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Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Program

School of Social Work; Master's in Social Work to be received upon graduation.

How many credits?

The course will consist of a minimum of 78 credit hours, typically 6 or 7 quarters of academic study. Four credits will be awarded for Peace Corps service, which will require students to develop and implement an individualized service learning plan in the host country. This process will begin prior to departure with the student specifying broad learning goals. However, the student will engage in an extended period (three to four months) of assessment and reflection upon arrival in the host country before developing a final service learning plan. The plan will be reviewed by a faculty member in the School of Social Work, via email, and the student will track progress towards goal attainment and update the faculty member on a regular (e.g., quarterly) basis through the remainder of the service period. A wide range of areas related to youth development might guide the plan, for example: expanding or strengthening educational opportunities for youth; supporting families, extended families, and non-kinship support networks; promoting positive peer networks for youth; improving maternal and child health and mental health; or preventing negative outcomes such as homelessness or youth violence. Specified activities will reflect social work values, knowledge and skills, and will focus on strengthening local community-based and organizational formal and informal structures that promote youth development.

Pre-Peace Corps service coursework:

To assure a common base for social work practice the MSW program faculty at Portland State has identified a required Foundation curriculum to be completed by all students, regardless of their choice of concentration. Students in the MSW program will complete two years on campus prior to their Peace Corps service, and then complete a one-term 2-credit independent study when they return to the PSU campus. Three terms of concurrent Foundation field practicum experience are an integral part of the curriculum. Completion of this Foundation year of social work content will provide PCMI students with a knowledge and skill base for practice across five levels: individuals, families, groups, communities, and society. Specialized advanced content in Community-Based Practice or Social Services Administration and Leadership will prepare students to engage communities and individuals in the Peace Corps host country, work collaboratively to assess strengths and needs and to identify desired outcomes, and develop micro-, meso-, and macro-level strategies for achieving outcomes. The overall curriculum’s focus on social justice and anti-oppressive practice will increase students' ability to engage in culturally sensitive activities in host communities that are relationship-based, empowerment-oriented, and driven by local conditions. Additionally, internship experience in youth-serving settings, Foundation and advanced practice coursework, and specialized elective content on youth work in social work will prepare students for developmentally sensitive practice in the field.

How would the Peace Corps experience be integrated into the students' academic program?

Students will engage in self-directed learning prior to and during the overseas experience. At the conclusion of their time overseas, students will have implemented an individualized learning plan and documented activities related to attaining learning goals. Upon return to the School of Social Work, students will complete a two-credit independent study during which they integrate the overseas learning experience with social work coursework, with required products including a paper and public presentation for peers, faculty, and others.

Upon completing Peace Corps service, what academic requirements would students need to meet to be awarded a degree?

Two credits of independent study.

Program of Study for MSW PCMI
See also PSU Bulletin and MSW website:

First Year (42 credits)

Fall Winter Spring
SW 500 Field Instruction I (4 credits) SW 500 Field Instruction II (4 credits) SW 500 Field Instruction III (4 credits)
SW 520 Social Work and Social Welfare Policy (4 credits) SW 540 Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Micro Theory (3 credits) SW 541 Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Macro Theory (3 credits)
SW 530 Generalist Social Work Practice I (3 credits) SW 531 Generalist Social Work Practice II (4 credits) SW 532 Generalist Social Work Practice III (4 credits)
SW 539 Social Justice in Social Work (3 credits) SW 550 Foundation of Social Work Research (3 credits) SW 551 Data Analysis in Social Work Research (3 credits)

42 credits are required, additional free electives may be added; an Advanced Policy elective may be added after successful completion of SW 520.


Second Year (36 credits)

Fall Winter Spring
SW 500 Field Instruction IV (2 credits)** SW 500 Field Instruction V (2 credits)** SW 500 Field Instruction VI (2 credits)**
SW 536 Advanced Community-based Practice I (3 credits)
SW 580 Introduction to Social Services Administration, Leadership and Management (3 credits)
SW 537 Advanced Community-based Practice II (3 credits)
SW 581 Issues in Human Services Organization Management and Leadership (3 credits)
SW 538 Advanced Community-based Practice III (3 credits)
SW 582 Social Service Program and Policy Development (3 credits)
2 Electives* (6 credits) 2 Electives* (6 credits) 1 Elective* (3 credits)

36 credits are required unless electives were taken in the first year


*A total of 78 credits is required for graduation. Of the elective courses, students must take Advanced course work in Advanced Human Behavior in the Social Environment and Advanced Social Work Practice endorsed by their Practice concentration. Students must also take Advanced elective course work in Social Policy, and Social Work Research.

** For PCMI program, students will complete 6 field instruction credits prior to departure for Peace Corps, 4 credits whilst overseas and 2 credits on return. (12 credits total)