Master of Social Work (MSW) Program

Our MSW curriculum is a very focused and advanced clinical practice curriculum. Students gain in-depth knowledge and practice skills from a strengths based curriculum. Students will become highly skilled in practice using solution-focused, motivational and cognitive-behavioral approaches. They will be able to apply these to working with individuals, families and groups as well as a wide range of populations and circumstances such as crisis intervention, trauma and grief, children, severe and persistently mentally ill, addictions, and other important issues. Students who are interested in a truly advanced curriculum that prepares them with the knowledge and skills to engage clients appreciate this advanced and in depth curriculum. In addition students spend three semesters in the same field agency so that they gain expertise and have the time to engage clients in a meaningful manner.

UNCW-SSW mission and goals are consistent with the following definition of advanced clinical practice, adopted from the National Association of Social Work (NASW):

“Clinical social work has a primary focus on the mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being of individuals, couples, families, and groups. It centers on a holistic approach to psychotherapy and the client’s relationship to his or her environment. Clinical social work views the client’s relationship with his or her environment as essential to treatment planning. Clinical social work is broadly based and addresses the needs of individuals, families, couples, and groups affected by life changes and challenges, including mental disorders and other behavioral disturbances. Clinical social workers seek to provide essential services in the environments, communities, and social systems that affect the lives of the people they serve. Clinical social workers are committed to the delivery of competent services to individuals, families, couples, and groups. Therefore, they shall recognize the client’s role in his or her treatment planning and the client’s right to have a knowledgeable, skilled practitioner who is guided by sound ethical practice.

This curriculum requires a full time two year commitment. We believe that the preparation provided will advance these students quickly in the profession and begin their professional work at a very high level of skill and knowledge

  • Offers only one concentration—clinical social work practice.

By emphasizing only clinical practice, the MSW program prepares MSW students for specialized practice.

  • Has a special focus--strengths-based practice.

Strengths-based practice, simply stated, honors the client’s strengths and resiliency, which the social worker acts as a facilitator for change.  Because the entire curriculum is designed to support the strengths perspective, students acquire a higher than usual level of skill and higher level of self-confidence in their ability to enter clinical practice upon graduation.

  • Offers more specialized courses on selected practice models than is typical of MSW programs.

Students receive special clinical training in solution-focused, motivational, behavioral, and cognitive-behavioral practice models.

  • Utilizes practice labs as an interface between course content and field instruction.

Rather than simply teaching concepts and models in class and expecting the student to determine how to apply them to the field placement, each clinical course at UNCW has a practice lab where students practice the techniques included in the models of practice.

  • Places students into the same field placement agency for both years of study.

Because students are placed in the same agency for both the foundation field placement and the advanced field placement, they are able to devote more time to higher levels of clinical practice.

  • Is small so that students can really get to know the faculty.

Each student is assigned a faculty mentor who is available for consultation as needed.

Candidacy and Accreditation

Social work education is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education
(  The UNCW MSW program is fully accredited by CSWE. 


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