Students are required to select a specialization in the Advanced Curriculum. All students specialize in one of the following six fields of practice. Each specialization is guided by a committee that ensures the curriculum and field experiences are current and appropriate.


Chair: Joan Davitt, PhD
Social workers specializing in aging are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of older adults. A growing older adult population, increasing life expectancy, and diminishing health care have created a need for professionals skilled in helping older people, which, according to the Department of Labor, will translate into numerous career opportunities for many years to come.

The School of Social Work has a long history in the field of aging. Many opportunities exist for professionals skilled in working with older persons in Baltimore, throughout Maryland and in DC. Clinicians, community organizers, social administrators, and policy advocates specializing in aging have an edge in the job market: in communitybased agencies, housing programs, senior centers, family lifeagencies, hospitals, and nursing homes, as well as in policy advocacy, think tanks or even on Capitol Hill.

This specialization is available to students in both the Clinical and Macro concentrations.


Behavioral Health

Chair: Michelle Tuten, PhD, MSW 

The behavioral health specialization provides students with an understanding of mental health and substance abuse that recognizes the ongoing integration of mental health, substance abuse and somatic health taking place at multiple levels from clinical practice to social policy. Students will develop competencies in evidence-based practices in behavioral health as well as knowledge of current and emerging policies that impact the behavioral health of communities. This specialization places emphasis in training students macro and clinical practice competencies to carry out and support emerging best practices combined with a solid foundation in core social work prevention, intervention and policy. Specifically, students will be trained on core mental health approaches common in social work including, cognitive-behavioral treatments, interpersonal therapies, motivational interviewing, and other techniques. Students in the behavioral health specialization will explore the national, state and local policies that impact mental health such as the Affordable Care Act and the recent merger of mental health and addictions administrations in the State of Maryland. Importantly, students will understand behavioral health practice within a social justice perspective.

The specialization is available to students in both the Clinical and Macro concentrations.

A unique track offered within the Behavioral Health specialization, for Clinical or Macro concentrating students is the Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance (SWW/EA) Sub-specialization. The SWW/EA sub-specialization prepares graduates for direct service or program management roles in the workplace focusing on employee mental health and well-being, substance use and recovery, stress, relationships, dependent care, financial and/or legal concerns and anything else that has the potential to impact work. SWW/EA sub-specialization also prepares social workers to assess and respond to behavioral health needs in the workplace through an equity lens, consult with managers and create and implement responsive workplace-based programs. The world of work and behavioral health are ever-changing. Learn more about this innovative program here.

Community Action & Social Policy

Chair: Adam Schneider, MA, MSW
Students who specialize in community action and social policy prepare for careers helping community organizations, non-profit agencies, and their constituents collaborate to enhance their individual and collective well-being. Through a grassroots, empowerment-based approach they collaborate with other disciplines and professions to create social and policy change through advocacy to reduce poverty and socio-economic inequality, promote community economic and social development, and provide services that are more responsive to community needs. During this era of community fragmentation, social alienation and exclusion, and economic degeneration of the poor and the middle class, the need for skilled professionals in social and community development, policy analysis, and policy advocacy has never been greater.

The School of Social Work is one of the few schools of social work in the nation that offers a specialization in these areas. In addition to faculty expertise, a strong alumni and social network, and excellent resources to support this specialization, the School is located in downtown Baltimore, yet only a short drive or train ride from the nation’s capital and social policy center, and near the state capital, Annapolis. This prime location provides a host of opportunities for policy analysis and advocacy at the local, state, and national levels. In addition, the diversity of the Maryland-DC area provides numerous opportunities for both rural and urban social and community action and development.

This specialization is only available to Macro concentrators.

Families and Children

Chair:  Caroline Long, PhD

Social workers have always led the efforts of society to help families and children. Those specializing in service to families and children know that not only do children need protection, but also that families need help and support to change their behaviors. Social workers respond to problems within families and advocate for laws, programs, and public understanding of the special needs of children, the most vulnerable group in our society. In addition, families and children social workers are also deeply involved in prevention efforts to strengthen families.

The University’s social work faculty is nationally recognized in the areas of foster care, adoption, adolescence, divorce, child abuse and neglect, custody disputes and parental kidnapping, single parents, and African-American families. The faculty has an outstanding record of research and publication, grant funding, and community service.

The families and children specialization prepares students for clinical, community organization, and/or social administration practice in a range of professional settings, including child protection and child placement, home-based services to families at risk, children’s group and residential care, school social work, child guidance, child and family services, parent education, juvenile and family courts, family violence programs, child and family advocacy, and policy development.

The specialization is available to students in both the Clinical and Macro concentrations.


Chair: Melissa Bellin, PhD

Social workers specializing in healthcare practice know that treating an illness biomedically does not necessarily solve the patient’s problems. Acute, chronic, and life-agencies threatening health conditions often cause emotional, financial and social challenges, for both the affected patient and surrounding family. Clinical health social workers provide supportive counseling, crisis intervention, care coordination to link patients and families with community resources, serve as advocates to promote understanding of and sensitivity to social determinants of health, and collaborate with interdisciplinary healthcare team members to implement evidence-supported psychosocial interventions. Healthcare social workers also engage in macro practice in social administration and community organization leadership roles to study patterns of illness, develop and implement programs to prevent disease, administer services to improve health, and advocate for an equitable health care system accessible to all patients with healthcare needs.

The School takes advantage of its location on a campus that includes several major medical centers, a trauma center, and diverse interprofessional education opportunities for social work students to partner with professional students from nursing, medicine, pharmacy, dental, and law. Field placements are available in renowned health organizations throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Graduates are well-qualified to work in one of the largest fields of social work practice–one in which employment opportunities in recent years have been excellent.

The specialization is available to students in both the Clinical and Macro concentrations.

A Sub-Specialization in Child, Adolescent and Family Health is available within the Health Specialization.

UMBs Global Health Multidisciplinary Research Committee


Organizational Leadership

Chair: Karen Hopkins, PhD

Social workers are uniquely skilled to provide ethical leadership to government, human service, and nonprofit organizations as supervisors, team leaders, program managers, and transformational leaders. To address the challenging issues of our time, social workers specializing in organizational leadership focus on:

  • Design, implementation, and management of programs and services,
  • Talent and resource development,
  • Performance measurement,
  • Budgeting, and
  • Leadership to target change in people, organizations, and culture.

Field placements are available in a plethora of organizations throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. 

The specialization is available to students in the Macro concentration and Macro/Clinical secondary concentration.

A Sub-Specialization in Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance is available within the Organizational Leadership Specialization.



Subspecializations (Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance and Child, Adolescent and Family Health)

Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance Video: