Master of Social Work
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Abolitionist Master of Social Work Program Purpose Statement:
The Alverno Abolitionist Master of Social Work (MSW) program's purpose is to be a facilitator of curiosity, power analysis, ingenuity, and healing for our student community to prepare them for advanced, global social work practice.
We journey together toward this purpose, rooted in the following Abolitionist MSW Program Values:
Multiplicity of “Knowing”
We believe that there are many ways of both acquiring knowledge and of knowing something to be true. We value scientific inquiry, indigenous community wisdom, somatic experience, empathetic reasoning, artistic expression, and more. We disbelieve in prescribing a single way of learning, teaching, or demonstrating understanding. In order to provide the profession with quality social workers, we must be committed to classrooms that are student-centered and capable of facilitating and evaluating all types of learning. We must draw on convention and innovate beyond it, open to new research and experience in pedagogy. We will thus model to our students methods of individual, group, and institutional engagement that considers the unique needs, expressions, capabilities, and knowledge of individuals.
Drawing on the person-in-environment framework, we believe that well-being of all persons is interdependent and interconnected. Whether working one on one with a client, working in families or groups, or working with institutions, communities, and societies, harm or healing from one part of the system has an impact on the entire set of relationships. Social workers and the profession of social work are not separate from the relationships, communities, and societies in which they practice. Therefore it is crucial that we find ways in the classroom to make collective decisions, share responsibility for our learning and goals, understand ourselves as part of a larger, global community, and prepare to apply collectivist principles to practice.
Critical Analysis for Systemic Change
We believe that effective social work requires the ability to think critically and analyze power structures. Competent and integrous social work must use critical thinking skills in order to identify, interrupt, and transform harm. In order to prevent further harm, we must recognize and mobilize against the violence of existing power structures. This includes the imperative to antagonize white supremacy, dismantle carceral systems, and challenge the ways in which social workers have been recruited to enforce oppressive hierarchies of power.
We believe that systems, patterns, and instances of harm must be transformed in order to heal, for the good of all people, locally and globally. Transformative healing holds individuals and systems accountable to harm, provides collective pathways to healing, and shifts systems and cultures for future well-being. Interventions must seek first to interrupt harm, but further to transform the material and relational conditions (poverty, racism, trauma, etc.) that made the harm possible. We intend, rather than restoring what was, to transform together into what is possible.
We believe that we have not yet created conditions that facilitate the realization of human rights for all. In order for social workers to create those conditions, we must dream beyond what is, into what is possible. Social work will not be satisfied until all people are free from oppression. Because the status quo has failed to provide liberation for all people, we must develop a culture of radical imagination and commitment to experimenting with new ways of being whole.
What is Abolition?
Abolition seeks to build the kinds of support, safety, accountability, protection, and justice that create alternatives to criminalization. Abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore clarifies that "Abolition is presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions." Through the creative collective work of healing, imagination, and transformation, we dream and build a world beyond the carceral state. Instead of upholding the systems we already have, social workers must educate and train ourselves for the future we seek to build. We believe that abolition social work is the fulfillment of our deeply held values, the future of our profession, and the framework we need to build a better world.
For more information we invite you to read these resources:
How many credits for completion?
The program offers a two-year MSW. This is a 56-credit program. Full-time will include on average 12 credits a semester, two courses every eight weeks. We offer a part-time option that will include one course every eight weeks.
Advanced Standing Option: Do you have your Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program? If so, you can apply to our Advanced Standing program and complete your MSW degree online in one year. To qualify for advanced standing you must have completed your Bachelor’s in social work within the last 10 years. This is a 32 credit program.
What are the courses?
Alverno College’s Abolitionist Master of Social Work Program (MSW) will focus on critiquing the carceral logic and providing students with a “Restorative to Transformative Practices” certificate. Elective courses are available to allow you to prepare for clinical licensure, including the Wisconsin substance abuse specialty. All students will have the necessary coursework to apply for their Advanced Practice Social Work (APSW) Licensure.
Take innovative courses such as: Systems of Oppression, Social Movements, Mutual Aid, and Organizing for Change, Social Work Towards Abolition, The War on Drugs: The Criminalization of Addiction and Substance Use, Trauma Healing Interventions, Transformative Healing for Groups and Families, Dreaming a New World: The Collectivist Abolition Lab.
Courses will be formatted with both synchronous and asynchronous activities to facilitate the connection between your other learning colleagues while allowing for flexibility in your multifaceted life. We know the stress and sacrifice it takes to enter into an educational program.
What is the Cost per Credit?
$866 per credit, financial aid available for students. Alverno College Financial Aid Office is here to help you through the process.
Is there a Required Practicum Placement?
If you are in the two-year program you will complete two practicums. During your first year you will complete a 400-hour practicum and in your second year you will complete a 500-hour practicum.
If you are in the advanced standing program you will complete one 500-hour practicum.
The MSW Practicum Director will assist you in locating a practicum site that will meet your career goals. We will allow for your practicum to be in your place of employment if applicable.
What if I’m out of state?
We’d love for you to join us. We can assist you with determining your state’s various licensing requirements.
How do I apply?
Students will be required to submit an FREE application to Alverno College and a personal statement (in the form of a written statement, video submission, or another creative expression) in order to be considered for acceptance into the program. Follow all instructions in the application portal.
In order to apply click here: https://www.alverno.edu/apply
I still have questions, who can I contact?
Please reach out to Cameron Overton (firstname.lastname@example.org), program director, for any questions about the program. We want to know YOU and help in any way possible. If you have questions about the application process or financial aid, please contact Katie Kipp (email@example.com), your admissions counselor, and she will answer any questions you may have. You can also call her at 414-382-6045.
Important Accreditation Information
Alverno College is currently in Pre-Candidacy for Accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education’s Board of Accreditation.
Pre-Candidacy for a baccalaureate or master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’s Board of Accreditation indicates that it has submitted an application to be reviewed for Candidacy and had its Benchmark 1 approved in draft form to move forward with Candidacy review within one year. A program that has attained Pre-Candidacy has not yet been reviewed by the Board of Accreditation or been verified to be in compliance with the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards.
Students who enter programs in Pre-Candidacy that attain Candidacy in the academic year in which they begin their program of study will be retroactively recognized as having graduated from a CSWE-accredited program once the program attains Initial Accreditation. The Candidacy Process is typically a three-year process and there is no guarantee that a program in Pre-Candidacy will eventually attain Candidacy or Initial Accreditation.
Candidacy by the Council on Social Work Education’s Board of Accreditation applies to all locations and delivery methods of an accredited program. Accreditation provides reasonable assurance about the quality of the program and the competence of students graduating from the program.
For more information about social work accreditation, you may contact The Department of Social Work Accreditation.