Skip to main content

SWK-MSW - Social Work


Official Name of Program

Social Work

Plan Code


Department(s) Sponsoring Program



Degree Designation

MSW - Master of Social Work



NYSED Program Code

36439 - SWK-MSW

CIP Code


The purpose of the Master of Social Work (MSW) program is to educate students for advanced, urban social work practice in the community, region, and worldwide, with an emphasis on meeting the needs of people with disabilities. Social work is a profession that strives to create a just and equitable world for the future of humanity. Guided by a code of ethics, social work is committed to ending oppression, embracing diversity, and ensuring that individuals, communities, and organizations function at an optimal level. The College of Staten Island is located on the former campus of the Willowbrook State School, an institution for people with developmental disabilities that was closed due to inhumane conditions and inadequate management. Given the history of Willowbrook State School, it is part of the mission of the MSW program at the College of Staten Island to develop a rigorous academic program that educates professionals who respond to the needs of former Willowbrook residents and clients, the larger disabilities communities, and others who live on Staten Island and in the region.

The curriculum is guided by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) (the accrediting body for social work education programs) and the State of New York Education Department. The MSW program totals 60 credit hours including four internship courses. The Advanced Standing MSW program totals 32 credit hours including two internship courses for those who earned a baccalaureate degree in social work within the past five years from a program accredited by CSWE. Credit is not granted for life or work experience.

The advanced curriculum is grounded in a social constructionist perspective aimed at addressing issues of oppression and discrimination, promoting social and economic justice, creating an inclusive and barrier-free society, and developing a positive identity for people with disabilities. While acknowledging that physical, sensory, intellectual or psychological impairments may cause individual functional limitations, this theoretical perspective recognizes that these do not necessarily have to lead to disabilities unless society fails to ensure inclusion and acceptance of people with individual differences. It is understood that the concept of disabilities will vary according to cultural expectations and values, history and sociopolitical context. Therefore, while the curriculum includes content on traditional (i.e., medical model) assessment, diagnosis and intervention, it is balanced by critique of this model, and focused on knowledge and skills grounded in a social constructionist perspective.

The MSW program has been approved by the New York State Education Department as meeting the educational requirements to sit for the Licensed Master of Social Work exam and licensure in New York State, upon graduation. The MSW program has two areas of specialization: disability studies: clinical practice; and disability studies: macro practice. Disability studies: clinical practice students will take the 12 credits of clinical content needed to pursue clinical licensure. The disability studies: macro practice area of specialization is available to those who wish to specialize in program planning, policy making, community organizing and other forms of indirect practice.  The MSW program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Master of Social Work (MSW) Mission and Goals


Consistent with the mission of the College and the values of the profession of social work, the Master of Social Work program at the College of Staten Island, The City University of New York is committed to excellence in teaching, service, and the creation and dissemination of knowledge. The MSW program educates social workers at an advanced level from a critical disabilities perspective to employ transformative social work practices with people with disabilities. Acknowledging our global interconnectedness, we strive to understand and address the experiences of diverse people and societies; foster human and community well-being; and, create a world that is socially and economically just and equitable.


  1. Graduates will have the knowledge, skills and values for advanced, urban, transformative social work practice with people with disabilities on Staten Island, the region and beyond.

  2. Graduates will be competent, culturally sensitive advanced professional practitioners who engage with people to meet basic survival needs for food, clothing, shelter, and livelihood.

  3. Graduates will be able to apply advanced social work knowledge, skills and values to informed action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and the greater society.

  4. Graduates will have the advanced knowledge, skills, and values to work toward a just and equitable society.

  5. Graduates will be motivated and prepared for advanced social work practice with an understanding of the importance of continued self-reflection and professional development throughout their social work career.