Social Worker Courses and Classes Overview

Social work professionals help those in need, whether they are dealing with mental health problems, substance abuse or other issues. Courses in social work are generally taken as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Continue reading to explore some typical coursework in detail.

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Essential Information

Social work programs are offered at every academic level, from associate's to doctoral degrees, providing students with skills in social advocacy. Associate's programs prepare students for work as entry-level social and human services assistants. Bachelor's programs can lead to work in non-clinical social work positions, while master's programs prepare students to get licensed as clinical social workers. Social work doctoral programs prepare students to work as researchers and social work educators.

The coursework of an undergraduate social work program covers human behavior, research methods, psychology, social work policy and generalist practice. Since master's programs are focused on clinical work, students in such programs take additional courses in clinical practice, behavioral treatment, drug and alcohol abuse intervention and adult psychopathology. Doctoral programs include significant coursework in research, statistics and social work theory.

Many programs at the bachelor's and master's levels incorporate a field practicum and other hands-on practice opportunities. This usually involves working with families, individuals and other groups in a human services agency.

List of Social Worker Courses

Sample courses that are often found in degree programs in social work are described below.

Introduction to Social Work Course

Through readings, speakers and group work, students consider their capacities for a social work career. This course examines the development of the field, including the knowledge and value bases of the social welfare system. Students become familiar with levels of practice, from individual to organizational, the generalist practice, problem solving and social empowerment. Students generally must take this course before being admitted into a social work program.

Human Behavior Course

This first or second year course explores the interaction of various factors in human behavior, including biological, social, cultural, environmental and psychological. Discussions focus greatly on individual behavior in a larger social framework. Attention is also given to diverse populations, including minorities, children and the poor, as well as the impact of discrimination and oppression.

Research Methods Course

Social workers must be able to effectively research both new and existing social data. This course provides the techniques to do both, including performing qualitative and quantitative studies. Students learn to critically interpret, organize and use research findings in everyday practice. This is typically a second year course.

Generalist Practice Course

Students in this course learn the process of intervention in the social work context. They acquire the skills to evaluate, engage and intervene in social problems. This involves a study of the principles and values of generalist practice through multiple social perspectives. These perspectives include multi-cultural, groups, families and individuals. Social work roles, professional relationships and service delivery models are also examined.

Policy Course

Social workers must be familiar with the major administrative, legislative and judicial policies that affect their work. They must also understand how to advocate for policy changes to improve social conditions and empower at-risk groups. Students gain this understanding by exploring the history, organization and philosophies of social policies and their effect on diverse populations. This course is generally taken towards the middle or end of a social work program.

Field Practice Instruction Course

In this course, students apply knowledge gained in the classroom to practical situations that model real-world problems. Students develop skills in oral and written communication, effective supervision and critical assessment. This course may include placement with a social work agency and an additional seminar. It is generally taken towards the end of a social work program.

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