Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Calendar - 2010/2011
Canadian Excellence

Master of Social Work

Inaugurated in 1966, the MSW program was first accredited in 1974 by the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work and was most recently reaccredited in 2005. The MSW Program is also accredited by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS), with three fields of study approved: individuals, families and groups (IFG), community, policy, planning and organizations (CPPO), and Aboriginal.

The MSW curriculum is designed to provide students with opportunities for personal growth and learning consistent with the norms of advanced scholarship, which will lead to the development of social work knowledge, skills and attitudes conducive to professional social work roles in:

  • practice with individuals, families and groups (IFG); or
  • practice in community, policy, planning and organizations (CPPO); or 
  • integrated practice combining (a) and (b) above (the integrated practice option is not available to advanced standing or thesis students); or 
  • Aboriginal holistic healing practice.

PROGRAMS WITH IFG AND CPPO FIELDS OF STUDY

Overview

The curriculum is organized into a program of classroom courses and social work practica courses.  There are four types of courses:

  1. Core courses with content related to foundational knowledge, skills and attitudes for all social work practice. These core courses are required of all students.
  2. Courses related to the IFG or CPPO fields of study. Each student must choose one of the following areas:  Individuals, Families and Groups (IFG); Community, Policy, Planning and Organizations (CPPO); or an integrated practice combining IFG and CPPO (the integrated stream is not offered to advanced standing or thesis students).  Students who select the integrated concentration take a combination of IFG and CPPO courses and they must declare a primary and secondary focus with regard to the IFG and CPPO fields.
  3. Graduate level electives (offered by the Faculty of Social Work or by other WLU departments) that provide students with opportunities to round out their program of study in terms of special interests or career goals. Each year the FSW chooses to offer a certain number of elective courses from among those that are listed in the Graduate Calendar. Students may also take IFG and CPPO field courses as electives if they do not have to count such courses as required field courses. 
  4. Practicum placements in social work agencies where students receive practice education and supervision from a MSW practitioner. Placements reflect the student's chosen concentration of study: IFG, CPPO or the integrated concentration that combines IFG and CPPO. There are a limited number of international placements available to two-year full-time students.

Note: There is also a thesis option that may be chosen by a limited number of students each year, but this option is not available to integrated stream students.

PROGRAMS WITH THE ABORIGINAL FIELD OF STUDY

Overview

Students in the Aboriginal field of study will develop an understanding of the Aboriginal holistic healing approach and the application of this knowledge within diverse and generalist practice contexts. This includes practices with individuals and groups, as well as in contexts where community work is undertaken and in policy and research arenas. The practicum in this program will be at an agency or program that offers the Aboriginal holistic healing approach as its primary or desired process of intervention. In placements where students will engage in community, policy or research work, the focus will be on processes where the holistic healing approach will be utilized. Students complete a minimum of eight courses and the practicum in the Aboriginal field of study for the full-time advanced standing program spans two terms (Terms 2 and 3, January - June) at three days/week.

Admission Requirements

For the two-year full-time, four-year part-time, and MSW-MDiv programs, normally, a four year bachelor's degree, or equivalent, from a university or college of recognized standing is required. Applicants with a three year degree and significant relevant work experience will be considered. To be eligible for the advanced standing programs, applicants must hold a Bachelor of Social Work degree from an accredited program in a university of recognized standing.

Academic background must include at least four full social science courses and a half-credit course in research methodology.

For applicants who have already completed a bachelor's degree, at least a B (73-76 percent) standing in the final academic year is required. For students completing their final year of undergraduate study, the academic eligibility standard is the same but is determined on the basis of the last completed academic year.

Evidence of paid and/or voluntary experience in human service organizations, awareness of contemporary social issues and social work values, demonstrated ability to communicate effectively, and motivation for a career as a professional social worker is assessed on the basis of application material.

Although the Aboriginal field of study is open to students of all cultural backgrounds, candidates for this field must also have some familiarity with the traditional holistic healing approach and/or have used it in their practice. This will be demonstrated through a personal statement, references and an admissions interview.

Additional courses required for admission to the MSW program that are completed after the requirements for the bachelor's degree have been met will be calculated into the final year GPA. To be considered for admission, the re-calculated GPA must be at least a B average.

Applicants who do not meet the above academic requirements and standards for admission may inquire about establishing academic eligibility. If applicants do not have a B standing in the final academic year, additional undergraduate coursework must be completed to raise the final year GPA to the minimum B requirement. Additional coursework must be completed in social sciences beyond the introductory level. Please contact the admissions coordinator for further details.

 
Program Requirements for the MSW Two-Year Program (Full-time)

 
Program Requirements for the MSW Four-Year Program (Part-time)

 
Program Requirements for the MSW Advanced Standing Program (Full-time)

 
Program Requirements for the MSW Advanced Standing Program (Part-time)

 
Program Requirements for the Combined MDiv/MTS - MSW Program

The MDiv - MSW program is offered jointly by the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and the Faculty of Social Work. It integrates the curricula of both degrees into four years of study. This program is particularly valuable for those who are interested in positions of leadership in the social services of the church and the community at large.

Such positions would include special ministries in a hospital, prison, leisure or counselling centre setting, placements in social work agencies that work closely with the church, and occupations in groups that are involved in broad-based programs of leadership development and community renewal. Because the completion of the joint program results in the receipt of both the MDiv and the MSW degrees, persons graduating from the joint program are also qualified to apply for other positions within the fields of social work and church ministry.

The combined MDiv - MSW program normally involves two years of registration in the Seminary and two years of registration in the Faculty of Social Work. Students pay fees and are only eligible for scholarships, bursaries and awards applicable to the program in which they are registered.

There are a limited number of positions in the joint MDiv - MSW program. Normally no more than six students are admitted to the program in any particular year. Therefore, it is desirable to apply for admission to this joint program at the earliest possible date.

At the beginning of each academic year, students in the combined degree programs must meet with both the MSW Coordinator and the dean of the Seminary to plan their course schedule for the coming year.

For further information, refer to Program Requirements-The MDiv - MSW Program or write to the dean of the Seminary or the admissions coordinator in the Faculty of Social Work.

 
Program Requirements for the MSW Advanced Standing Program (Aboriginal field) (Full-time)

 
Program Requirements for the MSW Advanced Standing Program (Aboriginal field) (Part-time)

 
The Practicum

As a significant portion of their training, all MSW students complete practicum placements in social work agencies and receive practice instruction and supervision from a Master of Social Work practitioner. Placements reflect the student's chosen field of study: individuals, families and groups (IFG); community, policy, planning and organizations (CPPO); an integrated concentration blending IFG and CPPO (not available to advanced standing IFG or CPPO students or to thesis students); or Aboriginal holistic healing.

All students in placement develop learning goals and a learning plan with their instructor, based upon broad goals set by the Faculty of Social Work. Midterm and final evaluation feedback is given by the instructor. Grading is on a satisfactory/fail basis for all placements.

Students in the full-time two-year program complete two placements, one in each of the two years. The first placement is 4 days per week for the winter and spring terms, and the second is four days per week for the fall term of their second year. Students in the four-year part-time program complete one placement in their second year consisting of two days per week for three academic terms, and a second placement in their fourth year for two days per week in the fall and winter terms. Advanced standing students in the full-time program with IFG and CPPO fields of study complete one placement of three days per week from September through April. Advanced standing students in the part-time program with IFG and CPPO fields of study complete one placement of two days per week for three terms in the second year of the program. Advanced standing students in both the full-time and part-time programs with the Aboriginal field of study complete one placement of three days per week over their second and third (winter and spring) terms.

Students completing a thesis are exempt from some placement days (see Program Requirements), although they may choose to complete the full placement.

Many of our practicum settings have requirements for a criminal record check and/or vaccinations (for medical settings) prior to commencing the practicum.

A small number of students in the two-year and four-year part-time programs may pursue a program of study in combination with an international practicum in their second year (see Program Requirements for details).

Further information can be found on the practicum page of the FSW website.

 
Thesis Option

The thesis option is open to all students except those in the IFG/CPPO integrated stream or those in the Aboriginal field of study; however, enrolment in the thesis option is contingent upon the student finding a faculty member who is willing to act as his/her thesis advisor. The Associate Dean may assist students in identifying potential thesis advisors. Two-year full-time and advanced standing students must register in the thesis option by mid-way through their first term, and part-time students must register before their fourth term (see Program Requirements for course and practicum exemptions for the thesis option).

Guidelines for the preparation and submission of master's theses, as well as information regarding the oral examination of theses, are found under General Regulations in the Graduate Calendar.