Director of Admissions and Student Services
Room 4430, CHHS Building
The Master of Social Work program in professional social work is designed to prepare students for direct service and leadership positions in the field of social work. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The curriculum is structured as an integrated and sequential set of conceptual and practicum educational experiences. In preparing students for practice, the School of Social Work recognizes a variety of theoretical paradigms and values and welcomes the challenge and benefits of intellectual and philosophical diversity. It supports students in their personal synthesis of these paradigms and values. In addition, the School stresses development and dissemination of social work knowledge and practice skills.
All students must demonstrate mastery of a set of competencies and practice behaviors, as required by our accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education. The graduate program prepares students for specialized and advanced levels of practice. It also incorporates a foundation curriculum, built on a liberal arts base. The foundation has two goals: 1) To provide students with the knowledge, values, and skills leading to an informed perspective on the profession of social work; and its service delivery systems, and 2) to prepare students for entry into the concentrations.
There are two concentrations in the graduate program: 1) Interpersonal Practice and 2) Policy, Planning, and Administration. These concentrations build on the foundation curriculum and are the vehicles through which students learn the specific advanced skills of their chosen area of concentration.
The Interpersonal Practice concentration prepares students to become informed practitioners and leaders in working with individuals, families, and groups. Practice courses in the concentration are designed to provide expert competencies in interpersonal practice. Such competencies include the ability to assess situations, carry out appropriate interventions, and evaluate one’s own practice framework, strategies, and results when working with clients. The School of Social Work also offers a specialization in Child Trauma as part of its Master of Social Work Program.
The Policy, Planning, and Administration concentration has four essential components: 1) Organizational leadership and management, 2) program planning, 3) analytic tools and technology, and 4) policy practice. The desired outcome of the Policy, Planning, and Administration concentration is the empowerment of practitioners to facilitate changes in organizational, community, and societal structures and processes that contribute to a just distribution of opportunities and resources.
The School of Social Work offers a 15-credit specialization in trauma across the lifespan. This specialization is available to MSW students who elect the Interpersonal Practice concentration. The specialization consists of nine credits of elective courses focused on trauma (these are applied to the nine credits of electives required for the MSW degree) and a concentration-level field placement (6 credits, applied to the 6 credits of concentration-level field placement required for the MSW degree) that meets criteria for trauma-informed practice. Three of the nine elective credits would be met by taking one course: SWRK 6500 - Core Concepts of Child Trauma. Students who wish to pursue the trauma specialization may need to travel to Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids campus locations to complete the full nine credits of trauma-related elective courses required for the specialization.
In addition, graduate social work students have an opportunity to participate in social work-related graduate certificate programs. Included are Alcohol and Drug Abuse (SPADA), Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness, Nonprofit Leadership and Administration, and School Social Work.
Applicants for graduate study in social work must complete an online application that can be obtained through the WMU Graduate College. A link to this application can also be found in the School of Social Work’s home-page. In addition to the University’s requirements for admission to a master’s degree program, the following criteria will be considered:
- Evidence of adequate academic preparation for graduate study in social work. This includes consideration of undergraduate performance, liberal arts academic background, and proficiency in professional writing. Normally a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.50 is required for admission into the 60 credit MSW program.
- Evidence of personal qualifications considered desirable for successful social work practice. These include motivation for a human service profession, personal maturity, and leadership ability.
- Students who have earned a Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE accredited program within six years of application may apply to the 39-hour, Advanced Standing Program. Applicants must meet the following criteria:
- B.S.W. degree from a CSWE accredited program that was awarded not more than six years prior to the date of application to the WMU School of Social Work
- Overall grade point average of 3.0
- No more than one B.S.W. course below a “B.” Any B.S.W. course below a “B” will require retaking an equivalent course in the M.S.W. curriculum
- One year of full-time post-B.S.W. human service work experience is recommended
- One of the three letters of recommendation must be from the applicants B.S.W. program field instructor or faculty liaison.
Full time and extended study students must declare their concentration during the spring semester of their first year of study. Advanced standing students will start their concentration coursework during fall semester.
Applicants may seek admission to either the main campus program or the extended university campuses (Grand Rapids Regional Campus and Southwest Campus program). The application deadline for the Kalamazoo full-time advanced standing program and the part-time advanced standing program in Grand Rapids is January 15. Admission is granted for the summer II session only for advanced standing students. All classes at the Grand Rapids campus convene during evening hours. Due to the rigorous demands of this program, those who plan to be employed full-time should apply to the Grand Rapids part-time advanced standing program.
The application deadline for the Kalamazoo full-time and all extended study programs is March 15. Admission is granted for the fall semester only for applicants to the full-time and extended study programs. Full-time students begin their program in the fall semester and proceed for two calendar years. Extended study students begin their program in the fall semester and proceed for thirty-eight months. Due to the demands of this program, those who plan to be employed full-time should apply to the extended study programs.