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School of Social Work

The School of Social Work, successor to the Division of Social Work in the Department of Sociology of the University, was founded in September 1918. The school shares with the University a commitment to the advancement and application of knowledge. Students in Pitt's School of Social Work learn the knowledge, skills, and values to engage in culturally competent practice with diverse populations and communities. They learn to critically analyze personal, familial, and environmental factors affecting practice settings and practice techniques, and to advocate for those who confront barriers to fulfilling their potential.

The school's students and faculty members also engage in scholarly activities that contribute to professional knowledge about complex social problems and innovative approaches to ameliorate those problems. In addition, school students, alumni, and personnel serve local, national, and international communities by developing and participating in collaborations with social agencies, community-based organizations, government, and foundations.

The mission of the School of Social Work is to advance knowledge and to apply that knowledge for the fulfillment of human potential through the prevention and amelioration of social problems. The school is committed to promoting the values of social and economic justice. Recognizing the complexities of contemporary society, the school dedicates itself through its educational, research, and public service activities to advocating for a society that respects the dignity and achievement of all individuals, families, and communities.

In furtherance of its mission, the School of Social Work strives to:

  • Educate professional social workers with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to engage in culturally competent practice with diverse populations and communities; to critically analyze personal, familial, and environmental factors affecting practice settings and practice techniques; and to advocate for those who confront barriers to maximizing the achievement of their fullest potential.
  • Engage in scholarly activities that contribute to professional knowledge about complex social problems and innovative approaches to ameliorate those problems.
  • Provide service to local, national, and international communities through the development of and participation in collaborations with social agencies, community-based organizations, government, and foundations.

The school offers a full continuum of social work educational programs at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels (as well as a continuing education program for practicing social workers). The school's bachelor's and master's programs in social work are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and graduates are eligible for full membership in the National Association of Social Workers.

 

Degree Options

The School of Social Work offers the Master of Social Work (MSW) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. MSW students may combine their degree work with course work leading to a certificate. In addition, the School of Social Work has joint and cooperative degree options with other schools in the University as well as external institutions. The degree options include:

 

Master of Social Work

  • Skill Concentrations (one is required)
    • Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups
    • Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA)
  • Direct Practice Certificate Programs

    Gerontology Certificate

    Home and School Visitor/School Social Worker Certificate

    Children Youth and Families Certificate

    Mental Health Certificate

    Human Services Management Certificate

    Integrated Healthcare Certificate

 

Doctor of Philosophy

Joint and Cooperative Degrees

MSW

Master of Social Work/Master of Divinity

Master of Social Work/Master of Public Administration

Master of Social Work/Master of Public and International Affairs

Master of Social Work/Master of International Development

Master of Social Work/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work

Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health

Master of Social Work/Juris Doctorate

PhD

Master of Social Work/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work

Master of Public Health/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work

Specific details regarding course requirements are described in this bulletin and on the School of Social Work Web site and in the Student Handbook.

Admissions

Admission to the MSW and PhD programs is for fall term (September) only. Applicants seeking full-time or part-time admission should submit the application far in advance of their expected entry into the program; all application materials are due no later than April 15 for the MSW program and December 31 for the PhD program of the year in which entry is expected. Applications are reviewed only upon receipt of all required materials. Application forms are available from:

School of Social Work

Office of Admissions

2104 Cathedral Of Learning

412-624-6302

E-mail: tfab@pitt.edu

www.socialwork.pitt.edu/admissions/

Online applications are accepted at : app.applyyourself.com/?id=up-sw

For more specifics on admissions requirements for the MSW or the PhD, consult the description of the relevant degree program.

Admission of Students from Other Countries

The School of Social Work welcomes applications from students in other countries whose credentials meet the requirements and the standards of the School of Social Work and the Office of lnternational Services of the University.

MSW and PhD applicants from other countries must apply directly to the School of Social Work. Applicants must submit the completed application form, additional required forms, and other required materials in English. Additional University of Pittsburgh application procedures for international students are described at www.umc.pitt.edu/bulletins/graduate/application.htm. Other information and assistance for international students can be found online at www.ois.pitt.edu/intladmissions.html.

For MSW applicants only: International students who hold a baccalaureate degree in social work from a program that is not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and who are interested in obtaining advanced standing credit must submit their transcript to the council for a determination of equivalency. Further Information can be found online at www.cswe.org.

 

Financial Assistance

Students interested in financial assistance to meet tuition and/or living costs should direct inquiries to both the Office of Admissions of the School of Social Work and the University's Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Students should be advised that limited resources often preclude any one funding source from granting awards that meet total financial needs. As a result, students are strongly encouraged to seek financial aid packages consisting of partial awards (including loans and scholarships) from a variety of sources, including the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in Alumni Hall (412-624-PITT) and the School of Social Work Financial Aid Sources, Office of Admissions, Room 2104 Cathedral of Learning (412-624-6302; http://www.socialwork.pitt.edu/admissions-aid/financial-aid See also the University-wide information on Financial Aid.

Applications for financial assistance are accepted only after an admissions decision has been made. Awards are made for a one-year period. New applications are required for each succeeding period.

 

Academic Standards

The School of Social Work's expectations for student and faculty conduct are described in school policies and embody the standards of professional social work. Students in the School of Social Work are required to adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics.

Academic Review Policy

The school maintains an academic review policy that applies to all degree students in the school and that seeks to ensure academic standards of achievement (i.e., satisfactory performance in the field, satisfactory grades for academic course work, and reasonable rates of progress toward completion of degree requirements). The policy statement on academic review appears in the Student Handbook.

Academic Integrity Policy

The school also has an academic integrity policy that applies to all students and faculty members in the school and seeks to ensure that students and faculty members respect the ethical standards expected of them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. The policy statement on academic integrity appears in the School of Social Work Student Handbook.

Statute of Limitations for School of Social Work Degrees and Leaves of Absence

MSW Program

There is a four-year limitation on the earning of the MSW degree. The four-year period is counted from the date of entry into the program for four full academic calendar years. Under extenuating circumstances (listed below), an advisor can recommend an extension of time to the MSW program director and the associate dean for academic affairs. If approved, the period of extension and the conditions for completing the program will be recorded in the student’s folder, with a copy sent to the student. Extenuating circumstances include the following:

 

 

 

a. extended illness of the student,

b. extended personal emergency,

c. involuntary mobilization into a U.S. military unit, and

d. death of a close family member.

Under special conditions, MSW students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of one full academic year may be granted to master’s students. A student wishing to take a leave of absence must submit in advance to the MSW program director a written request that indicates the length and rationale for the leave. The MSW program director and the associate dean for academic affairs will review the request. If approved, the time of the leave will not count against the total time allowed for the degree being sought by the student. Readmission following an approved leave of absence is a formality.

PhD Program

There is an eight-year statute of limitations for the completion of the PhD for students who enter with an MSW and who are not pursuing an MPH. There is a 10-year statute of limitations for students in the MSW/PhD program or the MPH/PhD program. Course work and the comprehensive examinations should be completed within three years and the dissertation within five. Under exceptional circumstances, a candidate for the PhD may apply for an extension of the statute of limitations. Requests for an extension of the statute of limitations must be submitted to the doctoral program director and must be approved by the doctoral committee and the dean. The request must be accompanied by a program assessment of the work required of the student to complete the degree and evidence of the extenuating circumstances leading to the requested extension. Students who request an extension of the statute of limitations must demonstrate proper preparation for the completion of all current degree requirements.

Under special conditions, doctoral students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of two academic calendar years may be granted to doctoral students. A student wishing to take a leave of absence must submit in advance to the doctoral program director a written request that indicates the length and rationale for the leave. The doctoral program director and the associate dean for academic affairs will review the request. If approved, the time of the leave will not count against the total time allowed for the degree being sought by the student. Readmission following an approved leave of absence is a formality.

NASW Code of Ethics

Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers' conduct. The Code is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they serve. The NASW code of ethics can be viewed online at www.naswdc.org/pubs/code/default.asp.

Advising

Students are assigned a faculty advisor at the beginning of the student’s matriculation into the MSW or PhD program. Students in the MSW program are assigned an advisor from among the faculty and professional staff. The assignment is made by the MSW program director and remains in effect until changed after a request by an advisor or advisee, as indicated by field assignment or program change, or due to a change in the advisor’s assignment.

MSW and PhD Degree Requirements

The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree can be completed in two academic calendar years of full-time study and requires the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 60 credits—42 class and 18 field practicum. Candidates for the MSW degree must demonstrate successful completion of the required foundation courses, concentration-specific courses, and field practicum, and must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.00.

The PhD program requires 10 core courses, one policy elective, plus a minimum of five electives, which may be 2-, 3- or 4-credit courses. During their first year, all students are required to take the Doctoral Seminar (0 credits). Students will spend two years meeting their course requirements. Full-time status is defined as nine or more credit hours per semester. Fifty (50) credit hours must be completed before students are permitted to take the comprehensive examination.

 

MSW Joint and Cooperative Degree Programs

In addition to the MSW and PhD degrees, graduate students in the School of Social Work have the opportunity to select from several unique dual degree programs. MSW students can avail themselves of one of the three joint or cooperative degree programs; two joint degree programs are available to PhD students.

Detailed below are joint degree programs offered by the School of Social Work in tandem with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the Graduate School of Public Health, the School of Law, and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

 

MSW/Master of Public Administration, MSW/Master of Public and International Affairs, and MSW/Master of International Development

Three unique joint degree programs are offered by the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, through its COSA concentration, and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. These joint programs provide students with a broad professional education to prepare them for eventual service in urban non-profit and government organizations, community development policy, and social and urban planning. They provide experienced students with opportunities to expand their knowledge base and enable other students to develop more marketable professional skills than are usually acquired through single-degree programs. Students in these joint programs earn a Master of Social Work from the School of Social Work and a Master of Public Administration, Master of Public and International Affairs or a Master of International Development from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

 

Students must be admitted to both programs in order to qualify for admission to the joint degree program. Degree candidates must meet the minimum foundation, concentration, and specialized requirements of both schools, except where substitutions are appropriate and approved by the faculty advisors. Depending upon which joint degree program the student elects, the total number of credits required for graduation ranges from 72 to 88 credits. For most students, this means that individual programs can be completed within six to seven terms of full-time residency. Students electing to terminate the joint degree program before its completion must complete all the work required by the respective schools for either degree in order to receive that degree separately.

The easiest way to apply to the Master's Degree in Social Work Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work is to use our online application.

University of Pittsburgh
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Office of Admissions
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
412-648-7640
www.gspia.pitt.edu

MSW/Master of Public Health program

The MSW/MPH program essentially requires a three year curriculum plan. Students will complete the required core courses in both the MSW and the MPH program. Selected required courses from each program will count as elective courses toward the degree in the other program. A reciprocal agreement between both programs with regards to the acceptance of student electives will facilitate effective curriculum planning.

The total number of credits to be taken will be 86, 50 in Social Work, and 36 in GSPH. Students will be required to complete two field placements (one in the first year and one in the second) as required by the MSW program, and as is consistent with the practicum requirements of the MPH program.

The second field placement will have a public health emphasis and will count as the required MPH practicum experience. All students will be required to complete the GSPH Capstone course and also complete an essay as required by the MPH program. Students will be assigned faculty advisors from both SSW and GSPH and these advisors will work collaboratively with the student to plan the academic course of study.

Upon completion of this program, the student would receive the Masters of Public Health and the Masters of Social Work from the respective schools. The curriculum is established so that the requirements for both degrees are met by having certain classes at one school fulfill requirements at the other.

The easiest way to apply to the Master's Degree in Social Work Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work is to use our online application.

For more information on the MSW/MPH program please contact:

University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
Office of Admissions
2104 Cathedral of Learning
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 624-6302
E-mail: 
mswinfo@pitt.edu

MSW/Juris Doctorate

The School of Social Work (SSW) and the School of Law offer a cooperative educational program through which students may earn both the Master of Social Work (MSW), the primary professional degree in social work, and the Juris Doctor (JD) degree, the first professional degree in law. The MSW-JD program will enable students with interests in a wide range of areas where law and social work converge - such as child welfare, aging, health, mental health, juvenile and criminal justice, family issues, and housing - to engage in a highly integrative educational experience that will include academic courses, field placements, and research opportunities at the intersection of both professions. The joint degree program allows one to earn both degrees in four years rather than five.

Increasingly, social work professionals and attorneys are working together to promote the well-being of their clients. These areas of convergence exist in practice with individuals, families, and groups as well as with communities and organizations. The intersection of legal and social work concerns is also evident at the policy level, and research from both professional disciplines has been used to inform these activities. It is not uncommon for practitioners from both fields to work in concert to draft, implement, and/or advocate for legislation at the local, state, and federal levels.

The MSW-JD program is one among several programs that the Schools of Social Work and Law have jointly established throughout their long and rich history of collaboration.

Neither degree may be granted prior to fulfillment of all requirements for the joint degree program.

Faculty Advisors

University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Professor Kevin Deasy, MSW, JD
3900 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 648-5642
deasy@pitt.edu

University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work
Professor Jeffrey Shook, MSW, JD, PhD
2117 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 648-9365
jes98@pitt.edu

 

Master of Social Work/Master of Divinity

Social work and theology have many historical, philosophical, and applied commonalties. In an effort to integrate the two educational experiences and prepare professionals competent to integrate their practice skills, the School of Social Work, in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has developed a cooperative degree program leading to the Master of Social Work and Master of Divinity degrees.

This program provides a full social work and theological education that may be completed in four years by virtue of mutual and reciprocal educational planning between the institutions. Candidates for the degrees normally enter the seminary and concentrate on theological studies during the first two years of the program. The third and fourth years are spent primarily in the School of Social Work with approximately one course each term being taken at the seminary. Students electing to terminate the cooperative degree program before its completion must complete all the work required by the respective institutions for either degree in order to receive that degree separately. Applications for admission are processed independently by each institution.

Requests for further information concerning the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and its various programs may be addressed to the Director of Admissions, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 616 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, or call 412-362-5610, ext. 2116. The seminary's Web site is www.pts.edu.

 

PhD Joint Degree Programs

The School of Social Work offers two joint degree programs to PhD students: one leading to the MSW and the PhD and another with the Graduate School of Public Health. (Separate applications are required for either MSW or MPH admission.)

Dual MSW-PhD Program

An MSW degree from an accredited school of social work is required to be considered for admission to our PhD program. Those applicants without an MSW degree, who wish to pursue an social work academic career, can apply to the joint MSW/Ph.D. program.  Such applicants typically are interested in grounding themselves in the practice base of the social work profession, while also seeking to develop their advanced research and teaching expertise.

 

If you are interested in a faculty position in a school of social work after completing your PhD, please note that the Council on Social Work Education, the accrediting body for social work undergraduate and master's programs, requires that social work practice courses be taught by faculty with the MSW plus the equivalent of two years of full time post-BASW or post-MSW practice experience. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that individuals who do not possess an MSW and who desire an academic position in a school of social work consider the option of our joint MSW-PhD program. We also strongly encourage those who do not have the requisite practice experience to obtain it before completing their PhD., preferably before entering the program.

 

Separate applications are required for admission to each program. Those seeking further information regarding this dual degree program are encouraged to contact Dr. Christina E. Newhill, director of the doctoral program, (412) 624-6330, newhill@pitt.edu.

 

Joint MPH-PhD Option

The joint MPH/PhD program, is designed for social workers seeking administrative, policy, and/or academic positions. The overall training program clearly emphasizes leadership training rather than basic professional preparation. All trainees must possess a Masters of Social Work (MSWs) with at least two years of professional practice experience.

Students in the joint Master of Public Health/PhD program must be admitted to the Graduate School of Public Health as well as to the doctoral program in the School of Social Work. Course requirements for both programs must be fulfilled.

This joint degree requires the completion of a minimum of 81 credits, a comprehensive examination and successful defense of a dissertation. Graduate Students in the joint MPH/PhD program generally apply 12 credits from the MPH curriculum toward their elective course work for the PhD.

 

Children, Youth and Families Certificate

The Children Youth and Families Certificate Program is designed to prepare graduates of the MSW program to provide services to at-risk children and families through a wide range of public and private agencies. Students of the MSW Program may take required and elective courses leading to the Certificate in Children Youth and Families, which is awarded by the School of Social Work.

Gerontology Certificate

The gerontology certificate will enhance MSW students’ understanding of the aging process and provide students with relevant skills to practice with and/or on behalf of the elderly. Knowing how to work with the elderly as a social work professional offers many opportunities at a time when this population is steadily increasing. A background in gerontology provides students with the tools to enter an occupation field with an expected growth rate of 22 percent over the next 10 years.

Home and School Visitor/School Social Worker Certificate

The Home and School Visitor/School Social Worker (H&SV/SSW) certificate, a joint effort with the University of Pittsburgh School of Education that is accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, prepares students for professional practice in both public and private educational settings throughout Pennsylvania. The H&SV/SSW certificate program is designed to enhance professional competency in the development and delivery of high-quality social work services to diverse student populations in elementary and secondary schools.

Human Service Management Certificate

Many social work graduates, including clinical practitioners, often find themselves moving up quickly into supervisor, management, and even executive positions. The generalist perspective and systems knowledge from their social work education provides a strong basis for leadership growth in a range of social work settings. To better prepare social work students to take advantage of leadership opportunities and enhance their personal and professional development, the School offers the Human Services Management Certificate.

The Human Services Management Certificate can be completed by both COSA and Direct Practice students in the course of their MSW. Students pursuing this certification option must complete 12 credits.

For more information on the Human Services Management Certificate, please contact the Community Organization, and Social Action Concentration Chairperson, Tracy M. Soska at 412-624-3711 or tsssw@pitt.edu.

Integrated Health Certificate

The Integrated Health Certificate Program prepares graduate social work students specializing in direct practice with the knowledge and skills necessary to work with individuals, families, groups, and communities in a variety of institutional and community-based health-related settings. The goal of the certificate program, which emphasizes leadership and advocacy, is to increase the number of students focused on health and social work. Students completing the Integrated Health Certificate Program will have a deeper understanding of the relationship between behavioral health (e.g., mental health, substance use) and physical health. New opportunities abound in health care for social workers trained in an interdisciplinary approach who are prepared to bridge the gap between health care providers and patient needs within a coordinated system of care.

Mental Health Certificate

The Certificate in Mental Health is designed to prepare MSW graduates for professional practice with individuals, families, and/or groups with mental and/or behavioral health challenges through a wide range of social and human service agencies. The certificate program places a special emphasis on the needs of those who are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Direct practice social workers in mental health services have a wide array of career opportunities across a range of public and private settings, including psychiatric inpatient services, outpatient psychotherapy services, child and family services, partial hospitalization and case management services, drug and alcohol services, and private practice. This curriculum best prepares students to pursue independent clinical licensure in Pennsylvania and most other states.

 

Special Academic Opportunities

The school offers several academic resources and programs for its students, as detailed below:

Student Participation on School Committees

Students have opportunities to participate in the governance of the School of Social Work by serving on school committees. Information about the purposes and functions of the committees is distributed during the beginning of each fall term. Through the Office of the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, students can volunteer to serve on committees and become full members of those committees.

Student Executive Council (SEC)

All degree students in the School of Social Work comprise the membership of the student organization that elects the Student Executive Council. The council concerns itself with student life and serves as a liaison with the administration and faculty.

The Student Executive Council relies heavily on student participation and it endeavors to be of service to the student body. Activities include the publication of a student newsletter, the development of discussion sessions around critical social issues, the provision of opportunities for social action, the participation in planning for orientation, and the planning of a variety of social events.

In addition, SEC members, representing the student body, are appointed to serve in the following organizations and/or committees: Black Action Society; Student Chapter, NASW; Student Chapter, NABSW; Alumni Association (Liaison); BASW Club; and Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA).

Black Action Society (BAS)

The primary purpose of the Black Action Society is to provide a supportive service system to African American students in the School of Social Work. It is the hope of the Black Action Society that through its continued efforts and the cooperation of the Office of Student Affairs, African American students who matriculate in the School of Social Work will contribute significantly to the well-being of the African American community as well as the general community.

Buhl Library

The Buhl Library of Social Work is a special collection of books, journals, and other resource materials specifically focused on social work. The Buhl Library is located on the first floor of Hillman Library and is staffed by a full-time social work librarian. Additionally, students at the School of Social Work have full access to the wide range of services provided by the University of Pittsburgh library system.

Master of Social Work

Post-Master's Certification Program

Doctor of Philosophy Program

School of Social Work Faculty

 
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