Department of Social Work

Mission Statement

Educating transformative culturally competent social workers.

The Department of Social Work offers the Master of Social Work degree.

Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree prepares students for advanced social work practice. Graduates work in professional positions serving diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students graduating from the program will demonstrate a commitment to cultural competence, multidimensional contextual practice, social responsibility, and transformative social work. The UTSA MSW program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Applicants with misdemeanor or felony charges or convictions may have difficulty being accepted by an agency to complete their field practicum, obtaining a social work license, and/or gaining employment as a social worker in some settings. See the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners Web site at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/socialwork/ for additional information.

The Master of Social Work degree program consists of two program tracks: a 60-semester-credit-hour program for students with undergraduate degrees that are not in social work, and a 36-semester-credit-hour program for students with undergraduate degrees in social work or at least 18 hours of graduate credit in social work.   

36-hour program: Applicants for this program must have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) awarded from a CSWE-accredited program or have successfully completed a minimum of 18 graduate semester credit hours in a CSWE-accredited MSW program. The minimum number of semester credit hours required for the degree, exclusive of coursework or other study required to remove deficiencies or to complete additional degree requirements not transferred, is 36 graduate credit hours.

60-hour program: Applicants for this program must have a bachelor’s degree. The minimum number of semester credit hours required for the degree, exclusive of coursework or other study required to remove deficiencies, is 60 graduate credit hours.

The 36-hour program is available only to students who have earned a BSW degree or successfully completed a minimum of 18 graduate semester hours from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Program Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy University-wide graduate admission requirements.

Admission requirements for all students include:

  1. a completed UTSA Graduate School application;
  2. official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended;
  3. an application packet found on the Graduate School’s website with instructions and required forms that includes the following:
    • a narrative statement addressing interest in and the fit with the UTSA MSW program not to exceed 1,250 words (approximately five pages). Make sure questions to be addressed are part of the packet;
    • three completed department recommendation forms from professionals familiar with applicant preparation for graduate social work education;
    • department forms documenting prior professional and volunteer experiences and academic preparation in the liberal arts;
  4. for international students, results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL; not more than five years old and a score of not less than 550 on the paper version, 79 on the internet version), or results of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS; not more than five years old and a score of not less than 6.5).

36-Hour Program

The 36-hour program is designed for applicants who have graduated with a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program  or have successfully completed a minimum of 18 graduate semester credit hours in CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work program. The minimum number of semester credit hours required for this MSW program track is 36 semester credit hours, course deficiencies and required UTSA courses for the degree not completed elsewhere, if a transfer student, may require additional coursework.

36-Hour Program Admission Requirements.  In addition to University-wide requirements and program admission requirements, applicants must have completed a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program within ten years from the date of application or have successfully completed a minimum of 18 graduate semester credit hours in a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work program.  BSW graduates with appropriate rationale, such as post-BSW practice experience, may apply and request an exception to the ten-year requirement in their application.

For admission to the 36-hour program, additional requirements include:

  • a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 semester credit hours of coursework for the BSW, as well as any graduate-level MSW coursework previously completed;
  • a reference letter from either the BSW field director/coordinator or BSW program director if a BSW applicant, or from the MSW program director/chair if an applicant has completed MSW courses, attesting to good standing status in the CSWE-accredited social work program where the student has completed coursework;
  • BSW applicants must provide a copy of the BSW field evaluation form which indicates number of clock hours completed, final grade, description of practicum setting (including community and clientele served), and accomplishments as a practicum student;
  • MSW applicants who have completed any portion of their foundation field practicum must provide a copy of the MSW field evaluation form which indicates number of clock hours completed, final grade, description of practicum setting (including community and clientele served), and accomplishments as a practicum student;
  • be in good standing at the last institution attended; and
  • be recommended for admission by the UTSA Department of Social Work Graduate Program Committee.

60-Hour Social Work Program

The 60-hour social work program is designed for applicants who have undergraduate degrees in something other than social work.  Non-BSW students must complete 24 semester credit hours of foundation courses and 36 hours of additional coursework in the MSW program.  The minimum number of semester credit hours required for the 60-hour program track is 60 semester credit hours; course deficiencies may require additional coursework. 

60-Hour Program Admission Requirements.  In addition to University-wide requirements and program admission requirements, applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree in something other than social work. 

For  admission to the 60-hour program, additional requirements include:

  1. a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 semester credit hours of undergraduate and graduate-level coursework  graduate-level coursework previously completed; 
  2. be in good standing at the last institution attended; and
  3. be recommended for admission by the UTSA Department of Social Work Graduate Program Committee.

Classification and Academic Standing Requirements

Students admitted as conditional or probationary students must satisfy specified conditions their first semester in the program for their admission status to be changed to that of an unconditional student. Admission as a special graduate or non-degree-seeking student does not guarantee subsequent admission as a degree-seeking student; such students must reapply for degree-seeking status.

Please refer to department Web site for further information: http://copp.utsa.edu/department/category/social-work/.

Degree Requirements

The minimum number of semester credit hours required for the degree, exclusive of coursework or other study required to remove deficiencies, is 36 for the BSW (advanced standing) student, 36 for the modified MSW degree option for transfer students from CSWE-accredited graduate social work programs, and 60 for the non-BSW student. Academic course credit cannot be granted for life or previous work experience.

A. 24 semester credit hours of foundation courses. Non-BSW students must complete the following courses:
SWK 5013Human Behavior and Social Environment: Dynamics of Individuals and Families3
SWK 5103Social Problems and Social Welfare Policy Analysis3
SWK 5113Generalist Social Work Practice3
SWK 5203Social Work Research3
SWK 5303Foundations of Social Work I3
SWK 5313Foundations of Social Work II3
SWK 5403Foundation Field Practicum I and Integrative Seminar3
SWK 5413Foundation Field Practicum II and Integrative Seminar3
B. 6 semester credit hours of courses particular to program mission and goals. All students must complete the following courses:
SWK 5233Global Context of Social Work3
SWK 5513Culturally Competent Practice with Diverse Populations3
C. 18 semester credit hours in Advanced Culturally Competent Practice. All students must complete the following courses:
SWK 5423Advanced Field Practicum III and Integrative Seminar3
SWK 5433Advanced Field Practicum IV and Integrative Seminar3
SWK 5443Advanced Social Work Methods: Individuals3
SWK 5463Advanced Social Work Methods: Groups3
SWK 5493Advanced Social Work Methods: Community Practice3
SWK 5523Advanced Social Work Methods: Children and Families3
D. 6 semester credit hours in Advanced Research and Policy. All students must complete the following courses:
SWK 5243Advanced Social Work Research: Practice and Program Evaluation3
SWK 5473Advanced Social Work Methods: Policy Practice and Advocacy3
E. 3 semester credit hours from the following electives. All students must complete one of the following courses:
SWK 5483Multidimensional Assessment3
or SWK 5633 Transformational Leadership in Social Work
F. 3 semester credit hours of electives. All students must complete one of the following:3
3 semester credit hours of free elective graduate coursework chosen in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor
Independent Study
Special Topics in Culturally Competent Practice
Total Credit Hours60

Comprehensive Examination

Students who successfully complete SWK 5433 Advanced Field Practicum IV and Integrative Seminar with a grade of “B” or better satisfy the comprehensive examination requirement for master’s degree graduates. (Students must earn a minimum grade of “B” in SWK 5433 as a degree requirement.)

Field Practicum

Students in the 60-semester-credit-hour program are expected to complete 900 clock hours of field experience under the supervision of an MSW social worker while in the program. Students complete a minimum of 450 clock hours over two semesters as part of their foundation coursework and an additional 450 clock hours over one or two semesters as part of their advanced coursework. Advanced standing students complete 450 clock hours of field practicum as part of their advanced coursework. The program’s field office arranges the placement and oversees the placement process. Although a limited number of placements are available for students who work full-time, students are expected to be as flexible as possible to ensure successful placement.

Social Work (SWK) Courses

SWK 5013. Human Behavior and Social Environment: Dynamics of Individuals and Families. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor or graduate advisor. This foundation course focuses on building students’ understandings of individual and family life span development with an emphasis on diversity and social justice issues. Ecological systems and cross-cultural development provide the organizing framework for this course. Critical to understanding individual and family dynamics is the student’s ability to critically evaluate and differentially apply multiple paradigms and theories. Emphasis is placed on the social construction of knowledge of human development.

SWK 5103. Social Problems and Social Welfare Policy Analysis. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor or graduate advisor. This foundation course examines the overall structure of the American social welfare system from a historical multidimensional contextual perspective that emphasizes the diversity of clients/client systems, problems, needs, and injustices. It also considers the parallel historical development of the profession of social work, including the ways it has responded to the demands of social problems across key periods of the American social welfare experience. An emphasis is placed on policy analysis as a foundation for advocacy on behalf of clients/client systems.

SWK 5113. Generalist Social Work Practice. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor or graduate advisor. This foundation course, taken the semester before students enter their first semester of foundation field practicum, focuses on the development of beginning knowledge, skills, and values needed to practice generalist social work within a community context. The course socializes students to the social work profession, with emphasis on the ecosystems perspective as an organizing framework for understanding clients/client systems and the strengths and empowerment perspectives. Professional values and the National Association of Social Work Code of Ethics are introduced, as well as the importance of self-reflection that incorporates an understanding of one’s own personal values. Attention is given to practice skills applicable in work with diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities, with emphasis on beginning relationship skills in engagement and assessment. Students will apply knowledge and skills learned by working in task groups to conduct an assessment of a neighborhood or community.

SWK 5203. Social Work Research. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor or graduate advisor. This foundation research course explores the role of research in culturally competent social work practice that emphasizes the diversity of clients/client systems, strengths, problems, needs and injustices. The course focuses on research methods and the use of ethical scientific methods used by social workers for evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence.

SWK 5233. Global Context of Social Work. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Completion of all foundation social work courses or consent of graduate advisor. This course, particular to the mission of the UTSA Department of Social Work, examines the historical, political, and cultural contexts of contemporary global social issues and the mutually reinforcing relationship between the local and the global. The course critically examines the economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions of globalization and the upheavals they produce for nations and people. Specific models of intervention and select approaches to social development seen as more compatible with social work’s commitment to social justice are examined to determine their respective strengths and weaknesses in response to contemporary social issues. In addition, the course raises critical questions about social work’s past and present ability to address the growing challenges of an increasingly complex integrated and interdependent world.

SWK 5243. Advanced Social Work Research: Practice and Program Evaluation. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses. This advanced research course prepares students to integrate research methods in the assessment, planning, intervention, and evaluation of practice/program effectiveness. Attention is given to the conduct, ethics, and application of research and evaluation principles when addressing social and economic justice issues with clients/client systems.

SWK 5303. Foundations of Social Work I. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work, completion of SWK 5013, SWK 5103, and SWK 5113 and concurrent enrollment in SWK 5403. This foundation course is the second course in a three-course sequence that focuses on the development of knowledge, skills, and values needed to practice generalist social work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The course is taken concurrently with SWK 5403 Foundation Field Practicum I and Integrative Seminar. This course incorporates ecosystems, strengths and empowerment perspectives, focusing on knowledge and skills needed to facilitate generalist practice with diverse clients/client systems, with an emphasis on engagement, assessment, evaluation, problem formulation, and contracting. Students apply concepts and skills learned in this course in work with clients/client systems in their field practicum setting. Specific attention is given to understanding human service agencies within a community and diversity context and planning a client group. (Formerly titled “Social Work Methods I.”).

SWK 5313. Foundations of Social Work II. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work, completion of SWK 5303 and SWK 5403, and concurrent enrollment in SWK 5413. This foundation course is the third course in a three-course sequence that focuses on the development of knowledge, skills, and values needed to practice generalist social work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The course focuses on knowledge and skills needed to facilitate work with diverse clients/client systems, with an emphasis on middle and end stages of the helping process. Specific attention is given to evaluating practice, planning and implementing an organizational or community change effort, and facilitating a client group. Students apply concepts and skills learned in this course in work with clients/client systems in their field practicum settings. An integrative seminar that emphasizes integration of theory and practice meets weekly. (Formerly titled “Social Work Methods II.”).

SWK 5403. Foundation Field Practicum I and Integrative Seminar. (2-8) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work, completion of SWK 5013, SWK 5103, and SWK 5113, and concurrent enrollment in SWK 5303. This foundation field practicum course is designed to serve as the integration of professional knowledge, values, and skills in real-world practice. It is a practice course based on supervised assignments designed to facilitate the student’s ability to develop and demonstrate independent learning competencies from a generalist social work perspective which includes skill in working with individuals, families, small groups, communities, and organizations. The student completes a minimum of 225 clock hours at an assigned field practicum site affiliated with UTSA. The student will continue in this same practicum setting for SWK 5413. An integrative seminar that emphasizes integration of theory and practice meets weekly. Students must earn a minimum grade of “B” in both the field and the integrative seminar components to pass this course; the field practicum and the integrative seminar each contribute 50 percent toward the final grade.

SWK 5413. Foundation Field Practicum II and Integrative Seminar. (2-8) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work, completion of SWK 5303 and SWK 5403, and concurrent enrollment in SWK 5313. This foundation field practicum course builds on knowledge and skills gained in SWK 5403, with a focus on demonstrating competencies from a generalist social work perspective and skill development with diverse clients/client systems. The student’s assignment from SWK 5403 continues at the same setting. The student completes a minimum of 225 clock hours. An integrative seminar that emphasizes integration of theory and practice meets weekly. Students must earn a minimum grade of “B” in both the field and the integrative seminar components to pass this course; the field practicum and the integrative seminar each contribute 50 percent toward the final grade.

SWK 5423. Advanced Field Practicum III and Integrative Seminar. (2-8) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation coursework and the majority of advanced courses. Building on foundation or BSW field experiences, this advanced field practicum course provides a supervised practicum at an assigned practicum site and a weekly integrative seminar, with an emphasis on advanced culturally competent practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The minimum 225-clock-hour internship addresses the continued independent learning and application of theory to culturally competent practice at an advanced curriculum level. The internship may be designed as a block with all hours completed in one semester (450 clock hours) when taken concurrently with SWK 5433 Advanced Field Practicum IV and Integrative Seminar. The integrative seminar is designed to integrate classroom theory and real-world practice. It also serves as the bridge between program goals and advanced competencies. Students must earn a minimum grade of “B” in both the field and the integrative seminar components to pass this course; the field practicum and the integrative seminar each contribute 50 percent toward the final grade.

SWK 5433. Advanced Field Practicum IV and Integrative Seminar. (2-8) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work, completion of all foundation coursework and all advanced courses other than those taken concurrently with SWK 5433. Taken during the student’s last semester in the MSW Program, this course serves as the capstone course for the social work program. Building on field experiences in SWK 5423, this course provides a continuation of a supervised practicum at the same assigned practicum site as in SWK 5423 as well as a weekly integrative seminar. The minimum 225-clock-hour internship addresses the continued independent learning and application of theory to culturally competent practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities at an advanced curriculum level. The internship can be designed as a block of one semester (450 clock hours) when taken concurrently with SWK 5423 Advanced Field Practicum III and Integrative Seminar. The integrative seminar is designed to integrate classroom theory and real world culturally competent practice. It also serves as the bridge between program goals and advanced competencies. Students demonstrate program competency mastery through completion of an independent capstone course paper. Students must earn a minimum grade of “B” in both the field and the integrative seminar components to pass this course; the field practicum and the integrative seminar each contribute 50 percent toward the final grade.

SWK 5443. Advanced Social Work Methods: Individuals. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses; concurrent enrollment in SWK 5423 is recommended. This advanced practice methods course covers the differential application of contemporary practice paradigms, theories, and approaches in relation to multidimensional contextual practice with individuals. The aim of this course is to develop students’ practice knowledge, skills, and capacity for autonomous culturally competent practice. Using this framework, students develop knowledge and skills in the differential selection, adaptation, application, and evaluation of select practice strategies and techniques for working with diverse individuals who are experiencing problems, needs, and injustices of varying onset, magnitude, and duration. (Formerly titled “Advanced Social Work Methods: Individual and Family Practice.”).

SWK 5463. Advanced Social Work Methods: Groups. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses. This advanced practice methods course covers the differential application of contemporary practice paradigms, theories, and approaches in relation to multidimensional contextual practice with groups. The aim of this course is to develop students’ practice knowledge, skills, and capacity for autonomous culturally competent practice. Using this framework, students develop knowledge and skills in the differential selection, adaptation, application, and evaluation of select practice strategies and techniques for working in groups with diverse individuals across the life span. The course emphasizes the ways that setting, age, diversity, and problems inform the differential selection of group type and format, membership, time limits, and practice approaches.

SWK 5473. Advanced Social Work Methods: Policy Practice and Advocacy. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses, or consent of instructor or graduate advisor. This advanced course in social welfare policy is for students who have already achieved a basic understanding of the history, mission, and philosophy of the profession, and the historical and contemporary patterns of service provision. The course focuses on the knowledge, values, and skills needed to be an effective social welfare policy advocate. Students develop and analyze alternative strategies for culturally competent social welfare policy advocacy, incorporating a multidimensional contextual perspective with a focus on social justice, diversity and underserved populations.

SWK 5483. Multidimensional Assessment. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses, or consent of instructor or graduate advisor. This advanced selective course on the multidimensional assessment of the functioning of children, adolescents, and adults gives emphasis to students learning to critically evaluate and adapt assessment approaches and methods that are congruent with the cultural experiences of clients. The multidimensional framework incorporates biological, genetic, physical, developmental, social, cultural, and environmental factors, and social justice issues in the assessment process.

SWK 5493. Advanced Social Work Methods: Community Practice. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses. This advanced course in community practice is for students who have already achieved a foundational understanding of the structure and dynamics of organizations and communities. The course focuses on the knowledge, values, and skills needed to engage in effective community practice, incorporating a multidimensional contextual perspective with a focus on social justice, diversity, and underserved populations. The course incorporates content on organizations within a community practice context. (Formerly titled “Advanced Social Work Methods: Community Organization and Social Development.”).

SWK 5513. Culturally Competent Practice with Diverse Populations. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of graduate advisor; must be completed prior to enrollment in the foundation field practicum. Advanced standing and transfer students complete this course during their first semester in the program. This course examines the dynamics of diversity and social justice and their relationships to social work practice with diverse and oppressed populations. Critical self-reflection about one’s own intersecting cultural identities and the impact on discourse and work with others is emphasized. Frameworks for understanding populations served by social workers, incorporating strengths, resiliency, oppression and discrimination are also explored. The course incorporates ethnographic perspectives in working with clients/client systems.

SWK 5523. Advanced Social Work Methods: Children and Families. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses. This advanced practice methods course covers the differential application of contemporary practice paradigms, theories, and approaches in relation to multidimensional contextual practice with children and families. The course examines pertinent ethical issues, varying approaches used in contemporary social work intervention, and current research in working with children and families. Factors leading to family systems change, goal setting, intervention applicability, the structure of the intervention process, the social worker’s role, and techniques of couples/family interventions and interventions in working with children and adolescents are incorporated in this course.

SWK 5633. Transformational Leadership in Social Work. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in social work and completion of all foundation courses or consent of graduate advisor. This advanced course focuses on the social responsibility of culturally competent social workers to serve as transformational leaders as they collaborate across disciplines within an interprofessional context in order to better serve families and communities. The course introduces students to transformational models of leadership, with an emphasis on the knowledge and skills needed for effective culturally competent practice in human service organizational settings. (Formerly titled “Transformational Leadership.” May not be counted for credit if student has already taken SWK 5453 or SWK 5633 under previous title.).

SWK 6951. Independent Study. (0-0) 1 Credit Hour.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing, successful completion of 6 semester credit hours of social work graduate courses, and permission in writing (form available) from the instructor, graduate advisor, and department chair. Independent course of study in a special topic of interest in the areas of research, field practicum, or other social work related topic under the direction of a faculty member. For students needing specialized work not usually available as part of the regular social work course offerings. May be repeated for credit, but no more than 6 hours will apply to the Master’s degree.

SWK 6952. Independent Study. (0-0) 2 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing, successful completion of 6 semester credit hours of social work graduate courses, and permission in writing (form available) from the instructor, graduate advisor, and department chair. Independent course of study in a special topic of interest in the areas of research, field practicum, or other social work related topic under the direction of a faculty member. For students needing specialized work not usually available as part of the regular social work course offerings. May be repeated for credit, but no more than 6 hours will apply to the Master’s degree.

SWK 6953. Independent Study. (0-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing, successful completion of 6 semester credit hours of social work graduate courses, and permission in writing (form available) from the instructor, graduate advisor, and department chair. Independent course of study in a special topic of interest in the areas of research, field practicum, or other social work related topic under the direction of a faculty member. For students needing specialized work not usually available as part of the regular social work course offerings. May be repeated for credit, but no more than 6 hours will apply to the Master’s degree.

SWK 6961. Comprehensive Examination. (0-0) 1 Credit Hour.

Prerequisite: Approval of the appropriate Graduate Program Committee Chair to take the Comprehensive Examination. Independent study course for the purpose of taking the Comprehensive Examination. May be repeated as many times as approved by the Graduate Program Committee. Enrollment is required each term in which the examination is taken if no other courses are being taken that term. The grade report for the course is either “CR” (satisfactory performance on the Comprehensive Examination) or “NC” (unsatisfactory performance on the Comprehensive Examination).

SWK 6973. Special Topics in Culturally Competent Practice. (3-0) 3 Credit Hours.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing, successful completion of 6 semester credit hours of social work graduate courses, and permission in writing (form available) from the instructor, graduate advisor, and department chair. This is an organized course offering the opportunity for specialized study in culturally competent practice not usually available as part of the regular course offerings. Special Topics courses may be repeated for credit when topics vary, but no more than 6 semester credit hours, regardless of discipline, will apply to the Master’s degree.