Social Work Practice Curriculum

All students are introduced to social work practice through the Social Work Practice Learning Lab courses (SSW 717 & 718), in which students gain mastery of core competencies related to engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. In addition, students are required to concentrate (major) in one of four social work practice concentrations: Clinical Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups; Community Organizing, Planning and Development; and Organizational Management and Leadership. A major consists of three required sequential courses and field practicums (two 600-hour practicums for Two-Year Program, one 900-hour practicum for OYR, and one 600-hour practicum for those in the Advanced Standing Program). The following descriptions provide information about the focus of each social work practice concentration:

A. Clinical Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups

This concentration introduces students to agency-based clinical practice in the urban environment. Concepts of clinical assessment and intervention are taught from a biopsychosocial perspective. Students are exposed to a variety of theoretical modalities that are augmented by evidence-based-practice perspectives. Issues of diversity and oppression are integrated into the study of assessment, treatment planning and intervention as well as the professional relationship. Emphasis is placed on differential assessment and intervention with a variety of diverse client groups.

The field practicum is offered in a wide range of settings, such as child and family agencies, schools, hospitals, employee assistance programs, mental health and substance abuse clinics, correctional facilities, older adult and child welfare settings, homeless shelters and multi-service community centers. These settings provide opportunities for in-depth teaching about specific populations in an urban setting and their changing service needs, as well as specific intervention models such as crisis intervention, and various brief and long-term treatment modalities.

Clinical Practice with Individuals and Families Related Materials
Click here for the syllabus for Clinical Practice 1, 2, & 3

Bibliography for Clinical Practice Sequence

Links of Interest
New York State Society for Clinical Social Work

B. Group Work

Students are prepared to provide in-depth work with individuals in small groups. Groups may be formed around commonality of need or problem ranging from socialization to social action. The curriculum emphasizes group formation within a psycho-socio-political context and uses group-development theory as the primary paradigm for shaping practice with diverse populations in widely varied clinical and community settings. Concepts central to practice are contextual assessment, planning, group stage theory, group development, mutuality, mutual aid, common ground, roles, dual focus, decentralized authority, and problem solving.

Field practicum settings in group work include mental health clinics, hospitals, settlement houses, schools, community centers, senior centers, and day treatment and substance abuse programs. Social group work practice is used with a variety of populations from children to older adults, for meeting a range of needs from normal development to managing acute crisis situations and for dealing with all types of problems ranging from interpersonal to social action.

Group Work and Related Materials
SSSW Group Work Mentorship Program
Click here to link to the syllabi for Group Work courses

Links of Interest
Association for the Advancement of SW with Groups, Inc.
Journal Social Work with Groups
Journal Small Group Research

C. Community Organization, Planning and Development

This concentration develops students’ competence for community-based practice. It stresses the skills, techniques, and strategies needed to mobilize both people and resources to solve basic social problems at either the neighborhood or citywide level. The social planning and social reform aspects of social work practice are underscored in seeking change to alleviate individual and family problems. Education and training are developed in collective action, advocacy, program evaluation, proposal writing, community outreach, legislative advocacy, and other vital organizing roles.

Field practicums occur in a number of settings in international organizations, city and state planning agencies, legislative offices, community engagement arms of human service organizations, and a wide variety of grassroots organizations. Students in these placements work on everything from local economic development issues, food and hunger projects, and tenant advocacy to LGBTQ issues and women’s rights.

Community Organization, Planning and Development Related Material
More about SSSW – COP&D
Click here to link to the syllabi for COP&D courses

Click here to to see list of CO field placement agencies

Click here to read "How I Became a Community Organizer as a Casework Social Work Student: The Interrelationship between Case and Cause Advocacy " by Dr. Mizrahi.

Click here to watch Lecture on "Introduction to C.O. Practice".
Click here
to watch the video of the panel presentation “20th Century Reflections for 21st Century Solutions,” with L. Gutierrez, R. Fisher, and A. Otero. Community organizing is alive and well at Hunter!
Click here to watch the video of our community organizing alumni and Amy Watkins Scholarship award recipients!

Links of Interest
COP&D Alumni Data 1995-2006
President Obama – A Career as a Community Organizer
ECCO (Education Center for Community Organizing)
ACOSA and Journal of Community Practice
Community Organizing Principles

D. Organizational Management and Leadership

Students who elect to concentrate in Organizational Management and Leadership (OML) are prepared to assume varied management positions in social agencies, including the traditional supervisory, middle management, and executive positions as well as jobs as program planner and analyst, staff trainer, program director, or budget analyst. Those focusing on OML develop conscious and strategic use of self in managing the complex tasks of program managers. Students seeking to concentrate in OML should have some prior experience either in management and/or social work or human services line work. Field practicums are available in a wide range of public and private social agencies. Many students entering OML are in our One-Year Residency Program. A wide variety of placements are available for two-year OML students with the many graduates of SSSW in leadership roles around the city.

More about OML
Click here to link to syllabi of OML courses

Links of Interest
National Network of Social Work Managers
Administration in Social Work


Currently students can choose from three types of electives: knowledge or practice courses in a field of practice or substantive area, e.g. Human Sexuality, Ethics, Social Work and the Schools, Spirituality, Clinical Practice in Health, Clinical Practice in Aging; advanced method courses: e.g. Group work 4: Use of Activity; Casework 4: Cognitive Behavioral Treatments, Trauma, Family Treatment; Community Organization: Electoral Activism); or basic courses in another method e.g. Administration for non-majors, Group work for Non-Majors, Clinical Practice for Non-Majors. We anticipate the development of more fields of practice electives in the coming year.

Professional Seminar

This area consists of a single, final semester course. SSW 790 the Professional Seminar is a capstone seminar that requires students to identify an emerging practice issue or concern, examine the known evidence, and design a study that better addresses the issue at hand. The course is designed as an integrating and synthesizing experience, wherein students consult with one another in addressing a specific concern. The course launches students into the profession with a keen sense that they can influence the context in which they will practice as social workers.

Field Education

This two-to-four-semester sequence of supervised on-site social work practice in social service agencies is an integral component of social work education in each of the MSW program pathways. It is expected that Two-Year, Accelerated Full-Time, and Advanced Standing students will be available throughout the school year, during the week, during regular business hours for field placement. Please see Field Placement for further information.

Practice Lab and major methods classes must be taken concurrently with the field placement. Field education training is provided by a field instructor and is monitored by the Field Education Department and the student’s faculty advisor. Each matriculated student is assigned an advisor who provides academic and field advising.

Fields of Practice Specialization

Students are required to concentrate in a field of practice specialization in their second or advanced year. Fields of practice are organized around a social problem, population, or institutional setting. A field of practice specialization consists of enrollment in two courses, a research or professional seminar paper or project, and a field placement in the selected field of practice. Students who specialize in a field of practice must discuss this option with their faculty advisor in the year prior to specialization. Students who complete the requirements for a specialization in a field of practice will have this acknowledged in their final end-of-year evaluation summary.

The School requires that students choose a field of practice specialization from among five broad areas of field of practice specialization:

  • Aging
  • Children, Youth, and Families
  • Health and Mental Health
  • Work, Employment, and Rehabilitation
  • Immigrants and Global Social Work

Click here to download the field of practice booklet.