Master of Social Work

The mission of the Master of Social Work Program is to provide a flexible, accessible, personalized, and innovative advanced generalist curriculum that supports students who value ethics and service to others and who wish to engage in social work practice as competent professionals.  

Goal 1: Prepare students for competent and ethical advanced social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.

Goal 2: Prepare students to be innovative leaders of change who advocate and promote social, economic and environmental justice.

Goal 3: Prepare students to effectively use technology to promote practice advancement of the social work profession.

Program Description

The advanced generalist MSW curriculum provides students a conceptual lens to identify and understand multidimensional problem solving and use evidence- based assessment and intervention models that reflect best practices in current social work practice.  This multidimensional perspective prepares practitioners to navigate ambiguity when confronting complex problems. Brandman University’s MSW graduates are also knowledgeable about how global issues, such as human trafficking, wars, and natural disaster, influence individuals, families, and communities whether their clients are refugees fleeing war-torn nations or communities, agencies or governments recovering from unpredictable events such as economic crises, epidemics or outbreaks, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, or nuclear plant failures.

Because advanced generalist practitioners often hold leadership positions within agencies, organizations, and government programs, Brandman University’s advanced generalist MSW program prepares students to critically evaluate information, weigh competing demands of stakeholders, and consider how technological, staffing, and resource issues impact program design, social service delivery, and evaluation design.  The program nurtures MSW students to develop and strengthen self-reflective leadership skills so they can identify and meet the competing demands affecting social service design and delivery in vulnerable communities.

Graduates of the MSW program are prepared for employment across a broad spectrum of settings, including child protective services agencies, mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, school-based settings, long-term care facilities, home-based programs, hospitals and other health care settings, human rights and advocacy organizations, criminal justice and legal service organizations, and local, state and federal agencies. Other employment options for graduates could include work for government agencies such as the Veteran’s Administration, criminal justice programs, or non-profit organizations. 

Program Options

Brandman University has two options to obtain an MSW: the standard Advanced Generalist MSW option and the Advanced Generalist, Advanced Standing option.  Students who choose either option can complete the degree by taking fully online courses and/or blended courses.  Blended courses, offered at select campuses in California and Washington, require students to attend class on campus and online.  Both program options prepare students for advanced generalist social work practice.

Standard Advanced Generalist Option (SAG)

The SAG option consists of a 69-credit hour degree plan which includes required foundational curriculum, advanced core curriculum and specialized electives.  The first part of the curriculum provides an orientation to the profession and important foundational social work practice skills.  The second part of the curriculum provides students with advanced generalist social work skills and knowledge and includes specialized electives that allow students to choose a focus area of study.  Students admitted to the SAG option must complete a total of 1000 hours of field placement practicum.

Advanced Generalist, Advanced Standing Option (AG/AS)

 The AG/AS option consists of a 39-credit hour degree plan which includes required advanced core curriculum and specialized electives. The Advanced Standing curriculum provides students with advanced generalist social work skills and knowledge and includes specialized electives that allow students to choose a focus area of study.  Students admitted to the AG/AS option must complete a total of 600 hours of field placement practicum. 

Applicants who have earned a BSW/BASW/BSSW from a CSWE-accredited program within the past five years may be considered for acceptance into the Advanced Standing Program.  The BSW/BASW/BSSW degree must have been conferred five years or fewer from the date of admission into the MSW program. If over five years have elapsed since graduation from a CSWE-accredited BSW/BASW/BSSW program, the applicant will need to apply to the standard program (SAG), unless the applicant has social work practice experience. In such cases, the applicant may submit documentation of their social work practice experience to the MSW Program Director via email at socialwork@brandman.edu, for evaluation to determine whether the applicant is eligible for admission to the Advanced Standing program (AG/AS). Such evaluations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Field Placement Practicum

Field education is the signature pedagogy for social work education. MSW students complete their field placement practicums at social service agencies within their geographic area.  Field placement practicums allow student practitioners the opportunity to build, apply, and integrate classroom training and evidence-based interventions within a practice setting. As Brandman MSW students gain direct practice experience working with diverse populations, they also help to strengthen opportunities, resources, and capacity for local agencies that provide direct services for vulnerable families and communities.

Accreditation

Brandman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. In California, the Master of Social Work Program at Brandman University meets and exceeds the curriculum requirements set forth in the California Business and Professional Code section 4996.2 and has notified the Board of Behavioral Science (the licensing board for social workers in California) of its curriculum as required by law. In Washington State, Brandman University’s Master of Social Work Program meets and exceeds the curriculum requirements established by state licensing law under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 18-225).

The MSW Program anticipates earning initial accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in 2021, and is in pre-candidacy status at the time of catalog publication. Pending CSWE's approval of candidacy status in 2018/19 and initial accreditation in 2020/21, students who enroll in the MSW Program during or after the 2018/2019 academic year will have earned accredited degrees.

Educational Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

Brandman University’s MSW Program provides a curriculum that is grounded by the nine Social Work Competencies presented in the Council on Social Work Education 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Program benchmarks are based on assessment of the following competencies at the foundational and specialization years:

  • Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior

  • Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice

  • Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice

  • Competency 4: Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice

  • Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice

  • Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

  • Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

  • Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

  • Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Admission to the MSW program is based on evaluation of all application materials and information provided by the applicant. For all applicants, the admissions committee members will decide if the applicant will be accepted into the program or denied admission. If denied admission, the applicant may submit a written appeal to the MSW Program Director via email at socialwork@brandman.edu, within 30 calendar days from the date of the admission decision.  Appeals will not be accepted after the 30-day window.  After submitting an appeal, the applicant will receive a letter indicating the final decision to accept or uphold the admission committee’s decision.  An applicant who is denied admission to the MSW program must wait four months before becoming eligible to reapply for admission to the program.

The MSW program admissions committee members will consider only fully complete application packets.  Decisions are based upon the quality of all application materials and information provided by the applicant, as well as the number of applicants. Submission of all required application materials does not guarantee admission into the MSW program. The MSW program admissions committee may request an interview with the applicant if clarification of application materials is necessary. Students admitted to the MSW program will be admitted under the catalog year based upon their program start date and not their program admission date.

All applicants should note that licensing and field placement agencies may have regulations denying field placement and/or future licensure to anyone who has been convicted of a felony, especially convictions involving a record for child abuse or neglect. Please contact the licensing board in the state in which you plan to seek licensure, for clarification on how a prior conviction may affect your career goals and licensing. This clarification should be done before the application for admission to this program is submitted.

Admission Requirements

To become eligible for consideration for admission to the MSW program, students must complete the following requirements. 

A.  Complete the graduate admission requirements for Brandman University and meet the GPA requirements listed below.  SAG applicants can apply for admission consideration using options 1,  2, 3, or 4. AG/AS applicants must apply using option 1.

  1. Provide a copy of the student's official undergraduate transcript as documentation of minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 calculated over the most recent 30 graded semester (45 quarter) credits completed in either a baccalaureate or post baccalaureate program, including credits earned toward a credential.
  2. A GPA between 2.5 - 2.99 calculated over the most recent graded 30 semester (45 quarter) credits completed in either a baccalaureate or post baccalaureate program, including credits earned toward a credential and a satisfactory score on an accepted graduate admissions exam.Graduate Record Examination (GRE): achieve a minimum score of 300 on the combined scores of the verbal and quantitative subsections of the GRE.Miller’s Analogies Test (MAT): achieve a scaled score of 400.
  3. An earned master's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution.
  4. Submission of a portfolio of evidence that shows adequate preparation for graduate studies. The portfolio will contain the following: Writing samples that show graduate level communication and analytical skills, detailed resume showing professional development, achievements, awards, and professional recognition, three letters of reference from persons who can attest to the applicant’s ability to do graduate level work (these are in addition to the letters of reference listed below), and a letter of explanation detailing the reasons the student believes s/he is a good candidate for graduate study in social work.

In addition to the University requirements above, all MSW candidates must submit the following:

B.  A personal narrative, written in APA format and limited to five typed pages in length.  The narrative should include the following components:

(1) Two relevant life experiences that influenced the choice of social work as an academic and career goal.  Examples of these life experiences should be provided with a discussion of how the experiences influenced the applicant personally and professionally. 

(2) Relevant professional, internship, volunteer, and /or research experience. 

(3) Experience with social and economic justice and how the applicant plans to uphold this important social work value (see: https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp). 

C.  Two recommendation forms (professional, volunteer, or academic references only). At least one recommendation should be an academic reference and one should be the candidate's current supervisor.  If it has been more than five years since the applicant attended a college/university, all references may come from current/recent supervisors for volunteer or paid work experience.

D. Completion of the following:      

  • Signed professional and ethical responsibility statement
  • Acknowledgement of the program professional dispositions.
  • Acknowledgment of the technology standards for the social work profession.
  • Acknowledgment that the program orientation video was viewed.

Admissions staff will make the determination if a student is qualified for AG/AS (Advanced Standing). If the date of BSW/BASW degree conferral qualifies an MSW applicant for AG/AS under the eligibility standards listed earlier in the MSW program description, Admissions staff will put the applicant in the AG/AS category automatically.

Advanced Standing

The program only awards advanced standing to graduates holding degrees from baccalaureate social work programs accredited by CSWE, recognized through its International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Services, or covered under a memorandum of understanding with international social work accreditors.  This and all future references to degrees from social work programs accredited by CSWE, include degrees from CSWE-accredited programs or recognized through CSWE’s International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Services, or covered under a memorandum of understanding with international social work accreditors. 

Credit for Life Experience

Transfer credit is not granted for any type of previous work experience or life experience.

Transfer of Coursework

A maximum of 15 semester graduate credits may be accepted in transfer toward the Advanced Generalist option. A maximum of 12 semester graduate credits may be accepted in transfer toward the Advanced Generalist, Advanced Standing option.  The Registrar's Office will review all credit transfers based on guidelines provided by the program faculty and the dean/associate dean. Any questions, ambiguities, or special requests will be brought to the associate dean by the registrar's staff and a final decision on the transfer will be made.

Ethical and Professional Standards

Students are expected to meet all program standards and abide by the ethical standards of the profession and the Brandman University Student Code of Conduct. Since the MSW program involves preparing people to work in the helping profession, the program faculty assumes the responsibility for reasonably assuring that individuals who complete the program are not only academically competent, but are aware of and are capable of functioning within the established ethical and professional standards of the profession. A student in the MSW program must adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics and should understand that he/she is being trained in a program which is not only academic, but also professional in nature.

The university has both the right and obligation to evaluate continually, and, if necessary, to suspend or terminate the student’s participation in the practicum and/or master's program at any point for ethical violations and/or personal unsuitability for the profession. This philosophy is consistent with that of other professional graduate programs which are engaged in explicitly or implicitly certifying that their graduates are competent to engage in the practice of professional social work.

It is understood, therefore, that students will be required to follow the NASW Code of Ethics to continue in the program. Faculty will assess each student’s status in meeting these standards on a continuing basis, and students experiencing difficulties will be advised as to appropriate means of remediating such difficulties by the faculty or Dean’s Office. Compendia of the prevailing ethical standards are available from the National Association of Social Workers. A full listing of NASW code of ethics can be found here: https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/default.asp.

Professional Conduct

The MSW professional conduct policy applies both to current MSW students and graduated MSW students.

For current MSW students, the professional conduct procedures are as follows:

 1.   When a MSW program faculty member observes or becomes aware of behavior that brings into question a student’s ability to maintain the NASW Code of Ethics, the faculty member shall meet with the student (in person, by phone, or by electronic means) to discuss the behavior and to advise as to appropriate means of remediating such behavioral concerns. The faculty member will document the behavior and the advisement provided, and will submit the documentation to the MSW program director.

2.   When the MSW program director and field director deem that, after one or more occurrences of such faculty advisement, a student’s ability to maintain the NASW Code of Ethics remains in question and behavioral concerns remain unresolved, a Professional Conduct Meeting shall be convened. The meeting shall consist of a conference call for the program director, field director, and student. If the faculty member who met with the student in step 1 was the program director or field director, the Dean will appoint a different faculty member to substitute for the program director or field director in steps 2 and 3 of this process. A staff member will also attend the meeting silently for the purpose of documenting the meeting's proceedings.

The student may choose to have a silent observer attend the conference call. This does not include attorneys. The presence of attorneys at the meeting is not permitted as the meeting is not meant to function as a court of law. The silent observer may not participate directly in the meeting. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the removal of the silent observer or the termination of the meeting. One five-minute recess may be requested during the course of the meeting if the student wishes to consult with the silent observer.

During the meeting, the program director and field director will discuss the behavior in question with the student, will solicit the student’s response to the behavioral concerns in question, and will advise the student as to appropriate means of remediating the behavioral concerns. The staff member will document the meeting's proceedings, and the program director will further document the advisement provided. Subject to written approval from all participants, the meeting shall be recorded with the URL for the recording provided to the student, program director, and field director.

3.  At any time after the Professional Conduct Meeting, if the MSW program director and field director deem that the student’s ability to maintain appropriate professional, ethical, and/or personal standards remains in question and the behavioral concerns remain unresolved, they may recommend to the Dean that the student be suspended or dismissed from the MSW program. The Dean may suspend or dismiss the student from the program, with written notice provided to the student.

4.   A student who is dismissed or suspended from the program may, within 30 calendar days of receipt of the dismissal or suspension notification, petition the Dean’s ruling to a professional review committee. The petition process is documentation-based and does not include a synchronous hearing. To file a petition, the student must submit to the Dean a written petition with supporting documentation appended.  The Dean will forward the written petition and supporting documentation to the professional review committee. After review, the professional review committee will issue a final ruling within 30 calendar days of Dean's receipt of the student's petition. The committee’s ruling is not subject to appeal.

For graduated MSW students, for whom information is discovered after the time of their degree completion regarding alleged ethical or professional violations that occurred during the time they were enrolled in the MSW program, the professional conduct procedures are as follows

1.   When the MSW program director and field director learn that a graduated student may have committed ethical or professional violations during the time they were enrolled in the MSW program, they may investigate the allegations.

2.  After reviewing their findings, the program director and field director may choose to convene a Professional Conduct Meeting. The meeting shall consist of a conference call for the program director, field director, and graduated student. A staff member will also attend the meeting silently for the purpose of documenting the meeting's proceedings.

The graduated student may choose to have a silent observer attend the conference call. This does not include attorneys. The presence of attorneys at the meeting is not permitted as the meeting is not meant to function as a court of law. The silent observer may not participate directly in the meeting. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the removal of the silent observer or the termination of the meeting. One five-minute recess may be requested during the course of the meeting if the student wishes to consult with the silent observer.

During the meeting, the program director and field director will discuss the behavior in question with the graduated student and will solicit the student’s response to the behavioral concerns in question. The staff member will document the meeting's proceedings. Subject to written approval from all participants, the meeting shall be recorded with the URL for the recording provided to the graduated student, program director, and field director.

The program director and field director may, at their discretion, proceed to conduct a Professional Conduct Meeting in the absence of a graduated student who fails to appear. Should there be a hearing, the findings of the program director's and field director's investigation shall be presented and considered regardless of whether or not the graduated student attended the meeting.

3.  Based on their investigation and on the proceedings of the Professional Conduct Meeting, if the MSW program director and field director deem that the graduated student committed egregious violation(s) of ethical or professional conduct during the time that they were enrolled in the MSW program, and that such violation(s) would have merited a recommendation to the Dean of suspension or dismissal from the program if the violation(s) had been discovered when the graduated student was enrolled in the program, the program director and field director may recommend to the Dean that the graduated student's degree be revoked. The Dean may issue the graduated student a letter of intent to revoke the graduated student's degree.

4.  A graduated student receiving a Dean's letter of intent to revoke the student's MSW degree may submit a written appeal to the Dean with supporting documentation, within 30 calendar days of transmission of the Dean's letter of intent. This appeal process is documentation-based and does not include a synchronous hearing. After review of the student's written appeal and supporting documentation, the Dean may or may not decide to revoke the graduated student's degree, with written notice of either outcome provided to the student.

5.  A graduated MSW student whose degree is revoked may, within 30 calendar days of transmission of the notification of degree revocation, petition the Dean’s ruling to a professional review committee. The petition process is documentation-based and does not include a synchronous hearing. To file a petition, the graduated student must submit to the Dean a written petition with supporting documentation appended. The Dean will forward the written petition and supporting documentation to the professional review committee. After review, the professional review committee will issue a final ruling within 30 calendar days of Dean's receipt of the graduated student's petition. The committee’s ruling is not subject to appeal.

6.  If a graduated MSW student's degree is revoked, and if the student had been a California resident at the time of degree conferral, the program's Board of Behavioral Science (BBS) liaison will inform the BBS that the student no longer holds a degree from Brandman University.  If the graduated student resided in Washington at the time of degree conferral, the program's Washington State Department of Health (WDH) liaison will inform the WDH that the student no longer holds a degree from Brandman University. In addition, and only If known, the University representative will also inform the state governing body where the student is currently in clinical authorized practice.

Field Education

Prior to becoming eligible to begin foundational field education (the 500-level practicum courses), SAG students must successfully complete the required prerequisite classes (SOWK 502 Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families & SOWK 503 Social Work Practice with Groups, Communities, and Organizations) with a letter grade of “B” (3.0 GPA) or higher in each; successfully complete the field readiness interview; successfully complete a field site interview; and be approved to begin field (the 500-level practicum courses) by the Director of Field Education or MSW Assistant Field Director. Standard students must successfully complete all foundation courses and 500-level practicum courses before beginning advanced field (the 600-level advanced practicum courses).

Prior to becoming eligible to begin advanced field education (the 600-level advanced practicum courses), AG/AS students must successfully complete the advanced field education application form and the advanced field education orientation, successfully complete a field site interview, and be approved to begin advanced field (the 600-level advanced practicum courses) by the Director of Field Education or MSW Assistant Field Director.

All required documents including the agency agreement must be completed and students must be enrolled in a practicum course or advanced practicum course prior to starting any trainee hours at the approved site. Detailed field policies, procedures, and requirements appear in the MSW Field Practicum Manual. Questions should be directed to the Director of Field Education or the MSW Assistant Field Director.

The practicum courses are graded on a pass/no pass basis. Courses in the 500-level practicum course sequence are to be taken consecutively. Courses in the 600-level advanced practicum course sequence are also to be taken consecutively.

Grade Point Average Requirements

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average throughout their course of study in the MSW program. A student must receive a letter grade of “C” or better in a course for successful completion. Practice courses (SOWK 502, 503, and 622) require at least a “B” or higher. If a student falls below a 3.0 in a practice course or a 3.0 overall GPA, student remediation will occur via the university's probation process, found in the current university catalog.

Specific Requirements for the Master of Social Work

Requirements for students obtaining the Standard Advanced Generalist MSW (SAG Students) include the Foundation Core Courses (30 credits), Advanced Generalist Core Courses (27 credits), and Elective Courses (12 credits), for a total of 69 credits.

Requirements for students obtaining the Advanced Standing MSW (AG/AS Students) include the Advanced Generalist Core Courses (27 credits) and Elective Courses (12 credits), for a total of 39 credits.

Foundation Core Courses (only required for SAG students)
SOWK 501Human Behavior and the Social Environment3
SOWK 502Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families3
SOWK 503Social Work Practice with Groups, Communities, and Organizations3
SOWK 504Diversity and Social Justice3
SOWK 505Social Welfare Policy Analysis3
SOWK 506Policy Practice and Advocacy3
SOWK 507Social Work Research3
SOWK 593Social Work Practicum Seminar I3
SOWK 594Social Work Practicum Seminar II3
SOWK 595Social Work Practicum Seminar III *3
Total Credits30

Advanced Generalist Core Courses
SOWK 601Family Violence3
SOWK 602Social Work Law and Ethics3
SOWK 603Social Work and Human Sexuality3
SOWK 622Advanced Generalist Practice3
SOWK 625Practice Evaluation3
SOWK 693Advanced Social Work Practicum Seminar I3
SOWK 694Advanced Social Work Practicum Seminar II3
SOWK 695Advanced Social Work Practicum Seminar III3
SOWK 696Advanced Social Work Practicum Seminar IV *3
Total Credits27
Electives (12 credits)
Choose 12 credits from the following:
SOWK 630Child Welfare3
SOWK 631Social Work Practice with Adolescents3
SOWK 632Prevention and Intervention in Child Abuse and Neglect3
SOWK 633Children and Adolescent Policy3
SOWK 634Family Policy3
SOWK 650Crisis Intervention and Trauma Response3
SOWK 651Social Work Response to Disasters3
SOWK 652Military/Veteran (SMVF) Social Work3
SOWK 653Social Work Practice with SMVF Populations3
SOWK 654Death, Loss and Grief3
SOWK 655Substance Abuse3
SOWK 656Sexual Abuse3
SOWK 657Mental Health and Mental Illness3

 Prerequisites/Co-Requisites