College of LAS > Academics > Social Work > Graduate Programs > Social Work (MSW)

Social Work (MSW)

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program is designed to prepare you for advanced social work, with an emphasis on either community practice or forensic social work. It exists as a partnership between students, agencies and the university whose representatives work to create a curriculum that prepares you for lifelong learning and models progressive social work practice.

DePaul University’s social work faculty and staff are committed to providing students choosing either path the same attention to professional social work ethics and respect for human rights, as well as the Vincentian values that recognize the inherent dignity of all persons.

Community Practice Concentration

This degree will prepare you for work and leadership in human service organizations (child welfare, health and mental health, community planning, family services, etc.). The goals of the program are to:

  • Support rigorous study and scholarship that directly informs integrative practice
  • Present learning and organizational context that appreciates human diversity and facilitates social and economic justice
  • Collaborate with other units of the university and with community partners to improve the welfare of historically oppressed populations and communities
  • Provide professional education in ethical community-based practice with individuals, family groups, community organizations and institutions

Forensic Social Work Concentration

The Department of Social Work is excited to announce a new concentration, with classes slated to begin Fall 2018. 

DePaul’s Forensic Social Work concentration focuses on the overlap between the human services system and the legal system. This concentration is grounded in three essential values: 

  • The National Association of Social Work’s Code of Ethics preamble which states, “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty;” 
  • The United Nations Human Rights Declaration that “all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law” (Article 7); and 
  • The Vincentian values that recognize the inherent dignity of all persons. 
Forensic social workers practice in a number of settings that may include courthouses, rape crisis centers, intimate partner violence agencies, and legal advocacy groups among many other venues.

Graduates opting for the Forensic Social Work concentration will gain skills in:
  • Using evidence-based treatment models for treating individuals involved in the justice system and victims of crime
  • Providing consultations, education or training to various agencies and populations working within the legal system 
  • Assisting in policy or program development to address issues that civil and criminal justice systems confront 
  • Being an advocate for the needs of children, victims of crime, and criminal offenders

Real-World Experience

You will obtain field-based experience (by way of two required year-long internships or practica) and knowledge that will prepare you effectively for employment and licensure as a professional social worker. The curriculum is grounded equally in theory and application, providing you with transferable skills that should serve you well not just in your job held upon graduation but in your careers.

Program Structure

Both concentrations have foundation and advanced years.
The foundation (beginning) curriculum consists of content ranging from professional writing, human behavior, social welfare policy, and social work research, along with beginning social work practice with individuals, families and groups.

Required Courses (foundation):

The foundation of the MSW curriculum consists of the following required courses:

MSW 401 Professional Writing and Development
MSW 411 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I
MSW 412 Human Behavior and the Social Environment II
MSW 421 Introduction to Social Work Research
MSW 431 Social Welfare Policy I
MSW 481 Foundation Practice I
MSW 482 Foundation Practice II
MSW 483 Foundation Practice III
MSW 491 Foundation Field Education I
MSW 492 Foundation Field Education II
MSW 493 Foundation Field Education III
Program evaluation and fund development are covered in the advanced half of the program for all students, along with additional policy content and macro-level social work practice courses for those in the Community Practice concentration. Those in the Forensic Social Work track take practice courses that equip students with the advanced skills and knowledge needed to practice at the intersections of human services organizations and legal systems. 
Required Courses (advanced):

The Community Practice concentration course listing is as follows:

MSW 432 Social Welfare Policy II
MSW 501 Program Evaluation
MSW 521 Fund Development and Management
MSW 581 Community Practice I
MSW 582 Community Practice II
MSW 583 Community Practice III
MSW 591 Advanced Field Education I
MSW 592 Advanced Field Education II
MSW 593 Advanced Field Education III

The Forensic Social Work concentration courses are:

MSW 432 Social Welfare Policy II
MSW 501 Program Evaluation
MSW 521 Fund Development and Management
MSW 561 Forensic Practice I
MSW 562 Forensic Practice II
MSW 563 Forensic Practice III
MSW 571 Forensic Field I
MSW 572 Forensic Field II
MSW 573 Forensic Field III

Two electives (8 credit hours total) are included in both concentrations.
Pages on the Social Work Department website are in the process of being updated to include Forensic Social Work information throughout; the degree requirement page currently applies to the Community Practice concentration only; both concentrations are slated to be in the Fall 2018 catalog to be published May 2018.

Program Length

You'll be required to complete 88 credit hours; this includes 24 hours of field education. The program can be completed in either a full-time (two years) or part-time (four years) basis.