Grades are recorded as follows:
|W (Withdrawal without prejudice)
|P/NP (Pass/No Pass)***
|AU (Audit—no credit)
|*Not used in social work
**for physical therapy courses only
***only for courses offered on a Pass/No Pass basis
|NOTE: Individual instructors may elect, at their discretion, not to use plus/minus grades.
Mission and Goals
As a social work program within a metropolitan university committed to civic engagement and community service, the mission of the MSW program is to prepare culturally competent clinical social workers who are dedicated to the attainment of the social and economic justice for the betterment of poor, vulnerable, and oppressed individuals, families, groups, and communities; demonstrate care and compassion for clients from diverse cultural, social, and economic backgrounds; hold an unwavering belief in client strengths, client empowerment, and the importance of the helping relationship; and use self-reflection and critical thinking in creating purposeful interventions informed by theory and evidence by:
- Creating a supportive and nurturing academic environment that integrates dynamic classroom instruction and scientific inquiry with real-world learning.
- Having a diverse faculty whose social work practice, research, and community service experiences inform their teaching and inspire our students.
- Having students and faculty engage in community-based research and community partnerships that strengthen disadvantaged individuals, families, organizations, and communities while contributing to the knowledge base of the profession.
The mission statement provides the direction for the MSW program’s explicit and implicit curricula. It sets the direction for preparing clinical social workers who are committed to the values of the profession, civic engagement, and community service; serving vulnerable clients from diverse backgrounds; and engaging in culturally competent clinical practice that emphasizes client strengths and the use of the helping relationship.
The MSW program goals are to:
- prepare clinical social workers who can effectively deliver culturally competent, evidence-based social work services to individuals, families, and groups from diverse client populations.
- create a nurturing and supportive learning environment that inspires students to be advocates for social change and a more just and equitable society.
- have faculty and students actively involved in community partnerships and civic engagement activities that promote the well-being of disadvantaged populations and communities.
- have faculty and students participate in the development and dissemination of knowledge for the profession.
Programs of Study
The MSW program has two admission options—regular admission and admission with advanced standing. Students accepted for regular admission in the on-campus MSW program complete 63 credits of graduate study in two years of full-time study or three years part-time. Students accepted for regular admission in the online MSW program complete 64 credits of graduate study in 10 semesters of part-time study. Students holding a BSW from an accredited program may be accepted for advanced standing and complete 39 credits of graduate study in three semesters of full-time study or five semesters part-time.
On the Chester Campus, regular admission students may begin the program in the fall semester or in the summer, and advanced standing students begin in the summer. In the online MSW program, students may begin the program in the spring, summer, or fall semester.
Chester Campus Classes—Most Chester campus graduate classes are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Some classes are offered on Tuesday evenings and as a variety of weekend formats. First-year students are in agency field placements on Monday and Tuesday. Second-year students are in agency field placements on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.
Online MSW Program—Widener’s online master of social work program is offered asynchronously. Students in the online MSW program take one 7-week course at a time, completing two courses per semester (fall, spring, and summer). Each semester is divided into two 7-week sessions (e.g., Fall 1 and Fall 2).. Visit http://https://socialworkonline.widener.edu/ for information.
Field Placement—All regular admission students complete four semesters of field practica. Field placement for on-campus MSW students is a corequesite and for identified practice courses (SW 505 , SW 630 , SW 630 , and SW 639 ). In the first year of field practice, students spend two 8-hour days each week (typically Monday and Tuesday) at their field site. In the second year, students spend three 8-hour days each week (typically Monday, Tuesday, and Friday) at their field site. Students may select the extended field option for second-year field instruction. This option allows students to do two instead of three days of field instruction. Field instruction, however, continues into the semester immediately following their second semester in the field to ensure they complete the required number of field hours. Parttime regular admission students begin the field practica in their second year.
Advanced standing students complete two semesters of field practice, spending three 8-hour days (typically Monday, Tuesday, and Friday) at their field site. Part-time advanced standing students begin field practica in their second year of the program. The extended field option is also available.
Work-site settings for completion of field practica are fully supported as long as the work-site field practicum meets the program’s field placement criteria.
MSW Field Education Information
The Widener Center for Social Work Education supports field learning through an integrated field model. The integrated model of the field program is designed to join students’ practice class learning with the field practicum experience, providing students the opportunity to merge acquired course knowledge with agency clients. For more information about field education, please refer to the respective MSW Student Policy Manual.
Admission to the MSW program at Widener University is granted on a selective basis. Applicants for admission must have:
- an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university (no credit is given for life experience).
- an undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants with GPAs below 3.0 may be admitted on a provisional basis. They must achieve a GPA of 3.0 or better in their first semester of course work (minimum of 6 credits) to continue in the program.
- undergraduate course work in the liberal arts covering the social, psychological, and biological determinants of human behavior and diverse cultures, social conditions, and social sciences is preferred.
- the personal qualities and values that are needed for agency-based social work practice with oppressed and disadvantaged populations. These include the ability to form professional helping relationships with clients from diverse backgrounds and value systems; the ability to respect human dignity and be nonjudgmental; concern over social justice and the empowering of oppressed individuals and groups; and a commitment to helping others
- demonstrated commitment to the field of social work through experience, volunteer or paid, or college level internships.
Advanced Standing Admission
A limited number of advanced standing students are admitted into the MSW program each year. In addition to the basic admission requirements, advanced standing applicants must have:
- a baccalaureate degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)–accredited social work program earned within six years from the date of matriculation.
- an overall GPA of 3.0 or better, and a GPA of 3.3 in the social work major. Applicants with GPAs below 3.0 may be admitted on a provisional basis. Students accepted provisionally must achieve a GPA of 3.0 or better in their first semester of course work (minimum of 6 credits) to continue in the program.
- a letter of recommendation from the BSW field instructor or field director.
All applicants to the MSW program must submit the following for review by the MSW Admissions Committee:
- completed online application form.
- official transcripts from all undergraduate institutions attended.
- a writing sample (4–6 pages, typed and double-spaced) describing motivation and capacity for graduate education in social work (see writing sample guidelines).
- two reference recommendations. If the letter is submitted with the reference form, letterhead is preferred. Applicants who are currently working, interning, or volunteering in a social work related capacity should have a field supervisor complete one of the references. Applicants for the advanced standing program should have their senior practicum field instructor complete one of the references.
Writing Sample Guidelines
The following writing sample guidelines are available on our admissions website:
This writing sample is a vital component of your application. It will be used to evaluate your writing skills as well as your ability to conceptualize and articulate your understanding of social work. This essay will provide the admissions committee with a clear picture of who you are, why you have chosen to enter the social work profession, and what motivates you to apply to Widener University’s graduate social work program. Please use the following outline to compose your essay (it should be the equivalent of 4–6 double-spaced pages):
- Personal Background—Describe significant life experiences that have led you to the development of your personality, your values, and your belief systems, and to your decision to pursue a career in social work.
- Career Objectives—Describe your career aspirations within the field of social work. Explain what you hope to do with your MSW degree, what area of social work you would like to pursue, and what populations you would like to work with through the social work profession.
- Personal Evaluation—Describe why you think you will make a good clinical social work student as well as an effective social worker. Discuss your readiness for rigorous graduate work, your ability to manage the heavy demands of graduate school with your other personal and professional responsibilities, your strengths and weaknesses, and why you think Widener’s graduate social work program is a good fit for you.
The MSW program seeks students who have the potential to master the curricular content and develop skills to function as effective clinical social workers. With these goals in mind, admission of new students to the MSW program is guided by the following criteria:
The MSW program seeks applicants who have the academic potential to successfully complete the degree requirements by demonstrating:
- the ability for analytical reasoning.
- the ability to communicate effectively.
- the ability to write clearly.
- the ability to apply theoretical concepts to individual problem-solving tasks.
- the motivation needed to complete a rigorous course of study.
The MSW program seeks applicants who have the personal characteristics required for effective clinical social work practice by demonstrating:
- the ability to form healthy relationships with others.
- emotional maturity and personal stability.
- the ability for self-evaluation and personal assessment.
- the capacity to work with diverse client populations.
The MSW program seeks applicants who have a commitment to the values of the social work profession by demonstrating:
- a strong commitment to social work profession values.
- an awareness of social problems and a concern for disadvantaged populations.
- a commitment to helping disadvantaged populations demonstrated by volunteer experiences or through social work employment.
International students should consult the International Student Services web page at www.widener.edu for international graduate student guidelines or contact the Office of Multicultural and International Student Services at Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA 19013; phone: 610-499-4499.
Students, at the time of application for admission, may request transfer of a maximum of 27 semester hours of graduate credit from master’s of social work programs accredited by CSWE. A maximum of 9 semester hours may be transferred for graduate courses completed in disciplines related to social work.
To be accepted for transfer credit: courses must be equivalent to the program’s required graduate social work courses and electives; must have been completed within six years from the date of matriculation; have been taken subsequent to completion of the undergraduate degree; and have a recorded grade of B or better. Academic credit for life experience and previous work experience is not given.
MSW course schedules are published for the fall, spring, and summer. These fully describe registration policies, course schedules, and tuition and fee obligations. In the on-campus MSW program, pre-registration takes place in March for the summer and fall semesters and in November for the spring semester. Online MSW students are automatically registered for courses each semester by Student Services.
Full-time students take at least 9 credit hours per semester, and part-time students must take at least 6 credit hours each semester. Students must follow the curriculum ladders for their program of study—that is, regular admission, full-time; regular admission, part-time, on-campus; regular admission, part-time, online; advanced standing admission, full-time; and advanced standing admission, part-time.
Students accepted for regular admission, including BSW graduates not accepted for advanced standing, may waive the foundation courses in policy, human behavior and the social environment, and research (social work practice and field are excluded) by passing a proficiency examination. Such waivers do not reduce the credit hour requirements for the degree but enable students to take additional elective courses. Requests for proficiency examinations are made through the MSW program director. There is a fee of $200 to take a proficiency examination.
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits social work education programs at both the baccalaureate and master’s levels. The baccalaureate program and the MSW program at Widener are fully accredited by the CSWE.
For information about advising, please see the respective MSW Student Policy Manual.
MSW Student Organization
The MSW Student Organization (MSWSO) was created by the students and faculty of the Center for Social Work Education in 1991 to assist students in their academic, professional, and social life and to provide students with a formal mechanism to channel information back and forth between students and the program. All matriculated MSW students are members of the organization. The center supports this organization through provision of an annual budget. The MSW program director is also designated as the MSWSO advisor and serves as liaison between the administration, faculty, and the MSWSO.
A board of student representatives governs the organization. They meet frequently to work on various projects, as well as with the membership of the organization, from whom they receive guidance and suggestions. This group appoints members to act as liaisons to standing committees for the Center of Social Work Education as designated by the bylaws of the center.
Since its creation, the MSW Student Organization has initiated a wide range of student-organized activities, including brown bag luncheons with the faculty; after work socials; licensure workshops; a buddy system for new students; a student directory; student/faculty holiday parties; professional development speakers and field visits; a career development day; and several fundraising activities for regional charities. The MSW Student Organization also participates in planning and conducting the new student orientation.
Widener Student Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers.
The National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) was formed in May 1968 in San Francisco, California. It was created by a coalition of African American social work groups and practitioners, united to combat individual and institutional racism in the American social welfare system. The NABSW Student Chapter of the Center for Social Work Education was chartered in March 1998 with the help of the Philadelphia Chapter Alliance of Black Social workers and 17 graduate and undergraduate students. The organization follows the by-laws and dues structure of the national office in Washington, D.C., and provides students a supportive environment, an opportunity for service, as well as professional and cultural development.
The organization meets monthly and is assisted by a faculty advisor who serves as a resource. In addition to a variety of community service activities, at the end of each academic year, the organization sponsors a “Rites of Passage” ceremony honoring students of African descent who have successfully completed the BSW and MSW programs. This event is widely attended by students, faculty, family members, and alumni. In addition to the annual Rites of Passage event, NABSW usually sends two to four members to the national NABSW conference.
Student Association for Services to Older Adults (SASOA)
This organization was created to unify students who have an interest in gerontology and to provide a forum for empowering students to understand aging, catalyze instructional and organizational change within the Center for Social Work Education and the larger university, and develop networks with their classmates, alumni, and associated professionals in the field of aging. Meetings are held monthly to bi-weekly, introducing various topics relating to aging that are of interest to the students, including sex and seniors, long-term care, the Eden Alternative, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, community resources for services to the aging, and many more. Students view informative films, participate in discussion panels and focus groups, and share their field experiences with each other. This association attracts many students not previously interested in the field of gerontology by dispelling myths about social work with the elderly and creating a desire for more knowledge in the field. Students are given the opportunity to engage with professionals in the field of aging, discussing everything from policy issues to possible employment opportunities.
Phi Alpha Honor Society
The purpose of Phi Alpha Honor Society is to foster a closer bond among students of social work and promote humanitarian goals and ideals. Phi Alpha espouses high standards of education for social workers and invites those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work to be members. Widener’s Nu Alpha Chapter of Phi Alpha is open to BSW and MSW students. Phi Alpha sponsors a number of service projects each year.
The mission of Adelante is to promote the academic, professional, and social interests of Latina/o students from all Widener University graduate programs. Adelante began in September 2011 and is open to all graduate students, many of whom are MSW students. Adelante provides a platform for graduate students to share relevant issues in their academic discipline, as well as to encourage, support, and inspire personal and professional success. The MSW program supports the organization by providing a faculty advisor and co-sponsoring events.
LGBT Grad Style
Another new student organization that began during the fall 2011 semester is LGBT Grad Style. Its mission is to provide support and education on LGBT issues around campus and in the community. It is open to all graduate students, many of whom are social work students. The MSW program supports the organization by co-sponsoring and marketing events and assigning a graduate assistant liaison. The organization collaborates with local LGBT clubs in the surrounding communities and sponsors events on campus to support LGBT students and community members.
Requirements for Graduation
To be eligible for the master of social work degree, on-campus students must have fulfilled within a four-year period and online students must have fulfilled within a five-year period, from the date of initial registration, the course requirements as prescribed by the curriculum. Regular admission, on-campus students must have a minimum of 64 credit hours; regular admission, online students must have a minimum of 64 credit hours; and advanced standing admission students must have a minimum of 41 credit hours. All students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 for all classroom courses and a P (Pass) for all field practice. Students may not graduate with more than one “C” on their transcript or with a “C” in any core course. Students who have taken leaves of absence that extend their completion of the program past the year requirement will be required to take courses on the current curriculum ladder in order to graduate. Please note that a waiver of any requirement for the degree must be approved in writing by the associate dean of the Center for Social Work Education.
During their time in the social work program, students will create an e-portoflio to highlight their course and field work. E-portfolios are an innovative way to organize students’ academic work and experiences, create a dynamic resume, and prepare for a career in social work. Each student will prepare and manage their own e-portfolio with the support of social work administration. The e-portfolio will be closely linked to the CSWE competencies and practice behaviors. Students will choose and upload artifacts from their field and coursework that best exemplify their ability to meet the competencies and engage in practice behaviors. In addition, students will complete a reflection on each uploaded artifact that ties the artifact to specific practice behaviors. Upon graduating from the MSW Program, students will be able to take with them a dynamic resource for sharing their achievements, skills, and identities with potential employers, professional organizations, doctoral programs, social work networking communities, etc.
Each student will be required to attend two experiential events sponsored by the Center for Social Work Education. Evidence of attendance including a written summary of the event must be uploaded to the e-portfolio prior to graduation. Please see the respective student policy manual for more information.
Probation and Dismissal
Academic Probation and Dismissal—Please refer to the section on Academic Probation and Dismissal in the respective SW Student Policy Manual for detailed policies and procedures.
Field Education Probation and Dismissal—Please refer to the section on MSW Field Instruction in the respective MSW Student Policy Manual for detailed policies and procedures regarding field instruction probation and termination policies.
Dismissal for Non-Academic Reasons—Please refer to the section on Dismissal for Non-Academic Reasons in the respective MSW Student Policy Manual for detailed policies and procedures
Program Status Review—Please refer to the section on Program Status Review in the respective MSW Student Policy Manual for detailed policies and procedures.
Program Reinstatement—A student dismissed from the program for any reason may reapply for admission after one year by completing a new admissions application. However, readmission is not guaranteed. In addition to the other admission requirements, students applying for readmission must present a two- to three-page statement that presents evidence that they have resolved whatever challenges that resulted in dismissal from the program. Readmitted students must adhere to the curriculum requirements in effect at the time of their readmission. Students may be required to retake courses completed prior to dismissal. An evaluation of course credit will be completed as part of the readmission process. A personal interview will be required.
Right to Appeal—Please refer to the section on MSW Student Grievance Procedures in the respective MSW Student Policy for detailed policies and procedures.
The MSW program currently offers three certificate programs that can be completed concurrently with the MSW degree. Upon acceptance into the specific certificate program, students take two electives relating to the certificate, focus their clinical internship on the population relevant to the certificate, and take a two-semester seminar concurrent with the field placement.
Students in good academic standing with a B+ average or better may complete an additional application process in their final year that involves an orientation session, an application with an essay, a current résumé, recommendation from a faculty member, and an interview. The fee for the certificate program is $500 for the year. Interested students should contact the Center for Social Work for more information.
Center for Social Work Education Advisory Board
Catholic Social Services
Harriet Burton-Wilson, Vice Chair
Department of Human Services
Chester Education Foundation
MSW Student Representative-Widener University
Brenda Dawson-Chairperson of the Board
Pathways, PA, Inc.
Delaware County Children and Youth Services
Deerfield Data Management, LLC
BSW Student Representative-Widener University
Upper Darby School District
Janet Riley Ford
Chester Youth Collaborative
Stukes Counseling & Therapeutic Solutions, LLC
BSW Student Representative- Widener University
ProgramsMaster of Social Work (Online)Master of Social Work (On Campus)Master of Social Work/Doctor of PhilosophyMaster of Social Work/Master of EducationDoctor of Philosophy