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Master of Social Work


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Master of Social Work

West Chester Campus

Reynolds Hall
650 Reynolds Alley
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2664

PASSHE Center City

701 Market Street, Concourse Level
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Phone: 267-436-2664


Program Overview

Program Concentration

Direct Practice with Individuals and Families is an approach to social work grounded in human rights and social and economic justice. Graduates of the MSW Program at West Chester University are trained to work with individuals and families using strengths-based, research-informed, and community-oriented assessment, intervention and evaluation skills to enhance resiliency, support recovery, and mitigate the effects of trauma to build capacity.

  • Recovery: "A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential." 1

    1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation, 2015-2018. HHS Publication No. (PEP) 14-LEADCHANGE2. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration, 2014.

    • Guiding principles of recovery:
      • Recovery emerges from hope.
      • Recovery is person-driven.
      • Recovery occurs via many pathways.
      • Recovery is holistic.
      • Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
      • Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks.
      • Recovery is culturally-biased and influenced.
      • Recovery is supported by addressing trauma.
      • Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility.
      • Recovery is based on respect.
  • Resiliency: "Resilience, as a concept and construct, is the context-specific ability to respond to stress, anxiety, trauma, crisis, or disaster. Resilience develops over time and is the culmination of multiple internal and external factors." 2
  • 2 SAMHSA's Partners for Recovery Initiative. (2013, March 1). Retrieved November 25, 2014, from

  • Capacity Building: "Capacity refers to the various types and levels of resources available to establish and maintain a community prevention system that can identify and respond to community needs." 3

    3 Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2014, from

Program Goals

The goals of the Program at West Chester University are to:

  • Provide a quality Master of Social Work program in accord with the standards of the Council on Social Work Education and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
  • Prepare graduates to practice competently and ethically with individuals, families, and communities.
  • Prepare graduates to think critically, communicate effectively, and engage research in the practice of social work.
  • Prepare graduates to practice social work with a commitment to human rights and social and economic justice.

Program Mission Statement

The Graduate Social Work Department provides a quality, affordable and accessible Master of Social Work degree in preparation for a career in an evolving, complex, technological, and global society. It prepares graduates who can think critically, communicate effectively, embrace diversity, practice ethically, respond to the needs of vulnerable and oppressed populations, are committed to human rights and social and economic justice, and are competent to practice with individuals and families.

Curriculum Requirements


Students take three electives to round out their knowledge with courses that offer in-depth training in emerging practice areas. Electives are offered throughout the year in both semesters, during the summer, and condensed, week-long formats. Advanced electives are available for matriculated, concentration students only. Several electives are available to non-degree students who may seek permission from the instructor under special circumstances.

The MSW Program typically offers these electives, pending sufficient enrollment:

  • SWG 570: Substance Use Disorders
  • SWG 571: Older Adults
  • SWG 576: Child Welfare
  • SWG 577: Social Work in Disasters
  • SWG 578: Social Work with Veterans and Military Families
  • SWG 590: Special Topic - Grief and Loss Across the Lifespan
  • SWG 590: Special Topic - Human Rights and Social Work
  • SWG 590: Special Topic - The Human-Animal Dynamic
  • SWG 590: Special Topic - Motivational Interviewing
  • SWG 590: Special Topic - Social Work in Health Care
  • SWG 590: Special Topic - Social Work Practice at the End of Life

Interdisciplinary Offerings

Students can also take electives in other graduate programs within the College of Health Sciences, the College of Education, and the College of Business & Public Affairs. Electives taken outside the department must be at the graduate level and must be related to social work practice. Before enrolling, students also need to secure permission from the MSW Program director and the department department offering the class.

Possible electives, pending available space and requisite permissions, include:

  • Advanced Educational Psychology - EDP 550
  • AIDS and Public Health - HEA 512
  • Cognitive and Behavior Therapy - PSY 527
  • Diversity within the Context of Disability - EDA 507
  • Eating Disorders - PSY 581
  • Environmental Modeling with GIS - GEO 538
  • Family Systems in Special Education - EDA 503
  • Foundations in Nonprofit Administration - PPA 531
  • Grant Writing - PPA 532
  • Human Sexual Behavior - PSY 530
  • Integrative Health - HEA 501
  • Issues in Autism: Diagnosis and Behavioral Treatments - PSY 521
  • Mind/Body Medicine - HEA 545
  • Nonprofit Evaluation and Assessment - PPA 534
  • Nonprofit Fundraising Essentials - PPA 533
  • Psychology of Women - PSY 565
  • Psychopharmacology - PSY 568
  • Special Topics: Concepts in Caring - HEA 517
  • Stress Management Techniques - HEA 511
  • Transcultural Health Practice - HEA 543
  • Women in Leadership: Critical Issues - PSY 530


Students in the Master of Social Work program at West Chester University can also earn graduate certificates from several graduate departments within the university. Many graduate certificates at West Chester University require 18 credit hours. Most MSW students can use nine of these credits as their three elective courses required to complete an MSW degree. This means it's possible for MSW students to earn a graduate certificate along with their MSW with only three additional classes.

Graduate certificates help students and professionals looking for specialization in a field without the time and cost of obtaining another degree. This specialization is helpful for professional growth and is attractive to employers looking for individuals with additional skills.

MSW students at West Chester University have the opportunity to obtain these certificates:

Grading, Academic Integrity, and Code of Conduct

Standards for Professional Behavior

The WCU Academic Integrity Policy states that, "under some circumstances, if a student is found to have violated their professional code, that violation may be considered a breach of the Academic Integrity Policy." It is the expectation of West Chester University's Graduate Social Work Department that all MSW students consistently and routinely demonstrate professional behavior in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics and the expectations listed below.

  • Performance
    • Meet attendance expectations of classes, field placement, and other meetings with regularity and reliability
    • Notify professors, field instructors, and colleagues prior to any absences or late arrivals
    • Arrive for class, field placement, and other meetings prepared to participate
    • Meet course expectations
  • Conduct
    • Demonstrate integrity and honesty in all matters
    • Demonstrate willingness to work collaboratively with others
    • Show respect for others' opinions
    • Remain open to positive and constructive feedback from peers, faculty, staff, and field instructors
    • Demonstrate a willingness to understand and engage difference and diversity
    • Maintain attire and appearance in accord with the expectations and standards for the setting
  • Communication Skills
    • Demonstrate effective and respectful verbal and non-verbal communication, such as eye contact and personal space
    • Demonstrate the ability to discuss and process information
    • Clearly articulate ideas, thoughts, and concepts
    • Self-awareness and self-control
    • Communicate effectively and respectfully
    • Demonstrate an awareness of personal strengths and challenges
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the appropriate use of self-disclosure
    • Demonstrate emotional regulation
    • Demonstrate unimpaired judgment and decision-making
  • Use of Technology
    • Demonstrate basic competency in word processing, use of email, and use of Internet
    • Use public and private technology, including but not limited to social networking, texting or emailing, voicemail, and data storage, in a professional and respectful manner
    • Abide by specific classroom and field policies regarding use of all technologies
    • Follow the ethical and legal standards for privacy and confidentiality in accordance with state, federal, agency, and institutional standards

Assessment Outcomes

In accord with the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards of the Council on Social Work Education, the MSW Program at West Chester University measures and reports student learning outcomes. Students are assessed on their mastery of 10 core competencies (EP 2.1.1 through 2.1.10), representing dimensions of social work practice that all social workers are expected to master during their professional training. A measurement benchmark is set by the social work programs for each competency. An assessment score at or above that benchmark is considered by the program to represent mastery of that particular competency. The MSW Program benchmark for the attainment of competency in each of the CSWE Core Competencies is for 85 percent of students to have scored at least 84 (equivalent to grade of B) on each measurement of each Competency and associated Advanced Practice Behaviors.

To assist the CSWE Commission on Accreditation in the evaluation of the program's compliance with the Accreditation Standards listed below, the MSW Program publishes competency benchmark information for each core competency.

Educational Policy 4.0 - Assessment

4.0.2: The program provides summary data and outcomes for the assessment of each of its competencies, identifying the percentage of students achieving the benchmark.

4.0.4: The program uses Form AS4 (M) to report assessment outcomes to its constituents and the public on its website and routinely updates (minimally every 2 years) these postings.

Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

Academic Year 2013-2014

  • Competency: EP 2.1.1:Identify as a Professional Social Worker
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 98 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.2:Apply Ethical Principles
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 99.2 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.3:Apply Critical Thinking
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 98.2 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.4:Engage Diversity in Practice
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 99.6 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.5:Advance Human Rights/Social & Economic Justice
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 98.8 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.6:Engage Research Informed Practice/Practice Informed Research
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 98.6 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.7:Knowledge of Human Behavior in Social Environment
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 99.5 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.8:Engage Policy Practice to Advance Well-Being and Deliver Services
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 97 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.9:Respond to Practice Contexts
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 99.5 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.10 (a):Engagement
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 99.5 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.10 (b):Assessment
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 99 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.10 (c):Practice Intervention
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 98.2 percent
  • Competency: EP 2.1.10 (d):Practice Evaluation
    Competency Benchmark: 84 percent
    Percentage of Assessments Achieving Benchmark: 98.1 percent