The college offers a new 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 practice across systems (EBPAS) is a population-focused concentration, based on the underlying principle of social and economic justice, of vertically and horizontally integrated practice. EBPAS practitioners assess and promote the social well-being of at-risk and diverse populations, and client systems across the life cycle and across practice settings. EBPAS practitioners may work in a variety of settings, including, for example, schools, health care, prevention, community-based organizations, social and economic development organizations, and the political arena, with client systems and populations including children/youth, families, and older adults.
The goal of this concentration is to produce social workers who are critical thinkers in ethically-sound, systemic, skill-based, evidence-based practice including activities such as, but not limited to, social and economic development, planning, organizing, coordinating, developing, and evaluating direct and indirect activities for targeted at-risk populations, clients, and client systems, and the use of information technology. The concentration builds on the foundation curriculum preparing students to identify issues and contributing determinants, and to logically develop and implement interventions, plan objectives and evaluate outcomes.
The knowledge, skills, and competencies acquired by students in this concentration produce practitioners who are prepared to work as professionals on transdisciplinary teams and in interdisciplinary settings, to deliver, develop, manage and evaluate programs and direct services, acquire funding, write grants, analyze and advocate for policy change in political systems, organizations, and communities both within and outside the U.S.
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.
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.
- The university 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.
- All applicants must submit up-to-date scores from the Graduate Record Examination (general). 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.
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.
Application for admission to the advanced standing program is through the regular admission process.
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.
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 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.
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.
- The program requires successful completion of a minimum total of 60 semester hours.
- Students may select a thesis or non-thesis option. Students pursuing the thesis option receive 6 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.
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.
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.
All MSSW students begin to take core concentration courses in the second session of spring semester during their first year of study. These courses include content in leadership, supervision, management, introductory psychopathology, and advanced knowledge for evidence-based practice. These courses are embedded in an understanding of the complex ways that risk and resilience interact across the lifespan and systems to enhance well being.