Why integrated practice?
Within Montana and nationally social workers seldom have the resources they need to address the wide range of concerns they frequently encounter. Rural contexts of practice pose unique challenges in terms of geographic distance, isolation, and lack of access to resources and services. Consequently, social workers are often involved in the creation and delivery of innovative programs and services and are required to possess a versatile set of skills, an astute grasp of the social context in which they are delivered, and an ability to relate to audiences whose concerns and priorities reflect their cultural, political, and geographic diversity. The UM MSW program prepares practitioners for these challenges.
Who are becoming integrated social workers?
The MSW program draws students from diverse professional and academic backgrounds, ranging from nursing, education, and creative writing to history, sociology, and political science, as well as social work. This diversity of educational experience in the arts and sciences adds to the richness of the learning environment and to the preparation of integrated social work practitioners. Students and faculty bring their diverse practice experiences to bear in the classroom for hands-on integration of theory and practice. Integrated practice comes to life in the work of our students and alumni.
The University of Montana offers a 60-credit program of graduate study leading to a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and admits approximately 25 MSW students annually. We offer a two-year full-time and three-year part-time program; planning guides are available here. Core MSW courses are scheduled on Thursdays and Fridays in order to limit the time that students need to be on campus. The intensive two-day course schedule is designed to promote an integrative learning experience, accommodate students who are commuting from other parts of the state, and facilitate the arrangement of the practicum experience (supervised professional field education that is completed concurrently with coursework). Students complete 900 hours of practicum over the course of the foundation and concentration years. The Practicum Coordinator assists students who are commuting in development of a practicum experience in their home community.
The foundation year provides content and learning experiences related to social work values and ethics, diversity, populations-at-risk, social and economic justice, individual, family, and group counseling, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, generalist social work practice, research, and field education.
The concentration year emphasizes the application of advanced integrated practice and deepens students’ knowledge and skills in the areas of direct practice, social policy analysis, program evaluation, and organizational leadership. The concentration year is structured to respond to the individual professional goals of adult learners. Students work in partnership with a faculty advisor to develop a graduation strategy which addresses student plans for professional portfolio, practicum learning experiences, and elective courses. Students assume responsibility as teachers and peer consultants as well as learners in preparation for leadership roles.