Concentrations and Specializations


Students are required to select a concentration in the Advanced Curriculum. Concentrations available are Clinical and Macro. Each concentration has specific course requirements in addition to those required in the specialization.

Clinical Concentration

Co-Chairs:  Joan Pittman, PhD, MSW and Ed Pecukonis, PhD, MSW 
The Clinical Concentration provides a comprehensive gateway into the world of clinical social work. More direct clinical services are provided by social workers than any other profession in the United States. Our goal is to provide an education and field practicum that prepares graduates for the rapidly changing world of practice. Clinical social workers are licensed to provide a range of therapeutic services to children, adolescents, adults, older adults and their families across multiple settings using a wealth of treatment modalities

The rich curriculum at the School of Social Work taught by world-class faculty includes two required courses, Advanced Clinical Interventions and Psychopathology. Advanced Clinical Interventions teaches students how to apply theoretical models in client assessment and treatment. Psychopathology is a comprehensive immersion into assessment, the use of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Version 5, and evidence-supported practices. The clinical concentration also provides in-depth direct practice courses that focus on families, couples, and groups utilizing cutting-edge treatment approaches. In keeping with social work’s history of providing services in multiple contexts and settings, the program offers courses on working in schools, hospitals, behavioral health settings, and child welfare agencies.

Social work historically has also provided services to populations in need. Population-specific courses that are offered include working with:

  • Military service members & their families
  • Trauma survivors
  • People with serious health conditions
  • People with serious mental illness
  • Individuals with substance use disorders
  • LGBTQI+ communities
  • Older Adults
  • African American families
  • Immigrants and refugees

In the advanced year, clinical field placements provide an intensive learning experience across over 400 settings throughout the region and abroad. Examples of these settings include: in-patient and out-patient behavioral health facilities and community-based clinics; health care settings that serve people across the lifespan; departments of social service; child welfare settings; the Veterans Administration; social service; non-profits, court systems, employee assistance programs; and school settings.

Macro Concentration

Macro []
Chair:  Adam Schneider, MA, MSW

The Macro concentration prepares graduates for careers that improve organizations, communities, and society through positive social change. Macro social workers are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century with knowledge, skills, and attitudes developed through a diverse curriculum, internship, called a field practicum, and other opportunities offered by our program

Dynamic leadership, stakeholder engagement, resource development, program management, and policy analysis will enable graduates to solve today’s biggest problems with creativity and a commitment to social justice. Although not required, students are encouraged to select an area of focus in one of three practice areas: 1) Community Action, 2) Organizational Leadership, and 3) Policy Advocacy.

Community Action
The community action focus prepares students for careers in neighborhood and community organizing, political campaigns, and movement leadership as catalysts, coordinators, power brokers, negotiators, activists, and organizers. Coursework in this area develops students’ skills in asset mapping, advocacy through media, analyzing power structures, strengthening community connections, improving service delivery and community economic development.

Organizational Leadership
The organizational leadership focus prepares students for careers in government, human service and nonprofit organizations as supervisors, team leaders, program managers, and transformational organization leaders. Coursework in this area develops students’ skills in the 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.

Policy Advocacy 
The policy advocacy focus prepares students for careers in the development, implementation, and evaluation of public policy in government and nonprofit organizations as thought leaders, researchers, educators, and policy advocates. Coursework in this area develops students’ knowledge of current policies in the context of history and political economy, skills to analyze and advocate for policy options, and mastery of how public policies and programs affect marginalized populations, including how such communities can impact the policymaking process and drive social change.



Secondary Concentration Option

It is also possible to elect a secondary concentration in conjunction with a primary one. Students who select a primary and secondary concentration (i.e., Clinical/Macro) are placed in their Advanced Field Practicum based upon their primary concentration (in this case, Clinical). A secondary concentration will expose the student to some of the content from the other concentration through study in two courses.

A student interested in this educational plan would satisfy all of the requirements for either the Clinical or Macro concentration. Students choosing a secondary concentration must develop their plan of study carefully.


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.

Below applies to full-time students entering fall 2022 or before. Entering part-time students and all prospective students should revisit this website after July 2022.


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, LCSW-C

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.


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

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. 



Child, Adolescent and Family Health

Child, Adolescent, and Family Health Subspecialization

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.