Course Curriculum

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 one semester 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.

Foundation Purpose and Learning Objectives:

The M.S.W. 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

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 an 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.

Clinical Practice

Clinical Practice is the application of theories, methods, skills, values and ethics needed to enhance the cognitive, mental, emotional, behavioral, physical and social well-being of individuals, couples, families, groups and communities.Clinical practice requires leadership in promoting social, economic and political justice. Its methods are relationship-centered, contextualized, culturally sensitive and strengths focused. It includes knowledge about biopsychosocial functioning - and - evidence based interventions. Clinical practice includes, (but not limited to) assessment and intervention, diagnosis and treatment, education and prevention, advocacy, counseling and psychotherapy, supervision and consultation. Students in the Clinical concentration are required to take these three courses:
  • Transtheoretical: Cognitive Behavioral Interventions
  • Transtheoretical Brief Targeted Interventions
  • Clinical Applications of DSM (practice).

Recommended Concentration Electives for Clinical Students include:

  • SOCW 7307 Social Work and the Law
  • SOCW 7321 Multicultural Practice
  • SOCW 7340 Clinical Practice with Children and Adolescents
  • SOCW 7343 Clinical Practice with Families
  • SOCW 7347 School Social Work Practice
  • SOCW 7351 Supervision and Consultation in Social Work
  • SOCW 7356 Social Work Practice with Groups in Clinical Settings
  • SOCW 7360 SW Practice-Health Care
  • SOCW 7365 Crisis Intervention
  • SOCW 7366 Grief and Bereavement Therapy
  • SOCW 7374 Mediation for Social Workers
  • SOCW 7377 Drugs in Society
  • SOCW 7397 Child Abuse and Neglect
  • SOCW 7397 Clinical Social Work Practice with Latinos
  • SOCW 7397 Practice Issues in Clinical Social Work
  • SOCW 7397 Self Examination of Life Foundation (SELF)
  • SOCW 7397 Social Work Practice with Elders
  • SOCW 7397 Professional Self Care

Recommended Crossover MACRO Electives for Clinical Students include:

  • SOCW 6354 Managing Human Service Organizations
  • SOCW 7320 Empowerment
  • SOCW 7323 Organizational Behavior and Change
  • SOCW 7330 Fiscal Management and Budgeting
  • SOCW 7338 Community Empowerment with Elders of Color
  • SOCW 7353 Professional Grant Writing for Social Work
  • SOCW 7397 Global Justice
  • SOCW 7397 Trabajo Social Comunitario (Community Practice in Latino Communities)
  • SOCW 7329 Social Policy Advocacy
  • SOCW 7397 Administrative Practice
  • SOCW 7397 Dynamics of Leadership
  • SOCW 7397 Strategies for Community Development

MACRO Practice

MACRO Practice prepares students for practice in urban settings where the needs of diverse, vulnerable populations require highly skilled professional leaders. Work in communities, in public and private organizations is designed to promote progressive social change that contributes to the growth and empowerment of individuals, agencies and communities.Core concepts and practice skills are developed for work at the community, organizational, societal, and global levels. Students are prepared to assume leadership positions as advocates, managers, program planners, researchers, policy analysts, and agency and community capacity builders. Students in this concentration are required to take these four courses:
  • Administrative Practice (practice course)
  • Dynamics of Leadership (a combination human behavior & practice course)
  • Strategies of Community Development (theory/practice)
  • Social Policy Advocacy (policy)

Recommended Concentration Electives for MACRO students include:

  • SOCW 6354 Managing Human Service Organizations
  • SOCW 7304 Women’s Issues
  • SOCW 7320 Empowerment
  • SOCW 7323 Organizational Behavior and Change
  • SOCW 7330 Fiscal Management and Budgeting
  • SOCW 7338 Community Empowerment with Elders of Color
  • SOCW 7351 Supervision and Consultation in Social Work
  • SOCW 7353 Professional Grant Writing for Social Work
  • SOCW 7397 Global Justice
  • SOCW 7397 Trabajo Social Comunitario (Community Practice in Latino Communities)

Recommended Crossover Clinical Electives for MACRO students include:

  • SOCW 7321 Multicultural Practice
  • SOCW 7340 Clinical Practice with Children and Adolescents
  • SOCW 7343 Clinical Practice with Families
  • SOCW 7347 Social Work Practice & Interventions in Schools
  • SOCW 7356 Social Work Practice with Groups in Clinical Settings
  • SOCW 7360 SW Practice-Health Care
  • SOCW 7365 Crisis Intervention
  • SOCW 7366 Grief and Bereavement Therapy
  • SOCW 7374 Mediation for Social Workers
  • SOCW 7397 Clinical Social Work Practice with Latinos
  • SOCW 7397 Practice Issues in Clinical Social Work
  • SOCW 7397 Self Examination of Life Foundation (SELF)
  • SOCW 7397 Social Work Practice with Elders
  • SOCW 7397 Professional Self Care
  • SOCW 7397 Critical Issues and Mental Health Policy
  • SOCW 7397 Clinical Applications of the DSM
  • SOCW 7397 Contextualized Strengths Based Practice
  • SOCW 7397 Transtheoretical Clinical Practice

MSW Specializations

Optional specializations are available to students enrolled at the University of Houston who would like to develop knowledge and skills essential to working effectively with specific populations and/or social issues. Specializations are available in Gerontology, Health Disparities, Political Social Work, and Social Work Practice with Latinos. These optional specializations do not require additional hours; however, they are earned by completing 9 credit hours of select courses in the chosen certificate area as well as a field praticum, with a minimum of a “B” average.