MSW Specializations & Concentrations
MSW students at Baylor can choose to specialize in clinical practice or community practice. Social work specializations allow students to take classes and participate in experiences geared toward their desired career path. The MSW concentration allows students to develop a more in-depth knowledge and skillset in one area of social work practice.
Clinical Practice Specialization-Micro/Mezzo Social Work
Clinical practice is a social work specialization area that focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness and emotional and behavioral disturbances in individuals, families and groups.
What is clinical social work?
The clinical practice specialization prepares MSW students for advanced, direct practice with individuals, families, and groups in a variety of clinical settings. Students learn to apply evidence-based practice theories and methods of intervention that reflect a person-environment orientation and a strengths perspective. Specific philosophical frameworks include humanism, positivism, and evidence-based methods.
The program is based on developing an eclectic method that offers the opportunity to investigate more specific practice models. Some examples include cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, narrative approaches, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), structural family therapy, therapeutic use of play, and dialectical behavior therapy. Assessment tools and techniques, especially focusing on DSM-5, are critical to the program.
What do clinical social workers do?
Common professional opportunities for social workers in clinical practice include practice in health settings and practice with children and families.
Students in the clinical practice specialization will take a practice course focused on health settings (SWO 5376 Advanced Clinical Practice: Health Settings) and/or children and families (SWO 5377 Advanced Clinical Practice: Children and Families). Students must take one of these options but may also take the other as an elective if they wish to do so and enrollment allows.
Interested in the clinical practice MSW specialization at Baylor? Learn more from Associate Professor Dr. Helen Harris.
Community Practice - Macro Social Work
Community practice focuses on larger social systems and social change, social justice, and the dignity of all people.
What is macro social work or community practice in social work?
The community practice specialization prepares students for advanced practice with public and/or nonprofit organizations, neighborhoods, communities, congregations, and religiously affiliated agencies.
Students learn a variety of professional community practice models that serve to strengthen and enrich communities in local and global settings. Communities can be defined as both geographic (e.g., neighborhoods) and relational (e.g., ethnic communities). The central models are rooted in professional literature and research, and they include advanced skills in community development, community organizing, and community planning.
The advanced model of development is asset-based community development, which recognizes community struggles but responds most centrally to community assets. Asset mapping is a key skill learned when studying this model.
The advanced model of organizing is consensus-based. Consensual organizing is rooted in consensus-building rather than building on the potential conflict. Negotiation and facilitation are key skills learned with regard to this model.
The advanced model of planning is emergent-based. While most planning requires a rational approach to planning (e.g. the logic model), the emergent model allows for greater flexibility and adaptability when working in diverse contexts. The engagement of stakeholders is a key skill here.
What do community or macro social workers do?
The community practice specialization includes community organizing, community building, social planning, human service management, policy analysis and other more extensive systems interventions.
Interested in the community practice MSW specialization at Baylor? Learn more from Professor & Director of the Center for Church and Community Impact, Dr. Gaynor Yancey.
The MSW Concentration is an option designed to develop a student’s knowledge base more comprehensively in one area of social work practice. Concentration options are connected with initiatives and students may chose:
- Congregational Social Work,
- International Social Work (Community specialization only),
- or Integrated Behavioral Health (Clinical Specialization only).
The concentration will go more in depth into one of the areas of practice listed above, but it does not replace the specialization (clinical or community). Students completing requirements of the concentration receive documentation of completion on the graduate’s transcript at the time of the awarding of the MSW degree.
Learn more about social work specializations and careers: explore our resource library.