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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
    
 
  Jun 16, 2024
 
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Master of Social Work Program


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MSW Mission and Goals

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work, successor to the Division of Social Work in the Department of Sociology of the University, was founded in September 1918, and accepted its first class of MSW students that year. The school shares with the University a commitment to the advancement and application of knowledge. Students in Pitt’s School of Social Work learn the knowledge, skills, and values to engage in culturally competent practice with diverse populations and communities. They learn to critically analyze personal, familial, and environmental factors affecting practice settings and practice techniques, and to advocate for those who confront barriers to fulfilling their potential.

The school’s students and faculty members also engage in scholarly activities that contribute to professional knowledge about complex social problems and innovative approaches to ameliorate those problems. In addition, school students, alumni, and personnel serve local, national, and international communities by developing and participating in collaborations with social agencies, community-based organizations, government, and foundations.

The mission of the School of Social Work is to advance knowledge and to apply that knowledge for the fulfillment of human potential through the prevention and amelioration of social problems. The school is committed to promoting the values of social and economic justice. Recognizing the complexities of contemporary society, the school dedicates itself through its educational, research, and public service activities to advocating for a society that respects the dignity and achievement of all individuals, families, and communities.

In furtherance of its mission, the School of Social Work strives to:

  • Educate professional social workers with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to engage in culturally competent practice with diverse populations and communities; to critically analyze personal, familial, and environmental factors affecting practice settings and practice techniques; and to advocate for those who confront barriers to maximizing the achievement of their fullest potential.
  • Engage in scholarly activities that contribute to professional knowledge about complex social problems and innovative approaches to ameliorate those problems.
  • Provide service to local, national, and international communities through the development of and participation in collaborations with social agencies, community-based organizations, government, and foundations.

The school offers a full continuum of social work educational programs at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels (as well as a continuing education program for practicing social workers). The school’s bachelor’s and master’s programs in social work are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and graduates are eligible for full membership in the National Association of Social Workers.

MSW Admissions

http://www.socialwork.pitt.edu

The following section details admissions information particular to applicants to the MSW program.

Persons seeking admission to the MSW program must exhibit potential and professional capabilities essential to function effectively in a graduate school environment.
An applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • A minimum average of a B (3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale) in all undergraduate work. 

A student with a grade point average of less than 3.0 may be admitted provisionally to the program. Applicants with grade point averages of less than 3.0 may be required to interview with the school’s admissions office.

  • Successful completion of 3-credit coursework in statistics or quantitative analysis (If a student does not have a course in Statistics, this requirement must be completed before enrollment)
  • A minimum of 60 undergraduate (or undergraduate plus graduate) divided into 30 credits in the liberal arts and 30 credits in the social sciences is recommended, not required.

Liberal Arts classes include:

  • Humanities-English, fine arts, languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and communication.
  • Fine Arts- Art, photography, dance, and theater
  • Natural science-biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and statistics.

Social Sciences courses include:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Social Work
  • History
  • Criminal Justice

(Human Biology no longer required effective November 2007)

Applicants applying for advanced standing must have earned a BSW degree from an accredited Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) baccalaureate program within seven years of their scheduled enrollment dates.

School of Social Work Policy #25:4: Consistent with the Council on Social Work Education’s Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards, the School of Social Work’s MSW Program does not grant course credit, transfer credit, or exemptions for prior life, volunteer, or employment experience

We do not require GRE Scores.

Bradford & Johnstown Campuses

The School of Social Work offers its MSW degree program at both the University of Pittsburgh’s Bradford and Johnstown campuses. Admissions requirements at those two campuses are the same as at the Pittsburgh campus, except that the Bradford and Johnstown campuses offer the MSW degree in a part-time-only program format. In addition, the Bradford and Johnstown campuses will only admit students once every other year (in 2020, 2022, 2024, etc.).

Readmission

Formerly enrolled students who withdrew from Pitt’s MSW program for more than one year and wish to be readmitted to the school must resubmit an MSW application. In addition, such students must submit a two-page, double spaced personal statement stating why they are requesting readmission and why they believe they will be successful this time around. Also, one new letter of recommendation (not from a reference previously submitted upon initial enrollment to the school) must be submitted.  

Transfer Applications

Applicants who within the past seven academic years have completed graduate-level coursework may be granted transfer credit. For applicants requesting transfer credit from non-social work graduate degree programs, a maximum of 12 credits can be transferred. Applicants transferring from other Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited schools can receive a maximum of 30 transfer credits.

School of Social Work Policy #25:4: Consistent with the Council on Social Work Education’s Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards, the School of Social Work’s MSW Program does not grant course credit, transfer credit, or exemptions for prior life, volunteer, or employment experience

Application and Admission Materials

Completed applications include the school online application form, transcripts, three letters of reference, a written statement, a resume, an agreement to participate in field education form and a $40 application fee. Applicants may request an interview, but this is not required. The director of admissions and student affairs may also request an interview.

Applications and other admissions information are available from:

Office of Admissions
School of Social Work
412-624-6302
E-mail: sswadmissions@pitt.edu
Online applications are accepted at:
http://www.socialwork.pitt.edu/admissions/msw/application-process

Application materials may also be downloaded from the School of Social Work Web site or applications may be completed directly online. These materials are available at www.socialwork.pitt.edu/admissions/.

Each year, the school has a priority admissions deadline of January 10, 2020. All first time MSW applicants to the school who complete their application by the priority deadline, and have a minimum 4 year undergraduate GPA of 3.4 are guaranteed both acceptance and a scholarship assistance. The school’s regular application deadline is May 31. 

Selection of Skill Concentration

At the time of admission, students are required to designate a skill specialization. Students can choose to specialize in either:

The two skill specialization curricula build on foundation curriculum content and prepare students for autonomous social work practice at an advanced level. The specializations expose students to: specific practice roles; the uses and applications of research for practice; practice with and on behalf of the welfare of the poor and oppressed; practice with diverse populations; policy, organizational, and environmental influences on practice; and advanced practice theories, methods, and strategies.

Admissions Interview

Admissions interviews may be initiated by the admissions officer of the school in some special circumstance. Decisions on applications for admission are usually made without such an interview. All applicants are welcome to seek information-sharing interviews.

Financial Assistance for MSW Students

The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work recognizes that financing graduate education is extremely important, especially because the cost of higher education continues to increase each year.  Please note that it is the University’s Financial Aid Office that administers the process of awarding loans to graduate students.  The School of Social Work awards scholarships to its master’s level students and scholarship and assistantships to its PhD students.

Financial aid is not awarded to any student until admission to the School has been granted.  Early application for financial aid is strongly encouraged.

Each year, the school has a priority admissions deadline of January 10, 2020. All first time MSW applicants to the school who complete their application by the priority deadline, and have a minimum 4 year undergraduate GPA of 3.4 are guaranteed both acceptance and a scholarship assistance. The school’s regular application deadline is May 31. 

Students applying for financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.  Pitt’s federal school code is 008815. The FAFSA form is not available until January for those applying for the next academic year.

MSW Degree Requirements

The MSW curriculum is designed to provide students, who enter with a liberal arts perspective, a professional education that includes both breadth and depth of knowledge and skills development. The Generalist Curriculum addresses the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and values that comprise the generalist social work perspective.

Upon this common foundation rests the curricula for the two advanced Skill Specializations:

  1. Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups » (Direct Practice)
  2. Community, Organization, and Social Action » (COSA)

Employees of public child welfare agencies interested pursuing an MSW degree should visit the CWEL home page.

Those interested in working with older adults should visit the Aging Initiatives & Programs page.

The MSW degree requires completion of a minimum of 60 credits-42 class and 18 field practicum. Both the class and field requirements include foundation and skill concentration curricula. Please refer to the MSW Student Handbook (PDF) to obtain more detailed information on course of study plans for the various MSW curricula options. 

Field education is an important component of the MSW educational experience. Students complete both a foundation and a concentration-specific placement as part of their MSW studies.
The School of Social Work offers seven joint degree options for master’s level students. Learn more about these dual, joint and cooperative degree program options.

MSW Academic Standards: Probation

A student in the MSW program will be placed on academic probation if:

  1. after completing at least nine (9) quality point credits, the student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.00;
  2. the student receives a grade lower than a B- in a required course (including the five foundation courses, the required concentration skill courses, the second-level human behavior, policy, and research courses, and any specific courses needed to fulfill specialization or certificate requirements), or
  3. the student receives an NC grade for field placement (SWGEN 2099 , SWINT 2099 , or SWCOSA 2099 ).

The MSW program director will send a letter to the student and the student’s advisor notifying them of the student’s placement on academic probation. The letter will advise the student and the student’s advisor of the date and location of an academic review meeting, to be convened by the MSW program director, to discuss the terms of the student’s academic probation. A copy of this letter will be placed in the student’s folder. Depending on the outcome of the meeting, a student placed on academic probation may be required to modify the student’s course of study in the MSW program, including changing the academic courses for which the student is registered and/or delaying entry into or suspending field placement.

Part-Time MSW Students

Students pursuing a part-time course of study must complete the MSW degree in four academic years.

The school offers part-time study for persons seeking to earn the master’s degree whose economic, occupational, or familial situation precludes their current enrollment on a full-time basis. Preference for admission to part-time study will be given to persons currently employed in social service positions or to persons whose social service careers were interrupted by family responsibilities. Others interested in social work as a career are, of course, welcome to apply and will be given full consideration.

To the extent feasible, courses will be offered during evenings. However, part-time students must be prepared to take some courses during the day. Part-time students will have to make accommodations and be flexible in scheduling field instruction since field placement sites that offer evening or weekend instruction are very limited.

Part-time students will need to enroll in at least two courses a term during two of the three terms each academic year in order to qualify for the MSW degree. The following options are acceptable:

Two courses (three credits per course)
OR

One course (three credits) plus a minimum of three field credits
OR

A minimum of six field credits (equivalent to two courses)
Part-time students must complete all of the MSW degree requirements in four years.

Advanced Standing and Exemptions for MSW Course Work

Students entering the MSW program may be granted advanced standing, receive transfer credit, or be exempt from specific course requirements if their coursework was completed within the past 7 years. The definition for each is:

Advanced Standing is defined as the awarding of academic credit toward a degree by the School of Social Work for prior baccalaureate course or field work completed at an undergraduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education when such work is evaluated as entirely comparable. Those granted advanced standing during the admission process can receive up to 12 academic credits and six field education credits. In addition, they can also receive an exemption from Foundations of Social Work Practice with Diverse Populations (SWGEN 2034). Full-time students who have advanced standing graduate in December of their second year. Students who have advanced standing are allowed to pursue their MSW degree on a part-time basis, but must complete all of the requirements for the MSW degree in four years.

Transfer Credit is defined as the awarding of academic credit toward a degree by the School of Social Work for post-baccalaureate course or field work completed at an accredited academic institution when such work is evaluated as entirely comparable.

Exemption is defined as the waiving of a required academic course by the School of Social Work following an evaluation of the student’s previous course work that is determined to be essentially identical to the required course being waived. Such an exemption does not, however, reduce the number of credits required for graduation.

Specific details and limitations regarding this policy and related procedures are described in the Student Handbook and on the School of Social Work Web site, http://www.socialwork.pitt.edu/academics/policies-handbooks.

Consistent with the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE’s) Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards, the School of Social Work’s MSW program does not grant advanced standing, transfer credit, or exemption for prior life, volunteer, or employment experience.

Generalist Curriculum

The generalist curriculum is designed to provide all incoming master’s students with the basic values, knowledge, and skills needed to gain competence in applying the generalist social work perspective to practice. An understanding of the profession’s values orientation, history and philosophy, and frames of reference for practice establishes a basis for students to progress through the MSW Program’s advanced concentration curricula. All MSW students must complete the MSW Generalist requirements listed below unless they are exempted via advanced standing credit or testing.

Required Generalist Courses

SWRES 2021 Generalist Social Work Research 3 crs.

SWGEN 2034 Social Work Practice with Diverse Populations 3 crs.

SWBEH 2063 Human Behavior and the Social Environment 3 crs.

SWWEL 2081 Social Welfare 3 crs.

SWGEN 2098 Generalist Social Work Practice 3 crs.

SWGEN 2099 Generalist Field Education 6 crs.

Programs

    CertificateJoint DegreeMaster’s

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