My MSW Program

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I decided that a great post for today would be a more detailed description of the MSW program I’ve just started.

Advanced Standing

Because my undergrad degree is a Bachelor of Social Work, I qualify for Advanced Standing. The basic idea behind this is that Bachelor’s level students are prepared for generalist social work (case management and the like) during their senior year. The first year of a two-year MSW program contains the same material. Therefore, I am ready to take the specialization year, which could include organizational social work or clinical social work. I’m doing the clinical track.

Clinical Track

The clinical track prepares social work students for licensure and practice as clinical or interpersonal social workers. These social workers you would find as therapists, counselors, school social workers, medical social workers, court liaisons, welfare workers, and in similar positions. These social workers perform assessments and complete evaluations on individuals, families, and groups. They conduct practice-informed research and use research of theory and case studies and indications to shape their practices.


Because I am on a satellite campus, I have some options for electives. First, several electives will be offered on or near Oakland University’s campus. Second, I am welcome to take an elective in East Lansing, provided I can manage the schedule and the commute. Finally, there are online options for electives. I have opted to take 2 electives in Lansing during the summer semester. Each of these electives are intensive, two-day courses that are worth one credit each. In the Fall semester and Spring semester, I am taking online electives—two at 3 credits each. Each student must have a minimum of 6 elective credits, but I’ve signed up for 8 credits of electives that work well with my situation as a satellite student. One of the summer electives was in the middle of June, and I did very well in it. Doing well in that elective boosted my confidence in my ability to complete this program.

Program Length and Structure

Because I’m in the full-time program, I will complete it in 3 semesters, or just 10 months. The summer semester contains what program directors call “bridge courses”. These are designed to prepare BSW students, prepared by their perspective programs as generalist social workers, for the more track-intensive courses to follow in the next two semesters, Fall (late August to mid-December) and Spring (January to late April). Commencement will follow in the beginning of May.

With full-time coursework, students also complete a field placement for 16 hours per week each week that classes are held. The summer bridge semester is 7 weeks long, so field coordinators require 126 hours of field during this semester. The Fall and Spring semesters each require 238 hours to total just over 600 hours of field.

During the summer semester, including elective credits, I am carrying 10 credits. In the Fall semester and Spring, I carry 15 credits each semester for a total of 40 credits. Keep in mind that the field placement counts as college credit as part of that number.

It all sounds somewhat daunting, especially the condensed summer bridge semester, but it will go much more quickly than I realize. I’m enjoying it so far and I know that I will feel awe and gratitude when I finish just 10 short months from now.

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