Social Work (SW)

Degrees Offered: M.S.W., M.S.W./M.S., M.S.W./J.D., Graduate Certificate

This program is offered in Durham, Online, and in Manchester.

The Department of Social Work offers a master of social work (M.S.W.) degree. The M.S.W. program develops advanced professional knowledge and skills for persons interested in pursuing careers in the field of social work. 

The M.S.W. program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It requires two years of full-time study or three-to-four years of extended-time study.  All programs require classroom work and two year­ long field internships.

Program Options

The Durham Campus Program is our traditional model with classes held on campus.  It takes two years to complete the full time program, with part time course of study of three and four years.  Required first year courses are scheduled Monday-Wednesday leaving Thursdays and Fridays open for first year field internships.  Second year courses are scheduled Wednesdays and Thursdays leaving Monday, Tuesday, and Friday for internships.  The Durham program admits once a year in the fall.

The UNH Manchester Program has academic classes delivered in a hybrid model.  Academic classes are primarily held in-person on Saturdays on the Manchester campus; in addition, students engage in an online class equivalent activity during the week.  Admission to this program is every other year (fall only).  Students complete the Manchester program in three years.  Field internships occur in the second and third year of the program.

The M.S.W Online Program allows students to earn their Master of Social Work degree online in 28 months.  M.S.W online students are required to complete two field internships at a program or agency in their local community and work with Social Work Department field office to identify acceptable field sites. Field and Practice classes will have weekly synchronous online classes held on Monday or Wednesday evenings.  The online program admits three times a year (fall, spring, summer).  No campus visits are required at any time.

Advanced Standing is an option for eligible students who have graduated from an accredited B.S.W. program within five years.  This option is available in Durham or online.  Admission to this program is every summer for Durham and every fall for online.

Dual Degree Programs

The Social Work and Kinesiology Dual Degree consists of a master in Social Work (M.S.W.), as well as a master of science (M.S.) in Kinesiology with a concentration in Outdoor Education.  In two and a half years students will be able to complete these two graduate degrees with a concentration in Outdoor Education to prepare them for a career in adventure therapy.

The Social Work and Law Dual Degree consists of a master in social work (M.S.W.) as well as JD law degree from the School of Law at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) (JD/M.S.W.).  In four years, students will be able to complete two graduate degrees, a master in social work (M.S.W.) and a Juris Doctor to prepare them for a career in law and social work.

Admission Requirements

The department encourages applications from those who hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university; have attained an overall grade-point average of "B" or better in undergraduate coursework; and have completed courses in a broad range of liberal arts and science disciplines. 

  • Applicants should include a resume of two pages or less, which lists educational, work, and volunteer experiences, as well as any special skills or attributes.
  • Applicants must submit professional recommendations from three individuals, one of whom could be a member of an academic faculty.  Professional letters of reference should describe the applicant’s volunteer or work duties, skills and values relevant to social work practice with diverse populations, ability to collaborate with others, and overall strengths and challenges relevant to graduate study.  The department does not accept personal references. 
  • Applicants should complete a personal statement of interest in pursuing graduate education in the field. Significant volunteer and/or work experience in the field is strongly recommended. 
  • Application expectations include graduation from an accredited undergraduate institution with a broad liberal arts background.  Applicants who do not meet these requirements may fulfill them after admissions but before their second year of study.  All applicants are encouraged to contact departments directly to discuss program specific application questions.  Standardized graduate examinations are not required, but results of such tests may be submitted to supplement other admission materials.  To apply to all programs, go to

Students applying to the online M.S.W. program must meet the application requirements shown above.  The Online M.S.W. Program provides the same quality education that the campus-based programs offer. The Online program admits students every fall, spring, and summer. Students can complete their coursework and field practicum work at home and in their own community. No campus visits are required at any time.

Students applying for advanced standing must hold a B.A. from an accredited S.W./B.S.W. program with a minimum overall grade­ point average of 3.2 (4.0 point scale). This coursework must have been completed within five years of the date of M.S.W. matriculation. Advanced-standing applicants must also submit a reference from a B.S.W. faculty member and the undergraduate field supervisor or field coordinator. Students applying to the extended-time program at UNH Manchester are advised that the Manchester program admits students every other year and that Advanced Standing options are only available in unique circumstances.

Students applying to the dual-degree programs must meet the application requirements for both the Departments of Social Work and Kinesiology or the UNH School of Law. See Kinesiology and the UNH School of Law for their admission requirements.

Graduate Certificates

The department offers graduate certificates in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), Child Welfare and Substance Use Disorders.

The IDD certificate emphasizes an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to providing holistic, family-centered services to children and families. 

The Child Welfare certificate is designed to educate individuals interested in improving the quality of life for children and families vulnerable to abuse and neglect.  For training programs, the Title IV­E Child Welfare Program is available for eligible M.S.W. students interested in a career in child protective services.  Program information and application materials can be found at

The Substance Use Disorder certificate provides students with general and specific knowledge as well as skill building towards the development of this important practice specialty. Areas of study include: intake, assessment, treatment planning, case management, referral, crisis intervention, and the counseling of individuals, groups and families.

Social Work (SW)

SW 802 - Aging and Society

Credits: 3

This course is designed to formalize students with biological, psychological, and sociological perspectives of aging and social services and policies for older people. This course covers a broad range of theories and contemporary issues in the field of aging. It also focuses on the strengths and limitations of existing programs and policies such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and other community services. Comparisons to developments in other countries will be made throughout the course to provide a broader context for understanding aging and programs/policies in the U.S.

SW 803 - Social Work and Spirituality

Credits: 3

Spirituality has recently begun to emerge as a critical anchor of a holistic approach to social work which views individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities in a bio-psycho- social-spiritual context. This course provides a framework of knowledge, values, skills and experiences for spirituality sensitive social work. Students will develop skills and insight in responding competently and ethically to diverse spiritual and religious perspectives in social work settings. Utilizing psychodynamic and narrative frameworks, this course will address ways of assessing and working with an individual's spiritual belief systems and attending to the ways in which spiritual beliefs and practices provide a window into a client's inner world. Consideration regarding the impact of spiritual and religious systems in relation to diversity (e.g. by gender, social class, ethnicity and culture, and sexual orientation) will be included.

SW 804 - Adolescents with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges

Credits: 3

This course focuses on the characteristics and needs of youth with emotional and behavioral challenges based upon socio-cultural and ecological theories, and provides exposure to family- and youth-driven practices and approaches that represent System of Care values and principles.

SW 805 - Child and Adolescent Risks and Resiliency: Program, Policy and Practice

Credits: 3

Major social work policy and program questions in the field of child welfare introduced. The relationship between child welfare and the rest of the social work profession analyzed. Various types of child welfare services, some aspects of social and child welfare policy studied, as well as current research and practice issues in child welfare services.

SW 806 - Social Action in the Dominican Republic

Credits: 3

This course examines issues of culture, poverty, social development and social justice in the Dominican Republic through both service learning work and through preparatory and reflective class sessions and discussions. Students will examine social and economic development issues within a global framework and will explore efforts to improve conditions on this island nation. The service learning component includes working on a designated construction project and volunteering in a local elementary school. Students will also collaborate with community leaders to learn more about social, cultural and historical issues and will engage in a variety of cross-cultural activities. Students will engage with the local Haitian immigrant community, tour local schools and orphanages, and visit historical areas including the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo. The primary part of the class with take place during March spring break. Special fee.

Co-requisite: INCO 589

SW 807 - Child Maltreatment

Credits: 3

This course introduces students to advanced concepts in child welfare with an emphasis on child maltreatment assessment and child protective services. The course addresses emerging assessment practices, data informed child protective service provision, the role of technology in child welfare practice, and workforce development.

SW 808 - Mental Health Aspects of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

Credits: 3

Students will 1) develop an understanding of the mental health aspects of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (IDD), 2) understand the challenges in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions in people with IDD, 3) understand specific clinical presentations as well as treatment and support adaptations for mental health problems in individuals with IDD, 4) gain insight into the application and adaptation of evidence based and evidence informed practices when working with individuals with IDD and co-occuring mental health conditions and their systems of support and 5) understand the role of social work in supporting individuals with IDD and mental health conditions in various practice contexts.

SW 809 - First Responders

Credits: 3

First responders hold a special status in our society. Society looks to first responders to protect our lives, provide for our safety and medical assistance. First responders are not always seen, but we expect them to be there to resolve any crisis. But what impact does this have on the mental health of first responders? This course will look at the role of first responders and the potential mental health impacts of this job. How do first responders navigate these issues and what can we do to help?.

SW 810 - SW and the Digital Age

Credits: 3

This course focuses on the ever-changing landscape of technology as it relates to the Social Work field. Students will explore topics such as telehealth, online communities, assistive technology as well as digital advocacy. Ethical implications of the integration of technology into Social Work will be explored throughout the course. Students will work independently or collaboratively at a distance to create a multi-media project focused on a topic of interest within Digital Social Work.

SW 812 - Understanding Developmental Disabilities

Credits: 3

Analysis of the complex social contexts of people with developmental disabilities. Explores and questions traditional approaches and the current service system. Examines family and community services and resources.

SW 813 - School Social Work

Credits: 3

The course examines the school as a social institution that serves to educate and socialize children into US society and the role of the social worker in the school setting. Readings, activities, and discussions provide practical skills and theory for school social work practice. The course content addresses the history of school social work, integrating social work values into a school setting, systemic needs within school settings, the importance of networking and professional collaboration, and working with diverse and at-risk youth and their families. Students also examine the role of social workers in helping students, schools, and families adjust to and cope with trauma, special education needs, and related topics.

SW 814 - Introduction to Addiction: Assessment and Intervention

Credits: 3

Information and skills necessary to address issues of substance abuse with individuals, families and communities. Overview of the dynamics of addiction; the treatment and recovery process; and the role of social work professionals in the identification and treatment of addiction. Special populations (women, adolescents, elderly, gay/lesbian/ bisexual/transgendered, ethnic/racial groups) discussed. Treatment approaches explored.

SW 815 - Practice with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People

Credits: 3

Sexual minorities constitute the minority group a counselor most consistently encounters wherever he or she works. Addresses the task of counseling gay, lesbian, and bisexual people on both personal and professional levels for the counselor. Readings include theoretical, experimental, clinical, counseling, and personal perspectives, as well as providing an introduction to the gay/lesbian/bisexual subculture. Students explore and examine their own attitudes and assumptions regarding gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

SW 816 - Addiction Assessment

Credits: 3

This course focuses on the screening, assessment, and diagnosis of addictions and co-occurring disorders. Topics covered include: substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders; including clinical evaluation, screening, assessment, barriers to assessment, and differential diagnosis of co-occurring disorders, motivational interviewing, engagement in the assessment process, assessing from a strengths perspective, DSM diagnosis, trauma informed practice, culturally competent counseling, documentation and treatment planning, policy effecting engagement from a town/city, state and national perspective, and service coordination and referral.

SW 817 - Understanding Suicide

Credits: 3

The focus of this course is to better understand the public health problem of suicide, with particular emphasis on prevention, intervention and postvention approaches. Students will gain an understanding of suicide epidemiology and underlying theory, as well as risk and protective factors for suicide. In addition, this course will outline public health approaches and evidence-based practices for suicide prevention. Students will develop skills in assessment and management of suicide risk, intervention and treatment techniques with suicidal individuals as well as postvention approaches to dealing with suicide loss.

SW 818 - SW & Creative Arts

Credits: 3

This course will focus on the uses and potential uses of many forms of art in social work practice. Students will learn how to apply art forms such as music, theater, literature, art, poetry, movement, and dance into practice through exploring A. self-awareness and personal growth of the professional social worker, B. a strengths approach to practice with individual clients, and C. social awareness and social change. This course will be an advanced generalist elective. Students will have the opportunity to develop an art portfolio, completing a new project each week, having the opportunity to reflect personally as well as professionally on the application of these methodologies to practice.

SW 819 - Addiction Treatment

Credits: 3

This course focuses on treatment for addictions and co-occurring disorders. Topics covered include: interventions, pharmacology, treatment outcomes, treatment with specific populations, trauma informed practice, group practice, working with mandated individuals, cognitive behavioral therapy, barriers to treatment, documentation with an emphasis on treatment planning, resource development, and policy effecting treatment outcomes from a town/city, state and national perspective.

SW 820 - Social Welfare Policy I

Credits: 3

The aim of this course is to prepare students to act as informed human service professionals through a better understanding of social problems, social welfare policy, and the American social welfare system. Students are provided with an overview of the origins and development of social welfare policy in the United States, the political processes in our federal and state systems, and the values and ethics which shape our present social welfare system. The course also helps students examine ways they can influence policy formulation while advocating for human rights and social/economic justice.

SW 830 - Social Work Practice I

Credits: 3

Basic concepts, theories, and skills of social work practice. Lectures and discussions, readings and written exercises, and laboratory and practice sessions. Students use the experiential parts of the course (laboratory and interview simulations) to apply the conceptual and theoretical knowledge.

Co-requisite: SW 880

SW 831 - Social Work Practice II: Practice in Small Groups and Community Organizations

Credits: 3

Continuation of Social Work Practice I with the further aim of introducing students to social work with groups and communities as models of social work practice.

Co-requisite: SW 881

SW 840 - Implications of Race, Culture, and Oppression for Social Work Practice

Credits: 3

This foundation course is designed to increase students awareness of historical, social, political, economic and cultural aspects of micro- and macro-level oppression directed at minorities. Course materials focus on insidious societal forces that shape and profoundly alter life experiences of large numbers of people, with special attention to social relationships that promote the welfare of some, while limiting opportunities and choices for others, including racial and ethnic minorities, children, women, the poor, persons with disabilities, GLBTQ individuals, and others. Students consider practice issues in multicultural SW.

SW 850 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment I

Credits: 3

In this course, students learn about behavior and development and its context across the lifecycle. The semester addresses growth and development from the prenatal period through the end of life using social systems theory/person-in-the-environment as a conceptual framework. The different systems that impact individual development including family, community, and larger systems are examined. Human worth and social justice themes permeate course materials, class discussions, and activities.

SW 851 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment II

Credits: 3

In this course, students learn about behavior and development and its context across the life cycle from a macro systems perspective. The macrosystems that impact individual development are examined. Societal forces that are often invisible shape and profoundly alter life experiences of larger numbers of people. HSBE II pays special attention to social relationships that promote welfare of some while limiting opportunities and choices for others. The semester explores the influence of class, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and other aspects of diversity on development and behavior of larger systems.

SW 860 - Research Methods in Social Work

Credits: 3

Designed to acquaint degree students with the concepts and skills necessary to carry out research in social work practice. Particular emphasis placed on methodological issues related to research in a variety of practice contexts. Although the skills necessary to review research critically are examined, the primary emphasis is on preparing the student to carry out research related to practice.

SW 865 - Adventure Therapy: Facilitation and Processing of the Experience

Credits: 3

This class will familiarize students with a variety of active assessment facilitation and processing skills which can be used with clients when engaging in adventure therapy. Students will be given multiple opportunities to practice these skills to gain a better understanding of their own facilitation and processing skills, and how to use adventure activities as a therapeutic tool in the clinical practice. Active participation required. Open to both social work and non-social work graduate students. Special fee.

SW 870 - Intimate Partner Violence

Credits: 3

This course examines intimate partner violence or domestic violence from its historical roots to the present. In accordance with an historical and contextual approach, we examine theories that explain and describe the phenomenon, research that attempts to define it, as well as social policies , social movements, and intervention from a social work perspective. Intimate partner violence *IPV) also known as domestic violence, cuts across racial, ethnic, and class boundaries and impedes victim's well-being and social participation. IPV includes many physical assault, sexual assault, emotional, verbal, and economic abuse and coercive control.

SW 871 - Trauma-Informed Practice in School Settings

Credits: 3

This course introduced students to the core concepts that inform evidence-based assessment and intervention for traumatized children, adolescents, adults and their families in school settings. Strength-based practice is highlighted with a focus on the identification of protective and promotive factors that foster resiliency and post-traumatic growth. The course highlights the role of development.

SW 880 - Field Internship I

Credits: 3

This two-semester requirement provides supervised learning and practice within social work programs in a wide range of program settings. Students spend 16 hours per week in the field. Individual field placements arranged with each student by the field coordinator. In order to receive credit, students must satisfactorily complete both SW 880 and SW 881. A concurrent integrative seminar is required. In this weekly seminar attention is given to the development of basic social work skills and techniques, legal and ethical issues, and the development of appropriate professional relationships. A primary goal is to integrate classroom learning with the field experience. Special fee. Cr/F.

Co-requisite: SW 830

SW 881 - Field Internship II

Credits: 3

SW 881 is a continuation of SW 880, Field Internship I. Students must satisfactorily complete both field experience semesters to receive credit. Prereq: SW 880 (Field Internship I). Cr/F.

Co-requisite: SW 831

SW 885 - Study Abroad

Credits: 3

Students in this course examine the historical development of social welfare in another country including an analysis of the underlying values and attitudes that dictate practice and policy decisions. The course includes agency site visits, lectures, themed readings and visits to important cultural sites. Only open to first and second year MSW students. Special fee.

Co-requisite: INCO 589

SW 897 - Special Topics in Social Work and Social Welfare

Credits: 2 or 3

Seminar for graduate students. Topics may include: A) Drugs and Chemical Dependency; B) Intimate Partner Violence C) Social Action in Education Settings D) Social Action in the Dominican Republic. May be repeated for different topics. Special fee.

SW 899 - Master's Thesis

Credits: 1-6

Each student carries out original research that culminates in a master's thesis. Students may enroll in 1 to 6 credits per semester. Permission required. Prereq: permission required. Cr/F.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.

SW 900 - Advanced Standing Practice and Field Seminar

Credits: 3

Weekly seminar held concurrently with field placement designed to orient and adequately prepare advanced standing students for advanced practice and field courses. Bridges the undergraduate and graduate curriculum and reviews foundation year concepts, theories, and skills of social work practice and field. Exploration of social work identity and professional relationships with supervisors, colleagues, and agencies. Primary focus on social work values and ethics and the development of ethical decision-making skills including the importance of culturally competent practice. Only offered to advanced standing MSW students. Cr/F.

SW 901 - Field Continuation

Credits: 0

This course represents the continuation of the online Master of Social Work fieldwork courses (SW 880, SW 881, SW 982, SW 983). SW students who are registered for one of the four required Fieldwork courses are also registered for SW 901 and are considered full-time. The grade for each course is awarded upon completion of the internship experience.

SW 926 - Social Welfare Policy II

Credits: 3

This course is an extension of Social Welfare Policy I. Both courses view social welfare policy as the framework in which social work services are developed and delivered. That is, policies provide the context for direct practice. Social Welfare Policy II examines policy analysis as a process with underlying theory and methodology. This process emphasizes political advocacy in the pursuit of human rights, and social and economic justice. The course integrates policy and practice, in part, through student research and analysis of specific social problems and client populations relevant to the student's volunteer, work, and/or field internship experience. Prereq: SW 820.

SW 930 - Advanced General Practice III: Clinical Assessment and Intervention

Credits: 3

Advanced generalist practice with individuals, families and groups is the first of the two required advanced practice classes. The major objective of the advanced generalist practice curriculum is to educate practitioners to work towards the restoration and enhancement of human functioning and prevention of maladaptive functioning. This course emphasizes a deepened understanding of the differential treatment process and an expanded knowledge of intervention approaches. The aim of the course is to further deepen knowledge and skills, particularly with a concentration on evidence based practices, interdisciplinary work and ethical practice. Prereq: SW 831.

Co-requisite: SW 982

SW 931 - Advanced Generalist Practice IV: Community and Administrative Practice

Credits: 3

This macro social work course utilizes foundation year curriculum content to provide an advanced examination of social work practice in larger systems. Students develop knowledge, values, and skills in areas of community analysis, community organization, community capital, empowerment and the use of power, sustainable communities, evaluation of community interventions. Strategies of cultivation, mobilization and sustaining resources that empower underserved constituent groups are studied. Course content is rooted in both historical and current contexts in providing administrative and technological tools to undertake change efforts across organizational and community systems. Prereq: SW 930.

Co-requisite: SW 983

SW 952 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment III

Credits: 3

Designed to acquaint master's degree students with the epidemiology, classification, and etiology of the major mental illnesses; with a primary objective to develop the student's diagnostic skills in the field of psychopathology. Students become familiar with historical and current mental health policy issues. At course conclusion students have an effective working knowledge of the bio-psycho-social basis of the major mental disorders, the behavioral symptomology that characterizes them, the use of psychotropic medication in treatment, and their classification according to the current DSM system. Prereq: SW 850 and SW 851.

SW 957 - Fund Development and Grantwriting

Credits: 3

This course is designed to introduce students to various fundraising strategies to support nonprofit health and human service organizations. Students are provided with an overview of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations in the United States, effective fundraising and individual donor strategies, and ethical and legal issues related to fundraising. Student use a case-study approach for planning, developing, and writing successful grant proposals to fund health and human services programming.

SW 962 - Data Analysis and Statistics

Credits: 3

Social science statistics is a set of methods used to organize and analyze data for the purpose of either answering research questions or testing social science theories with data. Course provides practical, data-oriented introduction to the methods of modern statistical analysis with a focus on understanding and interpretation rather than the details of calculation. Students learn more about the role of data analysis in research informed social work practice as well as practice informed research. Prereq: SW 860.

SW 965 - Program and Practice Evaluation

Credits: 3

A one semester course, basic introduction to evaluation methods in the context of social work practice and social welfare. Students develop and conduct evaluations of practice, programs, and policies. Course provides skills required for practice and program evaluation. Prereq: SW 962.

SW 974 - Social Work Supervision

Credits: 3

Prepares students for a supervisory role in human service agencies. Basic principles of administrative, supportive and educational supervision are reviewed and related to the student's own experiences in supervision or as a supervisor.

SW 975 - Theory and Practice of Family Therapy

Credits: 3

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the theory and practice of family therapy. Major approaches to be examined include structural, strategic, systemic, brief, narrative family therapy, and social constructionism. Students have an opportunity to present cases they are currently working with in their internships and are able to practice family therapy techniques with the use of a team coaching them from behind a one-way mirror.

SW 979 - Social Work and the Law

Credits: 3

Social work practitioners routinely encounter and interact with the legal system in their work. The course provides knowledge of, and learning about, the differences between the legal and social service networks, the realities of work involving the law, and legal issues, as well as an understanding of those aspects of the legal system most likely to impact clients and their families.

SW 982 - Field Internship III

Credits: 4

This two semester requirement provides advanced practice experience in a wide range of social work settings. Students spend 24 hours per week in the field. Individual field placements are arranged with each student by the field coordinator. In order to receive course credit, students must satisfactorily complete both semesters(SW 982 and SW 983). A concurrent integrative seminar is also required. The goal of the weekly seminar is to assist students in conceptualizing and integrating the multiple theoretical issues and practice concepts of course work and the practicum. Students are expected to take major responsibility for the semester, using the instructor as a resource. Prereq: SW 881. Special fee. Cr/F.

Co-requisite: SW 930

SW 983 - Field Internship IV

Credits: 4

This two semester requirement provides advanced practice experience in a wide range of social work settings. Students spend 24 hours per week in the field. Individual field placements are arranged with each student by the field coordinator. In order to receive course credit, students must satisfactorily complete both semesters. A concurrent integrative seminar is also required. The goal of the workshop-style weekly seminar is to assist students in conceptualizing and integrating the multiple theoretical issues and practice concepts of course work and the practicum. Students are expected to take major responsibility for the semester, using the instructor as a resource. Prereq: SW 982. Cr/F.

Co-requisite: SW 931

SW 992 - Special Projects and Independent Study

Credits: 1-3

Projects, research and reading programs in areas of concentration. Sixty days advance approval of the student's plan of study by adviser and proposed instructor required. Prereq: 24 cr. in M.S.W. coursework. Special fee.

Repeat Rule: May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.