Nov 15, 2018  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Social Work, MSW


Admission Requirements and Documentation

For full details on the application process for admission to the MSW program, please visit the MSW Admissions website. 

To be considered for admission to the MSW Program, applicants must:

  1. Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.  The undergraduate education must reflect a sound liberal arts foundation, including courses in the humanities, as well as in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences.  Applicants must submit official academic transcripts showing the date the degree was awarded.
  2. Have achieved a grade point average of 3.0 or better (4.0 scale) for the last 60 hours of academic course work. The GCSW  will calculate GPAs based on received official transcripts.
  3. Submit a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score.  Official test scores should be sent directly to the university.  Test scores should not be more than five years old.  The University of Houston’s institutional code for GRE is 6870.  
  4. Submit names of three references who can address the applicant’s ability and potential for graduate education and professional social work practice (i.e., former professors, employment supervisors, professional colleagues).
  5. Submit a personal narrative statement that describes academic and employment histories, interest in the social work profession, and commitment to social and economic justice.  Guidelines for the narrative statement are included in the application.

Note:  Proficiency in English.  Any student, prior to admission or during their course of study, may be required to demonstrate English proficiency through submission of a satisfactory score on a test designated by the dean of the college.  Students whose written or spoken English skills appear to be marginal (i.e., they may impede academic success and/or reflect communication problems as a social work practitioner) may be required to seek instruction outside the college.

Special Admission Categories

Conditional Admission

An applicant whose grade point average is below 3.0 for the last 60 hours of academic work may be admitted conditionally. In addition to the requirements described previously, applicants for conditional admission must:

  • Have at least a 2.6 grade point average for the last 60 hours (or 90 quarter hours) of academic work. This is a university requirement.
  • Submit a written request for conditional admission review addressing the low undergraduate GPA as well as the applicant’s ability to manage the demands of a rigorous graduate program demonstrating the capacity for success in a graduate social work program. Examples of the evidence that should be included in the request follow: 
  • Succsessful completion of graduate course work (multiple coures completed with B’s or better)
  • Strong GRE scores
  • Writing samples
  • Outstanding work experience in human services (multiple years in paid setting , with strong references).

Notes: 1) Students holding visas (F1 or J1) are not eligible for conditional admission at the graduate level at this university.  2) Conditional admission may negatively affect eligibility for financial aid.  3) According to UH policy, students admitted conditionally must earn a minimum GPA of 3.0 on their first 12 semester credit hours of graduate work.  Failure to achieve a 3.0 GPA will result in termination from the M.S.W. program.

Advanced Standing for BSW Graduates

Applicants holding a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an undergraduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) may request review for Advanced Standing admission.

The Advanced Standing program allows students with a BSW to waive the foundation course work at the GCSW, which is the equivalent of 15 credit hours of the required 63 credit hour curriculum of the MSW program.  Students can attend any one of the enrollment options offered by the GCSW, however some enrollment options are only available in the spring term. Please check with the GCSW admissions office prior to submitting an application.  Forty-eight credit hours are required to complete the program.  Full-time students complete the program in four semesters, or 16 months.

Applicants for Advanced Standing admission must meet all regular admissions requirements described previously, plus:

  1. At least one of the three references for the application must be from a faculty advisor or the chairperson of the Social Work Department where the B.S.W. degree was earned.
  2. A grade point average of 3.0 or better (4.0 scale) for the last 60 hours of academic course work AND a 3.0 within the social work major.  The GCSW will calculate GPAs based on received official transcripts.

The admissions committee may deny Advanced Standing requests, but still approve admission to the regular program.

Social Work Transfer Students

Students who transfer to the GCSW from another CSWE accredited MSW program must meet all regular admissions requirements, AND submit:

  1. a Statement of Good Standing from the dean or director of the undergraduate program
  2. syllabi for courses completed

A maximum of 30 semester credit hours, earned within five years of the student’s enrollment at the GCSW, with grades of B or above, can be transferred for credit toward the MSW degree at UH.

Admission Review and Decisions

Each application is reviewed by at least two GCSW admissions committee members.  Reviewers take into account the “whole applicant” and no single criterion automatically determines whether an applicant is or is not admitted into the program.  Reviews are done on a rolling basis - i.e., applications are reviewed as they are completed rather than waiting for the application deadline to occur.  Therefore, early application is encouraged since all openings may be filled prior to the application deadline.  Admissions decisions are communicated electronically; no decisions are given over the telephone.

Degree Requirements

General requirements for the Master of Social Work degree include:

  1. Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 63 semester credit hours in class and field instruction in social work;
  2. At least a 3.0 (B) cumulative grade point average for all classroom courses, plus grades of Satisfactory (S) in all field practicum courses;
  3. Faculty recommendation for award of the Master of Social Work degree;
  4. A nonrefundable fee is required when the student applies for graduation through the university’s Graduation Office.

The GSCW Curriculum

The GCSW offers an intensive foundation organized around content on the foundation of professional social work, human behavior, policy, practice and research.  A practice skills lab and a foundation field practicum (180 clock hours) are also required.  The foundation totals 15 credit hours.  Students must satisfactorily complete 15 credit hours in the foundation before enrolling in any advanced courses.

Foundation Purpose and Learning Objectives:

The MSW program is rooted in the liberal arts and includes an integrated, professional foundation upon which the advanced curriculum is built.  Upon completion of the foundation curriculum, students will be able to:

  • Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice;
  • Understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards and principles, and practice accordingly;
  • Practice without discrimination with respect and with knowledge and skills related to age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, family structure, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation;
  • Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and delineate strategies of advocacy and social change that advance social and economic justice;
  • Understand and interpret the history of the social work profession and its contemporary structures and issues;
  • Apply the knowledge and skills of an integrated and contextualized social work perspective to practice with systems of all sizes;
  • Use theoretical frameworks supported by empirical evidence to understand individual development and behavior across the life span and the interactions among individuals and between individuals and families, groups, organizations, and communities;
  • Analyze and influence social policies;
  • Use critical thinking to evaluate research studies, apply research findings to practice, and evaluate their own practice interventions;
  • Use communication skills differentially across client populations, colleagues, and communities;
  • Use supervision and consultation appropriate to social work practice;
  • Function within the structure of organizations and service delivery systems.

Advanced Curriculum: Clinical Practice or Macro Practice

*Students who have successfully completed the foundation semester select an advanced concentration in either Clinical Social Work Practice or Macro Practice.  Nine credit hours are required courses for clinical concentration and 12 for macro, as well as two field courses.

Clinical Practice is the application of theories, methods, skills, values and ethics needed to enhance the cognitive, mental, emotional, behavioral, physical and social well-being of individuals, couples, families, groups and communities.

Clinical practice requires leadership in promoting social, economic and political justice.  Its methods are relationship-centered, contextualized, culturally-sensitive and strengths-focused. It includes knowledge about biopsychosocial functioning - and - evidence-based interventions. Clinical practice includes, but is not limited to: assessment and intervention, diagnosis and treatment, education and prevention, advocacy, counseling and psychotherapy, and supervision and consultation.

Students in the Clinical concentration are required to take these three courses:

  • Transtheoretical:  Congnitive Behavior Interventions
  • Transtheoretical: Brief Targeted Interventions
  • Clinical Application of DSM (practice)

Macro Practice prepares students for practice in urban settings where the needs of diverse, vulnerable populations require highly skilled professional leaders.  Work in communities, in public and private organizations is designed to promote progressive social change that contributes to the growth and empowerment of individuals, agencies and communities.

Core concepts and practice skills are developed for work at the community, organizational, societal, and global levels.  Students are prepared to assume leadership positions as advocates, managers, program planners, researchers, policy analysts, and agency and community capacity builders.

Students in this concentration are required to take these four courses:

  • Administrative Practice (practice course)
  • Dynamics of Leadership (a combination human behavior & practice course)
  • Strategies of Advocacy and Community Development (theory/practice)
  • Social Policy Advocacy

*All students complete an advanced course in Social Welfare Policy Analysis, Multilevel Assessment, Evaluation of Practice (three credit hours each).

*All students complete at least one “crossover elective course.”  That is, Clinical students - will take at least one Macro Practice course and Macro Practice students - will take at least one elective Clinical course.

*All students complete 720 clock hours in advanced field practica; this is in addition to the 180 clock hours of foundation field (total clock hours = 900, 10 credit hours).

Course of Study and Enrollment Models

A minimum of 63 semester credit hours is required for the MSW degree. Students are required to complete the 15-credit hour foundation plus 48 credit hours in the student’s chosen concentration and electives. Advance standing students complete 48 credit hours.

Students are admitted into 2-year, 3-year,  college (hybrid) or online enrollment status.  After the foundation courses, GCSW students choose either Clinical Practice (CP), or Macro Practice for their concentration.  Specializations are available in, Health and Behavioral Health, Political Social Work, Social Work Practice with Latinos, and Individualized. These optional specializations do not require additional credit hours; however, they are earned by completing 9 credit hours of select courses in the chosen specialization area, with a minimum of a “B” average.  For MSW students, a related fieldexperience is required.

Examples of enrollment models are shown below.

MSW Course of Study

A minimum of 63 semester credit hours is required for the M.S.W. degree.  All students are required to complete the 15-credit hour foundation semester, plus 48 credit hours in the student’s chosen concentration and electives.  Maximum enrollment for spring and fall is 15 semester credit hours and for summer is 6 semester credit hours.

Students are admitted into 2-Year (full-time), 3-Year (part-time), weekend college (hybrid) or online enrollment status.  Changing from one enrollment plan to another requires prior approval from the advisor.  All enrollment model degree plans can be found by going to this link:

Enrollment and Scheduling Notes

The foundation curriculum serves as the prerequisite for all other coursework.

Field IV must be taken in your graduating semester, and Field III must be taken in the semester immediately prior to Field IV.

A minimum of 63 credit hours is required for the M.S.W. 

The program cannot be completed totally in the evening or weekends.

The 15-semester credit hour foundation courses includes the following content areas:

  • Foundations of the Profession
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Social Work Practice
  • Practice Skills Lab
  • Research and Knowledge Building
  • Field Practicum

Before You Apply

The decision to enter a graduate, professional program leading to the M.S.W. is a significant one.  The combination of course work and field practicum is demanding and requires careful planning in order to move through the program successfully.  Prospective applicants are encouraged to consider the following information.

Course Scheduling:  The GCSW strives to maintain a diverse student body with both full-time and part-time students.  Many students are employed outside the home and have childcare responsibilities in addition to school.  As a result, students must make numerous adjustments in their schedules in order to attend classes and to fulfill the clock hour requirements for field practicum.  While we are aware of the multiple demands placed on our students, the program is highly structured and must be completed in sequence.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to plan carefully to ensure successful completion of the program.

A Caution about Fulltime Employment:  If you plan to enroll as a full-time student, we strongly advise against simultaneous fulltime employment.  From past experience, we know that this heavy load creates problems in class attendance, generates significant barriers to the completion of field practicum courses, and has resulted in academic failure.  The recommended balance of employment and graduate enrollment is:

Employment Hours per Week Semester Hours Enrolled
None 15 Credit Hours
Up to 10 12 - 15 Credit Hours
20 - 30 9 Credit Hours
More than 30 6 Credit Hours

Field Practicum:  Part of the uniqueness of the M.S.W. degree is in its applied focus as reflected by required field practicum courses.  In field courses, students are assigned as interns under the supervision of a social work field instructor in various practice settings.  The GCSW has affiliation agreements with more than 500 agencies in the greater Houston area that have met our criteria as approved field practicum sites.  Students are required to complete a total of 900 clock hours in field courses, beginning in the foundation curriculum. 

Academic and Professional Advising:  The GSCW has a full-time academic advisor who plays a pivotal role in the student’s academic life.  Advising sessions are held each semester as part of an ongoing process to help students negotiate the curriculum, discuss academic progress, and ensure that all requirements are being met

Transfer Credit:  Students admitted to the GCSW who have previous graduate course work may discuss transfer of credit with their academic advisor.  Six hours of graduate course work may be applied to the M.S.W. degree with the advisor’s recommendation and approval of the Director of Student Affairs.  Course reviews for possible transfer credit are not initiated until the student’s first semester of enrollment when they can be discussed with the advisor.

Tuition and Fees:  Tuition and fees are based upon rates established by the State Legislature and/or the University of Houston Board of Regents and are determined by residence status and the number of hours taken.

For 2013, a Texas resident enrolled for 15 graduate credit hours paid approximately $5,500 in tuition and fees; a student enrolled in six graduate hours paid approximately $2,800.  For out of state (i.e., non-Texas resident) students, these figures are about $10,100 and $4,300, respectively.  Rates for international students are the same as non-resident students.  Costs of tuition and fees for nine week, or twelve-week summer sessions are the same as Fall and Spring; six-week sessions are slightly lower.  Check the university’s web site for the latest tuition and fee rates at .

Note that these are minimum figures and that other fees may apply to a specific situation (e.g., off campus fees for courses taken at an off campus location, distance education fees for taped courses).

The university reserves the right to change tuition and other charges without notice as necessitated by university or legislative action.