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

Social Work - Community, Organization, and Social Action Concentration, MSW

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Foundation Requirements

All MSW students must complete the MSW Foundation requirements listed below before being permitted to take concentration skill courses; second-level human behavior and the social environment, social welfare, or research courses; skill electives; and concentration field practicum, unless they are exempted via Advanced Standing credit or examination or an academic plan that is approved by the advisor and the program director.


In addition to the five courses listed above, students must complete 6 credits of Foundation Field Work. Students entering with advanced standing may be exempted from part or all of the Foundation Field Work requirement.

Skill Concentration Curricula

Upon completion of the foundation requirements, students begin course work in either of the two skill concentrations: Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups or Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA). In each skill concentration, students can opt to choose a University of Pittsburgh certificate program, or a School of Social Work certificate program.

Community, Organization, and Social Action

The Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA) specialization in the MSW Program (formerly Community Organization and Social Administration) is seeking socially-active and civically-engaged students who seek leadership careers in community human services, community development, and community change/social policy practice as professional social workers.  Graduates pursue established and emerging professional opportunities in public and private, profit, nonprofit and community-based organizations in such fields as health, children and youth, family services, disability services, community revitalization and development, philanthropy, policy and advocacy, community and social planning, community/neighborhood centers, human resources and community affairs, and more. In COSA, we see our work as:

Community Organizing, Planning, Development, and Change

Organizational Leadership and Human Services Management

Social Policy & Advocacy Practice in the Social Policy Arena

Action as Activist social workers leading change in communities, organizations, & policy arenas

COSA Curriculum

The MSW in COSA can be generally completed in two-years of graduate study; however, students have options for either part-time study (must be completed in four years) and a new one-year option (for students with advanced standing from an undergraduate social work degree). See Curriculum Requirements.

COSA Specialization - Human Services Management Certificate

Our School of Social Work is one a number of leading macro social work program in schools of social work to offer a national Human Services Management Certificate in partnership with the Network of Social Work Management, a national organization supporting education and practice for human services management competency.  See Human Services Management Certificate Requirements.

COSA Joint Degrees

Many COSA students pursue joint degree study with other professions, including a new joint MSW/MBA option, as well as long-standing joint degree studies in Public Health (MSW/MPH), Public and International Affairs (MSW/MPA, MID, or MPIA), Law (MSW/JD), and Divinity (MSW/MDiv) in partnership with the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  The School of Social Work and COSA strong support and seek to develop opportunities for inter-professional study and practice for social workers.  See Joint Degree Opportunities.

Celebrating 60 Years of Community Organizing (CO)

The School of Social Work has the first and long-standing program in Community Organizing (CO) in any social work or professional school in the country.  In fall 1958, the School launched its first two-year curriculum in Community Organizing, and with our 100th Anniversary as a school of social work in 2018 we are also celebrating our 60thyear of CO. Read a history of the community organizing program.



MSW Courses

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