Our Curriculum…

In 1966, Barry University established its first graduate school of social work program in South Florida. The MSW degree program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and the curriculum of the School is planned in accordance with the standards set by the council (program assessment results). The Master of Social Work degree program offers a curriculum that is framed in a trauma-informed resiliency framework. At the foundation level, students are introduced to a generalist practice perspective. At the advanced level, the program offers a single concentration in clinical social work practice. Although clinical in scope, our curriculum provides Barry MSW graduates with a foundation in policy practice, administrative leadership, and applied social research. Our graduates go onto seek and obtain employment in a variety of fields, including health, mental health, gerontology, substance abuse, local, state and federal government organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), non-profit organizations, private practice, and trauma informed care systems with children, veterans, and victims of violence.

The Foundation - 31 credits


SW 507 Social Work: An Introduction to the Profession – 3 credits

This foundation course introduces students to social work as a profession. The history, values, and the development of social work as a profession are discussed. The course emphasizes 1) self-awareness and identity as a professional social worker, 2) an introduction to the effects of oppression on social and economic justice and 3) identifying the roles and functions of a professional social worker as a leader in promoting resilience in client systems through trauma-informed care approaches to practice.

SW 519 Ways of Knowing for Social Work Practice - 3 credits

This foundation course introduces students to the basic processes of critical thinking and application to the assessment of client systems, social policy and research. Skills of critical appraisal and decision making within a bio-psycho-social trauma informed framework are practiced with special attention to culturally based sources of knowledge.

SW 537 Field Education I - 3 credits

The Foundation curriculum Field Education emphasizes the principle that students need to develop generalist skills for working with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Field education offers students the opportunity to integrate the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of social work in a practice setting strengthening students’ understanding of how poverty, oppression and traumas affect social functioning and practice.

This foundation course requires students to complete 140 hours of supervised clinical practice in a Field Agency.

Field Education I and II are sequential courses that require a minimum combined total of 420 hours.

SW 539 Human Development - 3 credits

This foundation year course provides a social work context in introducing students to theories and theoretical models that explain reciprocal influences and risk and resilience in shaping human behavior. This course uses a developmental framework to examine growth and maturation over the life course with attention to the person-environment configuration. This course emphasizes the relevance of factors including culture, ethnicity, gender, social constructions of age, social norms, socioeconomic inequality, spirituality, sexual orientation, and trauma in influencing the outcomes of transactions between the person and the environment over time. Special attention is paid to the applicability of course content to social work practice in human service settings.

SW 546 Direct Practice Skills in Social Work I: A Trauma-Informed, Strength-Based Framework – 3 credits

This foundation course introduces beginning skills of helping individuals, families and groups within a trauma-informed strengths based framework. Grounded in the values and ethics of the profession, students learn the application and evaluation of direct practice skills used in the initial phase of helping. This course also introduces students to a variety of assessment methods utilized in clinical social work practice. Students will learn how to assess problems within a person in environment context, and how to organize and analyze descriptive case information. Grounded in a trauma-informed strengths based framework, students gain competency in clinical interviewing and bio- psycho-social-spiritual assessment within a person in environment context.

SW 547 Direct Practice Skills in Social Work II: A Trauma-Informed, Strength-Based Framework – 3 credits

This foundation year course focuses on the development of professional skills from contracting phase of helping through the ending phase and transitions. Grounded in the values and ethics of the profession; a trauma-informed, strengths perspective is integral to the interactional, evidence-based framework in this course. Students will examine current knowledge, professional values, ethics, and skills relevant to work with a range of life stressors as they present themselves within diverse populations and diverse communities. Critical to understanding the helping relationship and essential skills is the student’s ability to respond to the ways in which individuals, groups, organizations and communities are systematically oppressed and denied access to social, political and economic resources. This course includes a specific focus on student skill development related to: the identification and assessment of service gaps within human service organizations, professional social work role and function, mediation of interpersonal and environmental stressors with individuals, families, groups and communities, and the skillful navigation of the continuum of the helping relationship from contracting to termination

SW 550 Social Work Macro and Policy Practice: Poverty, Oppression and Trauma – 3 credits

This foundation course provides students with knowledge and skills necessary for engaging in macro social work practice, social policy development and analysis. Students will learn to examine both the historic and current roles of the U.S. government in policy development and social welfare program implementation; the socio-political role of social workers, impact of social movements to influence policy change, and the changing nature and needs of our society. Particular attention will be given to the person-in-environment lens and how trauma, poverty, and oppression intersect with social functioning, policy formulation and implementation

SW 563 Models of Intervention in Clinical Social Work Practice- 3 credits

This foundation course introduces students to social work practice with individuals, families, and groups in contemporary practice settings with an emphasis on identifying appropriate and effective models of intervention. Students will become familiarized with multiple models of intervention at the micro and mezzo levels of social work practice and learn to make effective practice decisions regarding the selection and implementation of various intervention models.

SW 569 Introduction to Trauma and Resiliency - 3 credits

This foundation course provides the student with an exploration of psychological trauma, including the history and current theories in the field, the nature of trauma (e.g., sexual abuse, combat, domestic violence, pandemics, and natural disasters), how trauma affects individuals and systems, common grief reactions, and the impact of traumatic stress. Resilience theory is introduced. Also included in this course is the exploration of the social work professional’s response to trauma and the concomitant risks of direct traumatization, vicarious traumatization, disenfranchised grief, co-morbid disorders, and general treatment issues. The course concludes with a review of evidence-based practices in the trauma field, including cognitive, neurobiological, clinical, and socio-cultural. A multiculturally- informed approach to learning is used.

SW 577 Field Education II – 4 credits

The Foundation curriculum Field Education emphasizes the principle that students need to develop generalist skills for working with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Students develop skills for relating effectively with others, exploring problems and client strengths, and forming contractual agreements for change, under the guidance of a clinical field educator. Field education offers students the opportunity to integrate the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of social work in a practice setting strengthening students’ understanding of how poverty, oppression and traumas affect social functioning and practice.

This foundation course requires all students to complete 280 hours of supervised clinical practice continuing in the same Field Agency as SW 537. Full-time students will complete the entire 280 requirements of the course within one semester. Part-time students will be responsible for completing a total of 140 hours in SW 577 Field Education II – Part A and B. Thus, part-time students will have two semesters to complete the full 280 hours necessary for meeting course requirements.

Drawing upon the knowledge and skills obtained in SW 537 students demonstrate beginning skills of social work practice with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations under the guidance of a clinical field educator.

The Concentration Year – 32 Credits


SW 607 Psychopathology - 3 credits

This concentration course expands the students’ understanding of mental health and psychopathology from a social work perspective. Drawing on a functional approach to assessment, students examine the history of the definitions of mental illness and mental health; common disorders encountered in practice; the impact on the individual, family members, and the social environment; factors that promote mental health; and conducting assessments from a social work ethics-based perspective. Emphasis is given to recognizing indicators of mental disorders, the context in which they occur, and identifying and understanding the classifications described in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Emphasis is also given to what is considered best practices in mental health assessment for children, adolescents, and adults.

This course provides the opportunity for students to explore their own values, ideas, and experiences related to mental health and develop sensitivity to socio-cultural and political issues in defining mental health problems. Attention is focused on the role of the social worker in mental health practice.

SW 611 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Individuals - 3 credits

This concentration course focuses on the individual as the basic unit of intervention. Students develop competence in the differential application of selected clinical approaches and techniques for a range of client concerns. The trauma informed, resilience focused framework guides engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation of practice with the client system across a range of practice settings and services. Factors that both strengthen and potentially threaten adaptation to life situations, circumstances, and events are addressed.

SW 619 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Families - 3 credits

This concentration year course provides in-depth study of family interventions aimed at promoting well-being through the use of a trauma informed resilience focused framework for practice. Students develop competencies in various family-centered approaches used in contemporary social work practice. Family-centered strategies are drawn from a variety of theoretical perspectives and include skills that mitigate the effects of trauma, oppression and social and economic injustices; serve diverse clients with diverse resources and needs; enhance client strength and resourcefulness; respond in professional, social and political contexts; and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.

SW 662 Mind Body Connection: The Neurobiology of Clinical Practice – 3 credits

This multidisciplinary graduate elective course introduces students to the relationships between neuroscience, bio-psychosocial-spiritual functioning and traditional psychotherapy. Utilizing the most recent neurobiological research, this course will introduce students to the interconnection between neuroplasticity and relationship dynamics with individuals, couples, families and groups. The course also presents multiple perspectives in the advanced application of this research to inform clinical intervention.

SW 675 Field Education III - 4 credits

This concentration year course requires students to complete 280 hours of supervised clinical experience in an approved field agency. Drawing upon achievement of foundation year competencies, students demonstrate advanced skills of clinical social work practice with individuals and families under the guidance of a clinical field educator. In addition, students are required to attend a 14-week Field Seminar where clinical theory and practice skills are further integrated. Field Education III and IV are sequential courses that require a minimum combined total of 580 hours.

SW 677 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Groups - 3 credits

This concentration year course is examines clinical group work as a basic unit of intervention. A trauma-informed, resilience focused framework guides practice with group members facing various life conditions, circumstances, and events. Students develop advanced competency in a variety of group work strategies and skills, drawn from a variety of theoretical perspectives within a range of practice settings.

SW 685 Evaluation in Clinical Social Work Practice - 3 credits

This concentration course is designed to expand students’ capacity to evaluate the efficacy of clinical social work practice with systems of all sizes. Students will evaluate clinical social work practice processes and outcomes across micro-macro levels. Students will utilize outcomes of individual practitioners’ work with clients to inform overall program design in agencies.

SW 687 Leadership, Advocacy and Policy Practice - 3 credits

This concentration course prepares advanced clinical social workers s to work within the context of human service organizations and the social welfare policy arena on behalf of individuals, groups, families, organizations and communities. Focus is on developing competencies aimed at stimulating change in agencies/organizations and communities that will promote social and economic justice. Advanced skills taught in this course include policy analysis, program development and evaluation, assessment of leadership style, advocacy, planning, linking and lobbying.

SW 689 Field Education IV - 4 credits

This concentration year course requires students to complete 336 hours of supervised clinical experience in an approved field agency. Building on Field Education III, students demonstrate a broader range of advanced practice competencies including group work, evaluation of clinical practice and skills of leadership, advocacy and policy practice. In addition, students are required to attend a 14-week Field Seminar Lab where clinical theory and practice skill are further integrated. Field Education III and IV are sequential courses that require a minimum combined total of 580 hours.