MSW Curriculum

Foundation Curriculum Goals

The MSW Foundation curriculum provides a foundation year educational experience that builds on an undergraduate, liberal arts degree and prepares students to enter into a concentrated area of social work practice. Through successful completion of the foundation curriculum, graduates of the UW Tacoma MSW Program will be able to complete the program objectives below, which specify the knowledge and skills required for accomplishing our goal of preparing students for generalist practice.

Advanced Curriculum Goals

The MSW advanced curriculum builds on, broadens, and deepens the generalist foundation and prepares students for competent and effective social work practice in an area of concentration.  Graduates will accomplish the objectives below, which flow from our goal of preparing students for advanced professional practice.

2013 MSW student listens at the Capstone Fair

Program Objectives

  • Understand the values and ethics of the social work profession and practice accordingly, including mindful use of self and ongoing development of professional skills and knowledge.
  • Understand the forms and mechanisms of discrimination, and apply strategies of advocacy and social change that advance social and economic justice and are non-discriminatory and respectful of client and community diversity.
  • Understand and interpret the history of social welfare and its contemporary structures and issues.
  • Apply the knowledge and skills of a generalist perspective to practice with systems of all sizes.
  • Acquire and critically apply theoretical frameworks supported by empirical evidence to understand individual development and behavior across the life span and (or) the interactions among individuals and between individuals, and families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Articulate the role of policy in framing social work practice, understand the impact of major social welfare policies on those who are served by social workers, workers themselves, agencies, and welfare systems, and be able to advocate for just, effective, and humane policies and policy implementation processes.
  • Understand and critically analyze current systems of social service organization and delivery and be able both to practice within them and to seek necessary organizational change.
  • Engender the empowerment of diverse and disadvantaged individuals, groups, and communities through effective, culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment, treatment/intervention and outcomes evaluation.
  • Make well-reasoned and well-informed judgments based on professional values and ethics, critical self-reflection, evidence, and the appropriate use of supervision and consultation.
  • Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice, including the ability to critically evaluate major practice frameworks, research evidence, and their own practice.
  • Contribute to the profession’s knowledge base and practice through disciplined inquiry, dissemination, and institutionalization of evidence-based practice and policy models.

 2012 MSW Capstone Fair

General Curriculum

3-Year MSW
During the first-year and part of the second, the Professional Foundation curriculum provides instruction in the basic knowledge, skills and values required for beginning social work practice, as well as an opportunity for socialization to the profession, its value orientation, ethics and history. The general curriculum also includes a field practicum where students are given the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge gained in classroom courses. In the remaining second and third year, the advanced curriculum is designed to provide knowledge and skills in the concentration area of Advanced Integrative Practice. This also includes the Advanced Practicum, which is an integral part of the concentration curricula. Advanced Practicum may not begin until all foundation requirements are completed.

Advanced Standing MSW
Designed for eligible graduates of baccalaureate programs in social work/social welfare, Advanced Standing allows students to enter the advanced level of the MSW curriculum. During the 6 quarters of the advanced curriculum, students will gain knowledge and skills in the concentration area of Advanced Integrative Practice and complete the Advanced Practicum.

Curriculum in Brief

Courses in the 3-year MSW program focus on the following:


Courses in the Advanced Standing MSW focus on the following:


Curriculum Detail

  1. Classes in both MSW Program options are typically scheduled from approximately 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m., one or two evenings a week. Students must be prepared to adjust their employment and personal schedules to accommodate program requirements, particularly around practicum.
  2. Demonstrate a commitment to the promotion of social justice, through their own work and that of the larger social work profession, and apply principles of multiculturalism and empowerment to social change efforts in their practice.
  3. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to assess the differential needs of diverse constituents, plan and implement evidence-based interventions in collaboration with constituents, and critically evaluate, monitor, and continuously refine their practice using appropriate research and evaluation methods.
  4. Articulate the theories, knowledge of human behavior, and research evidence that inform their practice, apply these mindfully in their work with diverse constituents, and be committed to maintaining the currency of their practice knowledge through life-long learning.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge and skills in critical analysis of the sociopolitical factors that shape policy and services formation in their area of practice or setting, in analyzing and influencing existing policies and services and in advocating for change in policies, services, and practices locally, nationally, and globally.
  6. Demonstrate professional values, skills, and behavior through a self-reflective understanding of and adherence to the NASW Code of Ethics and other relevant professional standards.
  7. Achieve a level of competency such that, with self-monitoring and use of informed consultation, they can practice autonomously in their area of concentration.

Advanced Integrative Practice Concentration

The mission of the Advanced Integrative Practice concentration is to prepare MSW-level practitioners to assume leadership roles in the design, delivery, and evaluation of interventions at all levels of practice, from work with an individual client to community advocacy or policy analysis. These interventions, informed by research, focus on specific practice fields and methods of service delivery within the context of emerging societal conditions and needs. In the tradition of the social work profession, the prime motivator and ultimate goal of this advanced concentration is the realization of social and economic justice for those marginalized by society.
Students focus their advanced course of study in an area of particular interest to them. These areas might include, but are not limited to: children and youth; clinical mental health; chemical dependency; military families and veterans; older adults; criminal justice; health care systems; school social work; domestic violence; and public child welfare. Students develop knowledge and skills to address their topic in depth, while actively integrating the relevant practice concerns, policies, issues of diversity and social justice, research evidence, and the community contexts impacting their chosen topic.