Curriculum FAQs

I want to be a clinical social worker and see that your concentration-year practice classes focus on direct practice. Will that prepare me for clinical work?

Absolutely. West Chester's MSW direct practice curriculum prepares students for all levels of social work practice, including clinical work. In fact, we strongly believe that our program is designed to provide students with the most comprehensive foundation from which to pursue professional clinical practice. Students acquire clinical experiences obtained through field placements coupled with the theoretical background provided in advanced courses targeting individuals, families, communities, and mental health assessments.

Many students who are interested in clinical practice enroll in advanced training or certificate programs in specific aspects of practice. Others take clinical courses to fulfill the continuing education requirements for licensure.

To pursue advanced clinical work, students from all accredited social work programs must seek clinical licensure which requires two years of full time clinical work experience (about 3,000 hours) under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker before qualifying to sit for the clinical-level licensing exam. Students from MSW programs with clinical "concentrations" must follow these same licensing requirements.

Can I take electives during the winter and summer sessions to lighten my course load during the acamedic year?

Yes. Many students take one or two electives during the winter and summer.

Are there opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research, conference presentations, or other topics?

Given the personal nature of the West Chester University program, students have unique opportunities to work with faculty on many different types of projects. Faculty members have collaborated with students on a variety of research projects, frequently presenting their findings with the students at regional, national, and international conventions.

Here are some examples:

  • Dr. Nadine Bean collaborated with 2012 MSW graduate Heather Sowers on a presentation at the National Association of Social Workers - Pennsylvania Chapter Annual Conference in October 2012. Their presentation was titled "Professionalizing Child Welfare: Resilience and Trauma-Informed Practices from Intake to Post-Adoption."
  • Dr. Bean also also collaborated with 2009 graduate Lisa Cerullo on a presentation at the Social Welfare Action Alliance Annual Conference in April 2008. Their presentation was called "The Crucial Role of Social Work Educators, MSW Students and Practicing Social Workers in Helping to Rebuild Mind, Spirit and Community in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward - A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis."
  • Earlier Dr. Bean collaborated with Diane Greenwood, a 2007 MSW graduate, on a presentation at the International Conference on Diversity in Groups, Organizations, and Communities in July 2007 in Amsterdam. That presentation was called "Using Combined Research Methodology to Give Voice to Diverse, Spiritual Populations: Work with Religious Women and Men around the Globe."
  • Dr. Page Buck has collaborated with 2010 graduates Jocelyn Spencer Sagrati and Cathy Allen Plaisted on a project interviewing professionals working with mild traumatic brain injury.
  • Dr. Buck is currently collaborating with MSW candidate Victoria McDonald on exploring mild traumatic brain injury among homeless individuals.
  • Dr. Buck recently presented a skills workshop at the Council on Social Work Education with the editors of the student journal VOICES: 2013 MSW graduate Kristin Bartell and 2012 graduates Elena Gregorio and Burgandy Holiday.

Is a thesis required?

 West Chester Universities MSW program does not have a required thesis.

What types of electives are offered?

The MSW Program currently offers electives in a number of emerging and important social work practice areas, including child welfare, social work in disasters, social work with older adults, substance abuse, and social work with veterans and military families. View our full list of social work practice areas. 

Will I be prepared to take the social work licensing exam after graduation?

Yes. Students graduating from the MSW Program feel that the coursework prepared them well for the licensing exam. We also offer exam preparation seminars during the semester before graduation.

What qualifications do I need to take the ASWB Master's examination?

  1. First go to the PA State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors website and print out the: "APPLICATION FOR A LICENSE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL WORK" form.
  2. To be eligible for the ASWB Master's examination, the applicant must be in the final semester or hold a Master's Degree or a Doctoral Degree in social work or social welfare from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  3. If the applicant is in his/her final semester, have the CSWE-accredited school dean or registrar or department chair complete the section: Verification of Social Work Education for Applicants Enrolled in Their Final Semester. The form must be sent directly from the educational institution to the Board in an official sealed school envelope. In order for a license to be issued, after graduation, an official transcript showing a Master's degree in social work or social welfare must be sent directly from the educational institution to the Board in an official sealed school envelope.
  4. For an applicant that has graduated and received a Master's degree, request an official transcript showing a Master's degree in social work or social welfare to be sent directly from the educational institution to the Board.
  5. The applicant will then receive notification from the PA Board of Social Workers that their application to take the examination has been approved. The applicant can then go to the Association of Social Work Boards website to register for the exam at a place and time that is convenient to them. There are hundreds of testing sites across the country. All states (except California) and all U.S. territories accept the ASWB Master's Level Exam as evidence of competence to be licensed at the first level of licensure (in PA: LSW or Licensed Social Worker).
  6. Preparing for the exam:
    • The ASWB website, at which you register for the exam, has a number of study tools to help prepare you for the exam. You can enroll in an online preparatory course and even take a sample online exam. You can also order a hard copy study guide.
    • You can also take a day long preparatory course from the National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter. You can find information about when and where licensure prep courses are being offered by going to the National Association of Social Workers Pennsylvania Chapter website. There is a fee for the course.
    • There are also other preparatory courses offered online or in person via other, commercial organizations. The WCU, MSW Program does not vouch for the quality of these other programs.

What qualifications do I need to then receive a license to practice Social Work at the LSW level in PA?

  1. Once you have taken and passed the ASWB Master's Exam, have ASWB send your test score to the PA State Board of Social Workers (or whatever state board you wish to be licensed by).
  2. Once the state board has verified that you have graduated from a CSWE-accredited MSW Program and have passed the ASWB Master's Level Exam, you will be issued a license at the LSW level.

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