The graduate professional program in the School of Social Work at Western Michigan University prepares students for direct-service and leadership positions in the field of social welfare. It begins with a nine-hour foundation curriculum, built on a liberal arts base that has two goals:
- To provide students with the knowledge, values and skills leading to an informed perspective on the broad profession.
- To prepare students for entry into the concentrations, which are interpersonal practice or policy, planning and administration.
Coursework in human behavior, social policy, research and social work practice makes up the foundation and introduces differential approaches to problem solving. In a field practicum, the student engages in carefully supervised social work practice in a human service setting.
Students build upon the foundation by choosing one of two concentrations:
- Interpersonal practice
- Policy, planning and administration
Interpersonal Practice focuses on direct practice with individuals, groups and families. Policy, planning and administration focuses on macro-level issues of social work practice. Within either concentration students can elect to emphasize community practice. The second field practicum supports the advanced study of the concentration.
The 60-hour full-time and extended-study graduate curriculum is highly structured and sequential. In the 39-hour advanced-standing program, students attend two classes before commencing the in concentration courses and field education in the fall and spring semesters.
Field education is considered the pedagogical experience in social work education. Full-time and extended-study students have two field placements and advanced-standing students have one field placement in the area of concentration.