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Online Master of Science in Social Work

Now accepting applications for Spring, Summer and Fall Starts!

Due to the high demand for this program, we encourage all candidates to submit their application as early as possible in order to be considered for the next available term/start.

The online Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) is designed for the next generation of social workers, preparing them to promote social justice and be positive change agents in their community and the fast-growing field of social work.

Offered by the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville, the online MSSW program focuses on expanding your understanding and application of methods and decision-making practices that promote social justice and build stronger communities. Within our highly-ranked and CSWE-accredited program, you have the option of choosing a specialization and customizing your degree to align with your interests in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Forensic Social Work, Gerontology, Mental Health, Military Social Work or Psychosocial Oncology.

100% ONLINE COURSES

Complete this degree on your own time through fully online coursework and learning resources.

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30/60 CREDIT HOURS

Advanced Standing (30 credits) program requires a BSW; Regular program (60 credits) requires a bachelor’s in any discipline.

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#1 SOCIAL WORK
PROGRAM IN KY

Rated the No.1 social work program in Kentucky by US News and World Report.

Online learning video - Master of Science in Social Work

"[This program] prepared me to be a competent professional in working with non-profits and social service agencies. I have a place in [social change] conversations and can really hold my own."


NATALIE POPE '17
ONLINE MSSW GRADUATE

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How Much Will I Pay?

$764 per credit hour
$250 active duty military rate per credit hour

Tuition & Aid    

Additional costs may include:

  • Practicum insurance
  • NASW annual membership

Scholarship Application Deadlines: January 31 - May 15

Highlights

  • Develop the critical thinking, self-discipline and time management skills needed to succeed in our evolving social environment.
  • Skip the GRE – not required for admission.
  • Complete the Advanced Standing (30 hours) program within 2-5 semesters.
  • Complete the Regular (60 hours) program within 4-8 semesters.
  • Learn from award-winning, nationally renowned and highly experienced faculty.
  • Complete practicum requirement (900 hours of supervised practice) in a social service organization of your choice, within your state* of residence.
  • Learn in a flexible and convenient format, 100% online.
  • Transfer up to 6 credit hours of graduate coursework taken within the last 3 years from other regionally-accredited universities (restrictions apply).

*Check state authorizations for requirements in your state



Outcomes

Online learning video - Master of Science in Social Work

Employment of social workers is expected to increase by 16% during the 2016-2026 decade (bls.gov)—and graduating with an advanced social work degree can open the door to new professional opportunities.

With this degree, you’ll be eligible to become a Certified Social Worker (CSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). View the licensing requirements for the state(s) in which you want to practice at www.allpsychologycareers.com/social-work-license.html.

"Social workers can have very versatile careers. You can work in a one-on-one context as a counselor or as a private clinician. I personally do marketing, but you can also do communications, PR… You can do any sort of policy or government type job or work as a social worker for a corporation. There’s a plurality of career pathways that social work can prepare you for."

— Natalie Pope '17


As an MSSW graduate, you’ll be qualified to pursue careers across a variety of fields including but not limited to:

  • Children and Family Advocacy
  • APS Investigation
  • Community Action
  • Shelters
  • Oncology Social Work
  • Volunteer Coordination
  • Substance Abuse
  • Mental Health
  • International practice
  • Case Management

You can join the MSSW online in either Advanced or Regular Standing program, depending on previous academic career. If you earned your Bachelor of Social Work within the last seven years, you qualify for the 30-hour Advanced Standing program. Otherwise, you should apply for the Regular 60-hour program.


Regular (60-hour) Online MSSW Applicants

Deadline Start Term Details
December 15 Priority deadline for Summer and Fall For out-of-state online program applicants who want to complete the online program within 2 years

For applicants who need a field placement upon starting their first semester
February 28 Summer For applicants who intend to begin in the Summer
May 30 Fall For in-state applicants who want to complete the degree in 2 years
September 30 Spring For in-state and out-of-state applicants

Applications received after this date will be considered for Spring start on a case-by-case basis, as spots are available

Advanced Standing (30-hour) Online MSSW Applicants*

Deadline Start Term Details
December 15 Priority deadline for Summer and Fall For out-of-state online program applicants who want to start in the Fall or Spring semesters, and who want to complete the online program within 1 year

For out-of-state applicants who need a field placement upon starting in their first semester

For applicants who intend to choose a specialization
February 28 Summer For in-state applicants who intend to start in Summer
May 30 Fall For in-state applicants who want to begin in Fall
September 30 Spring For in-state and out-of-state applicants

Applications received after this date will be considered for Spring start on a case-by-case basis, as spots are available

*30-hour applicants, please note that eligibility to specialize may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis


Steps to Apply

  1. Complete application for admission
  2. Submit $65 non-refundable application fee
  3. Submit all official transcripts of undergraduate and graduate work from all previous

Note: Electronic transcripts are only accepted directly from the institution(s). Please have electronic transcripts sent directly to UofL Graduate Admissions Office.


Is Social Work Right For You?

Because the social work profession requires full commitment and life-long dedication to the wellbeing and advancement of others, we strongly encourage you to review the NASW Code of Ethics before applying to the MSSW program.

Ensure your beliefs and behaviors align with the social work profession's mission, ethical principles and core values.

Admission Requirements

Use the MSSW Application Checklist [PDF] for specific instructions on everything you must submit with your MSSW application. This checklist helps you review requirements, keep track of the documentation you have and identify the documentation you still need to obtain.

Note: If applying to a specialization, you must submit a separate essay per published instructions. See the Specializations tab for more information.

Send all materials to:
Graduate Admissions
University of Louisville
2211 S. Brook Street
Louisville, KY 40292
gradadm@louisville.edu


Applications submitted by U.S. citizens living abroad and international students are not being accepted at this time, except in rare circumstances. Such applicants must have no language barriers, a qualified practicum supervisor and a practicum site within the UofL Kent School of Social Work partnership/network.


Do Not Wait!

Because our program is highly competitive, we encourage you to submit your online application as soon as possible. You can continue to gather the other required materials and submit before the deadline. Spaces are limited and the online program often fills up before deadline. Strong applications submitted after the deadline may be considered by the Admissions Committee on a case-by-case basis, only as space allows.

Important! You must submit ALL items on the application checklist (no exceptions) before the deadline for your application to be considered complete. Also, be sure to fully complete and sign all sections of the Agreements Packet.


Scholarships

DEADLINE TO APPLY: January 31 - May 15

In addition to the financial aid opportunities offered by the University, the Kent School of Social Work also offers various scholarships available to students who plan to practice in rural Kentucky and students with an interest in working in gerontology, policy or legislative areas. View the scholarship application document for more information.

For more information on the admission and application process, please contact our Online Learning Enrollment Counselor at 800.871.8635 or by email at online@louisville.edu.

To help you proceed through the MSSW program as quickly and successfully as possible, follow your chosen curriculum plan when registering for courses each semester. Should you choose a specialization, please refer to the Advanced Standing 30-hour curriculum plans for more information regarding specialization electives.


Level Courses Hours
Foundation Level Courses
(Regular 60-hour program students start here.)

SW 601 – Human Behavior & the Social Environment I (3)
SW 602 – Social Welfare Institutions, Policies & Services (3)
SW 603 – Social Justice Practice (3)
SW 604 – Social Work Practice I (3)
SW 605 – SW Practice II (3)
SW 619 – Human Behavior & the Social Environment II (3)
SW 622 – Issues in Policy and Service Delivery (3)
SW 626 – Research Methodology & Design (3)
SW 670 – Foundation SW Practicum I (3)
SW 671 – Foundation SW Practicum II (3)

30
Advanced Level Courses
(Advanced standing 30-hour program students begin here, or with electives.)

SW 640 – Advanced Social Work Practice II (3)
SW 641 – Social Justice Policy (3)
SW 668 – Advanced Research Practice I (3)
SW 669 – Advanced Research Practice II (3)
SW 672 – Advanced Social Work Practicum I (3)
SW 673 – Advanced Social Work Practicum II (3)
SW 677 – Advanced Social Work Practice III (3)

21
Advanced Level Electives
(Choose 3 courses)

PHST 600 – Introduction to Biostatistics (department approval required) (3)
PHEP 601 – PHEP 601 Introduction to Epidemiology (department approval required) (3)
SW 615 – Mental Health (3)
SW 627 – Military Social Work (3)
SW 628 – Military Social Work Specialization Seminar (fall)* (3)
SW 629 – Military Social Work Specialization Seminar (spring)** (3)
SW 633 – Social Work and Human Sexuality (3)
SW 636 – Death & Grief (3)
SW 642 – Psychopathology (3)
SW 647 - Psychosocial Oncology Seminar I (3)
SW 648 - Psychosocial Oncology Seminar II (3)
SW 649 – Psychosocial Oncology Specialization Integrative Seminar I (fall)* (3)
SW 650 – Psychosocial Oncology Specialization Integrative Seminar II (spring)** (3)
SW 657 – Group Methods (3)
SW 659 – Introduction to Family Therapy Practice (3)
SW 660 – Motivation & Change (3)
SW 661 – Advanced Issues in Substance Abuse Treatment (3)
SW 662 – Substance Abuse (3)
SW 678 – Advanced ADCS Practicum Seminar (fall)* (3)
SW 679 – Advanced ADCS Practicum Seminar (spring)** (3)
SW 681 – Social Gerontology (3)
SW 682 – Social Work with Older Persons (3)
SW 684 – Spirituality and Social Work (3)
SW 686 – PPP Supervision I* (3)
SW 687 – PPP Supervision II** (3)
SW 691 – Mental Health Integrative Seminar I* (3)
SW 692 – Mental Health Integrative Seminar II** (3)

9
  Minimum Total for MS in Social Work (Standard 60-hour program) 60
  Minimum Total for MS in Social Work (Advanced Standing 30-hour program ONLY) 30

1All Regular 60-hour program MSSW students must begin with the Foundation Level Courses

2All Advanced Standing 30-hour program MSSW students begin with the Advanced Level Courses and/or Advanced Level Electives

* Must be taken with SW 640 Adv SW Practice II and SW 672 Adv Practicum I

** Must be taken with SW 677 Adv SW Practice III and SW 673 Adv Practicum II


Practicum Completion

In order to graduate from the MSSW program, you will be required to complete supervised practice at a social service organization in your state of residence prior to graduation (check state authorization info for requirements in your state).

  • Foundation Practicum requires 16 hours/week or 450 hours/year.
  • Advanced Practicum requires 18 hours/week or 500 hours/year.

Sample Course Descriptions

SW 601 Human Behavior in the Social Environment I
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on macro theories as well as the impact of social and economic forces on individuals and social systems.


SW 602 Social Welfare Institutions, Policies and Services
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on the historical context and evolution of social welfare policy, and how dominant values and contextual factors shape policy in a broad range of social welfare arenas.


SW 603 Diversity, Oppression, and Social Justice Practice
This foundation course designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills for social work practice with people who are subject to various forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ageism, and ableism operating at the individual, community and institutional levels of society. Diversity, strengths, and social justice practice are emphasized. Developing greater professional and personal awareness about the impacts of various forms of oppression are addressed.


SW 604 Social Work Practice I
Prerequisite: SW 670 (or concurrent); Restricted to students admitted to Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on the development of the knowledge and skills necessary for generalist social work practice with individuals, families and small groups. This class is designed to provide students with an understanding of the social work profession's mission, values, ethics and roles.


SW 605 Social Work Practice II
Prerequisite: SW 604; SW 671 (or concurrent); Restricted to students admitted to the Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on the development of the knowledge and skills necessary for generalist social work practice with larger groups, organizations and communities.


SW 619 Human Behavior in the Social Environment II
Prerequisite: SW 601 and restricted to students admitted to the Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on the theories and knowledge of the human biopsychosocial development, including theories and knowledge about the range of smaller social systems in which individuals live. Content about values and ethical issues related to biopsychosocial theories are included.


SW 622 Issues in Policy and Service Delivery
Prerequisite: SW 602 and restricted to students enrolled in the Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on the interrelationships between problem conceptual conceptualization, policy options and their impact on social work practice and clients. Students develop their ability to critically assess current service delivery problems as they impact client need, giving particular attention to vulnerable population groups.


SW 626 Research Methodology and Design
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. This course provides students the foundation knowledge for scientific inquiry. Ii covers all aspects of the research process from problem formulation to writing of the research report. It introduces students to qualitative, quantitative, and single-subject methods of conducting research and evaluating practice.


SW 670 Foundation/Generalist Social Work Practicum I
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. Corequisite: SW 604 or SW 701. This course is a generalist fieldwork experience based on the strengths model of social work practice and taken concurrently with the Social Work Practice 1 course. This practicum assists the student in developing a social work perspective and skills working with a wide range of client systems: individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations, communities and the larger society. The practicum experience provides for the integration of theory, learned across the foundation courses related to human behavior, diversity, organizational and community dynamics, policy and research.


SW 671 Foundation/Generalist Social Work Practicum II
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. Corequisite: SW 605. This course is a generalist fieldwork experience based on strengths model of social work practice and taken concurrently with the Social Work Practice I course. The practicum assists the student in developing a social work perspective and skills working with a wide range of client systems: individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations, communities and the larger society. The practicum experience provides for the integration of theory learned across the foundation courses related to human behavior, diversity, organizational and community dynamics, policy and research.


SW 640 Advanced Social Work Practice II
Prerequisite: SW 605 or admission into the 30 hour program; SW 672 (or concurrent); Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on using advanced problem-solving practice models and critical thinking skills designed to guide everyday decisions social workers make, whether they function as direct service providers or case managers supervisors.


SW 641 Social Justice Policy
Prerequisite: SW 605 or admission into the 30-hour program and either registration in the Summer preceding SW 640 in the Fall or 640 (or concurrent) in the Fall; Restricted to students enrolled through Kent School of Social Work. The focus of this class is on assessing, engaging, planning and executing projects for and in collaboration with organizations and communities. Advanced SW Practice I will extend and deepen the knowledge gained in SW 605 by teaching practical skills in such areas as creating change, conducting assessments, networking, leadership, strategic planning, project development and management, team work, meeting management, community planning, community development, community organization, budgeting and finances, fundraising and grant writing, marketing and interfacing with the media, with a special emphasis on working with groups and organizations.


SW 668 Advanced Research Practice I
Prerequisite: SW 626 or admission into the 30 hour program. Access to a social services agency where projects from this class can be implemented (via practicum, work, or other access to an agency). Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. This course prepares students to critically appraise information gathered through literature reviews, practice wisdom, and consumer perspectives to inform best practices in social work. A plan to incorporate critically appraised information into current micro and/or macro social work practice is developed and implemented.


SW 669 Advanced Research Practice II
Prerequisite: SW 668 and restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. Access to a social services agency where projects from this class can be implemented (via practicum, work, or other access to an agency). This course prepares students to disseminate best practices information to micro and macro practice settings, and evaluate the impact of their dissemination efforts via use of quantitative and qualitative methods and analysis.


SW 672 Advanced Social Work Practicum
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. Corequisite: SW 640. This course focuses on the application of advanced theory, knowledge and skills covered in the advanced level curriculum. Students will integrate the competencies developed in their advanced year with practice experience. Student will use theoretical understanding of advanced level social work practice, social policy, social work values and ethics, and communication skills to guide practice interventions.


SW 673 Advanced Social Work Practicum II
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. Corequisite: SW 677. This course focuses on the application of advanced theory, knowledge and skills covered in the advanced level curriculum. Students will integrate the competencies developed in their advanced year with practice experience. Student will use theoretical understanding of advanced level social work practice, social policy, social work values and ethics, communication skills to guide practice interventions.


SW 677 Advanced Social Work Practicum III
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through Kent School of Social Work; SW 605 or admission into the 30-hour program and SW 673 (concurrent). The focus of this class is on reinforcing, integrating and building on practice skills learned in Advanced Practice I & II (SW 641 & SW 640). Students learn integration strategies and practice skills rooted in solution oriented, cognitive, behavioral, systematic approaches to promote change at multiple levels of social systems using a case based learning approach.


SW 615 Mental Health
Focus on theory, critical issues and problems in mental health.


SW 627 Military Social Work
This course is designed to develop competence in providing services to active duty, reserve, National Guard, veterans, and their families. It focuses on a wide range of challenges, strengths, and interventions that social workers need to learn and utilize in practice when working with this population. It is recognized that returning veterans from the Global War on Terrorism and their families in addition to the millions of veterans from previous military service likely will exceed the capacity of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs, consequently, many of these service members will be seeking assistance from social workers in the civilian sector.


SW 628 Military Social Work Seminar I
Prerequisite: Enrollment in the Military Social Work specialization. Military social work is a specialization of social work that provides services to persons who have served or are serving in the military and their families. MSSW students who are specializing in military social work are required to take this one credit hour seminar per semester that extends over two semesters of their final year at Kent School of Social Work.. It provides students with an opportunity to integrate the theoretical knowledge that they are learning in the classroom with practical experiences in their field placements. In the seminar students from different practice settings will participate and share the diversity of problems and approaches to the practice of military social work.


SW 629 Military Social Work Seminar II
Prerequisite: Enrollment in the Military Social Work specialization. Military social work is a specialization of social work that provides services to persons who have served or are serving in the military and their families. MSSW students who are specializing in military social work are required to take one credit hour seminar per semester that extends over two semesters of their final year at the Kent School of Social Work. It provides students with an opportunity to integrate the theoretical knowledge that they are learning in the classroom with practical experiences in their field placements. In the seminar students from different practice settings will participate and share the diversity of problems and approaches to the practice of military social work.


SW 633 Social Work and Human Sexuality
This course provides knowledge about physical, behavioral, cognitive, emotional and spiritual aspects of human sexuality.


SW 636 Death & Grief
Social workers, regardless of their specialty area or practice setting, will be interacting with persons experiencing death and grief. The main purpose of this course offering is to prepare master's level social workers for effective practice with person experiencing terminal illness as patients, families or caregivers and persons coping with grief and loss across the life span.


SW 642 Psychopathology
Prerequisite: Restricted to Kent School Students. This course examines concepts of labeling theory, stigma, strengths perspective, and the clinical use of diagnostic classification of psychopathology from a social work perspective. The implications of various definitions of psychopathology and the uses of diagnostic systems to inform practice policy and to promote social justice are considered.


SW 647 Psychosocial Practice in Oncology: Interpersonal Practice
This course focuses on learning and applying clinical competencies in the psychosocial care of cancer patients and their families. Students will learn to select appropriate evidence-based interventions and develop an identity as oncology social workers.


SW 648 Psychosocial Practice in Oncology: Community approaches to Promote Health Equity
This course focuses on the knowledge base and practice skills that are needed to make macro-level change in order to eliminate the disparities in health outcomes for persons with cancer.


SW 649 Psychosocial Oncology Seminar I
Students will participate in an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum in palliative care (iCope). The seminar will assist with planning future goals for their career development upon graduation.


SW 650 Psychosocial Oncology Seminar II
Students will participate in an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum in palliative care (iCope). The seminar will assist with planning future goals for their career development.


SW 657 Group Methods
All major aspects of group life are explored and there is an emphasis on the purposes, content, and forms of various group experiences. The social worker's role in facilitating the group process is detailed and there is a special emphasis placed on the beginning processes associated with group methods.


SW 659 Introduction to Family Therapy Practice
Prerequisite: Restricted to students enrolled through the Kent School of Social Work. This course is designed to familiarize the social work student with a family systems framework and a broad range of established family systems that have shaped the practice of couple and family therapy. Theory and technique will be reviewed to assist the development of process skills necessary for addressing the multiple dynamics associated with counseling individuals, couples and families through the lens of marriage and family therapy.


SW 660 Motivation and Change: the process of change and strategies to elicit intrinsic motivation
Prerequisite: Admitted to Kent School of Social Work. Understanding the process of behavior change and developing interviewing skills that elicit intrinsic motivation to change. Class content is in the form of books and guides on Motivational Interviewing, a popular proven practice method.


SW 661 Special Issues in Alcohol and Drug Counseling
This course includes highly specialized and advanced topics in addiction treatment to prepare students to begin practice in Alcohol and Drug Counselor training. Content will round out and complete a basic course of study for alcohol and drug counselors that was not adequately addressed in substance abuse and motivational interviewing classes. These advanced topics will 1) generally aid students in submitting the application for certification as alcohol and drug counselors, 2) provide students with required case management training for working in a licensed alcohol and other drug treatment facility, and 3) prepare students for working within multidisciplinary teams and gain familiarity with clinical supervision methods utilized in substance abuse treatment programs. 4) Students will become familiar with the use of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) a very common assessment tool widely used in substance abuse treatment settings. The complexity and demonstrated efficacy of specialized treatment for substance abuse disorders is well documented and preparation to work with this problem will be valuable across a range of populations; including, but not limited to individuals treated in traditional and non-traditional treatment settings. Evidence based knowledge is progressively improving the effectiveness of treatment. This course will utilize a convergence of knowledge to prepare students for their role in advancing the treatment of alcohol and other drug dependency.


SW 662 Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders
Prerequisite: Restricted to Kent School of Social Work students. Examines current issues associated with substance abuse. Prevailing paradigms related to substance abuse are explored and pragmatic intervention strategies for dealing with those abusing substances are presented and applied.


SW 678 Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counseling Specializations Practicum Seminar
Fall Semester Prerequisite: Enrollment in the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Specialization. This is a required seminar for Advanced Practicum ADCS students designed to achieve two goals: 1) Enhance knowledge of research supported group counseling methods in the treatment of substance abuse (all students); and one of the following: advance special knowledge and skills related to 2a) criminal justice and treatment of substance abuse immersion practicum students) or 2b) leadership (rotational practicum students)


SW 679 Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counseling Specialization Practicum Seminar
Spring Semester Prerequisite: Enrollment in the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Specialization. This is a required seminar for Advanced Practicum ADCS students designed to achieve two goals: 1) Enhance knowledge of research supported family engagement methods in the treatment of substance abuse (all students); and one of the following: advance special knowledge and skills related to 2a) criminal justice and treatment of substance abuse (immersion practicum students) or 2b) leadership (rotational practicum students).


SW 681 Social Gerontology
Explores societal, cultural, and individual issues associated with aging and the field of aging itself. The field of social gerontology is discussed; the biological, physiological, psychological, and social contexts of aging are examined; and the students explore what it means to age.


SW 682 Social Work Practice with Older Persons
Specific knowledge, skills and values associated with social work intervention with older persons are the emphasis of this course. There is an emphasis on the heterogeneity of the population of older Americans and issues associated with diversity. Taught from a strengths perspective using a narrative approach, this course will provide the learner with pragmatic skills needed to work with diverse populations of older adults.


SW 684 Spirituality and Social Work
Provides an in-depth examination of the meaning of spirituality for social work practice. Students will broaden their knowledge of basic spiritual and religious doctrines and principles and analyze their application to social work by applying this knowledge within various social work settings. This course is restricted to students in the Kent School.


SW 686 Gerontology Specialization Lab I
Corequisite: SW 672. Supervision of student work with a variety of gerontology clients and their families’ community agency settings.


SW 687 Gerontology Specialization Lab II
Corequisite: SW 673. Supervision of student work with a variety of gerontology clients and their families’ community agency settings.


SW 691 Mental Health Specialization Integrative Seminar I
Prerequisite: Completion of Foundation requirements and acceptance into Mental Health Specialization. Supervision of student work with a variety of clients and their families with mental health needs in community agency settings.


SW 692 Mental Health Specialization Integrative Seminar II
Prerequisite: Completion of Foundation requirements and acceptance into Mental Health Specialization. Supervision of student work with a variety of clients and their families with mental health needs in community agency settings.



  • Alcohol & Drug Counseling

    The Alcohol & Drug Counseling online specialization prepares you with the knowledge and background needed to secure and succeed in an entry-level job as a substance abuse counselor or case manager. The coursework also fulfills some requirements needed to earn the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) certification. Read more on Alcohol and Drug Counseling page.

  • Gerontology

    The Gerontology online specialization empowers you to become a leader in the dynamic field of aging and social work, meeting the demand for social workers trained to respond to the needs of older adults and their families. You’ll benefit from field practice in a variety of gerontology programs as well as opportunities to network with professionals and build meaningful relationships with older adults that enable their growth and change. Read more on Gerontology page.

  • Mental Health

    The Mental Health online specialization delivers the necessary preparation and knowledge for anyone considering entering the mental health field as a social worker. Studies in this specialization focus around theories on the progression and cause of mental illness as well as diagnostic and assessment skills, all in the context of social work practice. You’ll also learn about the available mental health services and policies, and experience the field firsthand with an advanced practicum rotation. Read more on Mental Health page.

  • Military Social Work

    The Military Social Work online specialization prepares students to support active-duty service members, veterans and their families. Coursework focuses on theoretical perspectives and policy implications relevant to these groups, as well as programs and application of interventions to ameliorate them. Read more on Military Social Work page.

  • Psychosocial Oncology

    The Psychosocial Oncology online specialization addresses an evolving demand for skilled professionals who understand the complexities surrounding the psychosocial health needs of persons with cancer. Coursework emphasizes application of clinical skills across the cancer continuum. Graduates of this specialization receive a Certificate in Psychosocial Oncology in tandem with their master’s degree. Read more on Psychosocial Oncology page.





    The set of questions and answers outlined below can help you learn more about our program, delivery method, application and admission process, financial aid options and how to succeed as an online student at UofL. 


    • MSSW Program FAQ
      • Do I need a BSW to enter this program?

        No, the Regular 60-hour MSSW program is designed for those who have not yet attained a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW). If you currently hold a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution, earned within the last seven years, you may be able to enroll into the Advanced Standing 30-hour program. Preferred applicants for the Advanced Standing 30-hour program have a preferred undergraduate coursework GPA of 3.0 and a preferred Social Work coursework GPA of 3.25.

      • Is there a difference between MSW and MSSW degrees?

        Not really. A Masters of Social Work and a Master of Science in Social Work have similar required coursework as mandated by the accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

      • Are specializations available to MSSW Online students?

        MSSW online students may specialize in: Psychosocial Oncology, Forensic Social Work, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Military Social Work or Gerontology. There are also many other electives offered online and most Kent MSSW students do not specialize.

      • Are there any advantages or disadvantages to choosing a specialization?

        The majority of Kent MSSW students do not specialize; instead choosing a variety of MSSW electives. Some students have a very specific interest in gaining a knowledge base and practice skills with a particular population due to a desire to work with that population post-graduation. In this scenario, having specialized coursework and a practicum that provides experience working with that population can be an asset in making the graduate a stronger applicant in the job market in that particular area. Whether or not a graduate chooses to acknowledge their specialization on their resume is entirely optional. Students typically list their practicum placements on their resume, but whether or not to highlight the electives taken (whether specializing or not) is up to the graduate. The only disadvantage would be not having the ability to take a more varied approach to electives, given that most social workers tend to work with several different client populations over the course of their career. However, students can obtain permission from the Program Manager of Academic Affairs to take additional electives on top of their specialization electives if they so desire, or may wish to apply to return to Kent as a post-masters student after graduation to take additional electives whether for professional development or licensure preparation.

      • Are dual degrees available to MSSW Online students?

        Dual degrees are not available to online MSSW students.

    • Practicum FAQ
      • I work full-time. Can I have a practicum in the evenings and/or weekends?

        Think of the social work practicum as you would a medical resident’s internship; you must study under the guidance of someone with the credentials you are seeking. Thus, you must be supervised in your practicum by a social worker with a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program, and a minimum of two years of post-masters experience.

        Most social workers work Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm. You may need to flex your work schedule to adapt some time for the practicum during the weekdays. On occasion, a social worker may have an evening or weekend program, such as a group counseling session or an educational program, but this may be only once a week or even once a month for maybe two hours.

        You may want to explore with your employer the possibilities of moving some of your work activities into the evenings and weekends, so you will have some day hours reserved for the practicum. You may also explore the option of shifting to 80% time, keeping your full employee benefits, but working only four days a week and saving the fifth day for the practicum. Additionally, you may want to consider shifting to part-time work during the period you are taking your practicum. During the foundation practicum, students work 16 hours weekly at the placement site for a total of 225 hours each Fall and Spring semester and 450 hours total for the academic year. During the advanced practicum, 18 hours weekly at the placement site for a total of 250 hours each Fall and Spring semester and 500 hours total for the academic year.

      • I plan on getting a new job. Can my new job count as my practicum?

        An employee and a student have two different roles and obligations and expectations. As an employee, you are required to satisfy the work expectations of the employer. As a practicum student, you are in an academic course with requirements to satisfy the educational expectations in the syllabus and those of your practicum faculty.

        As a student, you need time to reflect on your practice experiences, perhaps to use some different approaches in your practice than is the custom at the employment site, to challenge some of the accepted practices at your job, and to carry a learner’s size workload. Accreditation also requires that these two roles be clearly separated. If you are employed a minimum of six months by the start of the Fall semester, then you may also wish to explore the possibility of doing an on-job practicum. The guidelines for this option are available on the Field Education Program Webpage.

      • I have several years of social services experience. Can I get credit for that and waive the practicum requirement?

        Accreditation standards require that social work programs may not grant course credit for life experience or previous work experience. In a practicum, students will be supervised by someone with a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program and with a minimum of two years of post-master’s experience. This promotes the student’s identity with the profession of social work and encourages the development of values, social work ethics, and the approaches used by this profession.

        Work experiences of students may or may not have had such supervision guidance, and may not have readily allowed for the student as employee to take time during the work day to reflect on the organization’s practice methods, or to challenge some of the current practices, or to be granted the opportunities to attempt new ways of interventions. All of these are expectations in the practicum when the student can indulge in a learner’s stance to practice under the mentorship of a qualified educational supervisor.

      • Can I do my practicum in the summer?

        The practicum and the practice courses are co-requisites and must be taken concurrently. These courses are offered only during the Fall and Spring semesters. The practicum is a two consecutive semesters course, and so taking one part in the Spring and finishing the following Fall semester is not possible.

      • Can I get paid for my practicum?

        It is extremely rare to get paid for a practicum. Very few agencies have extra monies available to pay students and those that do are usually advanced practicum sites. Even then, the funds may not be available in any given year due to the economy and changing funding streams. Students may consult with the UofL Financial Aid office to inquire about financial resources. Students may also consult with the Kent School admissions office to inquire about scholarships.

      • How do I go about getting a practicum? Am I responsible to find my own placement?

        Upon admission, new students - who intend to start practicum in their first semester - must complete and submit a practicum application.

        • Students already enrolled and attending classes in the fully online program must submit their practicum application no later than January 30 preceding the Fall semester start of the practicum.
        • Students already enrolled and attending classes on campus at the Kent School must submit their practicum application not later than February 28 preceding the Fall semester start of the practicum.

        You will collaborate with an assigned Field Coordinator to discuss your areas of interest and to settle on several possible placements. A formal referral letter emailed instructing you to complete an interview with a site and to arrive at a mutual agreement between you and the agency. As students complete their prospective practicum site interviews and a match is confirmed by the student and the agency, then placement spots are filled. Other students must select among the remaining agencies still available for their practicum.

      • I am a student in the fully online program, how does this practicum work?

        The requirements for practicum remain the same for students participating in the fully online program just as for the students in the on-campus program. Students will be placed in a human service organization in a location close to where the student lives. The student will collaborate with the a field coordinator in identifying potential practicum settings near the student’s residence.

        The student, the agency field instructor, and the Kent School field faculty will meet for all the same scheduled sessions (initial visit, mid-term and final evaluations for each semester) as for the on-campus students, except the meetings will be conducted via videoconferencing. The student and agency field instructor will need to arrange for use of a computer with a camera, mic, and internet connection for those scheduled videoconferences. The practicum orientation for online students is conducted online by their Kent School field faculty.

      • Can I meet with my faculty advisor to help me plan my practicum and other classes?

        It is always advisable to consult with your faculty advisor about your career plans and your choice of electives and specializations offered within the Kent School curriculum.

        Once you have narrowed down your focus area for your studies, then it is most helpful to consult with a field education coordinator for available agency sites specific to your interest. You will meet with your faculty advisor at the new student orientation and will retain that advisor throughout your time at the Kent School. Prior to the new student orientation, you are welcome to explore your interests with any faculty member at the Kent School. You must follow exactly the course listing and sequence of the classes as they are listed on the curriculum plan you chose when you accepted admission to the Kent School.

      • Can I start the practicum early, during the summer, to spread out my hours and ease my schedule during the semester when I am taking all of the other classes?

        The practicum is an academic course, earning academic credit and a grade, just as all of the other courses in the curriculum leading to a degree. Thus, the practicum begins with other courses at the start of the semester. Some agencies, particularly medical settings, require students to complete an orientation to their organization prior to beginning the practicum. This usually is 2-4 days long and is routinely scheduled by the organization at set monthly intervals. In such circumstances, students are permitted to attend their agency orientation prior to the start of the semester and can count those hours towards the total hours required for the semester practicum. Students should first inform their practicum faculty about such required orientations. After completion of the early, required agency orientation, students then wait until the start of the Fall semester to continue in the practicum.

      • When is the practicum class scheduled? It is listed as “TBA” on the class schedule.

        In the master’s program, there is no field seminar or campus-based class for the practicum. Instead, all weekly hours of the practicum are spent in the placement agency. “TBA” represents the assigned placement site. ∧ Back to top

      • Are there field seminars for this practicum?

        There are no field seminars in the master’s program at the Kent School. All hours of the practicum are spent in the community at the placement agency. Because the practicum is co-requisite with the practice course, there are opportunities to discuss some activities from the practicum in the practice class, too. Of course, there may be opportunities to share experiences from the practicum in other classes, as well, which help to integrate the theories and the practice of social work.

      • I know a really good private therapist with whom I would like to study. Can I do my practicum with this person?

        In keeping with the historical mission of social work in serving the needs of a diverse and underserved population, students are placed in public and non-profit agencies for their practicum. We recognize that some students aspire to a career in private therapy and encourage those students to pursue their goal following graduation when their new credentials will better provide for such opportunities.

      • There are no social workers at the agency I am interested in, but some very good supervisors with degrees in other disciplines. Can one of them supervise me in my practicum?

        Accreditation requires that students be supervised by someone with a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program, with a minimum of two years post-master’s experience. This ensures that students are taught using the values and ethics and practices of the social work profession.

        It is helpful for students to be in an interdisciplinary practicum as this provides opportunities for input from various disciplines, and highlights in a way that compares and contrasts the contributions which each professional discipline makes to the services provided.

        Think of your doctor and the internship he/she underwent under the guidance of an MD. Would you want your doctor to have been taught by an RN nurse, or a DMD dentist? It is the same for professional social workers whose code of ethics is different than other disciplines; and social work values and approaches to working with people are different than other disciplines.

      • I have a lot of interests. Can I have a different practicum site for each semester?

        The two-semester consecutive placement in the same setting provides for students to complete an orientation within their practicum site during the first part of the Fall semester. Then, students begin progressively assuming greater responsibilities in their role and developing their skills and stretching their knowledge. Remaining with one agency over the course of eight months also exposes students to a deeper experience in the “life” of an organization. There are different “seasons” in an organization, (i.e. when grant deadlines are looming, special activities around holidays, fund-raising events, fiscal year budget processes, etc.) that are an important component of the student’s learning.

        Completing only one semester with 225 or 250 hours in one agency does not allow enough time for students to move significantly past the orientation phase in their skill development. Some specializations within the Kent School program may involve a component of rotation in the practicum. One example is the advanced substance abuse specialization practicum in which students rotate among programs within a large organization, and work in each program area throughout the two semesters of the practicum.

      • Money is very tight for me right now. Do I have to buy insurance for my practicum?

        We live in a litigious society and the Kent School wants you to be protected in your practicum. You are free to purchase liability protection from any company you choose. We particularly recommend the Assurance Services Inc. (ASI), which is aligned with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and offers a deeply discounted policy to social work students. You are required to be a member of NASW (student rate is $48 annually) to be eligible to obtain your insurance from the ASI (student rate is $15 annually).

        For more information on joining NASW go to: www.socialworkers.org. For more information on insurance from ASI go to: http://www.naswassurance.org/pli/students.php.

        You should be aware that if you have a felony conviction in your background you may be denied coverage by the ASI. Should that happen, they will refer you to other companies where you may inquire about purchasing liability protection. Also, if you are employed in a social service capacity, you will have to show proof of liability protection for your work before the ASI will provide you protection as a student. You will need to speak with the Human Resource office at your employment site to obtain a copy of your proof of professional liability protection for your job. Be sure to plan ahead to have time to resolve all possible issues prior to the start of the practicum.

        Remember, you must join NASW and you must also apply separately for the malpractice insurance. Just joining NASW is not enough. Membership in NASW does not automatically give you professional liability coverage. These are two separate organizations and require separate applications and separate payments. You must do both.

        Students who do not provide proof of malpractice insurance coverage to the practicum office prior to the first day of classes will not be allowed to start their practicum ∧ Back to top

      • Which level of insurance coverage do you recommend I get?

        If you are selecting a medical setting for your practicum, you will be expected to carry the highest level of protection available. Otherwise, you are free to choose any level of coverage that you wish, just as you do for your car insurance, health insurance, etc. You must provide proof of professional malpractice insurance to the practicum office prior to August 1st. You are free to get malpractice protection from any company you want and we recommend getting it from the NASW Assurance Services Inc. (see contact info in the practicum packet on acceptance from the Kent School), through membership in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-ASI).

        If you are employed in a social service capacity already, you will have to provide proof of your professional liability protection for your employment before you will be granted a student policy for the practicum, so contact your Human Resources office to obtain a copy of that before applying for the student policy. If you have a personal history of felony convictions, you may need to seek coverage from other insurance companies and the ASI can refer you to other resources; be prepared to pay a little higher premium for that protection.

      • When will I know I have an approved practicum?

        When you have completed your interview for your prospective placement, you should confirm with the supervisor, you want to do your practicum at that site. If the supervisor agrees to accept you as a student, both you and the supervisor should accept the placement. The Field Education Office will confirm the placement with both the student and the agency field instructor.

      • Is there an orientation for my practicum?

        Yes, the Kent School provides a practicum orientation on the same day as the new student orientation. This is a Kent School orientation and is different from the Graduate School orientation. The Kent School orientations, both new student and practicum, are mandatory attendance.

      • How should I dress for my practicum?

        Students should dress in business casual attire unless otherwise instructed by your agency field instructor. This means you should not wear denim, or see-through clothing, no mini- skirts or backless shirts, no low-rider slacks that show underclothing, no flip flops, and no jogging suits or tennis shoes.

      • When can I register for my practicum course?

        After you are accepted by the Kent School, you may register for the practicum course the same as you do for all your other courses. You can register for your courses during pre-registration in April for the Fall semester and in October for the Spring semester. Also, remember to register for all the classes as listed on your chosen curriculum plan. For more information on the curriculum plans, please visit the Curriculum Plan page (see section "Instructions for selecting a curriculum plan"). The practice course is a co-requisite class, and you must register for each one separately. Remember, you must re-register each semester (Fall and Spring) for each course as listed on your curriculum plan.

      • Is the practicum considered part of the practice course?

        In the master’s program at the Kent School, the practicum and the practice class are self-standing courses; each is a separate academic course, with separate faculty, and earning separate academic credit. The curriculum is designed to promote the integration of theories taught in the classroom with real-life practice. The practicum provides the opportunities to do that simultaneously, while learning the various social work theories. Therefore, it is important for students to be sure to register for both their practice class and their practicum course, each semester

      • I have no prior experience in social work, how do I write my resume?

        In social work, all life experiences count. Your resume should reflect the depth and breath of your paid and volunteer experiences. And remember, you are not limited to one or two pages for the length of your resume as in the business world. Do remember to give a copy of your resume to each agency supervisor with whom you interview for a prospective practicum.

        If you have any additional questions not answered on this FAQ, please visit the Kent School’s practicum page on their website for more information.

    • Admission FAQ
      • How do I start my application to Kent School?

        Apply online at: http://graduate.louisville.edu. The fee is $65, payable by credit card or check. Paying by check delays your application by 8 days. Note: Recipients of certain government assistance programs may ask to have the fee waived. For details, contact Graduate Admissions at 502-852-3101 or gradadm@louisville.edu

      • What admissions materials are needed to complete my application?

        Refer to the MSSW Application Checklist [PDF] for specific requirements.

      • Where do I send my admission materials?

        All admission materials may be emailed to Graduate Admissions at gradadm@louisville.edu or mailed to the following address:
        Graduate Admissions
        University of Louisville
        Louisville, KY 40292

      • What is the deadline to apply?

        Application Deadlines are based on the preferred start term. Review the specific deadlines for the Regular 60-hour and the Advanced Standing 30-hour programs on the MSSW Application Checklist

      • How long does it take for a decision to be made on my application?

        When all admission materials have been received at Graduate Admissions, the applicant’s file goes before the Kent Admissions Committee for a decision, starting in January. The applicant is notified of the decision by email. From the time the application is complete, the process usually takes 6-8 weeks. Applications will not be reviewed until all documents have been received.

      • Do I need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) for admission to Kent?

        For Regular 60-hour applicants, if the cumulative undergraduate GPA is 2.75 or above, no test scores are required for admission to Kent. Otherwise, applicants need to submit an acceptable score on either the GRE or the MAT. The School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies standards require a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, therefore students applying to the Kent School with a GPA of 2.5 or less will rarely be considered.

      • What are the admission requirements for international students to the online program or US students living abroad (including active-duty military stationed overseas)?
        • U.S. citizens living abroad and international students will not be accepted for the Fall 2014 except in rare circumstances, specifically:
          • When no language barriers exist
          • A qualified practicum supervisor is readily available (e.g., the supervisor has a MSSW degree from a CSWE-accredited institution or similar CSWE-type accreditation)
          • UofL’s Kent School of Social Work has previously established partnerships with practicum sites and faculty liaisons
        • Students with International Credentials should refer to the Application Checklist for specific admission requirements.
    • Financial Aid FAQ
      • What are the options for financial aid?

        Federal financial aid for graduate students is limited to loans and is based on a student’s FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Assistance). For instructions on completing the FAFSA, visit: http://louisville.edu/financialaid/how-to-apply/start-to-finish. If you have questions or need assistance, contact UofL’s Student Financial Aid Office: finaid@louisville.edu or 502.852.5511.

      • Are there scholarships available?

        The Kent School of Social Work offers various scholarships that cover a variety of interests. There are scholarships available to students who plan to practice in rural Kentucky, students with an interest in working in gerontology, policy or legislative areas. The scholarship application and information can be found here: http://louisville.edu/kent/admissions-1/mssw-admissions-links/mssw-scholarship-application. The scholarship application deadline is May 15.


    For answers to questions not covered above, please contact the Online Learning office at online@louisville.edu or submit an Information Request Form.