Advanced Generalist Specialization

In a broad social justice framework, advanced practice or advanced standing MSW students complete a generalist advanced practice specialization in one of four social problem areas: (1) Aging; (2) Child, Youth, and Family Welfare; (3) Health; and (4) Mental Health. In addition to their focus area courses, students complete a Macro Practice Elective and two "free electives."

For information about our focus areas click on the links below:

When selecting a focus area, it's a good idea to keep in mind the professional educational requirements for post-degree Licenses and other Credentials:


Learn more about Field units and Field faculty by watching introductory videos of each.


Specialization Year-Advanced Practice Competencies

At the conclusion of the MSW Program we expect students have achieved the following competencies through both generalist practice behaviors and advanced practice behaviors learned in classroom and field experiences; all of which are derived from social work knowledge, values and skills.

  1. Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.Social workers serve as representatives of the profession, its mission, and its core values. They know the profession’s history. Social workers commit themselves to the profession’s enhancement and to their own professional conduct and growth
    • apply knowledge of social services, policies, and programs relevant to the focus area, to advocate with and/or on behalf of clients for access to services
    • develop a plan for continuing professional education and development
    • collaborate with and articulate the mission of Social Work to others (e.g., interdisciplinary team members, volunteers, the broader community, the news media, and political leaders)
  2. Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practiceSocial workers have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically and to engage in ethical decision-making. Social workers are knowledgeable about the value base of the profession, its ethical standards, and relevant law.
    • evaluate ethical dilemmas related to problems and issues in the focus area
    • weigh values, principles of ethical decision-making, and the NASW code of ethics in order to address ethical dilemmas related to practice in the focus area
  3. Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis and communication of relevant information.
    • identify and synthesize multiple sources of knowledge to understand policy and practice issues related to the focus area
    • utilize models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation that are appropriate to the focus area
    • demonstrate effective communication skills with diverse communities, constituencies, and multi- and inter-disciplinary colleagues when dealing with issues related to the focus area
  4. Engage diversity and difference in practice.Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person=s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim.
    • demonstrate an understanding of how culture and values affect diverse conceptualizations and constructions of social problems and solutions in the focus area
    • demonstrate knowledge and skills to practice without discrimination and with respect, towards people of diverse backgrounds
    • actively engage diverse clients, groups, or organizations to promote solutions based on diverse conceptualizations of social problems in the focus area
  5. Advance human rights and social and economic justice.Each person, regardless of position in society, has basic human rights, such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers recognize the global interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights. Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions, and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice.
    • appraise how mechanisms of oppression and discrimination impact various groups and outcomes relevant to the focus area
    • apply strategies of advocacy and social change that advance human rights and social and economic justice to impact various groups and outcomes relevant to the focus area
  6. Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery. Social workers comprehend quantitative and qualitative research and understand scientific and ethical approaches to building knowledge.
    • demonstrate ability to evaluate practice in the focus area
    • translate practice knowledge in order to contribute to scientific inquiry
    • critically evaluate and utilize theoretical and empirical research relevant to the problems and/or populations addressed in the focus area
  7. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.Social workers are knowledgeable about human behavior across the life course; the range of social systems in which people live; and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Social workers apply theories and knowledge from the liberal arts to understand biological, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development.
    • evaluate and apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment to choose methods of assessment, intervention, and evaluation most appropriate to the focus area problems/populations
  8. Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.Social work practitioners understand that policy affects service delivery, and they actively engage in policy practice. Social workers know the history and current structures of social policies and services; the role of policy in service delivery; and the role of practice in policy development.
    • evaluate, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance outcomes relevant to the focus area
    • demonstrate collaboration with clients, colleagues, and other constituencies for policy action in the focus area
  9. Respond to contexts that shape practice.Social workers are informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice. Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic, and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively.
    • assess the impact of historical and contemporary contexts on practice and policy in the focus area
    • engage in leadership roles in the focus area
  10. Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.Professional practice involves the dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation at multiple levels. Social workers have the knowledge and skills to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances; evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness; developing, analyzing, advocating, and providing leadership for policies and services; and promoting social and economic justice.
    1. Engagement
      • employ diverse strategies to engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities related to the focus area
    2. Assessment
      • assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities to determine a range of potentially effective and appropriate interventions to improve practice outcomes related to the focus area
    3. Intervention
      • demonstrate ability to intervene at different levels (with and/or on behalf of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities) to achieve the desired practice outcomes related to the focus area
    4. Evaluation
      • apply research skills to analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions in the focus area
      • communicate and disseminate evaluation results to a variety of audiences

Last edited by portier on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | Printer Friendly Version