Wayne State University School of Social Work announces new Master of Social Work Program focal areas

For over 87 years, the Wayne State University School of Social Work has worked to prepare a diverse student body for social work practice that promotes social justice, with a particular focus on urban communities. As we look to the future of social work education, the need for increased specialized training within practice areas and with individual client populations is on the rise. In response, the School has launched seven new focal areas of study within the Master of Social Work Program (MSW).

The nearly 600 MSW students who annually attend Detroit’s Social Work School are provided with instruction grounded in evidence-based practice which can be utilized in place-based contexts. Distinctive MSW focal areas now allow students to further customize their learning experience beyond the primary program concentrations of Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership (ICPL) and Interpersonal Practice (IP). Selecting a focus area will allow students to make connections between social work practice and broader struggles to advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice. “Focal areas provide students with the ability to select a focused area of study for elective courses to gain additional skills and appreciate the strengths and expertise of the diverse clients they serve,” stated Social Work Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Anwar Najor-Durack, PhD.   

MSW Focal areas

Integrated Health, Behavioral Health, and Substance Use: This focus area offers courses that help students integrate knowledge about physical and mental health and substance use. In addition, it offers perspectives on the impact of health disparities, poverty, oppression, and the urban context on physical health, behavioral health, and substance use outcomes and services. Related Programs: Certificate on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies  and MSW/MPH Joint Degree

Trauma, Stress, and Violence: This focus area examines the impact of exposure to violence and toxic stress on individuals across the lifespan and across bio-psycho-social-spiritual domains. Additionally, interventions that reduce the potential impact of violence and traumatic stressors on human development and functioning as well as resilience and protective factors are discussed.

Social Work in Criminal Legal Settings: This focal area prepares students to work in multidisciplinary teams at each intercept of the criminal/legal system (police, courts, jails, prisons, probation/parole). It provides a foundation on criminological theory and current policy responses, and practical tools for assessing the risk and needs of individuals charged and/or sentenced with criminal offences. Related Program: Holistic Defense Course Series

Social Work with Older Adults: This focus area provides students with important perspectives, knowledge, and skills that are necessary when working with older adults and their families in settings including housing, senior centers, hospitals, nursing homes, multiservice agencies, and community-based organizations. Affiliated Program: Gerontology Certificate

Children and Families: This focus area provides students with a comprehensive looks at working with children and families across the micro-macro continuum including perspectives on intervention for both policy and interpersonal practice. Affiliated Programs: Dual-Title in Infant Mental Health and Social WorkChild Welfare Certificate and School Social Work 

Research and Evaluation: This focal area provides students with the opportunity to engage in research informed practice and prepare for a career in assessment, program evaluation, and research. Related Program: Graduate Certificate in Research and Evaluation

Community Change, Social Entrepreneurship, and Social Justice: This focal area focuses on how to advance human rights, social, economic, and environmental justice. Students are exposured to the skills they will need as supervisors and leaders of interprofessional teams, and as entrepreneurs. Related Initiative: Social Entrepreneurship

“When developing these focal areas, we really took stock of what our students need to be exceptional in the workplace and in meeting the needs of the community we serve,” noted Professor and Dean of Social Work Sheryl Kubiak, PhD. “These not only display the breadth of expertise found within the School, but are also responsive to current and emerging areas of study within the social work profession. Our goal is to provide students with a customizable hands-on education that provides them with the skills they can apply in their daily practice and these new focal areas provide just that.”

Those interested in learning more about the MSW focal areas are encouraged to visit our website, attend an upcoming information session or contact our Office of Admissions and Student Services at sswadmissions@wayne.edu or 313-577-4409.

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