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    Aug 11, 2022  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work Major, MSSW

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The College of Social Work offers Social Work Honors Program students an opportunity to earn both a BSSW and an MSSW in five years. All students in the Social Work Honors Program can apply for conditional admission to the BSSW/MSSW 5-Year Program during or immediately following their third year of undergraduate study at UT.

To be considered for conditional admission to the BSSW/MSSW 5-Year Program students must:

  • Be a declared social work major and accepted into the Social Work Honors Program
  • Have a minimum overall GPA of 3.5
  • Have completed 60 credit hours of coursework which includes the following required social work courses: SW 200 or 207, SW 250, SW 312, SW 317, SW 318, SW 313, SW 315, and SW 380
  • Complete a personal interview with the BSSW Program Director or his/her designee

Students will be informed about the outcome of their application for conditional admission prior to the beginning of their fourth or final year of undergraduate study. Conditional admission into the BSSW/MSSW 5-Year Program does not guarantee acceptance into either the Graduate School or the MSSW Program. Students who have been admitted conditionally to the BSSW/MSSW 5-Year Program must apply for admission to the Graduate School and the MSSW Program during their fourth or final year of undergraduate study following the standard application procedure for graduate students. Students will be fully admitted to the BSSW/MSSW 5-Year Program only after they have been accepted by both the Graduate School and by the MSSW Program. Upon graduation from the BSSW Program, if a candidate has maintained a minimum GPA of 3.5 and has met all the requirements of the BSSW degree, an official letter from the BSSW Program Director will be sent to the MSSW Admissions Committee requesting that the student be fully admitted into the MSSW program. Once fully admitted to the MSSW Program, BSSW/MSSW 5-Year Program students are required to complete the summer semester and concentration year (Fall and Spring semesters) of the MSSW program. Graduate hours required for the BSSW/MSSW program total 37 credit hours.

Social Work Honors students who enroll in a 500-level course for undergraduate credit and applied to the BSSW degree may not apply the course credit towards the MSSW degree. Students are ineligible for graduate assistantships until they satisfy all requirements for the BSSW degree.

Course Requirements

Summer following BSSW graduation

  • SOWK 537 (3), SOWK 539 (2), SOWK, 593 (2)

Year 5 (Evidence-based Interpersonal Practice concentration)

  • Fall requirements – total 15 credit hours as follows:  SOWK 560 (3), SOWK 562 (3), selective courses SOWK 570, or SOWK 571, or SOWK 572 (3), and SOWK 586 (6).
  • Spring requirements – total 15 credit hours as follows:  SOWK 563 (3), SOWK 586 (6), elective (3), elective (3)

Year 5 (Organizational Leadership concentration)

  • Fall requirements – total 15 credit hours as follows:  SOWK 545 (3), SOWK 546 (3), elective or selective course (3), and SOWK 586 (6).
  • Spring requirements – total 15 credit hours as follows:  SOWK 548 (3), SOWK 549 (3), SOWK 586 (6), elective (3)



The college offers an MSSW curriculum that is informed by state-of-the-art, cutting-edge knowledge and grounded upon core social work values and ethics. The concepts of critical thinking and evidence-based practice, complexity, culturally affirming practice, social and economic justice, and at-risk populations permeate the new MSSW curriculum. The MSSW program seeks to prepare MSSW graduates to make demonstrable improvements in the quality of life of at-risk and vulnerable populations across individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, the state of Tennessee, the nation and internationally.

Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice Concentration (EBIP)

The evidence-based interpersonal practice concentration prepares students for professional social work practice with individuals, groups, children/youth, and families. The goal of the concentration is to utilize evidence-based practices for the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of social functioning. Change objectives focus on the transactional relationships between individuals, groups, and families and their social environment.

The EBIP concentration prepares students for ethically informed direct practice with diverse populations. Students develop competencies in advanced assessment, relationship building/enhancement, application of goal-oriented and evidence-based interventions, evaluation of practice, and life-long professional development. Potential areas of practice include mental health, child welfare, substance abuse, health care, and other settings providing services to populations at risk.

Organizational Leadership concentration

The organizational leadership concentration is based on the underlying principles of social, economic and environmental justice. The students graduating from this concentration will be prepared to work in a variety of settings including varieties of human service agencies, schools, health care facilities, governmental entities, quasi-governmental entities, foundations, funding and membership nonprofits, and policy analysis and advocacy positions.

The goal of the concentration is to produce social workers who are critical thinkers in ethically-sound, systemic, skill-based, evidence-based practice. The social workers who graduate with this concentration will be equipped to be involved in activities such as, but not limited to, leading and managing programs and organizations, planning, asset and financial management, use of information technology, grant writing and management, coordinating, developing and evaluating direct and indirect activities for targeted at-risk populations, clients and client systems. Students will also graduate understanding advanced policy analysis and advocacy strategies.


Admission to the master’s program is based on the following.

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with appropriate preparation in the social sciences. At least three-fourths of the applicant’s undergraduate work should be in the social sciences, humanities, physical sciences, and other arts and sciences subjects. Applicants must demonstrate a liberal arts perspective through course work in at least four of the following five areas – economics or mathematics; government, political science or history; sociology or anthropology; psychology; philosophy, literature, or the arts. Applicants with other academic backgrounds may request consultation to discuss ways that they can meet the requirements.
  • Submit online application to the Graduate Admissions Office. Graduate School policy requires a minimum GPA of 2.7 for admission to graduate study. Applicants falling below this average may be considered for probationary admission on the basis of supplemental evidence of the ability to perform at a satisfactory level.
  • Personal qualifications acceptable for entrance into the professional practice of social work.
  • Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 can submit current scores from the GRE General Exam to supplement their application materials. GRE scores are valid for five years from the date of the exam.

Preference is given to applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or above in their undergraduate work with substantial preparation in the social sciences. Applicants who have a prior conviction, other than a minor traffic violation, may not necessarily be denied admission to the MSSW program. However, such convictions may prevent placement in certain field practice agencies and/or licensure in certain states.

Advanced Standing

The University of Tennessee College of Social Work has an advanced standing program. Admission to advanced standing requires a BSW from an accredited program (must have graduated within five years of entry to the MSSW program); an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher; and personal qualifications acceptable for entrance into the professional practice of social work. These students will follow the curriculum plan and meet all requirements of the concentration during three semesters of study in the program. The advanced standing program may be completed on either a full-time or part-time basis.

Application for admission to the advanced standing program is through the regular admission process.

Extended Study

Planned part-time programs are available in all three locations of the college. Admission requirements are the same as for full-time study. Coursework can be completed over a three- or four-year period.

Transfer Credits

Coursework equivalent to the first year of the master’s program, completed in another accredited graduate social work program, is usually accepted toward degree requirements. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School and the College of Social Work. Transfer courses must be approved as equivalent to required and/or elective courses taken for graduate credit and passed with a grade of B or better. An S (Satisfactory/No Credit system) for the field practicum is also accepted. In addition, transfer courses must be part of an otherwise satisfactory graduate program (B average) and be approved by the associate dean. This course work must be completed within the six-year period prior to the receipt of the degree.

A maximum of 6 credit hours from work earned in disciplines other than social work may be transferred as elective credits. The student’s academic committee must approve the request and the transfer credit must meet Graduate School requirements.

Proficiency Examination

Students interested in proficiency examinations are referred to the College of Social Work Student Handbook statement describing the procedure for applying for examination and the applicable courses.

MSSW Degree Requirements

  • The program requires successful completion of a minimum total of 60 semester credit hours. Advanced Standing requires successful completion of 37 semester credit hours.
  • Students may select a thesis or non-thesis option. Students pursuing the thesis option receive 6 credit hours for successful completion.
  • Students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam or thesis defense.
  • Students must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better on graded courses and satisfactory performance in field.

Professional Foundation Curriculum

MSSW foundation content (first year – fall and spring semester) includes fundamental, evidence-based knowledge and skills that will prepare students to practice across client systems within a culturally affirming generalist social work context. MSSW foundation curriculum includes content in the following areas – social work practice, research, human behavior in the social environment, social policy, populations at risk and social and economic justice, values and ethics, diversity, critical thinking/evidence-based practice, and field.

Field Practice

The application of knowledge and skills is a critical aspect of a competency based, practice-oriented MSSW curriculum. The opportunity for students to practice and learn in experiential settings is provided through collaboration between the college and a wide range of social service organizations. This effort between the partners produces effective experiences that enhance the students’ professional development in their individual practice areas. Opportunities designed to meet the field practice requirement are available within Tennessee, in certain other parts of the country, and in selected international locations. Field practica are offered either concurrently with class instruction or in block format.

Foundation placements are selected through a joint process involving the student, the field coordinator, and personnel from potential internship sites. These first placements are designed to provide students with supervised generalist practice experience, which is consistent with the generalist knowledge and skill development education they receive in the classroom. Accordingly, students’ experiences are planned and designed to meet specific foundation competencies. Concentration internships build on the generalist foundation. The concentration practicum provides supervision in a practice setting selected with attention to a student’s practice interest, individual career interests, and educational needs. As with the foundation placement, students actively participate with the field coordinator and potential agency field instructors to select their concentration placement site. The concentration field placement experience focuses on the integration of social work knowledge and values while emphasizing the acquisition and development of advanced practice skills built on, but distinct from generalist, foundation skills.

Students receiving a grade of NC in field practice may not repeat the field practice.


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