Graduate Programs

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Graduate Programs

Master of Social Work (MSW)

The following is a brief description of the MSW program along with its goals and objectives. For more information on the MSW program, please see the current MSW Program Bulletin.

The MSW Program

Founded in 1969, and fully accredited by the Council of Social Work Education, our MSW Program has maintained an integrated and diverse student body. Our graduate program was originally designed to prepare students to work with California's Spanish-speaking populations. Over time, demographic changes coupled with increasing challenges to the profession have contributed to the expansion of the original mission to reflect a transcultural perspective. We equip MSW students for professional practice, preparing them for culturally competent practice with Latino, other minority groups, and those communities, groups, families, and individuals who are disenfranchised, oppressed, and/or marginalized. It is this emphasis on transcultural practice that makes our graduate social work program unique, and that continues to guide our curriculum to promote commitment of our graduates to enhance the well-being of individuals and their communities, to build upon the strengths of diverse cultures, and to advocate for social justice.

Our MSW Program offers students the option of attending graduate school full-time program or a 3-year program, requiring two years or three years of commitment respectively, including a curriculum of in-class study and field education. As part of our training, you will first learn the foundations of social work and then focus on a particular population-at-risk. These populations, which are related to the service needs of the San José/Silicon Valley region and the larger San Francisco Bay Area, include the aging and the aged; children, youth, and families; children and youth in school settings, and people with physical and mental disabilities.

Admission to our MSW Program is competitive and the course of graduate study rigorous. However, we hope that your interaction and learning opportunities with classmates, faculty, and professional community partners, who will challenge you to think and act beyond traditional notions of helping diverse populations, will be exhilarating and worthwhile. We need dedicated, qualified, and talented people who will make a positive impact in our society and promote our profession of social work. Although social work is difficult and demanding, we encourage those of you with a passion for our profession to consider seriously our MSW Program at San José State University.

Goals and Objectives

In service of the mission of the School of Social Work, the following goals and objectives have been developed for the MSW program:



Goal 1. To prepare social workers for ethical social work and use of a transcultural perspective with diverse, disenfranchised, oppressed and marginalized populations.

(Foundation Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of diversity and competence in applying a transcultural perspective.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to work effectively with diverse populations, particularly populations that are disenfranchised, oppressed or marginalized.
  • Students will be able to analyze and apply social work values, ethics and principles in relation to diverse contexts and at multiple system levels.

(Concentration Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to identify strategies to resolve ethical dilemmas in practice settings in accordance with the values of the social work profession.
  • Students will be able to apply a transcultural and multi-systems perspective in the context of a specific field of practice (aging; children, youth, and families; school social work; or health and mental health).

Goal 2. To prepare social workers for effective advanced practice from a transcultural multi-systems perspective with individuals across the lifespan, and with families, groups, organizations and communities.

(Foundation Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to apply and critically analyze theoretical frameworks supported by empirical evidence to understand individual development and behavior across the life span and interactions between individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Students will be able to engage in self-reflection and use supervision and consultation in practice.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate skills for effective communication with diverse clients, colleagues and communities.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate use of a transcultural generalist perspective to systems of all sizes.

(Concentration Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to evaluate critically the strengths and limitations of theories for use in multi-systems.
  • Students will be able to engage in self-evaluation and use supervision and consultation in practice while demonstrating a high degree of autonomy and skill.
  • Students will be able to differentially select and apply effective assessment and intervention skills in multi-systems practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Students will demonstrate advanced skills in communication, problem solving, and consultation with diverse systems of varying sizes.

Goal 3. To prepare social workers for leadership in advocating for positive change and innovation in social work policies, programs and practices to advance social justice and the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

(Foundation Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of issues related to power, privilege, oppression, and diversity that impact social services and skills of advocacy on behalf of clients and communities from a social justice perspective.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and skill in analyzing and influencing social policy.
  • Students will be able to critically analyze the social work profession's mission and philosophy within contemporary and historical contexts.
  • Students will be able to work effectively in organizational and service systems and, as needed, facilitate systemic improvements and change.

(Concentration Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of policies and programs in a specific field of practice (e.g., aging; children youth and families; school social work; or health and mental health) as well as skills for analyzing and influencing policies and programs.
  • Students will be able to apply multi-systems knowledge and skills to advocate with, and on behalf of, marginalized communities.

Goal 4. To prepare social workers to engage in critical inquiry in the service of the above goals.

(Foundation Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to employ critical thinking and information literacy skills to locate, evaluate and use reliable knowledge to inform effective social work practice.
  • Students will be able to critically review empirical evidence and understand strategies for investigating social work issues and problems, particularly as they impact disenfranchised, oppressed, or marginalized populations.

(Concentration Year Objectives)

  • Students will be able to conduct social work research relevant to the evaluation of practice or the examination of a social work issue.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate skills for examining empirical support for interventions and for refining and advancing the quality of their practice.

Goal 5. To contribute to social work through professional leadership and scholarship that advances social work knowledge, practice and values.

  • Leadership: Social work faculty provide leadership in the social work field through
    service on boards, committees, and community coalitions; provision of consultation,
    workshops, trainings and other work with groups and agencies; and direct service to the
    community.
  • Development and Dissemination of social work knowledge. Faculty collectively
    conduct research and contribute scholarly publications, presentations, evidence-based
    curricula, and other contributions relevant to the field of social work and related
    fields.