MSW: Master of Social Work

West Chester University

West Chester Campus

Reynolds Hall
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-436-2664

PASSHE Center City

701 Market Street, Concourse Level
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 267-386-3015

Curriculum: FAQs


I want to be a clinician and see that your concentration-year practice classes focus on direct practice. Will that prepare me for clinical work?

Absolutely. West Chester's MSW direct practice curriculum prepares students for all levels of social work practice, including clinical work. In fact, we strongly believe that our program is designed to provide students with the most comprehensive foundation from which to pursue professional clinical practice. Students acquire clinical experiences obtained through field placements coupled with the theoretical background provided in advanced courses targeting individuals, families, communities, and mental health assessments.

Many students who are interested in clinical practice enroll in advanced training or certificate programs in specific aspects of practice. Others take clinical courses to fulfill the continuing education requirements for licensure.

To pursue advanced clinical work, students from all accredited social work programs must seek clinical licensure which requires two years of full time clinical work experience (about 3,000 hours) under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker before qualifying to sit for the clinical-level licensing exam. Students from MSW programs with clinical "concentrations" must follow these same licensing requirements.


What types of electives are offered?

The MSW Program currently offers electives in a number of emerging and important social work practice areas, including child welfare, social work in disasters, social work with older adults, substance abuse, and social work with veterans and military families. More electives are in development.


Can I take electives outside of the department?

Yes. There are several electives in other departments that are available to MSW students with approval from both the course instructor and the program director.


Can I take electives over the summer to lighten my course load during the academic year?

Yes. Many students take one or two electives over the summer.


Will I be prepared to take the social work licensing exam after graduation?

Yes. Students graduating from the MSW Program feel that the coursework prepared them well for the licensing exam. We also offer exam preparation seminars during the semester before graduation.

Click here for more information about clinical licensure in Pennsylvania.


Will I be able to work if I attend school full-time?

Many of our students work in addition to attending graduate school. We recommend that full-time students, along with part-time students in their second and third years, limit work to 20 hours per week to allow for sufficient time to complete field work and course assignments.


Are there opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research, conference presentations, or other projects?

Given the personal nature of the West Chester University program, students have unique opportunities to work with faculty on many different types of projects. Faculty members have collaborated with students on a variety of research projects, frequently presenting their findings with the students at regional, national, and international conventions.

Here are some examples:

  • Dr. Ann Abbott collaborated with four 2009 graduates -- Laura Capaldo, Danielle DiNatale, Theresa Gill, and Bernadette Peace -- on a presentation at the Council for Social Work Education featuring an alternative method to teaching the DSM IV-TR in the form of well-known games.
  • Dr. David Siegel hired a number of students to conduct phone interviews and focus groups with TANF recipients in carrying out a $1 million contract from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare in evaluating the differences between TANF welfare leavers and returners.
  • Dr. Nadine Bean collaborated with 2012 MSW graduate Heather Sowers on a presentation at the National Association of Social Workers - Pennsylvania Chapter Annual Conference in October 2012. Their presentation was titled "Professionalizing Child Welfare: Resilience and Trauma-Informed Practices from Intake to Post-Adoption."
  • Dr. Bean also also collaborated with 2009 graduate Lisa Cerullo on a presentation at the Social Welfare Action Alliance Annual Conference in April 2008. Their presentation was called "The Crucial Role of Social Work Educators, MSW Students and Practicing Social Workers in Helping to Rebuild Mind, Spirit and Community in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward - A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis."
  • Earlier Dr. Bean collaborated with Diane Greenwood, a 2007 MSW graduate, on a presentation at the International Conference on Diversity in Groups, Organisations, and Communities in July 2007 in Amsterdam. That presentation was called "Using Combined Research Methodology to Give Voice to Diverse, Spiritual Populations: Work with Religious Women and Men around the Globe."
  • Dr. Page Buck has collaborated with 2010 graduates Jocelyn Spencer Sagrati and Cathy Allen Plaisted on a project interviewing professionals working with mild traumatic brain injury.
  • Dr. Buck is currently collaborating with MSW candidate Victoria McDonald on exploring mild traumatic brain injury among homeless individuals.
  • Dr. Buck recently presented a skills workshop at the Council on Social Work Education with the editors of the student journal VOICES: 2013 MSW graduate Kristin Bartell and 2012 graduates Elena Gregorio and Burgandy Holiday.