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Comparing Schools for Clinical MSW: Austin, UW, UNC, Michigan, UMD, Chicago, Berkeley, UCLA

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Hello! Can anyone please share their impressions of the MSW for clinical/ micro/ direct practice concentration at these schools? In particular: 

- Do you feel that classes, fieldwork, and supervision adequately prepare you to use a variety of modalities and interventions ? 

- Does the fieldwork placement give you lots of opportunities for hands-on work with clients from the beginning? 

- Did you feel supported by  field education admin? 

- Did your learning focus only on the immediate location the school is in, or is easily generalisable to other regions? 

I"d love to hear from anyone who attended, or is attending the following schools-- or are very familiar with the program, or are applying and have been able to visit, etc): 
 UT Austin, UMichigan Ann Arbor, UC Berkeley, UWashington Seattle,  UMaryland Baltimore, UNC Chapel Hill, UCLA, University of Chicago. 

(and If you're not from one of these schools but want to share about great clinical  training at your school,  please do)

Thank you!!

(PS. I know that it's best to attend in the locality you have residency in & want to practice in, but that's not a major consideration right now so I'd just love to hear about clinical training) 

 

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So I'm at UCLA, I can share a bit about it if you like, but I'm a first year so I have not taken the advanced courses yet, I'm in the general CSWE curriculum right now.

1) Yes, but it's up to you and how you use your time. This is a quarter based program, it is a lot of work and most of us can only manage to read so much, and at least in my case I tend to focus where I need to focus to pass classes, and not as much where I'd like to focus. It is probably like this in any program though, it's just a lot of work and time management. They do a good job of connecting the classes to your placement experiences and basically tie in direct practice into all the other classes like policy focused classes, theory focused, and others. Supervision is done at my placement and it's fine, I have a liaison at UCLA who also works with me and about 8 other students and we meet as a group every 3 weeks or so. I like my direct practice class, almost all the professors are PhD LCSWs, all are at least LCSWs, and have a good amount of private practice or agency direct practice under their belts. I think it's good training and a good program with a good amount of clinical emphasis and good placement options.

2) Field education is there if I need them, and I just have not had a lot of contact with them beyond required training modules and my field seminars. At first I saw my liaison weekly, then every few weeks and it just varies how often we meet depending on other events going on. My field faculty's office is always open, other faculty are also welcoming to students to talk with them, I feel very supported. The only thing I don't like is that sometimes they schedule events at times that I don't really prefer, but that's because I'm a commuter.

3) My learning for sure is more like national scope, in terms of applicability, but obviously placements are in the greater Los Angeles region including Orange and Ventura Counties. Primarily UCLA is a Los Angeles County focused school, and there is no online option so it's full time only, in person classes and field practicum throughout. If I was going to take this degree and go to another state, I'd need to learn that state's laws and whatnot, but the actual skills would be the same. Primarily I you will learn California based social work profession policies and laws, in addition to federal or national laws that everyone learns, and that's just common sense because we are in California. I'm planning to get licensed in California, and most everyone in our cohort who is getting licensed, is planning to work here as far as I know, but I do know of people who relocate and they seem to do fine.

I'm interested in mental health and direct practice, I'd say about half the cohort is as well, and half the cohort is more social justice, policy focused. The MSW can be taken concurrently with some other masters programs like JD Law, MPub Policy, M Pub Health, so we get some students who are cross trained in those fields who bring that into the cohort and conversation. The school used to be known for it's "clinical" or direct practice focus, but is moving more toward a strong direct practice program, but also a strong policy, social justice curriculum for those who wish to focus there as well. As far as classes go in the 2nd year, there are a big variety, and they are considered advanced practice classes focused on your concentration. There are also more specific classes like child psychotherapy, CBT, DSM 5 and psychopathology, substance use disorders which is expanding to a certificate program, and classes for things like family therapy, and others that are probably exactly what you are talking about. I have not seen any specific psychodynamic based classes in terms of their titles, but all the LCSWs who teach direct practice classes have backgrounds in psychodynamic studies as well as the other theoretical approaches so you end up being exposed to that informally.

I think it can be hard to tell which schools have programs with the most focus on how to do good direct practice and psychotherapy. I think at the end of the day, we truly do need to understand the other aspects of social work well to do the best job possible in direct practice, we bring something unique to the table that MFTs and LPCs and Psych's don't.

The school is actually smaller than it might seem, we have 80 people in our cohort, and maybe 20-30 faculty. We are part of the larger Luskin School of Public Affairs which has the department of Social Welfare, and also Urban Planning and Public Policy departments. The MSW we earn is CSWE accredited, so in a legal sense it is like any other MSW earned, however the actual title of the degree is Master of Social Welfare. Again, it means the same thing.

 I know cost wise it's pretty pricey for out of state, but still cheaper than USC, and it's the best ranked MSW program in Southern California, and UCLA overall has just been ranked above Berkeley. Now that's overall undergraduate ranking lol, I do think the MSW program at Berkeley is probably a bit bigger since it's the flagship campus for the UCs. I know it's ranked higher as well, but I don't know how well they prepare you for direct practice versus more policy based SW, but I'd wager they are also strong in both sides of the field, and it would be a good choice. Check out our website and look at the faculty, the curriculum, and the application process and see what you think https://luskin.ucla.edu/social-welfare/. I also have a facebook group I admin that is for all UC and CSU MSW applicants called "UC and CSU MSW Applicant Resource and Support Group" and there are a little over 200 of us communicating about the application process going on there as well, and that includes UCLA and Berkeley. I wouldn't change my decision to go to UCLA. Any questions about UCLA specifically let me know.

 

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