Curriculum Overview

The MSW program at University of Houston consists of 63 semester credit hours. The maximum graduate student MSW course load in the Fall or Spring semesters is limited to 15 semester credit hours (SCH) and 6 SCH in the Summer semester (including all summer sessions). Our program is unique in that it offers a 15 hour foundation, which serves as the prerequisite for all following coursework. See the MSW Degree Plan Checklist for more information about required coursework. 

The Foundation Semester

The intensive foundation curriculum is organized around content on the foundation of professional social work, including coursework in practice, policy, research, and human behavior in the social environment. A practice skills lab and a foundation field practicum (180 clock hours) are also required. The foundation totals 15 credit hours. Students must satisfactorily complete 15 credit hours before enrolling in any advanced courses.

The MSW program is rooted in the liberal arts and includes an integrated, professional foundation upon which the advanced curriculum is built.

Upon completion of the foundation curriculum, students will be able to:

  • Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice;
  • Understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards and principles, and practice accordingly;
  • Practice without discrimination with respect and with knowledge and skills related to age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, family structure, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation;
  • Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and delineate strategies of advocacy and social change that advance social and economic justice;
  • Understand and interpret the history of the social work profession and its contemporary structures and issues;
  • Apply the knowledge and skills of an integrated and contextualized social work perspective to practice with systems of all sizes;
  • Use theoretical frameworks supported by empirical evidence to understand individual development and behavior across the life span and the interactions among individuals and between individuals and families, groups, organizations, and communities;
  • Analyze and influence social policies;
  • Use critical thinking to evaluate research studies, apply research findings to practice, and evaluate their own practice interventions;
  • Use communication skills differentially across client populations, colleagues, and communities;
  • Use supervision and consultation appropriate to social work practice;
  • Function within the structure of organizations and service delivery systems.

The Advanced Curriculum

In the GCSW curriculum, our two concentrations (Clinical and Macro) refer to methods of social work. A social work Method is the process of how social work services will be delivered. Our specializations (Health and Behavioral Health, Political Social Work, Social Work Practice with Latinos, and Individualized) refer to fields of practice. A social work field of practice is the arena or specialized fields in which social work services are delivered.  

The diagram that follows demonstrates this distinction:

Curriculum Diagram

Following the Foundation Semester, all students complete advanced courses in Social Welfare Policy Analysis, Multilevel Assessment, and Evaluation of Practice (three credit hours each), and nine or twelve credit hours in their chosen concentration. The advanced curriculum also includes a minimum of 12 or 15 credit hours of free choice elective coursework, and an additional three hour Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE) elective. All students complete 720 clock hours in advanced field practica; this is in addition to the 180 clock hours of foundation field (total clock hours=900). Students select an advanced concentration in either Clinical Social Work Practice, or Macro Practice. Nine credit hours are required for Clinical Practice while 12 credit hours are required for Macro Practice. Additionally, all students complete at least one “crossover elective course.” Clinical students will take at least one Macro Practice course. Macro Practice students will take at least one elective Clinical course.