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Curriculum Overview

The MSW program at University of Houston consists of 63 semester credit hours for full program and 38 semester credit hours for Advanced Standing. The maximum graduate student MSW course load in the Fall or Spring semesters is limited to 15 semester credit hours (SCH) and 6 SCH in the Summer semester (including all summer sessions). Our program offers a 16 hour foundation, which serves as the prerequisite for all following coursework. 

Advanced Standing

The Advanced Standing program is available in the face to face, hybrid, and online enrollment models. For face to face, AS is a one year, full time program (38 semester credit hours). Face to face AS students begin in the fall and complete course work and field the following two semesters. Hybrid and online advanced standing students complete the program part-time in two years. Two courses (500 clock hours) of field practicum are required for all advanced standing students. You can see plans for advanced standing under each enrollment model tab.


The intensive foundation or generalist practice curriculum is organized around content on the foundation of professional social work, and focuses on social economic, and political justice, emphasizing critical thinking skills. A foundation field practicum (200 clock hours) are also required. The foundation totals 16 credit hours. Students must satisfactorily complete 16 credit hours before enrolling in any advanced courses. Full-time, face to face students complete foundation in one semester while part-time students, in hybrid and online enrollment models, take two semesters.

The MSW program is rooted in the liberal arts and includes an integrated, professional and generalist practice foundation upon which the advanced curriculum is built.

Upon completion of the foundation curriculum, students will be able to:

  • Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice;
  • Understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards and principles, and practice accordingly;
  • Practice without discrimination with respect and with knowledge and skills related to age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, family structure, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation;
  • Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and delineate strategies of advocacy and social change that advance social and economic justice;
  • Understand and interpret the history of the social work profession and its contemporary structures and issues;
  • Apply the knowledge and skills of an integrated and contextualized social work perspective to practice with systems of all sizes;
  • Use theoretical frameworks supported by empirical evidence to understand individual development and behavior across the life span and the interactions among individuals and between individuals and families, groups, organizations, and communities;
  • Analyze and influence social policies;
  • Use critical thinking to evaluate research studies, apply research findings to practice, and evaluate their own practice interventions;
  • Use communication skills differentially across client populations, colleagues, and communities;
  • Use supervision and consultation appropriate to social work practice;
  • Function within the structure of organizations and service delivery systems.

Advanced Curriculum

In the GCSW curriculum, our two areas of specialized practice are Clinical and Macro. 

The diagram that follows demonstrates this distinction:


Curriculum Diagram


Students admitted to the full program (non-Advanced Standing) select either Clinical Social Work Practice or Macro Practice following the foundation. Twelve credit hours are required for both concentrations. Additionally, students are required to take a "crossover elective course". Clinical students take one macro course and macro students take one clinical course. All students complete advanced courses in Social Welfare Policy Analysis, Multilevel Assessment, and Advanced Research (three credit hours each). The curriculum also includes a three-hour Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE) elective called Confronting Oppression and Injustice. Finally, all students in the full program complete 700 clock hours of advanced field practicum. 

Students admitted to Advanced Standing, are required to participate in the first two days of the foundation (SOCW 6201) and then go straight into the advanced curriculum. Advanced Standing students select Clinical Social Work Practice or Macro Social Work Practice. As in the full program, twelve semester credit hours are required for both concentrations. Advanced Standing students are required to complete Social Welfare Policy Analysis, Advanced Research, and the Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE) course, as well as 9 semester credit hours of free choice electives. Lastly, Advanced Standing students complete 500 clock hours of field practicum.