Social Work MSW Specializations

Specializations are offered by the GCSW. This option allows students enrolled at the University of Houston to develop specialized knowledge and skills essential to working effectively with specific populations and/or social issues. Specializations are available in the following areas:

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 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 practicum with a minimum of a "B" average.

For additional information, please contact your Academic Advisor.


Specializations

Political Specialization

Political Social Work
The Specialization in Political Social Work prepares students to engage in systems-level change, particularly in political and organizational arenas. Students receive advanced training in interacting with political actors and influencing political and organizational decisions, both individually and through advocating for and empowering clients and communities. Students completing the Political Social Work Specialization are expected to possess advanced skills that will enable them to assume leadership positions as community organizers, policy advocates, and policy analysts, as well as to integrate political advocacy skills into all levels of social work practice in order to promote social, economic, and political justice.

Objectives
Students completing this specialization are expected to demonstrate the following knowledge and skills:

  • To analyze the history of the social work profession and its role regarding influencing political environments
  • To demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical foundations, principles, and assumptions underlying political social work practice within and involving organizations, communities, and local, state, national, and international policy-making bodies
  • To assess political and power dynamics within organizations, communities, and local, state, national, and international policy-making bodies
  • To identify and demonstrate the capacity to implement strategies of advocacy and social change to advance social, economic, and political justice and human rights

9SCH

At least 1 of these 2 courses is required (3 SCH):
SOCW 7329: Social Policy Advocacy
SOCW 7320: Empowerment

2 elective course (6 SCH) chosen from the following list:
SOCW 7372: Global Justice Issues
SOCW 6304: Women’s Issues
SOCW 7321: Multicultural Practice
SOCW 7338: Community Empowerment with Elders of Color
SOCW 7374: Mediation for Social Workers
SOCW 7329: Social Policy Advocacy
SOCW 7320: Empowerment

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Social Work Practice with Latinos

Social Work Practice with Latinos
The Social Work Practice with Latinos Specialization aims to prepare social workers to work with the Latino/Latina populations in a variety of clinical, community, and social service settings. Through the courses in the specialization, students will deepen their awareness and understanding of the historical, political, economic, community, social, and cultural contexts of Latinos/Latinas. Students will also critically examine the variety of practice frameworks, socio-ecological concepts and theories, and cultural constructs that inform culturally-competent social work practice with diverse Latino and Latina individuals, groups, and communities. With the addition of a field component, students pursuing the specialization will also be able to demonstrate skills at working effectively with the Latino population in a variety of settings.

Objectives

  • To analyze the historical, social, political and economic influences on Latino populations and communities, and their impact on civic and social participation in society. 
  • To apply specialized knowledge, skills, values and attitudes for effective clinical, community, and organizational practice with Latino populations.
  • To demonstrate an understanding of historical and current immigration policies, immigrant rights and responsibilities, and legal precedents essential for analyzing policy and advocating for human rights.
  • To use skills in assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation of client needs using evidence based theory and practice methods, as well as traditional alternative approaches with diverse Latino populations.
  • To demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of critical concepts, terminology, frameworks and paradigms that define best practices with Latino populations in macro and micro settings. 

9SCH

At least 1 of these 2 courses is required (3 SCH):
SOCW 7393: Practice in Latino Communities
SOCW 7316: Clinical SW Practice with Latinos/Latinas

2 elective course (6 SCH) chosen from the following list:
SOCW 7352: Social Work Practice with Latino Immigrants
SOCW 7393: Practice in Latino Communities
SOCW 7316: Clinical SW Practice with Latinos/Latinas

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Gerontology Specialization

Gerontology
The Specialization in Gerontology addresses the educational needs of students who will be engaged in practice with older adults by providing them with rich opportunities to learn from gerontology experts and practitioners. This specialization has been developed according to standards and guidelines established by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

Objectives

  • To apply life-course perspectives to understanding the dynamics and meanings of later years.
  • To demonstrate skills in working with professionals from various specialties and disciplines, particularly in dealing with elders and families in multicultural settings.
  • To explain the fundamental distinction between individual aging (particularly as it manifests along gender, class, racial, and age differences) and societal aging (identified through macro/policy analyses).

9 SCH

One required course:
SOCW 7336: Issues in Aging

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Health Disparities Specialization

Health Disparities
Health disparities are defined as “differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States”. Many different populations are affected by disparities including ethnic minorities, residents of rural areas, women, children, older adults, and persons with disabilities. Social work practitioners and researchers play a critical role in the identification and reduction of health disparities and thus, require an understanding of the health challenges facing disadvantaged populations and evidence-based clinical, community, and/or policy interventions. The GCSW Specialization in Health Disparities builds upon faculty expertise, existing courses and relevant field placements to provide focused training in health disparities for MSW students. The MSW Specialization in Health Disparities trains students to identify, assess and address the needs of vulnerable population affected by health disparities.

Objectives

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the health problems (including mental health) associated with differences in incidence, prevalence, severity or burden between population groups, as well as the possible social, economic, environmental, political and other causes of disparities.
  • Apply evidence based behavioral and social sciences theory in analyzing both health disparities and health equity.

Apply skills through working in collaboration with other disciplines and professions devoted to health equity in projects and programs addressing health disparities using strategies such assessment, program/intervention development, policy development, evaluation and direct service and practice.

9SCH

1 of these 2 sections of the same course is required(3 SCH): 

SOCW 7326: Disparities in Health in America (summer)
HLT 7305: Disparities in Health in America (fall)

2 elective course (6 SCH) chosen from the following list:
SOCW 7320: Empowerment
SOCW 7321: Multicultural Practice
SOCW 7329: Affecting Social Policy
SOCW 7363: Health Care Systems and Issues
SOCW 7333: Bioethical Issues
HLT 6323: Cross-Cultural Aspects of Health

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Specialization Note

With the consultation and written permission from the Faculty Coordinator of Specializations, students may alternately take an elective course not on the above lists to fulfill the 6 SCH elective requirement. The course may be from another graduate department or college, independent study or offered at the GCSW.