Specializations

Specializations

In response to student feedback and changes in the social work profession, we are in the process of revising our Advanced Curriculum.

Please review the Advanced Curriculum options based on your year of admission and specific program. 

Part-time students entering SSW Fall 2022 or later  Full-time traditional students entering SSW Fall 2023 or later  Advanced Standing students entering SSW Spring 2024 or later 

In the Advanced Curriculum, students have course requirements and an Advanced Field Practicum based on their selection of the Clinical, Macro, or Dual concentration. 

For Traditional MSW students, 33 credits of Advanced Curriculum includes: 

·                     One (1) advanced policy course 

·                     Four (4) 3-credit advanced methods courses 

·                     Two (2) elective courses  

For Advanced Standing students coming in with a BSW, 36 credits of Advanced curriculum includes an elective in addition to the courses listed above. 

Part-time students who entered SSW prior to Fall 2022   Full-time traditional students entering SSW prior to Fall 2023  Advanced Standing students entering SSW prior to Spring 2024 

In addition to a concentration, these students are required to select a specialization in one of six fields of practice. Students may also select a sub-specialization, depending on their specialization.   

Aging

Chair: Joan Davitt, PhDSocial 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:  Haksoon Ahn PhD

Social workers have always led society’s efforts to support families and children. Those specializing in service to families and children understand that not only do children need protection but also that families need help in changing their behaviors and in sustaining those changes. Social workers respond directly to problems within families while also working at the macro level to advocate for laws, programs, and public understanding of the special needs of children, the most vulnerable group in our society. In addition, social workers are also deeply involved in 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 families of color. The faculty has an outstanding record of research, publication, grant funding, and community service.

The Families and Children Specialization prepares students for clinical, community organization, and 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. Families and Children graduates also serve in leadership positions in local, state, and federal agencies.

This Specialization is available to students in both the Clinical and Macro Concentrations.  It is also the Specialization for students participating in the Title IV-E Education for Public Child Welfare program.

Health

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.

RELATED LINK:
UMBs Global Health Multidisciplinary Research Committee

 

Organizational Leadership

Chair: Karen Hopkins, PhD

The Organizational Leadership Specialization is a vital educational track that prepares students to meet the future leadership demands of the private and public human services sector through developing and using management and leadership skills seamlessly as a continuum across a range of organizational types and community settings. The growing leadership deficit in both the human service nonprofit and public sectors has been well-documented as many current managers are retiring and far fewer are trained to take over despite the national growth in nonprofits and human services. There has never been as great an opportunity as now for prepared social workers to step into leadership positions. Courses with a range of faculty experienced in leadership and a variety of interesting field placements prepare students as supervisors, team leaders, program managers, and transformational leaders in:

  • 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 Sub-specialization

Chair: Jodi Frey, PhD, LCSW-C, CEAP  

Contact Information: jfrey@ssw.umaryland.edu or (410) 706-3607  

GIVING: Social Work in the Workplace & Employee Assistance Fund 

The Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance Sub-specialization (SWW-EA; formerly, Employee Assistance Program Sub-specialization) is recognized as a global leader in the preparation of social workers to enter and provide leadership to the workplace in Employee Assistance (EA) and related fields of workplace social work. Workplaces continue to report rapid growth in the demand for social work and human services in the workplace, including but not limited to workplace behavioral health and worker well-being. Workplace social workers provide a wide array of organizational or direct practice or clinical services and more mezzo and macro consultation and services for employers, employees and their family members.   

The University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) program is strong as it is the oldest and largest MSW program in the world focused on the intersection of social work, employee assistance, and broader workplace behavioral health and well-being. We prepare graduates to understand and practice within work settings that incorporate holistic well-being perspectives of employees, family members and work environments to advocate for, develop and implement innovative, ethical and just policies and practices.    

SWW-EA embraces a strengths-based approach to focus on prevention, assessment, short-term counseling and resilience related to mental health and substance use and misuse, personal concerns that can affect productivity and work performance, services to support work/life integration and well-being, crisis intervention, and stress management. Additionally, social workers in the workplace collaborate with diverse work organizations to assess organizational culture and change, and to develop and implement policies, consult with managers and other workplace leaders, including human resource management. The range of what social workers in the workplace can offer to employers is endless. For example, we partner with workplace leaders to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, and also work with individuals and departments to address complex problems affecting employees such as opioid use, suicide, violence, and trauma. Social workers fill a critical role in the workplace, supporting the employer’s most valuable asset, their employees.    

The Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance (SWW-EA) Sub-specialization is offered within two specializations: the UMSSW’s Behavioral Health Specialization and Organizational Leadership.  

Behavioral Health/Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance   

The SWW-EA Sub-specialization within Behavioral Health offers students the opportunity to select either a Clinical (or Clinical/macro) or MACRO (or MACRO/clinical) concentration. Classroom learning and field placements focus on employee assistance programs (EAPs), work/life integration, mental health, and substance use in the workplace. Faculty members and field instructors are recognized experts in the EA and related social work in the workplace fields. Our graduates join a rapidly expanding group of social workers in the workplace and EA professionals who are well qualified to develop and manage programs in private and public settings. Employment opportunities exist at all corporate and government levels, as well as internationally.    

Coursework for Students Taking Sub-specialization within Behavioral Health  

Completing the sub-specialization does not add any time to a student’s academic plan and can easily be accomplished within the two years of the MSW program. To graduate with the sub-specialization, students must complete all coursework required for the Behavioral Health specialization for their chosen concentration (MACRO or CLINICAL). All SWW-EA students take SOWK 725, “Work, Well-Being and Social Policy” for their advanced policy course in place of Behavioral Health and Social Policy. Students will also take SWOA 736, “Administering Employee Assistance Programs” as one of their advanced methods courses in the fall semester. Students who pursue a primary or secondary CLINICAL (CLINICAL, CLINICAL/macro, or MACRO/clinical) concentration also take SWCL 705, “Clinical Social Work with Addictive Behavior Patterns”. While SWCL 705 is not required for MACRO students, it is strongly recommended. Advising with Dr. Frey is available to discuss course plans.  

Organizational Leadership/Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance  

The SWW-EA Sub-specialization within Organizational Leadership offers students the opportunity to complete a MACRO concentration. Classroom learning and field placements focus leadership roles in diverse workplaces, including roles such as human resources, organizational development and consulting, program evaluation, workplace policy, equal employment, unions, and more. Faculty members and field instructors are recognized experts in the social work in the workplace field and broader workplace health and well-being fields. Our graduates join a rapidly expanding group of social workers in the workplace and also in Employee Assistance professionals who are well qualified to develop and manage programs in private and public settings. Employment opportunities exist at all corporate and government levels, as well as internationally.   

Coursework for Students Taking Sub-specialization within Organizational Leadership  

Completing the sub-specialization does not add any time to a student’s academic plan and can easily be accomplished within the two years of the MSW program. To graduate with the sub-specialization, students must complete all coursework required for the Organizational Leadership specialization and all students in this specialization will have a MACRO concentration. SWW-EA students take SOWK 725, “Work, Well-Being and Social Policy” for their advanced policy course. Students will also take SWOA 736, “Administering Employee Assistance Programs” as one of their advanced methods courses in the fall semester. While not required, students are encouraged to take SWCL 705, “Clinical Social Work with Addictive Behavior Patterns” as an elective given the strong emphasis on substance use within the social work in the workplace and employee assistance fields. Advising with Dr. Frey and Dr. Hopkins are available to discuss course plans.  

Required Advising for All Students  

All students will complete their advanced field placement within and approved organization, focused on SWW-EA (including adult behavioral health placements and workplace leadership approved by Dr. Frey and others involved in the various programs). Placements are approved by Dr. Frey and the Office of Field Education. Students are required to meet with Dr. Frey for a face-to-face advising session PRIOR to submitting their application for advanced field placement. This can be done online. Please email Dr. Frey at jfrey@ssw.umaryland.edu before the end of the fall semester to schedule this required appointment. Be prepared to discuss your interest in the field and interest in possible field placements during this meeting.   

For Additional Information about Social Work in the Workplace and Employee Assistance  

·         The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA): www.eapassn.org  

·         The International Employee Assistance Digital Archive (EAArchive): www.EAArchive.org   

·         The Work and Family Research Network: https://wfrn.org/   

 

Child, Adolescent and Family Health 

Chair:Sarah Dababnah PhD, MPH, MSW 

Child, adolescent, and family health social workers practice in a variety of settings, including prenatal clinics, well-baby centers, pediatric intensive care units, school-based health centers, programs for pregnant and parenting teens, and child development centers. They also practice in settings for children with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and handicapping conditions in state and local departments of public health, and in child advocacy organizations. Depending on the setting and their position, they may provide direct services, organize parents and other constituencies, administer programs, formulate policy or advocate for improved services. 

The Child, Adolescent, and Family Health Subspecialization is part of the Health Specialization. 

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

Child, Adolescent and Family Health

Child, Adolescent, and Family Health Subspecialization
Chair: Sarah Dababnah PhD, MPH, MSW

Child, adolescent, and family health social workers practice in a variety of settings, including prenatal clinics, well-baby centers, pediatric intensive care units, school-based health centers, programs for pregnant and parenting teens, and child development centers. They also practice in settings for children with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and handicapping conditions in state and local departments of public health, and in child advocacy organizations. Depending on the setting and their position, they may provide direct services, organize parents and other constituencies, administer programs, formulate policy or advocate for improved services.

The Child, Adolescent, and Family Health Subspecialization is part of the Health Specialization.

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