MSW Program Overview

Students Studying at Fogler Library
Students Studying at Fogler Library

The University of Maine School of Social Work educates social workers from a generalist perspective of social work practice. Our MSW curriculum has been developed to both reflect and promote the advances in contemporary advanced social work practice. Our curriculum is designed to enable our graduates to undertake diverse and complex social problems and apply multi-level assessment, intervention, and evaluation strategies to the problems of persons in their environment. For example, students who work with older adults should be able to assess the differential psychosocial needs of physically healthy and frail elders, utilize diverse strategies to engage and support family caregivers, and communicate and advocate effectively with legislators, other healthcare practitioners, and community agencies for improved services for elders. In another example, graduates employed in community mental health agencies as clinical social workers need to have advanced skills in evidence-based mental health practice models and approaches for effective work with individuals, families, and small groups as well as understand how changes in healthcare policy impact clients’ access to mental health services, and be able to advocate for repeal of regressive policies with legislators and other key stakeholders. Our advanced generalist curriculum is designed to prepare University of Maine MSW students to meet the complex needs of our rural state with the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to address interdependent “personal troubles and public issues” concurrently. The curriculum consists of foundation and specialized year courses, field practicum, and electives.

Additional Program Information can be found in the links below:


 MSW Program Guide,

NASW Code of Ethics


Generalist Year Curriculum

The Generalist Year courses present an orientation to social work practice and provides the necessary base upon which to build the more advanced body of knowledge, practice and skills offered in the Specialized Year field of practice. There is emphasis on social work as a diversified profession with many functions and a variety of approaches. The Generalist Year courses present content in human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policies and services, research, social work practice, and field practicum. The student thus completes the Generalist Year prepared to intervene at the individual, family, group, organization, and community levels.

Specialized Curriculum

The Specialized curriculum prepares graduates for specialized practice in one concentration area: advanced generalist social work practice. The Specialized curriculum includes advanced generalist social work practice courses, research and policy courses, specialized electives and one year of a specialized field practicum

Field Practicum

The field practicum is an integral part of the school’s total education program and provides each student with the opportunity to apply concepts, principles and theories learned in the classroom to practice. The major focus in the field practicum is on the student’s acquisition of practice knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes in working within a service setting. Students in the full program engage in two field practica: the Generalist year internship is 400 clock hours (approximately 16 hours per week) over the course of the academic year, plus a two hour weekly seminar. The Specialized year internship is 500 clock hours (approximately 20 hours per week) over the course of the academic year, plus a bi-weekly seminar. Summer block field placement is an alternative for selected specialized year students. Advanced standing students complete only the specialized year field practicum.

Electives

In addition to the required courses in the Generalist and Specialized year curriculum, the school has developed a number of elective courses to provide knowledge in a range of areas relevant to social work practice. Electives have included courses such as Adult and Child Psychopathology, Family Treatment in Social Work Practice, Social Work Practice with Groups; Social Work Practice with Children and Adolescents, Expressive Therapies in Social Work Practice, Grant Writing, Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Group Work in Health and Mental Health Settings, and Gerontological Practice in Rural Communities. Electives are also available in other University departments.

Social Work Licensing

The University of Maine MSW Program prepares students to qualify for the State of Maine Board of Social Work Licensure LMSW level (Licensed Master Social Worker) upon graduation.  MSW students who complete specific clinical social work courses are eligible to apply for the LMSW-CC (Licensed Master Social Work – Conditional Clinical) upon graduation.  University of Maine MSW graduates who complete specific clinical social work courses and appropriate supervised work experience in a clinical setting for at least two years following graduation are eligible to apply for licensure at the LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) level.  A copy of the State of Maine licensing legislation and the regulations may be obtained from the Maine Board of Social Work Licensure.


Frequently Asked Questions about the MSW Program

What do social workers do?

Social workers are employed in a variety of settings.  They work with many different populations at various levels of intervention.  You can learn more about the profession here.

Do graduates from the program find jobs?

Our graduates typically find work very soon after graduation.  There is a high demand for social workers in Maine and across the country.  You can read more about employment trends for social workers here.

How long does it take to complete the MSW program?

We have a regular MSW program for applicants with undergraduate degrees in fields other than social work that is 63 credits.  That program can be completed in 2 years, 3 years, or 4 years.  The 2-year and 4-year options are on campus in Orono, Maine and are described here.  The 3-year option is an online-blended program and is described here.

Applicants who have completed a BSW at an accredited institution within the last 7 years are eligible for advanced standing status and can complete the program with 46 credits.  The advanced standing program can be completed in either one or two years, either on campus or in the online-blended program.  These three options are described here.

How much does it cost to complete an MSW at the University of Maine?

The bursar’s office provides up to date information on tuition and fees and can be found here.

The regular program is 63 credits and the advanced standing program is 46.

Is there any financial support available?

Most students apply for student loans to help finance their education.  You can find information at the Office of Financial Aid about applying for loans.

The Graduate School keeps a list of possible Graduate Assistantships (Gas) on their website.  The School of Social Work has two Graduate Assistantships, but most students find these GA opportunities elsewhere on campus.

Occasionally the School has small scholarships for which students can apply.

Can I continue to work while pursuing an MSW?

Many of our students do remain employed while completing their MSWs.  The online-blended program is particularly suited to employed students, with the in-person classes falling on Saturdays and synchronous online classes taking place after 5:00 pm.  Students in the 4-year campus program and 2-year advanced standing program often maintain employment as well.  The 2-year regular MSW program (63 credits) is quite intense, with two days of classes and at least two days in field placement each week, leaving little time for employment, when time for homework is factored in. In all the programs, time to complete field placement hours must be accommodated during the semesters that students are in their practicum sites. Students need to have availability to complete placement hours during the work week (Monday through Friday) during business hours.  [This is discussed further in the section on field practicums.]

How does the online-blended MSW program work?

The 3-year online-blended program is taught primarily online with asynchronous courses.  Each course has two required, in-person meetings on Saturday at the University of Maine Orono campus.  The seminars that students take while in their field placements are taught synchronously on Monday evenings (5:30 to 7:30).  There are required courses in the fall, spring and summer semesters.

Does the MSW prepare me for clinical licensing?

The Advanced Generalist Program at the University of Maine School of Social Work does prepare students for clinical licensing.  In Maine there are three levels of social work licensure: the LSW, for people with BSWs; the LMSW or LMSW-cc (clinical conditional), for those who have completed an MSW; and the LCSW, for individuals with an MSW and two years of clinical practice experience post-graduation under the supervision of an LCSW.  The MSW program’s required courses and the elective, SWK 580, Adult and Child Psychopathology (that nearly all students take), provide the course background needed for clinical licensure.  For more information, we suggest you visit the website of the State Board of Social Work Licensure.

Does the MSW program prepare me for licensing in other states?

State licensing is not necessarily reciprocal across states, though MSW programs are quite similar due to the accreditation standards all much follow.  If you think you will want to practice in another state after graduation, we advise contacting that state’s licensing board to learn its specific requirements.  Also we suggest saving your syllabi from all your classes, as they may be necessary in other states to prove the content you have mastered.

Does the MSW program have any specializations?

The MSW program at the University of Maine is an Advanced Generalist Program that does not have individual specializations.  Students within the program are able to focus on areas of interest though the research they do for their course assignments and through their field placements.  Through our close affiliation with the UMaine Center on Aging (the Director and Associate Director are on the Social Work faculty), we have a certificate program in Leadership in Rural Gerontological Practice. Students might also choose to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Disabilities Studies in conjunction with the MSW; two faculty on the Social Work faculty teach in the Disabilities Studies program.  You can learn more about these certificates here.  Through time-limited funding opportunities we sometimes can provide stipends for students interested in particular practice fields.  For example, in 2019, funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration has provided stipends to students focusing on substance use disorder (POWR program) and aging (GWEP program).  You can see more about these programs here.

Do you provide information sessions for applicants?

Each fall we hold two information sessions via Zoom.  A recording of our last information session can be found here.

When are applications due?

Applications are due on January 1 of the year for which you are applying.  We will continue to review applications that come in after the deadline until our programs are full. Applicants for the regular (63 credits) programs are only admitted in the fall semester.  Advanced standing students are only admitted in the summer, in mid-May.

When will I hear whether I’ve been selected for admission?

Selection decisions are made during a series of MSW Admission Committee meetings running throughout February. Individual meetings focus on particular programs.  Advanced standing students are selected first, followed by the online-blended program students, and the on-campus students.  We will hold an additional meeting in March to review applications that did not meet the January 1 deadline.  The MSW Coordinator will contact applicants by email soon after the selection decisions have been made.


FIELD Frequently Asked Questions

What is a field education? Why is field education so important in social work? 

Field Education is considered the signature pedagogy of social work. The Council on Social Work Education says, “Signature pedagogies are elements of instruction and of socialization that teach future practitioners the fundamental dimensions of professional work in the discipline – to think, to perform, and to act ethically and with integrity (2015).” Field education at the University of Maine School of Social Work provides students with an opportunity to assimilate, integrate, apply, and connect conceptual knowledge, theories and constructs that they have learned in the classroom to generalist and advanced generalist social work practice in the field. The goal of field education is to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the Core Competencies and behaviors in a social work agency under the supervision of an experienced social worker.

What can I expect during a field practicum?

Field practicum experiences vary widely as there are many different types of social work and social work agencies. All field practicum are arranged in agencies that support the values and mission of social work practice and meet accepted practice standards for the type of setting. Each field placement provides students a range of activities appropriate to the student’s level of social work practice. Students are assigned a Field Instructor by the agency. A Field Instructor is a professional social worker who meets the criteria outlined by the School of Social Work, and provides the student direct instruction, social work supervision, and evaluation and feedback on the student’s progress. Students also attend a required field seminar class concurrently during their field practicum. A Field Seminar is an academic, credit bearing class and included in the student’s plan of study.

How many field practicum do I complete? How many hours are required? 

All 2-Year Campus, 4-year Campus, and 3-Year Online-Blended MSW students complete two field practicia, for a total minimum of 900 hours.  The Generalist Field Practicum is a minimum of 400 hours completed over two semesters (approximately 14-16 hours per week). The Specialization Field Practicum is a minimum of 500 hours, completed over two semesters (approximately 18-20 hours per week ) or as intensive, full-time experience in one additional summer semester at the end of their program of study (approximately 38-40 hours per week).

Students with a BSW degree matriculated as Advanced Standing Students to any MSW program must demonstrate the successful completion of a minimum of 400 hours of field education in their BSW program. Advanced standing students then complete the Specialization Field Practicum for a minimum of 500 hours over two semesters (approximately 18-20 hours per week ) or as intensive, full-time experience in one additional summer semester at the end of their program of study (approximately 38-40 hours per week).

BSW students complete the BSW Generalist Field Practicum in their senior year. The BSW Generalist Field practicum is a minimum of 400 hours over two semesters (approximately 14-16 hours per week).

How do I obtain a field practicum? What choices do I have? 

All students must complete an application to enter the field practicum sequence. Next, students meet individually with a Field Coordinator from the School of Social Work field team to assess their readiness to enter a field practicum and to determine their individual learning needs.  A field agency will be identified and determined by the Field Coordinator in collaboration with the student. The Field Coordinator reaches out to the agency.  Students should plan to complete a successful interview with an agency and any screening process required by the agency before the practicum is confirmed.  Every effort is made to place students in agencies convenient to their home communities, although this is not always possible. The Field Team makes all final placement decisions and assignments.

If I work full time, am I able to complete a field practicum during the evening or on the weekend? 

Most field practicum are available during traditional Monday – Friday business hours. While there may be some opportunities to complete work during the evenings or on the weekends during the field practicum, the School of Social Work is not able to guarantee that a practicum can be secured during non-business hours.

What about COVID -19? Are there fully remote field practicums available? 

In-person field practicum experiences are the standard in social work education. The School of of Social Work has worked with all agencies and students to ensure any in-person field experience follows all University of Maine, State of Maine CDC and Agency Guidance to maximize safety. During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been some opportunities to complete field practicum entirely remotely or through use of technology to accommodate the health and safety needs of the students, clients, and agency staff. It is not expected that this will continue to be the practice post COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact the field department for the most current COVID-19 information.

May I waive a practicum or receive credit for my work or life experience? 

The Council on Social Work Education does not allow schools of social work to waive a field practicum or give credit for current or previous employment or life experiences.

Am I able to complete my practicum at an agency where I work? 

Under special circumstances, a student may engage in a field practicum at the same agency as the work site, providing that the field instructor is different from the work supervisor and that the field placement activities are distinct from tasks performed as a part of the student’s employment. Furthermore, students must demonstrate the employment-based setting provides opportunities for the student to engage as a learner and fulfill field education requirements.

May I complete my field practicum early by working more hours or take my field practicum at different times then listed in the program of study for my program?

Students may always complete more hours than the minimum required, however they must be in the field practicum during the entirety of the academic semester or semesters. Field practicum are not able to be taken out of sequence of the student’s program of study.

Will I be paid for my field practicum? 

In recognition of the financial difficulties that students may encounter, the School of Social Work will consider stipend placements when possible and available. Stipend field practicum are funded by agencies or specific grant opportunities and can vary widely from year to year. Field Practicum must be structured so that the student is receiving a stipend, but is not being paid for service delivery.  The payment of a stipend must in no way place employment expectations or requirements that result from the remuneration on the student.

Who should I contact if I have more questions? 

Please contact the University of Maine Field Director, Leah Maxwell, at 207-581-2389 or leah.maxwell@maine.edu. You may also visit our field website at https://umaine.edu/socialwork/field/