MSW Specializations Summaries
Loyola University School of Social Work offers five primary specializations for the advanced course work of the MSW Program. Please click on a specialization for more detailed information.
The Children and Families specialization prepares students for advanced practice with children and families coping with developmental needs at different stages of the life cycle, that is, in the children, families, and social institutional domains (child welfare, schools, and community services). Using family as the organizing concept of this cluster, goals include differential clinical intervention with a broad range of family forms and structure in varying organizational arrangements, as well as development of and consistent application of a practice philosophy regarding families and children including use of self.
Advanced practice in the child domain reflects mastery of the central concepts of child development, direct social work treatment of children, research and law related to child issues, service delivery, and social work macro roles in child and family oriented settings. Designation of an advanced practice cluster focusing on families and children reflects the clinical significance of these two major client groups without limiting the particular theoretical practice framework. The curriculum of the Families and Children cluster is as follows:
- All students choosing this specialization will take the section of SOWK 610 F (Social Policy in Practice) that is designed for Families and Children advanced practice cluster.
- All students in the Families and Children cluster will be required to take SOWK 612 (Family Diagnosis and Treatment) since it is necessary for all students to have knowledge and skills related to work with families even if their specialization is primarily in direct work with children and /or adolescents.
- Students wanting to work specifically with children and adolescents will be required to take either SOWK 620 (Clinical Social Work with Children) or 615 (The Adolescent Client: Diagnosis and Treatment). Students only need to take one of these courses in order to fulfill the specialization requirement.
- Other electives can either be taken within this cluster or outside the cluster.
- Students who would like to pursue a track within the Child and Family specialization can take additional courses from the Advanced Family Treatment Track. These students will be required to take SOWK 613 (Advance Family Therapy) and SOWK 611 (Treatment of Couples). SOWK 612 (Family Diagnosis and Treatment) is a prerequesite to these courses and can be taken in the Summer or Fall terms. SOWK 611 and SOWK 613 are only offered in the Spring terms. This track is ideal for students interested in family therapy, marital counseling, divorce mediation, and working with blended family.
- Students in this cluster will have appropriate field work second year placements in particular areas of work with children and families such as school social work, social work with couples and families, and social work with children. The second year field placement is specifically matched to the student’s area of focus and is an essential part of the student’s development of an advanced level of skill in the chosen area.
School social work is defined as a specialty by a number of national and local organizations. Illinois, along with several other states, requires individuals to be licensed to practice as a school social worker. In order to qualify for licensure, individuals must receive their training through accredited institutions of higher learning. Loyola University Chicago and its School of Social Work in collaboration with the School of Education provide the required training.
State of Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) –School Social Worker Endorsement- Requirements
Students interested in pursuing the PEL, which enable them to be a social worker in a public school in Illinois, must meet the requirements of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Loyola School of Social Work (SSW).
ISBE requires that students pass all four sections of the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP-400)* exam before being officially accepted into the PEL program within the respective university program. The scores for the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP-400) or the previous Basic Skills test (300 or 096**) will be honored for up to ten years.
A candidate for the PEL must also pass the content-area test specific to school social work. The test (ISBE #184) must be passed prior to beginning the last semester of the student’s school-based, second level internship. The SSW requires verification of test passage by January 1(approximately 2 weeks prior to the start of the spring-final semester). Please see Loyola Requirements for alternatives in the event of a no-pass of the content –area test.
Effective April 2014, all content-area tests will be administered only in Computer-Based Testing(CBT) format.
ISBE rules require that a student earn a grade of “C” or better in all program classes. The internship grade of “P” (Pass) meets the ISBE requirement.
Please follow the directions on the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) website for information on test registration and test dates and location.
A study guide is available for the content area tests for social work at the following link. http://www.icts.nesinc.com/PDFs/IL_field184_SG.pdf
*Students may substitute a composite ACT plus writing score of at least 22; or a composite (mathematics and critical reading) SAT score of 1030 for the TAP test.
The official score report from either an ACT or SAT cannot be more than 10 years old (month/year) at the time of the application to be a PEL candidate/school specialization. Please also note that the ACT with the required plus writing component was initiated in March 2005. ACT scores prior to that year and month even if within the 10 year window are not acceptable.
Please review the substitution rules as outlined in the section entitled Applying for Full Admission to an Illinois Educator Preparation Program from ISBE at:
Beginning January 1, 2014 the ISBE form 73-60 will be discontinued. In its place Students who wish to substitute an applicable ACT or SAT test must first create an ELIS account and then request that an ACT Plus Writing or SAT score report be sent to ISBE.
Please note that students have the option of re-taking the ACT or SAT test in lieu of the TAP and seeking a substitution per the above ISBE rules.
** The ITLS Basic Skills Test (#096) (administered prior to September 11, 2010) cannot be applied to fulfill passing requirements for the test of Test of Academic Proficiency.
Loyola School of Social Work Requirements
Loyola’s School of Social Work (SSW) has five specializations from which students may choose for their second or advanced level of study. Specializations are declared by December 1st of their first year when the application for the second internship is due. Students who wish to specialize in schools will meet with program faculty and the internship coordinator in September to plan strategies for meeting ISBE requirements and program deadlines.
In addition to passing the TAP exam or receiving the applicable substitution prior to acceptance into the SSW schools program, students will also interview for an internship in an Illinois Public school. Students must complete an internship (which is the entire academic year of the school they are placed in). They will also take five required courses and four electives (specific course requirements are listed under academic advising) http://www.luc.edu/socialwork/academics/MSW_Specialization_Descriptions.shtml#schoolshttp
Students who do not meet the January 1st content-area test deadline will be unable to proceed in a schools specialization per ISBE rule. They will change to a “Child & Family” specialization with various internship options. Specialization change may result in extension of the student program and delay in graduation.
Eligibility for PEL Program by MSW Start Term
●MSW Fall Start
Students who enter the MSW program full time in the fall term submit their application for a schools specialization by December 1 of their first semester. In addition they must pass all sections of TAP or its eligible substitution by March 15 of the following spring semester. Students will be formally accepted into the Schools specialization before they begin interviewing for a school internship. The referral process for the schools internship begins in the spring of their first year, (e.g. Spring 2014 in preparation for the 2014-1015 internship which will begin in Fall 2014).
Part time students wishing to select a schools specialization are limited to entering the MSW Program only in the fall semester and must remain a part time student for the duration of their program. This will result in a 4-year program. Part time students must apply for the Schools specialization by December 1 of their 3rd year.
●MSW Spring Start
MSW students beginning in the Spring are not eligible for the Schools Specialization, PEL preparation program. In some individual instances, a program planning meeting with an academic advisor upon admission may allow for the completion of a schools specialization, PEL program.
●Advanced Standing Summer Start
New Advanced Standing students wishing to complete the Schools Specialization, PEL preparation program must pass all sections of TAP or its eligible substitution and submit the schools specialization application no later than May 1 before starting the program. Students are encouraged to submit these materials as soon as Advanced Standing admission is offered due to field placement availability. After submitting their application for the schools specialization, students will receive a formal acceptance into the schools specialization-PEL preparation program before they begin interviewing for a school internship.
A school internship is dependent upon internship site availability. Because of the Chicago Public School Internship processing calendar, internships are not available to Advanced Standing applicants in Chicago Public Schools.
Part time advanced standing students wishing to complete the Schools Specialization, PEL preparation program must pass all sections of TAP and submit the schools specialization application no later than March 15th of their first year.
Applicants to the post-MSW PEL Program must pass the TAP or its eligible substitution by March 15 of the year in which they plan to begin a school social work internship as a condition of admission to the Licensure Program. Details can be found at: http://www.luc.edu/socialwork/academics/academics_certificates.shtml
●BSW-Five Year Students
Students will make application for schools specialization by December 1 of their senior year. They will follow the deadlines applicable to the MSW fall applicants above, passing all sections of TAP or its eligible substitution by March 15 of the following spring semester. Students will be formally accepted into the Schools specialization before they are eligible for a school internship.
●Applying for Licensure
Once students have completed the required ISBE tests, course work and internship and degree conferral has been completed, candidates may proceed to the following link for next steps to receive the Professional Educator License- School Social Worker Endorsement which includes filling out the School Entitlement Form.
Mental Health Specializations
The mental health specialization focuses is on persons of all ages who are coping with stressful situations related to a physical and/or mental illness or disability, as well as on the support systems that are significant for those persons (families, residential care staff, etc.). While there is a particular focus on illness and disability, both functional and physical, the content of this cluster is also concerned with all who seek growth in bio psychosocial functioning through dealing with personal and environmental obstacles to fulfilling life choices and aspirations, and who desire to cope more adequately with stressful situations in their life context. There is an emphasis also on health and mental health services which adequately responds to the needs of the physically and mentally ill as well as those with ongoing physical challenges or disabilities. Students are prepared to work in inpatient and outpatient health and mental health agency settings. This advanced clinical practice content prepares social workers for multiple roles, including conducting and /or participating in the bio-psycho-social diagnostic process as well as planning, implementation, and evaluation of practice. Social workers often function as a part of a team with professionals from other disciplines. The social worker’s functions include:
Mental Health advanced practice presupposes a similar knowledge base and related competencies as they apply to the domain of mental health. This practice can include additional fields of study as: long term treatment of individuals with personality disorder, outpatient treatment of individuals, families, and groups, psychosocial treatment of severe mental illness, mental retardation, substance abuse, family violence, as well as psychosocial aspects of medication manage- met, care and needs of the elderly, and psychosocial rehabilitation.
The curriculum is as follows:
- Student will take the section of SOWK 610H (Social Policy in Practice) which will aid them in developing their area of focus in Mental Health.
- Students can then choose between taking SOWK 616 (Psychotherapy with Adults) or SOWK 617 (Principles and Interventions in Clinical Social Work). Oftentimes students will take both courses with one fulfilling the requirement and the other counting as an elective.
- Students will also need to take SOWK 604 (Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups) or SOWK 612 (Family Assessment and Intervention).
- Students focusing in the Mental Health area are encouraged to take at least two electives focusing on social work practice models related to the populations they intend to serve (e.g., Treatment of Adults, Treatment of Severely Mentally Ill Clients, Treatment of Adolescents). These courses will ensure that students are familiarized with the DSM, have some experiencing assessing clients, and opportunities to develop appropriate interventions.
- The students choose a second year field placement with their area of focus in mind and use the field placements to integrate curriculum content.
This Health specialization is designed to train students to practice in a wide variety of health settings. Through course work in methods and policy, as well as field placements in a health setting, students develop an integrated knowledge base. They learn how policy affects practice and become acquainted with the changing health care environment. The design of the courses places emphasis and delivery of health services to diverse populations, including vulnerable and oppressed groups as well as those populations considered at risk for biological, psychological, social and environmental difficulties. Students are educated to participate in an array of clinical roles. These include:
- the changing and expanding roles of social workers in health settings
- case management
- discharge planning
- utilization reviews
- program development
- roles related to crisis intervention
Student trainees participate in preventative care, palliative care and rehabilitation. They develop competency in providing services in acute area settings as well as in long term care. The completion of the specialty entails mastery of the specialized course work and field placements in health settings. In summary, advanced practice in the health field includes a knowledge base in such areas as health care systems, the epidemiology of the disease, the health care policy, the impact of illness on the patient and family functioning, transference and counter- transference issues, and the various competencies that relate to these knowledge areas.
The curriculum for this program is as follows:
- All students opting for this concentration in the second year must have completed the foundation courses and plan on taking the two required courses.
- One course, which evolves from the Methods Sequence, is Clinical Social Work Practice in Health Care (SOWK 614). The content is built upon the foundation knowledge provided in Human Behavior in the Social Environment (SOWK 500 and 501), as well as Individuals and Families and Small Groups (SOWK 503, 504, and 505).
- Health Policy (SOWK 602) evolves from the Policy Sequence. Students must also select a field placement, which has been approved by the committee (or Internship Coordinator) on the Health Option. Students at the Loyola's MSW at Carthage take the SOWK 602 and the SOWK 614 courses on the Loyola Campus to meet the requirements of the Health specialization if they are not available at Carthage.
Students are advised by their field supervisor as the health requirements (inoculations, medical exam and insurance) of the particular setting.
Leadership and Development in Social Services (LDSS) Domain
The Leadership and Development in Social Services (LDSS) domain prepares students to perform supervisory, managerial, and/or administrative practice within a variety of agency/organizational* settings.
Increasingly social workers are called upon to assume leadership and development roles and responsibilities for personnel development, program management, and agency/organizational administration. These roles and responsibilities can be lodged in supervisory, managerial and administrative positions. Students who would benefit most from the LDSS domain are those that have some direct service experience in their background and are interested in assuming a leadership position upon graduation.
Whether rooted in a generalist or clinical model of professional education, when promoted to leadership levels social workers must have the requisite knowledge, skills, and values to perform tasks and responsibilities including but not limited to the following: guide and support the work of others, assist the professional development of others, facilitate program development, manage people, programs, processes (political and non-political), services, administer agencies/organizations, engage financial planning, develop, implement, monitor and evaluate budgets, work with advisory and/or policy boards, support evaluation and research endeavors to assess effective and efficiency, and perform development activities, e.g., formerly known as fund-raising and grant writing. Social work supervisors, program managers, and administrators must also know how to work with diverse and multicultural personnel and clients as well as ensure quality services to all clients including vulnerable, oppressed, and disenfranchised populations.
The advanced concentration practice area of leadership and development in social services is critical to enabling social work as a profession to maintain control/mastery in the operation of social/human services agencies and organizations.
In the Advanced Practice second year, LDSS students are required to take three core courses specific to LDSS, complete two policy electives, and complete their fieldwork practicum and integrative practice seminar. The required courses are: SOWK650 Staff Management and Development, SOWK 652 Organizational Leadership and SOWK 653 Program Management and Development Practice.
- SOWK 650 (Staff Management and Development) prepares students for leadership and development practice in staff management and development positions, at all supervisory levels (1) in social and human services organizations.
- SOWK 652 (Organizational Leadership) concentrates on the theoretical perspectives, organizational functions and structures, leadership styles, techniques and skills, and ethical and value-driven leadership knowledge and skills needed by those who seek to specialize in human services agency administration.
- SOWK 653 (Program Management and Development Practice), emphasizes planning, development and management of human service programs in addition to grant writing and other forms of resource development.
The two policy electives are designed to complement the material they receive in these three core courses. They may choose from the following policy electives: the SOWK 610H, SOWK 610F, SOWK 602 or SOWK 609, as well as among the courses in the Philanthropy Certificate program or offerings in other departments that complement their interests and knowledge goals.
Students interested in LDSS state their intention through the Fieldwork application that is turned into the Fieldwork Office in January of the student’s first year. The staff in the fieldwork office then gives referrals to the students that fit their interest. The fieldwork office does all placements and then assigns a fieldwork liaison once the placement is confirmed.
The second year LDSS field work placements are specifically developed to allow the students to put into supervised practice the theory they have been learning in class. All LDSS field supervisors are social workers in upper level management at the field work organization. Many of the organizations are the same ones that are available for our clinical practice students but the LDSS students are involved in management issues. Students are expected to work solely on administrative tasks and are not allowed to do direct service in LDSS placements. Agencies currently being used for LDSS students include: Lutheran Child and Family Services, Catholic Charities, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Department of Children and Family Services, Gads Hill Center, BUILD, Inc., JEWISH Federation and the Council on Jewish Elderly. Students are expected to get experience in five areas of organizational leadership: finance, resource development, human resources, program evaluation and quality assurance, and board development.