Stephen F. Austin State University

MSW Program

From the MSW Director

We are proud to prepare graduate students for the social work profession! Social Work provides opportunities to work with diverse client systems on a local, national and international level.

The mission of the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the School of Social Work, Stephen F. Austin State University is to prepare competent and effective professional social workers committed to advanced generalist practice and able to respond to the needs of rural lifestyles. The program is committed to providing leadership for the region. Located in rural East Texas, we are specifically motivated to address the challenges people face in a rural context.

As experts in social work, our faculty members are involved in service to the profession. The integration of their teaching, research and community service enhances the quality of the program. We are dedicated to provide a program of excellence!

Please take time to look at our webpage. You can find information about our program, application forms and current news. You are also welcome to contact us if you need more information.

Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant

MSW Director

MSW Program Overview

The MSW program at Stephen F. Austin State University is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The program is comprised of 64 credit hours and is designed to be completed in two years of full-time academic study. A part-time program of study is also offered, but all degree requirements must be completed within four calendar years from the date of enrollment. The program does not require an undergraduate degree in social work for admission, but does require that students who are deficient in the liberal arts perspective complete additional course work in order to prepare them for the social work professional foundation courses.

To be admitted to the program students must have earned a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate content in human biology, multicultural studies and social statistics are specifically required before students are allowed to enroll in graduate courses that require knowledge of that content. All prerequisite course work must be completed prior to or during the first semester of enrollment in the program.

The MSW program has an advanced standing program of 38 credit hours that is completed in approximately 10 months of full-time study (one summer session and two semesters). Advanced standing students who are part-time must complete the program requirements within two years of enrollment. Advanced standing is only awarded to students who have earned the bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program and who achieve clear admission status (2.5 GPA overall and 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours). No program credit is given for course work or field instruction for students' prior life, volunteer, or work experiences.

MSW Program Mission

The mission of the MSW program at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) is to prepare competent and effective professional social workers committed to advanced generalist practice and able to respond to the needs of rural communities and to the challenges faced by people with rural lifestyles. The program is committed to providing leadership for the region, particularly in identifying and addressing community needs and issues, including those related to the alleviation of poverty and oppression within the context of rurality, cultural diversity and social and economic justice. In support of its educational endeavors, the program is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, lifelong learning and community service.

MSW Program Goals

The MSW program has six distinct program goals that directly support the school mission. The goals are as follows:

  1. Prepare professional social workers who will demonstrate integration and autonomous use of social work knowledge, values, and skills in advanced generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities within a rural and global context.
  2. Prepare professional social workers who will demonstrate critical thinking and ethical social work practice with systems of all sizes within a rural context based upon the knowledge, values, and skills that encompass a generalist perspective and advanced generalist practice.
  3. Prepare professional social workers who will identify with the profession and take an active role in professional leadership, within their local communities and larger systems, and be lifelong learners.
  4. Prepare professional social workers with research knowledge and skills to evaluate and advance social work practice, influence rural policy, advocate for social and economic change with attention to diversity, rural communities, and people with rural lifestyles, and add to the knowledge base of rural social work practice.
  5. Maintain reciprocal relationships with social work practitioners, groups, communities, and organizations in the region, nationally, and globally.
  6. Strengthen rural social work through the School's professional and community service, and scholarship.

Rural Practice

Rural practice refers to social work with rural people and rural systems of all sizes within and outside of rural communities. There is no single accepted definition of rural. In fact, just as generalist practice in social work draws on multiple theories, generalist practice in rural contexts recognizes the many definitions currently in use and their advantages and disadvantages for research, practice, and advocacy. The School of Social Work at SFA utilizes several of these definitions within the United States and globally including:

The United States Census Bureau (urbanized areas, urban clusters, and rural populations); Office of Management and Budget (metropolitan, micropolitan, and non-core), Economic Research Service (rural urban continuum codes); and the United Nations that defines urban and rural according to the census definition for each nation, but suggests a definition of rural areas as having a population of less than 2,000 for international comparisons.

The concentration for the MSW program is advanced generalist practice for rural contexts. Theories that describe and predict rural ecological systems and rural strengths, including the incredibly rich interactions, simple and complex, formal and informal, wholesome and debilitating are emphasized. On this basis, the curriculum of the MSW Program emphasizes the ecological systems approach, the strengths perspective, and the social capital and social exchange theories to support its theoretical framework for preparing students for advanced generalist practice. Thus, rural social work practice includes addressing the following with rural people and rural communities:

Social problems such as high poverty rates, inadequate housing, inadequate health care, scarcity of resources and professionals, socioeconomic underdevelopment, and physical distance from services and transportation are frequently identified as important problems and issues for rural communities. Development of resources, use of natural helping networks, and community development are often proposed as appropriate interventions in these communities. Important opportunities and strengths such as "sense of community", intimacy among community residents, orientations toward self-sufficiency, and an abundance of personal space, often go unnoticed by outsiders.