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Core and Elective Course Descriptions

* All Tulane School of Social Work courses are identified with SOWK before the course number. Refer to the current course catalog to determine availability of courses in any given semester. Refer to the course sequence document to determine what courses you will register for each semester.

Required Courses

  • 7110
  • Professional Foundations
  • (1 Credits)
  • *

This foundation course provides a developmental overview of the breadth of social work, including its definition, scope, history, ethics and values, required competencies, and the basics of becoming a reflective practitioner. The course focuses on the future development of the individual student as a professional. The course defines relationship-centered practice within a clinical-community context as part of the introduction to the TSSW curriculum.

  • 7120
  • Social Welfare History and Policy
  • (3 Credits)
  • *

The course focuses on both the historical development of American social welfare policy and the practice of policy analysis in relation to contemporary social welfare policies. Issues central to understanding American social welfare policy such as poverty, racism, sexism, globalization, privatization and faith-based policies are addressed in this course.

  • 7130
  • Diversity and Social Justice
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This course addresses concerns about social justice and populations-at-risk. A clinical-community approach is used to teach foundational concepts, theories, and topics related to human diversity, oppression and social justice. The meta-emotional themes of Connection/Disconnection, Power/Diminishment, Purpose/Invisibility, provide a relationship-centered framework to understand diversity and social justice for social work practice. The course structure consists of small class sections designed to support a psychologically safe environment for students to learn the skills necessary for having 'tough conversations' related to diversity and social justice. These discussions - led by two faculty from diverse social groups - center on issues related to age, social class, culture, ethnicity, race, gender, gender orientation, and disabilities. A strengths perspective is used to understand how different social behaviors and policies support and/or oppress individuals, families, groups, and communities. Student Learning Partners are used throughout the course to provide opportunities to understand our unique cultural selves and appreciate difference and diversity in others

  • 7140
  • Intro to Organizational and Community Practice
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This foundation course addresses community practice as it relates to human service agencies with special attention to non-profit and grassroots organizations. Building upon 2 theoretical approaches to human service organizations/agencies and their distinct at tributes, the course addresses key practice knowledge, skills, and values that promote, develop, and maintain organizations that effectively meet community and client needs. This course also emphasizes models of community intervention as integral to the social work professional's role in community and addresses challenges working with diverse populations in terms of community engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation.

  • 7210
  • Theory I: Human Behavior & Social Environment
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

Kurt Lewin's "nothing so practical as a good theory" paradigm provides the philosophical base for this course. Meta theoretical principles are used to understand theories of human relationship development across the lifespan. These meta theoretical principles - connection and disconnection; power and diminishment; purpose and invisibility - provide an overarching perspective for social workers to function as clinical community social workers with a relationship centered focus. These principles are applied to child and adolescent development and to issues related to diversity, oppression, class and social justice. This is the first semester of a two-semester sequence.

  • 7220
  • Theory II: Human Behavior & Social Environment
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

In this required second semester course of the two semester sequence, the focus continues to center around Kurt Lewin's "nothing as practical as a good theory" paradigm. (Kurt Lewin, 1944, University of Iowa Studies in Child Welfare) The meta theoretical principles are used to continue to understand theories of human relationship development as they relate to the life span issues of adult development. Those principles - connection and disconnection; power and diminishment; purpose and invisibility - also highlight continuing discussions about diversity, oppression, class, social justice and the intersectionality of the "isms" with each other.

  • 7230
  • Community Organization and Policy Advocacy
  • (3 Credits)
  • *

This methods course addresses community organization which is a form of social work practice that works through collective response to structural inequities. Through organizing - mobilizing people to combine their resources to act strategically on behalf of common interests - social workers aim for social change found through collective human potential. Through policy practice and policy advocacy, a social worker can transform the desires of community into laws and regulations that help achieve the goal of social and economic justice. Policy practice is an integral element of social work as practiced in all settings-at the local, state, and national levels, as well as within micro, mezzo, and macro levels of intervention.

  • 7310
  • Methods I: Introduction to Direct Social Work Practice
  • (3 Credits)
  • *

This three-credit foundation course is the first of three direct practice methods courses (it is followed by Methods II and Advanced Methods). It focuses on teaching students a broad and integrated variety of helping methods that span individuals, families, and groups within a clinical-community perspective. The central vehicle for navigating and managing these many systems is the social worker-client relationship, or Relationship-Centered Practice. Students will learn how to engage, assess, and facilitate change in small systems within the context of larger systems such as neighborhoods and communities. Students will learn to perform major social work practice roles and communication processes as well as procedures necessary for resource development, linkage, and utilization.

  • 7320
  • Methods II: Social Work Practice with Individuals Families Groups Methods
  • (3 Credits)
  • *

This required methods course is the second of two foundation courses and integrates clinical with community practice. It contains distinct modules for practice particularly with individuals and families, and with small groups. The course continues to emphasize relationship-centered practice as a central premise for intervention, addressing traditional direct service approaches.

  • 7330
  • Advanced Methods for Clinical-Community Practice
  • (5 Credits)
  • *

This advanced course integrates material from Methods I and Methods II and builds on content delivered in Theory, Tools, Professional Foundations and Field. The focus of the course is on the application of advanced relationship-centered clinical-community methods to a variety of complex cases. While students in this course are also taught advanced methods for discrete areas of practice (e.g., advanced case-management, intervention and termination, treatment matching, policy analysis, direct action organizing, locality development), integration of practice skills and professional identity is driven by the use of cases that require students to challenge and "work across" conventional conceptualizations of "micro," "mezzo," and "macro" practice.

  • 7410
  • Tools for Learning and Practice I: Evidence-Based Social Work Practice
  • (3 Credits)
  • *

This course focuses on the principles and process of Evidence-based Practice (EBP), a methodology for making practice decisions that emphasizes formulating practice questions, locating and evaluating information to answer these questions, applying the knowledge gained to practice situations, and evaluating outcomes. Essential to this approach is the core competency of critical thinking, which will be introduced and developed. Also inherent in EBP is the competency of information literacy, which will be addressed as students are familiarized with information resources vital to social work and learn strategies or accessing them. Additionally, students will work towards the effective use of acquired knowledge with others. Students will learn to utilize some of the written, verbal, and visual tools underlying the core competency of communication skills. They will also begin to explore the competency of team building with particular emphasis placed on working in learning groups.

  • 7420
  • Tools for Learning and Practice II: Learning and Research in the Field Setting
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

Tools II is designed to continue guiding the student in mastering tools for lifelong inquiry and learning in social work practice. The course facilitates the students' successful entrance and integration into the field placement setting by addressing the key learning issues involved in that process. Tools II is concentrated on the identification and development of a Professional Project that is useful and relevant to the field agency, and a hands-on experience which explicates the interface between methods of inquiry and analysis and direct social work practice.

  • 7430
  • Tools III: Data Management Analysis and Interpretation
  • (3 Credits)
  • *

In this three-credit course, students continue to develop skills related to the access, creation, utilization, and dissemination of knowledge for social work practice. The course focuses primarily on the principles, methods, and applications of quantitative and qualitative data analysis used in clinical-community social work research. The course emphasizes the practical application of data analysis knowledge in both assessing the quality of existing research evidence and contributing to knowledge through systematic inquiry on topics of concern to social work practitioners and their clients. The utilization of computer applications for data management and analysis is stressed. In addition, in preparation for presenting the outcomes of their Professional Projects in the fourth semester Capstone Course, students are introduced to principles and techniques of effective verbal and visual presentations.

  • 7440
  • Capstone Seminar
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

The Capstone Seminar in relationship-centered, clinical-community practice is designed to be integrative of all the previous foundation and advanced courses. The goal is to produce a graduate who is more grounded in professional identity, and in social work's values and propose. This is accomplished through an inquisitive, dialectic process between students and professors. Fundamental questions will be raised about the nature of social work's mission, the nature of knowledge for social work and the exercise of social work practices.

  • 7480
  • Professional Project
  • (3 Credits)
  • *

The Professional Project requires students to produce a body of work that extends what they have learned in their course work and that has practical application to social work practice. The format of the Professional Project will be different for each student depending on the student's interests and abilities. The student produces a visual display for the Professional Project Poster Session. Most students work in groups and typically the poster session is held during the last weeks' of the fourth semester.

  • 7520
  • Field Practicum I
  • (5 Credits)
  • *

Students spend three days weekly in field instruction for three consecutive semesters beginning with this Spring course. Field placements are in community agencies where professional social work supervision is provided to guide the development of a full range of social work practice skills and helping the learner assume a professional social work role. As is possible, placements are made in accordance with a student's stated learning objectives and professional career goals. Tulane School of Social Work maintains close ties with agencies in the development of the educational focus of field instruction.

  • 7530
  • Field Practicum II
  • (5 Credits)
  • *

Students spend three days weekly in field instruction during this Summer semester course. Field placements are in community agencies where professional social work supervision is provided to guide the development of a full range of social work practice skills and helping the learner assume a professional social work role. As is possible, placements are made in accordance with a student's stated learning objectives and professional career goals. Tulane School of Social Work maintains close ties with agencies in the development of the educational focus of field instruction.

  • 7540
  • Field Practicum III
  • (5 Credits)
  • *

Students spend three days weekly in field instruction during this Fall semester, which is taken during a student's fourth and final semester at Tulane. Field placements are in community agencies where professional social work supervision is provided to guide the development of a full range of social work practice skills and helping the learner assume a professional social work role. As is possible, placements are made in accordance with a student's stated learning objectives and professional career goals. Tulane School of Social Work maintains close ties with agencies in the development of the educational focus of field instruction.

  • 7580
  • Integrative Field Seminar
  • (0 Credits)
  • *

The Integrative Field Seminar is a required course and is taken concurrently with each semester field practicum (Full-time Field Practicum 7520, 7530, 7540 and Part-time Field Practicum 7910-7960). It relates theory to practice and integrates classroom learning with field experiences. This process-oriented seminar is designed to afford students the opportunity to discuss, analyze, and integrate their field placement experiences.

Tulane School of Social Work Master of Social Work Electives

  • 7070 (ENHS 6950)
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Disasters
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

The course introduces the learner to the range of normal and abnormal responses to disaster on an organizational and collective community level. The relationship of certain variables - preparedness, race, poverty, age, geographic location, evacuation potential, available services - to degrees of community trauma are discussed. Particular attention is paid to vulnerable or marginalized groups that are at greatest risk for physical and psychological harm during and after a disaster. Psychosocial implications of disaster across macro and mezzo, entities are considered through reflection labs that utilize actual case scenarios from a variety of disaster situations. Students are to simulate ways to assure that psychosocial needs are included in emergency planning, response, and recovery phases of disaster. Responder psychosocial health and methods to promote responder resilience are emphasized through a personal resilience plan.

  • 7080 (ENHS 7950)
  • Crisis Interventions and Brief Psychosocial Treatment
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

The course covers the theoretical development, practical application, and empirical evidence for psychosocial interventions within the context of social and environmental health disasters. Emphasis is placed on rapid, appropriate responses to mitigate the harmful effects of psychosocial trauma on individuals, families, organizations, and communities. The integrative clinical-community approach is demonstrated through highly interactive case-based learning in real-world situations such as natural disaster, environmental health crises, death, traumatic injury or illness, PTSD, violent crime, and terrorism. Particular instruction is provided on short term mental health interventions, such as psychological first aid and nontraditional psychotherapeutic techniques. Students will justify and apply appropriate psychosocial interventions on the micro, mezzo, or macro levels.

  • 7100
  • Spirituality and Social Work
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This course explores the interplay between social work theory and practice and spirituality as a vital dimension for the field of social work. After reviewing the history of relationships between social work, religion, practice, and spirituality, a wide range of current approaches is examined. The course explores how social workers can authentically relate to the spiritual dimensions in social work and respectfully assist clients of all backgrounds and persuasion to draw on the strengths of their own spiritual traditions. Both advantages and limitations of such an approach are discussed.

Prerequisites: SOWK 7210, 7220, 7320, 7330

  • 7250
  • Immigrants and Refugees
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This course is especially designed to familiarize students with prominent theories, major issues, and controversies in immigration policy and social work practice with immigrants and refugees. While immigration has become a crucial concern of American social welfare system, as well as an issue of global urgency, the unsettling situation as immigration controls the fate of growing numbers of asylum seekers, and the adaptation problems of the children of immigrants, has called special attention to social work researchers and practitioners. This course is developed to increase students' knowledge and skills in working with immigrant and refugee population. Students are encouraged to understand immigration issues in comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, and to seek applications to and implications for diversity. The course is one of the social work selective courses that will meet the needs of students for a variety of career objectives. Combining with social work foundation courses, the course prepares students by teaching them advanced knowledge and skills in working with the population of immigrants and refugees.

  • 7300
  • Clinical Intervention with Children and Adolescents
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This advanced elective provides the student with knowledge of the physical, psychological and social development of children and adolescents. Course content related to clinical intervention with children includes: 1) acquiring the skills needed to keenly observe and analyze child behavior for its hidden meaning; 2) how to gather a complete and meaningful social history of the child and family within a clinical-community context; 3) interviewing and assessment techniques; and 4) treatment techniques. Students examine a wide variety of problems common to adolescents as well as the social and psychological underpinnings that accompany these. Practical and specific assessment and treatment skills relevant to typical arenas of clinical-community social work practice with children and adolescents and their families are of primary concern.

  • 7340
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and The DSMV
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This advanced elective offers students an in-depth study of Psychodynamic treatment approach to a spectrum of DSMV disorders. The focus will be on establishing a working knowledge of psychodynamic-oriented approaches to the treatment and management of mental illness, typically seen in clinical-community practice in human service agencies. Cross-cultural considerations are included in assessment, planning, and intervention.

Prerequisites: SOWK 7210, 7220, 7310, 7320

  • 7350
  • Leadership and Management in Human Service Organizations
  • *

The course covers the theoretical foundations, principles, skills and ethics of leadership and management in human service organizations. Theories of leadership and management are examined for usefulness in the social work profession, as well as for understanding organizational behavior and worker motivation. Through in-class lectureand discussion as well as agency-based consultations, students may observe and report on strategic planning activities; working with boards; entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial initiatives in the nonprofit sector; establishing partner ships; human resources, teamwork, and diversity; supervising for improved clinical-community and management skills; budgeting; and career development.

Prerequisites: All required first and second semester courses in the MSW program

  • 7360
  • Contemporary Practice with Couples and Families
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This advanced elective is designed to integrate theories, practice principles, and intervention strategies with traditional and nontraditional couples and families. It builds upon those theories and methods learned in the Theory Sequence (SOWK 7210, 7220) and in the Methods Sequence (SOWK 7310, 7320 & 7330). Contemporary couples andfamily treatment derives from post-modern theory and philosophy. How post-modern theories and methods are translated to couples treatment is also a major aspect of this course. While each session features mini-lectures, the course is case-centered and participatory. Integration of theories and practice principles as they are translated to specific intervention strategies is the major thrust of this course. A final oral presentation focuses on case analysis, treatment planning, and implementation of post-modern intervention strategies.

  • 7380
  • Treatment of Anxiety and Depression
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

The course covers the etiologies, manifestations, nosology, and biopsychosocial interventions with depression and anxiety -the two most common complaints of clients in primary care and mental health service settings. Two general approaches serve as the epistemological foundation in the course: the Strengths Perspective and a coordinated holistic biopsychosocial approach that considers physiological, psychological, social, developmental, familial, cultural and environmental factors in both the assessment of and interventions with anxiety and depression. Students engage in active learning and practical case application of cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused, interdisciplinary case management, and comparative psychotherapy techniques. Accessing and evaluating the research literature using principles of Evidence Based Practice are integrated into examination of outcomes effectiveness of comparative clinical-community treatment approaches.

Prerequisites: SOWK 7210, 7220, 7310, 7320, 7330, 7410, 7420

  • 7450
  • Death & Dying
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This course examines End-of-Life issues and how these issues impact the clients, families and social workers. Students will have the opportunity to examine their feelings regarding death, dying, grieving and other losses through class readings and exercises, discussions and field trip(s).

  • 7600
  • Public Advocacy: Ensuring the Rights of Marginalized Persons
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

Advocacy is an important tool to promote social justice and social equity including the well-being of underprivileged groups and individuals. By the end of this course students will have developed advocacy skills applicable to different social issues with government, the judiciary, politicians, the media, and civil society. Students will learn the concept of advocacy in a systematic manner and be exposed to different advocacy efforts employed in a variety of sectors and regions. Students will gain the skills in issue framing, alliance building, and planning campaigns to compose effective people centered advocacy.

  • 7650
  • Theory and Treatment of Addictions
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This elective course will advance students' knowledge of a biopsychosocial framework addressing the use and abuse of mood altering substances and other addictive processes. This framework will form the foundation for exploring a variety of models explaining addictive processes. Neuroscience, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, systems and postmodern theories will be utilized as means to identify addictive processes and formulate interventions. Current evidence-based methods will be explored. The impact of various forms of addictions will be addressed on different populations.

  • 7700
  • Global Perspectives in Social Work Practice
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

Social workers, whether working within the US or abroad, can benefit from having an understanding of the nature of global interdependence, how this interdependence impacts communities locally and globally and ways in which social workers can effect positive change. Focusing on globalization, indigenization, human rights, and social development, students will study the theories and ethics underlying current global social work practice and learn about strategies and programs which address key issues faced by many developed, developing and least developed countries.

  • 7710
  • Contemporary Issues in Global Context - Vulnerable Populations
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

Whether working locally or internationally, having a knowledge base that promotes the understanding of contemporary issues in a global context and various social capacities to address the needs of vulnerable populations is paramount. In this course students will study the concepts of vulnerability and its application for the welfare and wellbeing of vulnerable populations. Prevention, intervention, monitoring and evaluation strategies are key components placed within a global framework when addressing social problems, particularly in developing and least developed countries.

  • 7760
  • Human Sexuality
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

Complementary, inclusive, and sometimes conflicting perspectives inform the human sexuality context for this exploration of the ways that sexuality is situated and managed within social work practice. The course is designed to acquaint social work students with the necessary factual and theoretical background to make cognitive, behavioral, and experiential connections in work with individuals, couples, and communities that are experiencing difficulties with close human interaction. Students have the opportunity to learn how theories of sexuality have informed practice and how these formulations are currently being questioned and disputed. Within that context of critical awareness, students explore their own level of comfort with sexuality as it relates to clinical situations. The course expects students to extend their knowledge of social work practice to the area of sexual disorders. Treatment is based on a fundamental knowledge of social work practice to the area of sexual disorders. Treatment is based on a fundamental knowledge of human sexual behavior, including biological aspects, developmental characteristics over the life cycle, courtship, marriage, sex roles, contributions from feminist thinking, and healthy relationships. Male and female sexual dysfunction is discussed in the context of partner-facilitated treatment.

  • 7800
  • Violence in the Family and Community Context
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This course integrates recent empirical content on domestic violence occurring within family systems with effective assessment techniques and real world practice opportunities. Emphasis is on understanding theories about what causes domestic violence and effective intervention strategies for assessing and eliminating violence in families. Topics include sociocultural, intrapersonal, and interpersonal explanations for domestic violence; the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child abuse; and strategies for effective intervention with batterers, victims, and children. The course includes two discrete modules. The first module involved an investigation of the causes and consequences of domestic violence and an evaluation of the most recent research literature on domestic violence and families. Additionally, given the geographic location of TSSW, special emphasis is placed on the identification and discussion of cultural issues impeding the accumulation of meaningful information on effective intervention for domestic violence occurring in minority families. The second module of the course involved the identification and application of domestic violence assessment techniques for individuals, couples, and families, combined with concurrent opportunities to practice theses specialized techniques. This service learning opportunity allows students to integrate the clinical-community aspects of the MSW program directly into real world practice experience.

  • 7830
  • Principles of International Social Work: Field Expedition to South Africa
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This distinctive study abroad class provides students the opportunity to be exposed to social justice challenges and issues from a South African perspective. This class incorporates various global social work practice methods and community development approaches to address the needs of socio-economic marginalized populations in Post-Apartheid South Africa. As an advanced elective, students will have an opportunity to integrate classroom learning with field experiences through the application of knowledge, skills, values and ethics of community development and multi-cultural practice in an international arena.

  • 7830
  • Principles of International Social Work: Field Expedition to India
  • (2 Credits)
  • *

This class directly addresses the essential relationship between self-awareness, personal growth and professional practice. It incorporates practice methods and community development theory and practice to address the needs of the growing community of Tibetan refugees in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Culturally competent community development and practice is a central tenet and incorporates the integrity and worth of individuals and communities with diverse backgrounds. As an advanced elective, students will have a profound opportunity to integrate classroom learning with field experiences in their application of knowledge, skills, values and ethics to community development and multi-cultural practice in an international arena.