 2021  
Graduate Catalog 2015-2016 
Graduate Catalog 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work - MSW

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The MSW curriculum reflects a commitment to social justice, diversity and practice in the urban environment. The school offers several program tracks leading to the master of social work (MSW) degree. These include the full-time Two-Year, the One-Year Residency (work study), the Accelerated Program, the Advanced Standing Program for those possessing a BSW, and the Dual Degree programs with the Bank Street College of Education. and the CUNY School of Public Health.

The social work curriculum is designed to assure that graduates master the core competencies and practice behaviors identified as essential for all social workers by the Council on Social Work Education, our accrediting body. The curriculum assures that students also acquire advanced practice behaviors in their practice concentration and a field of practice. Please see for a listing of these competencies and advanced practice behaviors. 

The curriculum includes courses in human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, social work research, social work practice, including four practice concentrations:  clinical practice with individuals and families; group work; community organizing, planning and development; organizational management and leadership. In addition to course work, all students are expected to complete at least one field practicum that is an internship in an approved field agency. All two year program students and accelerated full time students are expected to have two fieldwork placements of two semesters each, which involve three days per week in a field agency. Students accepted into the work-study program (OYR) complete only one year of fieldwork with four day per week assignments. All students enroll in a year long Social Work Practice Learning Lab. All students are required to take three courses in one of four practice concentrations. The field practicum must be taken concurrently with a practice course. In addition, students must select advanced courses which focus on a field of practice: a specific social problem, population or institutional auspice. The fields of practice offered are: children, youth and families; gerontology; world of work; health and mental health; global social work and practice with immigrants and refugees. Elective courses in these areas and in specialized skills and problem areas such as family treatment, treatment of trauma, and substance abuse are also offered.

Admission Requirements

Successful performance in graduate social work education requires emotional maturity and stability, interest in working with people and readiness to assume professional responsibilities. The applicant’s knowledge of professional social work and/or experience in social work settings is an important consideration for admission. The criteria for admission are as follows:  

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Undergraduate preparation should demonstrate a liberal arts background and intellectual capacity for graduate study.
  • Records of international students require special evaluation and should be submitted as early as possible. All applicants whose prior language of instruction was not English are required to take the TOEFL and achieve a minimum score of 213; 80 IBT (internet-based test).
  • Good undergraduate preparation along with tested understanding of  the profession gained through voluntary, internship and/or paid experience are the keys to a successful application for admission.
  • Advanced Standing applicants, in addition, must have an overall GPA of 3.0 and GPA of 3.2 in the social work major and must have received the BSW degree within the last 5 years. Advanced Standing students must submit Core Competency forms from their faculty advisor and senior placement field instructor which rate the applicant on the core (foundational) practice behaviors identified by SSSW.  
  • one Year Residency (OYR) applicants, in addition, must have a minimum of two years full time work experience as a social service worker or supervisor of social service workers. OYR applicants must provide a letter from their agency executive documenting full time employment, and the Agency Executive Agreement Form which commits the agency to provide schedule flexibility for the student for classes and to collaborate with the school to develop meaningful learning assignments as part of the student’s work assignment. The agency also commits to provide the student with a new field instructor during Time Frame II, the residency year.
  •  All applicants must submit an application, transcripts from all previous academic study, three professional letters of reference, and application fees. Completed applications for admission should be submitted by the deadline date established by the School each year.  All admissions are subject to limitations of available seats in the school and placement in a field practicum. Applications for admission into the MSW program must be submitted online.

Applicants may be required to participate in a group discussion as part of the admissions process.  

For further information on admissions, e-mail or or see the School’s website at


Up to 12 non-matriculated credits of graduate social work courses, with a grade of B or better, completed within five years of MSW degree completion may be transferred from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.   

Students must complete a Transfer of Credit Form and supply a course description and syllabus for each course for which they are requesting transfer credit.  Once all the documentation has been collected, the packet should be sent to the Admissions Office (for new students) or to the Student Affairs Office (for continuing students). The associate dean for academic and faculty affairs reviews all requests for transfer of credit. The maximum number of transfer credits is waived in the cases of applicants who apply and enter the program as transfer students. Once an applicant is accepted into the program and their documentation packet is collected, their transfer credits will be assessed, a course of study outlined, and the credits added to your Hunter College transcript as appropriate. Unfortunately, no academic credit can be given for life experience or previous work experience.

Professional Liability Insurance

As a condition of registration for fieldwork, students must have professional liability insurance. Professional liability insurance is provided through a school group policy, and payment for this policy is made at the time of registration. Cost of liability insurance does not exceed $20 per year. Fieldwork agencies may also require that students undergo a background check and pay for fingerprinting. The cost of fingerprinting varies.

MSW Degree Program

Degree Requirements

All students in the MSW Program must complete 60 credits composed of 16 three-credit courses and a requirement for a field practicum designed to ensure that students master the core (foundation) and advanced practice behaviors. The curriculum is organized into content areas; each area includes one to three courses required for degree completion. These areas are:

        Human Behavior and the Social Environment

        Social Welfare Policy and Services

        Social Work Ways of Knowing and Communicating

        Social Work Practice Learning Lab


        Practice Methods

        Professional Seminar

        Field Education

 All work must be completed within a five-year period with grades of “Credit” or “Honors”.

Degree Program Tracks

Two-Year Full-time Program

The two-year full-time program is for qualified students who can devote themselves to full-time academic and field study. Full-time students are expected to attend classes two days a week, and to be in a field placement three days a week, for two academic years.

One-Year Residence (OYR) Work-Study Program

The one-year residence (OYR) program is a work-study program designed to provide graduate social work education for experienced students whose personal responsibilities make the two year full-time program impractical. In this work-study model of social work education, the student’s field work requirements are met at the agency of employment. As a result, the student is able to remain employed while earning MSW degree credits through all phases of the program until completion of the degree.

At the time of application OYR applicants must have completed at least two years of full-time employment in a recognized social welfare organization or agency and their current social welfare employer mus agree to sponsor them. Sponsorship requires the agency to agree to provide the student with an educationally sound field work assignment. The field placement could expand on the student’s current work assignment, incorporating new opportunities for learning in a social work capacity: for example, the addition of new cases, groups or projects. The agaency must also provide a field instructor who is a licensed social worker as well as flexible scheduling for the student to attend classes during the residency year.

The program is organized around three “time frames,” which include both part-time and full-time study. In total, in the standard OYR program students enroll in course work for five semesters and two summers. Students are permitted to take up to 30 hours of course work on a part-time basis while remaining in full-time employment. The program offers opportunity for acceleration for students who are in good academic standing.

Time Frame I is completed in evening or day classes over two semesters and one summer. Most students complete the first time frame in one year, earning 21 credits.

Time Frame II, also known as the “residency” year, occurs during the second year of matriculation. Students enroll in three courses while completing their single 900 hour field work requirement in their chosen method of practice. The requirement for a single practicum is based on the student’s prior knowledge of social service organizations and the delivery of social services on a pre-professional level. The practicum requirement can be completed in four days a week (28 hours per week) during the  fall and spring including January when classes may not be in session or three days a week in fall, spring, and summer. Students can take classes all on one day during the day, late afternoon and evening and/or Saturday.

Time Frame III represents the culmination of course work requirements. Classes are held in the evening.


The Accelerated OYR program takes 24 months to complete. Students enter in the spring and complete Time Frame I with intensive study in the evenings during spring and summer. Time Frame II is essentially the same as in the standard OYR program (see above) with additional study required in the winter session. Students complete their remaining requirements in their second summer and the following fall. Because of its acceleration, this program is intense and requires a significant commitment of time and energy.


Accelerated Full-Time and Accelerated OYR Programs

The Accelerated Programs are designed for outstanding students prepared to participate in an intensive, year-round learning experience beginning in January. The Accelerated Program option is available only to those students wishing to specialize in Clinical Practice with Individuals and Families. Full-time students complete the program in three semesters plus two summers of study. Availability for class in the afternoon and evening during the first semester and summer of enrollment is essential. These students are assigned field placements and complete their first year requirements by the end of the summer in their first 8 months of enrollment. They start their third semester in the fall and graduate in the following August.

Students who are already working in the human service field and meet the entry criteria for the One-Year Residency Program described above, complete the program in four semesters and two summers of study. They enter the Accelerated OYR program beginning with evening study in January through the summer and complete their Time Frame II studies in the following fall and spring. They are eligible to graduate in their second summer or the following December. Winter session study is also required.

Advanced Standing Program

The advanced standing program is an intensive program for outstanding students who have graduated from a baccalaureate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. A limited number of qualified applicants are accepted. Applicants must have received their undergraduate degree within the last five years.

Applicants to the advanced standing program must have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.2 in the social work major. Applicants must meet all other admission criteria for acceptance into the graduate social work program at Hunter. Some courses required in the first year of the MSW program will be waived for applicants accepted in the advanced standing program. Hunter’s advanced standing students either begin in the summer and continue through the following academic year of full-time study or start in the fall and complete their work the following summer.

Dual Degree – M.S.W. & M.P.H.
Silberman School of Social Work and the CUNY School of Public Health

This new dual degree program Dual Degree MSW/MPH  meets a variety of training, employment, community and population needs; it will help to:

Meet the need for interdisciplinary practitioners, who are capable of working across levels, disciplines and sectors to address complex public health and social problems.
Address the need for an affordable public option for dual degree training in New York City.
Help to address workforce shortages, resulting from several recent trends, including: on-going federal and state budget cuts that have left a large number of vacancies resulting from retirement or turnover have been frozen or left unfilled.
Address community needs for integrated social work and public health services.

* To apply to this program applicants only need to complete the Silberman School of Social Work application. An interview may be required after application review.


Dual Degree Program: Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and the Bank Street College of Education Infant and Parent Development Program

This dual degree program is designed to prepare social workers to understand and work with the special needs and vulnerabilities of children from birth to age three and their families. The program prepares social workers for professional roles that combine both educational and clinical skills. The curriculum design incorporates theoretical and practice aspects of each degree into a cohesive educational and professional program. Applicants apply to each institution separately. The program requirements satisfy the accreditation standards for each degree.

In the first two years, students attend the two institutions sequentially, pursuing an intensive program at each of them. In the third year, students move between institutions to complete course work. Both institutions require a supervised field practicum. Applicants must meet all admission standards of the MSW program and are required to have experience in working with children.

Program for Non-matriculated Students

The School has learning opportunities for both pre- and post-masters students. Taking courses as a non-matriculated student can be a stimulating introduction to the MSW program and often motivates participants to apply for admission to a degree program. A maximum of nine credits is allowed and may be credited toward the degree upon matriculation. Only one course may be taken per semester.

Those students who already have completed their MSW may seek additional clinical learning to meet licensing requirements. Such students should contact the Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs at

Inquiries for pre-masters non-matriculation should be directed to the Admissions Office at the main campus (68th Street) of Hunter College. See

Field Practicum

The Silberman School of Social Work has strong ties to many social agencies, which provide students with field placements in a variety of practice areas. Qualified agency staff members serve as student field instructors. The field practicum is an integral part of the social work curriculum. Agencies used as field practicum sites by the school are selected and approved  by the school’s Office of Field Education. Approval criteria include field learning opportunities and availability of qualified agency-based field instructors. Students are expected to follow agency policies, including conducting home visits.

MSW Curriculum

The School of Social Work holds that social work education must integrate core social work values and knowledge with practical application in the field. Professional, academic and field learning experiences must satisfy the highest standards of excellence. The curriculum is designed to instill a sense of respect for human integrity, a concern for social conditions and a commitment to service within the value system of the profession.

The curriculum is developed according to the standards of the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education. Copies of these standards and the Educational Policy Statement are available in the reserve section of the Social Work Library, and in the office of the dean. These are also available online at Consistent with CSWE standards our curriculum is designed to assure that graduates master the core competencies and practice behaviors identified as essential for all social workers. The curriculum assures that students also acquire advanced practice behaviors in their practice concentration and a field of practice. Please see for a listing of these competencies and advanced practice behaviors. 

The orienting knowledge courses at the core of the curriculum are related to human needs, particularly to the problems of the more vulnerable and disadvantaged populations of New York City. The required courses, electives and majors are all constructed to teach the social work approach to meeting the needs of society.

In addition to courses offered for credit, the school provides workshops on topics such as child abuse and neglect, cultural diversity, ethics, and government benefits, as required by the New York State Department of Education, Division of Professional Licensing. Course work is augmented and reinforced by the all-important field practicum. Agencies and service organizations in the various areas of social work practice, with their qualified agency supervisors and field instructors, provide the vital training and experience for students. The curriculum is organized into five professional curriculum areas and five fields of practice that reflect human needs and values and their associated social institutions and services. The curriculum includes foundation and advanced courses in:

Human Behavior and the Social Environment
Social Welfare Policy and Services
Platform Course

Practice including Social Work Practice Learning Lab
Method Concentrations
Social Work Research
Professional Seminar
Field Education

Human Behavior and the Social Environment

This three-course sequence SSW 71100  SSW 71200  SSW 71300  and its related electives address the person-in-situation matrix with a specific focus of attention on issues of diversity (culture, class, ethnicity, race, age, sexual orientation, spirituality, ability, and gender). Stages of development across the life span define one axis, while critical contexts (individual, family, function and role-based groups, communities, organizations, and society) define the other axis of environmental forces that may impinge on social functioning.

Social Welfare Policy and Services

This two-course sequence SSW 70150  and one course in the 70200 series explores the history, planning, intent and operations of the US social welfare system. The courses identify key ideological frameworks that shape the current public debates over social welfare policy, analyze the structure of the social welfare system, and explore issues of poverty in the context of oppression, diversity and social justice. The 70200 courses each focus on a selected social welfare issue or special population.

Social Work Practice Learning Lab

The development of foundation competence is required in cross methods practice. This is achieved through enrollment in the Social Work Practice Learning Lab 1 & 2 and related field practicum skill workshops.

In the first year all students take SSW 71700 and SSW 71800 Social Work Practice Learning Lab. This course explores the institutional and social context of social work practice, the problem areas and populations served by social workers, and the differential use of practice methods and builds foundation competencies in professional social work. After successful completion of SSW 71700 students commence courses in their concentration.

Practice Methods Concentrations

Development of advanced competence in one of the following practice method concentrations: clinical practice with individuals and families; community organization, planning, and development; and organizational management and leadership is required. Every student majors in one of these concentrations and must take three sequential courses in that concentration or (with permission) two sequential courses in that concentration and an approved multi-method practice elective. Additional method and practice courses are offered; sequencing of requirements varies according to the various programs.

Clinical Practice with Individuals and Families

The clinical practice with individuals and families concentration prepares students for agency-based clinical practice in the urban environment. Students in this concentration are prepared to counsel individuals, pairs and families in order to help with a variety of personal, interactional and social problems. Concepts of clinical assessment and intervention are taught from a biopsychosocial perspective. Students are exposed to a variety of theoretical modalities that are augmented by evidence-based-practice perspectives. Issues of diversity and oppression are integrated into the study of assessment, treatment planning and intervention as well as the professional relationship. Emphasis is placed on differential assessment and intervention with a variety of diverse client groups. Clinical services are offered in a wide range of practice settings, such as child and family agencies, unions, industries, hospitals, mental health and substance abuse clinics, courts and settlement houses. The setting of the service makes possible in-depth teaching about specific populations and problems, managing service needs and styles and such specific intervention models as crisis intervention, advocacy, and various brief and long-term treatment modalities.

Community Organization, Planning and Development

This concentration develops students’ competence for community-based practice.  It stresses the skills, techniques and strategies needed to mobilize people and resources to solve basic social problems at either the neighborhood or city-wide level.  The social planning and social reform aspects of social work practice are underscored in seeking change to alleviate individual and family problems. Education and training are developed in collective action, advocacy, program evaluation, proposal writing, community outreach, legislative advocacy and other vital organizing roles. Field practicums occur in a number of settings in international organizations, city and state planning agencies, legislative offices, community engagement arms of human service organizations, and a wide variety of grassroots organizations. Students in these placements work on everything from local economic development issues, food and hunger projects, and tenant advocacy to LGBTQ issues and women’s rights.

Organizational Management and Leadership

Students who elect to concentrate in Organizational Management and Leadership (OML) are prepared to assume varied management positions in social agencies, including the traditional supervisory, middle management, and executive positions as well as jobs as program planner and analyst, staff trainer, program director, or budget analyst. Those focusing on OML develop conscious and strategic use of self in managing the complex tasks of program managers. Students seeking to concentrate in OML should have some prior experience either in management and/or social work or human services line work. Field practicums are available in a wide range of public and private social agencies. Many students entering OML are in our One-Year Residency Program. A wide variety of placements are available for two-year OML students with the many graduates of SSSW in leadership roles around the city.

Professional Seminar

The Professional Seminar is a capstone seminar that requires students to identify an emerging practice issue or concern, examine the known evidence, and design a study that better addresses the issue at hand. The course is designed as an integrating and synthesizing experience, wherein students consult with one another in addressing a specific concern. The course launches students into the profession with a keen sense that they can influence the context in which they will practice as social workers.

Field Education

This two-to-four-term sequence of on-site work in social service agencies is an integral component of all pathways to the MSW degree. Students in field placement must be concurrently enrolled in a practice course: Social Work Practice Learning Lab, methods course or other practice course. Training is provided by a field instructor; it is monitored by the instructional faculty and the student’s adviser.


Students may choose from a menu of courses within each curriculum area.

Fields of Practice Specializations

Students are, expected to specialize in one of the following Fields of Practice. This includes an appropriate field practicum, enrollment in two pre-designated courses, and a specialization focus in research or professional seminar. Students should consult their faculty adviser for details.

Children, Youth and Families

This field of practice is designed for students interested in working in public and/or private child welfare agencies, schools, or children, youth, and family organizations in direct service, supervisory, or administrative capacities. The developmental needs of children, youth and families; crises and disruptions in family life (broadly defined); conflicts and violence; child placement issues are a focus of attention. It prepares social workers to provide a broad range of services to individuals, groups and families in all phases of the family life cycle.


This specialization explores the aging process and the variety of issues affecting older adults and their family systems. It is guided by the principle that older adults are individuals and members of a family and community with rights and responsibilities—who must be afforded the necessary protection and assistance to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

Health and Mental Health

This field of practice is designed for students interesting in meeting the changing needs of people with medical and psychiatric problems; addressing patients’ rights, delivering services in hospitals, ambulatory care or primary care facilities, community-based clinics; chronic and long-term care settings.

World of Work

The theme of work over the life span including services to employed, unemployed, and underemployed adults, older adults and their families, often through management or labor-sponsored service programs.

Immigrants and Global Social Work

Indigenous perspectives from around the globe inform learning and practice in international contexts, and with immigrants and refugees in the urban environment. Special attention is paid to understanding the diverse meaning of adversity, strength and well-being towards developing sustainable, rights-driven and culturally relevant policy and practice.

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