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Social Work Curriculum


The Brown School offers the most flexible curriculum of any graduate school of social work.

We have designed our social work curriculum to give students a solid understanding of the fundamentals needed to make great change, as well as the freedom to design their own course of study.

Our program, which is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, emphasizes evidence-based practice, an approach that helps ensure that social work practice, including specific services, treatments, programs and policies, are grounded in current research.

Our master's degree is a two-year, 60 credit hour program. The three components to our program are: Foundation Curriculum, Concentration Curriculum, and Specializations. The Foundation and Concentration Curriculum are required; however, the Specializations are optional and use elective credits.


Foundations: We require seven foundation courses, plus a one-credit integrative seminar, which cover the core professional body of knowledge required by the social work profession. Foundation courses introduce you to social work practices with systems of all sizes ranging from individuals to families and from organizations to communities.

Concentrations: After completing your foundation work, you can select a concentration that interests you. Concentrations include:


Assessment of Student Outcomes:

Elective courses allow you to augment your concentration. Your electives do not need to be tied to your concentration. You may use your electives to take courses at one or more of Washington University’s other graduate and professional programs.


You may choose to gain additional knowledge and skills by packaging your electives into a specialization. We offer three specializations:


  • Management addresses organizational leadership, finance, marketing, board development, and resource development needed to manage non-profit and public sector organizations. (Download PDF)

  • Research provides the foundation for planning and implementing social service research initiatives. (Download PDF)


  • Social Entrepreneurship is an innovative program designed to build skills in business planning, budgeting, written and verbal communications, performance management and impact measurement, used to launch non-profit and public-sector ventures. (Download PDF)


  • Policy Specialization prepares students to work in policy related careers, where they must demonstrate command of the policy process including the role of government and civic action, policy design and development, and policy analysis. (Download PDF)

Children, Youth and Families Concentration

This concentration focuses on the development, management, and delivery of services to meet the specific needs of children, youth, and families. Graduates work in juvenile courts, youth service programs, public and private welfare agencies, residential settings, school systems, prevention agencies, and community centers.  


Gerontology Concentration

This concentration focuses on the direct delivery of services to older people and their families, the development of related policies, programs and services, and the management and administration of programs for the elderly. Graduates work in hospitals, home health care agencies, community mental health centers, advocacy organizations, community centers, long-term care facilities, and private practice.


Health Concentration

This concentration emphasizes both the issues related to managing health care organizations, as well as clinical practice with individuals, families, and groups experiencing health-related problems. Graduates work in primary care clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities, hospices, community health agencies, chemical dependency units, and health education programs.

If you are interested in public health, you may be interested in our new Master of Public Health degree or MSW/MPH dual degree option is planned. 


Mental Health Concentration

Individuals, families, and groups experiencing mental health problems and the management of mental health programs and agencies are the focus of this concentration. Graduates work in community mental health centers, counseling agencies, corporate employee assistance programs, public mental health facilities, and health maintenance organizations.


Social and Economic Development Concentration

This concentration centers on the problems of underdevelopment, both in United States communities and in other countries around the world. The challenges of development include improvements in living conditions and economic opportunities in urban neighborhoods, rural areas, nations, and regions that are struggling to achieve basic necessities. Graduates work for funding organizations, community economic development groups, regional planning agencies, policy analysis and lobbying organizations, and housing agencies.


Individualized Concentration

Students who wish to combine two concentrations or who wish to develop a special focus other than the concentrations offered by the Brown School can create their own concentrations. Our students have developed individualized concentrations in urban education, chemical dependency, childhood poverty, immigrant and refugee issues, social and economic development for women, and American Indian issues.


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