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Comprehensive Online MSW Curriculum

Curriculum Details

63 TOTAL CREDITS REQUIRED

The courses included in the online MSW curriculum at New Mexico Highlands consist of 19 core courses and four focus classes. Featuring general and clinical practicums, the 63 total credit hours include hands-on learning along with online coursework. Upon graduation, students will have the degree required for social work licensure and be ready to take the ASWB national exam.

While most of the courses are asynchronous, you’ll have one Zoom session each week, scheduled in the evening. In addition, students in the online MSW program attend one weekend together each year of the program on the New Mexico Highlands campus in Las Vegas, New Mexico. In the first year, the residency weekend is for orientation and the second year residency weekend is for intensive skills training.

Core Course Requirements

The foundation research course introduces students to concepts of research for application in various human service contexts. The course covers elements of the research process, research design, statistical analysis, and the ethical issues in conducting research. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are presented, and issues relevant to research focusing on culturally diverse populations. Prerequisite: Evidence of having completed a statistics course within the past five years. SOWK 3300 Research Methods meets this prerequisite requirement.

This foundation practicum sequence is designed to help students apply foundation knowledge of social work skills, values and ethics to practice. By providing a series of supervised assignments and tasks, the practicum experience will expose students to a variety of social work roles. Students will apply generalist social work knowledge, skills and values to practice with individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. Corequisites: SOWK 5510.

This course examines areas of the law in which social work and the legal system intertwine. Major emphasis is placed on the operation of the legal system in New Mexico and the Southwest. The course introduces students to critical principles, guidelines, reasoning strategies and legal concepts necessary to make informed, effective practice decisions.

This foundation practicum sequence is designed to help students apply foundation knowledge of social work skills, values and ethics to practice. By providing a series of supervised assignments and tasks, the practicum experience will expose students to a variety of social work roles. Students will apply generalist social work knowledge, skills and values to practice with individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. Prerequisites: SOWK 5320, SOWK 5330, SOWK 5410, SOWK 5650, and SOWK 5850.

This course provides an overview and orientation to Field Practicum and familiarizes students with field policies and procedures and the process for securing placement. Through class content and exercises, students learn skills related to professional behavior and understand expectations for a successful field placement. Supervision and professional communication are topics covered.

This foundational policy course outlines the history of social welfare policy and the manner in which social services have been provided before and after the European conquest of New Mexico and the Southwest. It surveys contemporary social problems, and evaluates social legislation, policies, programs and political and social manifestations of racism, sexism and oppression. It also analyzes the impact of these on the diverse, historically vulnerable populations of the Southwest. It introduces students to advanced policy analysis and advocacy strategies that promote social justice.

This course examines the socio-cultural-political-historical context in which social work is practiced, with an emphasis on New Mexico and the Southwest. The course provides a framework for understanding issues of diversity, oppression and social justice within the context of race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation and disability. An interdisciplinary approach allows students to become familiar with the legacies of conquest and colonization in New Mexico and the Southwest, as well as understand how the dynamics of power and changing demographics impact and are impacted by people residing in the region.

This seminar is required during the first semester. It provides students with an opportunity to integrate practice theory with field practicum experience. Instructors will assist students with their understanding and application of social work knowledge to specific programs, issues, and concerns that arise in the provision of social work services. Corequisites: SOWK 5320 and SOWK 5650.

This course presents the foundation skills necessary for the provision of generalist social work services to individuals. The course develops the direct practice knowledge and skills necessary for ethical and competent engagement, problem identification, assessment, intervention design, implementation, and termination with diverse, vulnerable, and at-risk clients. Emphasis is placed on generalist social work practice with Hispanic, American Indian and other oppressed groups of New Mexico and the Southwest. Corequisites: SOWK 5320 and SOWK 5510.

This course focuses on a critical and comparative analysis of frameworks, theories and models of social work practice. The course examines the four forces in psychology as the building blocks of an integrative, multicultural, ecosystems approach to social work practice. Implications of each practice approach for work at the micro, mezzo, and macro level are examined. Emphasis is placed on the evaluation of the practice approaches for work with diverse populations, with emphasis on the Native American, Hispanic and other oppressed populations of New Mexico and the Southwest. Prerequisite: SOWK 5650. Corequisite: SOWK 5340.

This two-semester course sequence critically examines theoretical perspectives of human life course development and the environmental contexts within which development occurs. This first class in the sequence focuses on the impact of families, groups, organizations, and communities on individual functioning. An emphasis is placed on the influence of culture, race and ethnicity on human development and on the effects that oppression and social and economic injustice have on human behavior, with special consideration given to the diverse populations of New Mexico and the Southwest. This is the first course of the two-semester sequence.

This two-semester course sequence critically examines theoretical perspectives of human life course development and the environmental contexts within which development occurs. This second class in the sequence explores bio-psycho-social-spiritual development across the lifespan within environmental contexts. This is the second of the two courses in this sequence.

Focus Courses

This course supports the School’s mission which includes a primary commitment to Hispanic/Latinx peoples in New Mexico and the US Southwest. It will address the multiple factors that impinge on the well-being of Latinx individuals, families and communities, including historical, social, economic, and political, as well as clinical considerations such as nationality, identity, levels of acculturation and evidence-based treatment models that have proven to be effective with Latinx clients.

This course introduces students to Social Work practice in rural contexts and the culture of people who live in rural communities and their unique social problems. Social workers practice, policy, diversity, and ethics in rural communities will be explored to help prepare students for practice in rural contexts. The unique and complex roles that social works who practice in rural contexts will be examined and differentiated for coal work practice in urban communities.

This course supports the School’s mission which includes a primary commitment to Native American/Indigenous peoples in New Mexico and the US Southwest. It will address the multiple factors that impinge on the well-being of Indigenous/tribal individuals, families and communities, including historical, social, economic, and political, as well as clinical considerations such as urban/reservation contexts, an understanding of sovereignty, tribal law, identity, levels of acculturation and evidence-based treatment models that have proven to be effective with Indigenous clients.

This course introduces students to the evolving field of technology-mediated social work practice. Ethical and legal issues related to telehealth practice are addressed, as well as the clinical skills necessary for effective remote service delivery. Students will also consider how health disparities and digital barriers impact communities in the U.S. Southwest.

Clinical Concentration Courses

This course will provide an overview of the DSM-5 classification. The cultural, gender, systemic, social and biological contexts for the expression, classification and assessment of conditions will be explores, including the biases and limits of the DSM categorical approach to understanding human nature. The class will utilize lectures, discussions and in-class exercises to emphasize how best to honor the particular strengths of individuals and cultures as they relate to the processes and procedures of diagnostic categorization.

This course is designed to build the quantitative and qualitative skills needed to evaluate the effectiveness of clinical practice and to critically assess the implications of research findings for practice.

The advanced field practicum sequence is designed to help students continue to develop a professional identity as a social work practitioner as well as to improve practice skills through experiential learning and supervision. This course will build on advanced practice skills learned in the foundation practice courses. Prerequisites: SOWK 5300, SOWK 5340, SOWK 5460, SOWK 5660, and SOWK 5860.

The advanced field practicum sequence is designed to help students continue to develop a professional identity as a social work practitioner as well as improve upon practice skills through experiential learning and supervision. This course will build on advanced practice skills learned in the foundation practice courses. Prerequisites: SOWK 6320.

This course examines a range of groups found in historical and contemporary social work practice, and explores group stages and dynamics in the context of various theoretical approaches. Within a social justice framework, special emphasis is placed on ethical and practical issues of group work with historically oppressed populations. Prerequisites: SOWK 5340 and 5860.

This course is intended to focus specifically on the role and function of the social work supervisor in human service agencies. Social workers in supervisory position are increasingly accountable for the clinical practices of their subordinates. Ultimately, the supervisor is responsible for the quality of services delivered to clients/consumers in the community. This course will examine the historical background, theoretical concepts, and practical applications of supervisory methods in clinical supervision. The course will prepare students with the knowledge and skill to be competent supervisors of other social work practitioners as well as other human services staff. Prerequisites: SOWK 5340 and 5860.

This is the first of two practice courses offered during the concentration year. This class offers students preparation in skills necessary for clinical social work practice with individuals, including interviewing, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning. The western, scientific approach to diagnosis and treatment using the DSM-5 is examined as well as alternative approaches used by diverse clients. Emphasis is placed on practice with Hispanic, American Indian and other oppressed populations of New Mexico and the Southwest. Corequisite: SOWK 6320.

This course prepares students with the knowledge and skills necessary for clinical practice with children, adolescents and families. Interviewing, assessment, diagnosis treatment planning with families and children are addressed. A social justice perspective on advanced practice with Hispanics, Native Americans and other oppressed populations is emphasized. Prerequisite: SOWK 6650. Corequisite: SOWK 6340.

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