School of Social Work

Master of Social Work Program
5030 Cherry Street
(816) 235-1025
Fax: (816) 235-1062

Mailing Address:
University of Missouri-Kansas City
School of Social Work
5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499

Director of Field Education: Associate Teaching Professor Ile Haggins

MSW Program Director: Assistant Teaching Professor Amy Simmons

Rosalyn Bertram, Ph.D., Professor (children, child welfare, youth and families, wraparound and multi-systemic collaborative strengths-based practice, evidence-based practice, program implementation and evaluation, systems of care, research)

Ile Haggins, MSW, LCSW, Associate Teaching Professor, Director of Field Education (practice, children and family, cultural diversity, and mental health)

Steven Onken, Ph.D., Social Work Chair, Associate Professor (culturally resonant, recovery-based, trauma-informed programs and systems of care, cross-system collaboration and development, complex needs, wellbeing, integrated supported living, marginalization)

Adriana Paez, MSW, Assistant Teaching Professor, Coordinator of Field Education (human behavior, youth, young adults and mental health)

Sarah Pilgrim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, (social welfare policy, research methods; scholarship: sexual health and decision making of adolescents in foster care through promotion of body image positivity and additional protective and promotive factors)

Robert Prue, Ph.D., Associate Professor (social work research methods, open source and freely available software for social workers, interface of indigenous health and healing supports with mainstream, spirituality and social work, veterans' issues, post-traumatic stress)

Amy Simmons, MSW, LCSW, Assistant Teaching Professor, MSW Program Director (community development, prevention, behavioral health, group practice, school social work, psychopathology)

Department Description

The School of Social Work offers a program of study leading to the master's in social work degree and a professional career in social work. Started in 1999, the MSW program is the result of collaborative efforts by the University of Missouri System, UMKC and many social service agencies in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The MSW program received initial accreditation in May 2003 with reaffirmation of accreditation granted in 2015.

Mission of the School of Social Work

The mission of the School of Social Work is to "Prepare competent, advanced generalist social work practitioners to meet the needs of multicultural diverse populations in a dynamic mid-western metropolitan context; to be culturally proficient, ethical leaders and service providers engaged in knowledge-driven, inter-professional, multi-systemic, community-based practice; who advocate for social and economical justice, enhance human well being, and support individuals' capacity to address their own needs."

Mission-derived goals of the School of Social Work are to:

  • Demonstrate professional behavior and uphold the values and ethics of the profession that guide professional practice.
  • Advance human rights and social, economic, and environment justice while actively engaging diversity and difference in all levels of practice.
  • Engage in interdisciplinary scientific inquiry, through practice-informed research and research-informed practice.
  • Implement practices to engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate families, groups, organizations, and communities, while utilizing critical thinking, knowledge of theoretical frameworks, and evidence-based practices.

Vision of the School of Social Work

UMKC School of Social Work will become a model urban, professional school recognized for its partnership within diverse communities to effectively collaborate and sustain a safe, more economically secure, and socially just quality of life.

Career Implications

Why consider an advanced degree in social work? Above all, the degree is flexible and versatile. For example, social workers are employed in public social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, medical settings, schools, community-based clinics and residential settings. The social work perspective looks not only at individual thoughts, feelings and actions, but also at the social environment as a primary arena for opportunities for change. On behalf of the people they serve, social workers have strong interests in social policy and advocacy, as well as social science research and policy and program evaluation.

  • Social workers have the right education, experience, and dedication to help people help themselves whenever and wherever they need it.
  • Social workers help people in all stages of life, from children to the elderly, and from all situations from adoption to hospice care.
  • Professional social workers are the nation's largest providers of mental health services.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for social workers is expected to grow twice as fast as any other occupation, especially in gerontology, home healthcare, substance abuse, private social service agencies, and school social work (BLS, 2010).

Program Description

The program educates Advanced Generalist Social Work practitioners for professional responsibilities at various levels with complex and dynamic human service organizations. To accommodate working students' schedules, many classes are scheduled for late afternoons, evenings and weekends.

Faculty members and students co-create empowering learning environments through group discussions, role play, experiential occurrences and readings that enable transformational learning.

The practice-oriented curriculum is focused on advanced generalist social work practice in an urban environment. The curriculum provides: theoretically based understanding to assess diverse human behaviors in varied social environments; skills for operating in a multidisciplinary agency and community environment; research methods with practical application to agency practice; and approaches to working with culturally diverse populations.

The full-time, regular MSW program offers a two-year, 60-credit curriculum combining classroom and field experience. For students who already have a B.S.W. degree, the full-time Advanced Standing program includes 36 credits during a spring or summer semester and one full-time year of coursework with a supervised field practicum. Students may attend the part-time program schedule, but must complete the MSW in four years.

The foundation year curriculum includes coursework in generalist social work practice, theory and skills, social policy, human behavior in the social environment, social work research and a generalist field practicum experience in a human service agency approximately 16 hours a week.

The concentration year curriculum focuses on advanced generalist methods within an urban context. The required curriculum includes courses in program evaluation, advance practice methods, and a capstone course (Integration Seminar). Under the guidance of their academic advisor and in light of their career plans, students select four electives with a requirement of at least one elective in Integrative content area and at least one elective in Advanced Methodological approaches to Social Work practice. Finally, a second field practicum for approximately 16 hours a week provides advanced generalist experience and supervision.

Field Practicum

The practicum program uses agencies throughout the metropolitan area to offer experiences at both foundation and advanced levels. Students typically spend approximately two days in the field and are mentored by an MSW practitioner employed by the agency. Students spend a required number of hours in face-to-face contact with clients, in agency meetings, in individual or group supervision, and in the community. In some cases, students who already are social service employees can arrange to complete one year of their field placements at their own agencies. Practicum can also be completed in a student's human service oriented work site, provided the Director of Field Education approves the same.


The majority of applicants to MSW programs have a variety of undergraduate degrees. Some people have life or work experience in other fields and are ready for a career change. Others have worked in the human service field and are ready to pursue an MSW degree to advance in their careers.

  • Applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree that, preferably, reflects a broad liberal arts base in the social, behavioral, or psychological sciences, or related disciplines, are encouraged to apply. The baccalaureate degree should be from an institution accredited in a manner accepted by UMKC.
  • B.S.W. degrees from accredited programs may be considered for the advanced standing program if students have received a B.S.W. degree within the last five years.
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is preferred. However, lower GPAs will be considered for provisional admission when combined with volunteer and work experience, or when there are extenuating circumstances.
  • GRE is not required.
  • The UMKC application and School of Social Work application are both required. Applicants must provide narratives addressing the following:
    1. Statement of Values and Ethics
      Attach a brief essay (2-5 typewritten, double-spaced pages) in which you address the following: The NASW Code of Ethics may be found at
      1. Discuss your purpose for pursuing a Master's in Social Work.
      2. Compare and contrast your personal value framework with the NASW Code of Ethics’ values and principles.
      3. In light of the Code of Ethics, what human needs do you hope to address as a professional social worker?
      4. In light of the Code of Ethics, how will you infuse all of the six ethical principles into your future social work practice?
      5. Describe a personal life experience that challenged your values and ethics. How did you respond to this challenge?
    2. Preparation for Professional Training
      Read the prompts below and provide complete answers including specific examples (2-5 typewritten, double-spaced pages).
      1. Please explain any particular difficulties or successes in your undergraduate academic career.
      2. How would you evaluate your academic experience up to this point in time?
      3. Identify how you manage personal and professional challenges in your life.
      4. What social supports do you have in place (or can you put in place) to assist with managing work, family and academic commitments?
      5. Identify the areas in which you need further learning and growth.
  • Advanced Standing Only
    Please provide a 3-5 page typewritten, double-spaced response to the following:
    1. Provide an overview of your field practicum experiences.
    2. Describe lessons learned from your field experiences. Provide specific examples.
    3. How do you think these lessons-learned will affect your future social work field experiences?
    4. In relation to the social work profession, in what areas do you need to further your personal and professional growth?
  • Additional Information
    1. Use the forms provided to supply three references. Include a person able to judge your potential for social work (a social worker who has supervised you, an employer, or field instructor) and a person able to judge your writing, critical thinking, and academic potential.
    2. While personal interviews are not required, the MSW Admissions Committee may request a meeting with an applicant. Applicants with questions about the program may attend public information sessions, which are scheduled once a month in the Social Work office. See website for details (
    3. The program is inclusive and draws from a diverse applicant pool. Toward this end, program faculty members make regular community presentations to diverse groups. The program works with student organizations representing women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, international students, and students with disabilities. Individuals from diverse groups are encouraged to apply.
    4. For additional details, please refer to the Student Handbook pdf file at the School of Social Work website.
    5. UMKC University Application for Admission and its application fee are required. In addition you are required to submit all of the School of Social Work application material.
  • Application Checklist
    Please refer to the following checklist before sending materials:
    • Application for Admission: Go to to begin the online application process.
    • All undergraduate and graduate transcripts.1
    • Application fee
    • Statement of Values and Ethics Narrative
    • Preparation for Professional Training Narrative
    • Advanced Standing Narrative (if applicable)
    • Letters of Reference (3)

Application Deadlines

Advanced Standing

  • October 1 to begin courses in Spring Semester
  • February 1 to begin courses in Summer Semester

Regular Program

  • March 1 to begin courses in Fall Semester

Note: All completed applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis

Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP)

MSEP is an interstate initiative established by the Midwestern Higher Education Commission to increase educational opportunities for students in its member states. MSEP enables residents of Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota to enroll in designated institutions and selected programs outside their home state at reduced tuition levels.

Student Advising

Upon admission into the program, students must:

  1. Read student handbook available on our website:
  2. Schedule a meeting with their academic advisor during the academic year to develop a plan of study.
  3. Report any changes they make to the plan of study to their advisor.
  4. Full-time students must meet the Director of Field Education and complete a field application form to select and finalize field placement.
  5. Part-time students must meet the Director of Field Education at the end of their first year in the program, fill out the field application form and finalize field placement before the beginning of their second year in the program.

Professional Status

After graduation, students are well prepared to accept professional social work positions with populations at-risk in a variety of human service, mental health, medical, or community settings.

Both Missouri and Kansas offer an exam to license specialist clinical social workers after two years of supervised practice in direct services. For social workers who plan to practice at this level, Kansas statutes require completion of graduate or continuing education courses in psychopathology and diagnostic skills. Students who are considering clinical licensure in Kansas are encouraged to take SOC-WK 5560 as an elective prior to graduation from the MSW program.

Both Missouri and Kansas offer the following licenses for professional social workers:

  • LBSW-Licensed Bachelor's Social Worker
  • LMSW-Licensed Master Social Worker

Missouri also offers:

  • LAMSW - Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker


SOC-WK 5510 Foundation Field Practicum I Credits: 3

Field practicum is a central component in the student’s professional education. Field placements provide the student with a range of practice experience to incorporate theoretical learning and to develop the knowledge, values, and skills for professional social work practice. Learning takes place in community settings (16.25 hours weekly/260 hours per semester).

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5530; SOC-WK 5534 (or as co-requisites).

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5532, SOC-WK 5536.

SOC-WK 5511 Foundation Field Practicum II Credits: 3

The field practicum experience is continued from Foundation Field Practicum I (SOC-WK 5510), students will complete 16.25 hours weekly/260 hours in the spring semester. The foundation field practicum places emphasis on the application of skills for generalist social work practice in community settings preparing students for generalist social work practice within the micro, mezzo and macro frameworks.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5510; SOC-WK 5532; SOC-WK 5536; SOC-WK 5531 (or co-requisite); SOC-WK 5565 (or co-requisite).

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5533; SOC-WK 5550.

SOC-WK 5512 Advanced Field Practicum I Credits: 3

The focus of the advanced field practicum is to develop mastery in the area of concentration by increasing skills in practice approaches, examining relevant policies, integrating theoretical learning and applying research knowledge. Field instruction takes place in community agency settings (16.25 hours weekly/260 hours per semester).

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5511 or SOC-WK 5538.

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5540, SOC-WK 5578.

SOC-WK 5513 Advanced Field Practicum II Credits: 3

The field practicum experience continues from Advanced Field Practicum I (SOC-WK 5512), completing 16.25 hours weekly/260 hours in the spring semester. The advanced field practicum places emphasis on the student’s ability to select and use multiple approaches to social work within micro, mezzo and macro frameworks.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5512, SOC-WK 5540, SOC-WK 5578.

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5541, SOC-WK 5579.

SOC-WK 5530 Human Behavior Theory Credits: 3

This course focuses on the critique, contextualization, and application of human behavior theory to social work practice with individuals in the social environment. The perspectives of social justice, empowerment, and strengths are emphasized.

SOC-WK 5531 Human Behavior: Macro Perspectives in the Social Environment Credits: 3

This theory course applies macro social work perspectives to the broader understanding of human behavior within large systems, organizations, communities, and society. Social justice, empowerment, and strengths perspectives are emphasized.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5530 (or co-requisite).

SOC-WK 5532 Foundation Social Work Practice I Credits: 3

This course examines the fundamental ethics, values, knowledge, and skills of generalist social work practice. In this course the first three steps of the Generalist Intervention Model are applied to effectively pre-plan, engage, and assess across all levels of practice (micro, mezzo, and macro).

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5530, SOC-WK 5534 (or as co-requisites).

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5510, SOC-WK 5536.

SOC-WK 5533 Foundation Social Work Practice II Credits: 3

This second generalist social work practice course involves interacting with evidence based practice models and group facilitation. Application of the final steps of the Generalist Intervention Model (planning, implementation/intervention, evaluation, termination, and follow-up) will be deployed across all levels of practice (micro, mezzo, and macro).

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5510, SOC-WK 5532, SOC-WK 5536, SOC-WK 5531 (or co-requisite), SOC-WK 5565 (or co-requisite).

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5511, SOC-WK 5550.

SOC-WK 5534 Social Welfare Programs and Policies Credits: 3

This course examines social policies that direct current social service trends at local, state, and federal levels. This course teaches a model of analysis that examines the context in which policy decisions are made and the effects that social service programs and policies have on people's lives.

SOC-WK 5536 Social Work Research Methods Credits: 3

This course introduces students to the fundamental knowledge and skills of social work research such as practice evaluation, program planning, and other facets of professional social work practice. Emphasis on application of social research methods in actual practice situations will be used to assist students in skill development.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5530; SOC-WK 5534 (or as co-requisites).

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5510; SOC-WK 5532.

SOC-WK 5538 Advanced Standing Seminar Credits: 6

The Advanced Standing Seminar will provide a bridge between the bachelor of social work and the advanced level MSW Concentration year. This course is practice-centered and emphasizes knowledge, values, and skills, which are unique to social work and form our approach to generalist practice, human behavior, and research.

Prerequisites: Advanced Standing MSW Student.

SOC-WK 5540 Advanced Social Work Practice I Credits: 3

This course prepares students with an advanced generalist practice perspective in order to evaluate and integrate theory, values, and skills in a rapidly changing social work environment.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5511 or SOC-WK 5538.

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5512.

SOC-WK 5541 Advanced Social Work Practice II Credits: 3

The course examines leadership, organizational, and management competencies for professional practice in social service agencies and skills for community organizing.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5540.

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5512.

SOC-WK 5542 Gerontological Social Work Credits: 3

This course provides an overview of social service practice with older adults. The course examines population demographics, contextual aspects of aging, and approaches to effective advanced generalist practice in treatment and community settings.

SOC-WK 5544 Children, Families and their Communities: The Child Welfare System Credits: 3

This course examines child centered, family centered and neighborhood based child welfare policy and practice. Institute of Medicine reports and the Family First Prevention Services Act that funds evidence-based, research-informed and promising practices are closely examined in light of adoption of new programs and practices by Missouri and Kansas.

SOC-WK 5546 Behavioral Health and Addictions in Social Work Practice Credits: 3

This course provides the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively address mental illness, substance misuse or abuse, and co-occurring disorders within the framework of advanced generalist practice. In the course students will apply social work values, ethics, and competencies to advanced generalist practice skills with individuals, families, and groups experiencing mental health and substance abuse disorders.

SOC-WK 5547 Grief and Loss in Social Work Practice Credits: 3

This course provides a comprehensive study of grief and loss from a professional social work perspective that includes current theories, evidence-based frameworks, and intervention strategies from a strengths-based perspective. The course will address many forms of special losses, such as suicide, homicide, HIV/AIDS, war-related grief, bankruptcy, divorce and other life transitional events that may or may not involve death and dying.

SOC-WK 5549 Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees Credits: 3

This course advances knowledge, skills and professional values for social work practice with immigrants and refugees covering the U.S. immigration system, migration processes, barriers to readjustment and cultural competency, and effective intervention on behalf of immigrants and refugees.

SOC-WK 5550 Program Evaluation Credits: 3

This course builds on the content of Research Methods and is designed to enable students to apply the methods of social research to the evaluation of Generalist Social Work Practice. This course employs an experiential learning technique that places students in an immersive experience that involves collaboration, research design, critical analysis of program intervention, and group process.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5510, SOC-WK 5532, SOC-WK 5536.

Co-requisites: SOC-WK 5531, SOC-WK 5565.

SOC-WK 5560 Psychopathology in Social Work Practice Credits: 3

This course utilizes the DSM to teach diagnostic criteria, while simultaneously examining ecological and systemic factors that contribute to diagnostic rates. Explore of the biopsychosocial factors which contribute to the accuracy and effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment will be covered.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5511 or SOC-WK 5538.

SOC-WK 5561 Social Work in Health Care Credits: 3

This course builds on a foundation of direct social work practice in the context of the health care systems in the United States. The social work role in the medical model will be analyzed along with the roles of nursing and allied health professionals.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5511 or SOC-WK 5538.

SOC-WK 5562 Family Organization and Development Credits: 3

This course focuses through The Family Life Cycle, a developmental stage theory that supports family-centered practice. The course provides skills to assess competent and constraining interactions and to use this assessment to identify contributing factors to family achievements and behaviors of concern.

SOC-WK 5563 Life Span Issues in Developmental Disabilities Credits: 3

The need for interdisciplinary process in the human services sector, which supports inclusiveness and quality of life of individuals, is covered. The course covers cultural competence, person-centered and community-based application of services for their implications in planning and delivery of services.

SOC-WK 5564 Advanced Group Interventions in Social Work Credits: 3

This course provides specialized learning in group interventions from an advanced generalist perspective. The course includes the broad spectrum of clinical uses for group as well as the application of group skills within community and administrative practice.

SOC-WK 5565 Systemic-Oppression: Social and Economic Justice Credits: 3

This course presents theoretical concepts that relate issues of social and economic injustice to structural and systemic oppression. This course examines formal and informal social policy that fosters the creation of support of oppressive social structures. A generalist and structural approach to social work engages the student in the examination of the barriers to justice and equality; ranging from internalization to globalization.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5534.

SOC-WK 5566 Family and Community Violence Credits: 3

This course examines the sources and forms of community and family violence and its impact on individuals, families and communities. Prevention and intervention models will be studied and developed.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5511 or SOC-WK 5538.

SOC-WK 5567 Collaborative Family-Centered Practice Credits: 3

This course presents the emergence, activities, and elements of collaborative family-centered practice. Multi-systemic Therapy and Wraparound are critically examined along with their implementation supports and challenges. Research supporting each model and its theory of change are closely examined.

SOC-WK 5568 School Social Work Practice Credits: 3

This course examines the knowledge and skills required for the roles and functions of school social work in K-12 settings. Students will apply various theories and evidence based practices to school social work, while developing an understanding of how to address the needs of students and their families within the context of school.

SOC-WK 5569 Core Concepts of Child and Adolescent Trauma Credits: 3

This course prepares students for trauma-informed, evidence-based practice. Based on core concepts, the course uses a problem-based learning approach through the use of in-depth case studies.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5511 or SOC-WK 5538.

SOC-WK 5575 Advanced Generalist Community Practice Credits: 3

This course covers community social work practice, addressing values, knowledge, and skills essential for community social change. Models of community practice are addressed to facilitate the development of skills in social planning, community development, and community collaboration strategies.

SOC-WK 5577 Sexuality in the Helping Professions Credits: 3

This course is a survey of issues related to integrating human sexuality across a lifespan in the practice of social services. Using a biopsychosocial perspective, emphasis will be placed on historical, political, social, cultural, familial, and individual differences in sexual and reproductive attitudes, values, and behaviors.

SOC-WK 5578 Capstone I Credits: 3

This course is the first half of a yearlong cohort-style course that provides concentration level MSW students the opportunity to critically and creatively present their field of interest in Social Work. The Capstone Course will integrate and apply all knowledge and skills learned previously in classroom, and will culminate in the student preparing for and presenting in the annual UMKC School of Social Work Conference held during the spring semester.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5512 (or co-requisite), SOC-WK 5540 (or co-requisite).

SOC-WK 5579 Capstone II Credits: 3

This course is the second half of a yearlong cohort-style course that provides concentration level MSW students the opportunity to critically and creatively present their field of interest in Social Work. The Capstone Course will integrate and apply all knowledge and skills learned previously in classroom, and will culminate in the student preparing for and presenting in the annual UMKC School of Social Work Conference held during the spring semester.

Prerequisites: SOC-WK 5513 (or co-requisite).

SOC-WK 5580 Special Topics In Social Work Credits: 1-3

These seminars are designed to examine relevant and innovative areas emerging in social work practice which are not available in the regular course offerings. Topics, instructors, and prerequisites are listed in the semester bulletin.

Prerequisites: Completion of foundation year.

SOC-WK 5590 Readings And Investigations In Social Work Credits: 1-3

Under the direction of a faculty member, individual students may pursue an in-depth area of study in generalist social work practice, including a research project of the student's choice.

SOC-WK 5899 Required Graduate Enrollment Credit: 1

One Hour Course required to remain continuously enrolled while the student finishes requirements for the Social Work degree.

Prerequisites: Permission of the Department