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Individualized Specialization

Purpose Statement

The Individualized Specialization prepares students to engage in advanced social work practice in a substantive area of particular interest. Students select a specific population, social issue, or area of practice, and complete advanced training in this area, within a framework established by the GCSW.

Objectives

Students selecting the Individualized Specialization are required to develop 3-5 objectives for their specialization, specifying the advanced knowledge and skills they expect to demonstrate through completion of the specialization. All objectives must open with an action verb, and should be specific and measurable. Below are some examples of objective formatting that students may use:

  • Identify and thoroughly describe a specific population or social issue that requires specialized knowledge and skills for effective social work intervention.
  • Apply knowledge and skills learned through coursework in a field practicum setting.
  • Assess needs of the specialized population.
  • Analyze the range of individual and systemic issues impacting the specialized population.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical foundations, principles and assumptions underlying the population of interest.

Individualized Specialization Opportunities

Students pursuing the Individualized Specialization are responsible for identifying their own focus. Our course offerings support an array of Individualized Specialization topics; recent student choices include, but are not limited to, “Gerontology,” “International Social Work,” “International Human Trafficking,” “Child Welfare,” and “Social Entrepreneurship.”

Affiliated Faculty

Any GCSW faculty, by the nature of this specialization, could potentially be affiliated.

Elective Courses

Students must complete at least three 3-credit hour courses in their specified focus area. These courses can be selected from the GCSW and, with prior approval, from courses offered by other graduate-level programs. A strong, well-developed rationale must be provided for any course proposed to be taken outside of the GCSW. Courses completed prior to admission to the GCSW cannot be applied to this specialization. No more than one Independent Study course may be applied, and must receive prior approval from the Specialization Coordinator.

Field Criteria

Students must successfully complete at least one approved field placement course in a setting that serves the specific populations or addresses the specific social issue with which the student is specializing. This may be a Field II, III, IV practicum course or a 3-credit field elective. Individualized Specialization field settings should be proposed in consultation with the Field Education Office and the Curriculum Specialization Coordinator.

Sample Individual Specializations - Possible Course and Field Options

Please note that students are not limited to any of the course combinations suggested below.

Gerontology
Coursework might include any three courses from the following list:
SOCW 7397 Clinical SW Practice with Older Adults
SOCW 7336 Issues in Aging
SOCW 7354 Spirituality and Aging
SOCW 7366 Grief and Bereavement Therapy

 The field component could include a practicum in which the student develops skills in working with older adults either in a clinical or macro role under the supervision of a gerontology practitioner. Placements might include medical or hospice settings such as NCI-Sheltering Arms, Care for Elders, or Vantage Hospice.

 International Social Work
Coursework might include any three courses from the following list:
SOCW 7352 Social Work Practice with Latino Immigrants
SOCW 7360 International Social Work: A Comparative Approach
SOCW 7372 Social Work and Global Justice
SOCW 7397 Independent Study

The field component might include an international field practicum or a placement in Houston working with immigrants and refugees, like YMCA International Services, Las Americas Newcomer School, or the Tahrirh Center for Justice.

International Human Trafficking
Coursework might include any three courses from the following list:
SOCW 6304 Women’s Issues
SOCW 7371 Trauma and Social Work Practice
SOCW 7372 Social Work and Global Justice
SOCW 7397 Perspectives in Human Trafficking
SOCW 7397 Independent Study

The field component might include a field practicum in either a clinical or macro setting focused on victims of human trafficking, like Tahrirh Center for Justice, YMCA International Services, or United Against Human Trafficking.

Child Welfare
SOCW 7303 Child Abuse and Neglect
SOCW 7397 Core Concepts in Trauma Treatment for Children
SOCW 7340 Clinical Practice with Children and Adolescents 

The field component could include a practicum in which the student develops skills in working with vulnerable children, at agencies such as Children’s Protective Services or the Children’s Assessment Center.

Social Entrepreneurship
Coursework might include any three courses from the following list:
ENTR 3321 Social Entrepreneurship
ENTR 7336 Entrepreneurship Overview
GENB 7334 Brainstorming to Bankrolling: Beyond the Classroom – this course should be taken last
SOCW 7339 Professional Grant Writing for Social Work

The field component might include a practicum in which the student is able to apply social entrepreneurship concepts in the field setting. Placements might include agencies such as Change Happens!, United Way Care for Elders, or Third Ward Community Cloth.

Possible Funding Opportunities

The GCSW offers numerous funding opportunities. Interested students may find various funding opportunities connected with the focus area of their Individualized Specialization.