Summary of social work graduate programs prepared by Melissa C.F. Becker, MSW, September 2000
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University of Minnesota—Duluth

Identity: Our MSW program was one of the first advanced generalist programs in the United States. Our curriculum provides students with an integrated professional knowledge base which prepares them to practice in a variety of areas during the course of their social work careers. This includes practice at the direct service, administrative and community development levels. The program has a strong and explicit commitment to serving under-served and under-represented populations, and it is one of only a few MSW programs in the nation which includes a special focus on American Indian social services. Our program also offers content on rural issues and provides a wide variety of field placement opportunities. Our relatively small size (30-35 new students a year) allows faculty to be easily accessible and knowledgeable about student concerns.

Based on general system theory and the understanding of the person-in-environment, the general program goal is to graduate students with advanced knowledge and skills in strengthening individuals, groups, families, organizations and communities, through interventions at the micro (direct service), mezzo (administration) and macro (community development) levels.

Committed to: diversity, collaboration, reflection, and empowerment.

Hours: 51 semester credits full time; 34 semester credits advanced standing. Just moved from a quarter system to a semester system. Generally 3 credit courses.

Pre Reqs: A bachelor's degree. Solid background in the liberal arts (courses in the arts, humanities, and behavioral and social sciences). College-level class in biology with content on human anatomical and physiological development; college-level class in statistics.

Program Structures: Full time 2 year program; Part-time plan of study (part-time and full-time plans of study are available with evening and late afternoon classes). Distance education; advanced standing.

Foundation Requirements: (potential organization) Human Behavior in the Social Environment I & II; Social Work Practice I , II & III; American Social Welfare Institution; Social Welfare Policies and Issues; Field I & II; Dynamics of Discrimination; Research I.

[potential alternative course organization: Human Behavior in the Social Environment; Dynamics of Discrimination; Social Welfare Policy; Introduction to Research; Generalist Practice: Micro; Generalist Practice: Mezzo & Macro; Field Placement I.]

Concentrations: Advanced Generalist, which prepares students for interventions at the direct service, administrative and community levels of practice. Advanced generalist social workers are seen as being especially suited to the needs of smaller communities and rural areas, where practitioners are called upon to provide a wide variety of services. Advanced generalist practitioners are needed in urban areas, as well, to creatively address increasingly complex and dynamic social problems.

Advanced Generalist Courses: (potential organization) Family-Centered Practice; Human Services Administration; Research II; Research Problems; Community Organizing or Rural Development; Required Advanced Policy, Practice, and American Indian Elective; Non-Social Work Elective; Other Elective(s).

*Advanced Policy Options: Family Policy; or American Indians and Social Policy; or Women and Social Policy.

*Advanced Practice Options: SW 5131 or 5133 Special Topics in Social Work (only if approved); or Practice with the Elderly; or Family and Child Practice; or Small Group Intervention; or Clinical Social Work Practice.

*American Indian Options: SW 5131 or 5133 Special Topics in Social Work (only if approved); or American Indians and Social Policy; or Issues in American Indian Mental Health; or Dynamics of American Indian Families; or Alcoholism and the American Indian Community.

[Potential alternative course organization: American Indians and Social Policy; Advanced Research; Project Seminar I; Project Seminar II; Advanced Practice: Individuals, Families, and Small Groups; Advanced Practice: Administration; Advanced Practice: Rural and Urban Community Organizing; Health in American Indian Communities; Dynamics of American Indian Families; Field Placement II; Electives in Social Work; Non-Social Work Elective(s).]

In addition, students must complete a Plan B research project (master’s thesis alternative) in connection with Research II and Research Problems courses. Students must also pass a final examination at the end of their last term (an oral exam regarding Plan B research and students’ advanced generalist studies).

Practicum: 2 field placements of 480 hours each. Advanced standing students complete one field placement. Placements are 16 hours a week over the course of each academic year. Students may choose to do a block placement, completed over summer session (40 hours/week for 12 weeks). Students also take part in field seminar groups. In addition, students must submit weekly logs to faculty liaisons several times over the course of each term.

The first year placement is geared more toward micro work. To reflect the advanced generalist model, at least two-thirds of the student’s second year placement must be focused on mezzo- and macro-level skill development. This model does not preclude a student's meeting his/her learning needs in advanced micro work, but it does mean that the learnings in mezzo and macro can not be short-changed to give disproportionate exposure to learnings at the micro level. This is consistent with the Department’s goal of producing students with a well-rounded repertoire of practice skills for use at all three system levels.

Electives: At least one graduate elective course from outside the Department of Social Work is required. Other electives as needed to fulfill advanced generalist studies.

Specialization Options: Title IV-E grants for students interested in specializing in public child welfare practice.

Dual Degree Options:


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You can email Melissa: socialwork@fullerbecker.com

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This page posted September 23, 2000