Master of Social Work

Simmons's nationally regarded Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) Program provides a rigorous clinical social work education for women and men. The Program is highly respected for its fieldwork component, with internships three days per week in both years of the Program. We offer a progressive, hands-on curriculum that infuses education and practice with social justice values and multicultural perspectives.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

MSW with Certificate in Urban Leadership in Clinical Social Work

I slept and dreamt that life was joy / I awoke and found that life was duty / I acted, and behold, duty was joy.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

Nearly fifteen years ago, Associate Dean Carol Bonner had a vision.  One singular vision.  Prepare social work practitioners in training for leadership.  In collaboration with a small team of faculty, local community partners, and local businesses she scaffolded what is now the Urban Leadership Certificate Program (ULP) at the Simmons School of Social Work (SSW). Derived from the lessons associated with this work since 1998 are four critical understandings which drive the design and mission of the Urban Leadership Program today.
  • First, leadership is the business of people.  Social workers know the people business.
  • Second, infinite opportunities to practice leadership exists in the spaces between people and their environments.  Social workers practice and thrive at the intersection where people and their environments meet.  
  • Third, authentic leaders promote and sustain change through empowerment and collective action. Empowerment is in the DNA of every highly skilled social worker and collective action is mission of the field. 
  • Fourth, diversity drives creativity, and vulnerability is a catalyst for resilience and innovation.  In the ULP, we design around diversity and look deep into vulnerability to find resilience.  

Today, the Urban Leadership Certificate Program draws on this social work inspired foundation to execute to its mission:

Reveal leaders, promote agency, and discover (your) purpose in urban communities!  

The urban leader who emerges from our two year certificate program will learn how to think about scaling what they are learning in their clinical training about relationships, diversity, and social justice to design and execute to change that transforms organizations and social systems to benefit communities.  Such work is built on the principle that effective leadership is authentic, transformative and involves collective agency and participation. Our urban leader will develop the social, analytical, and emotional skills to mobilize and leverage local resources to benefit people, organizations, and communities.  This unique leader understands what makes urban communities thrive and can see possibility and success where everyone else may see decay, disorganization and failure.   To these ends, in the ULP, emerging social work leaders will:

  1. Articulate a clear leadership philosophy;
  2. Recognize, promote, and leverage diversity; 
  3. Create and sustain learning cultures; and
  4. Utilize evidence-informed assessment, and promote socially just decision making 
The ULP pedagogical framework is guided by the engaged scholar model, which prioritizes our responsibility as social work educators to teaching, scholarship, and service that promotes wellness in communities where we are co-located.  The driving epistemological assumption that informs the ULP is rooted in complexity science, which is anchored in the belief that everything is interdependent.  Consequently transformative change comes out of meaningful interactions and engagement with others across varying levels of interaction and contexts.

To this end, our curriculum is designed with, and shaped by, our investment in authentic relationships with community partners who are leading the work of transformative change in urban environments.  We aspire to co-produce a meaningful body of work about the processes involved in leadership as well as the nature of leadership in urban contexts.  In so doing we aim to contribute ongoing knowledge about the role and place of social work in leadership.   Our methods and approaches include but are not limited to: Community-based participatory action research, mixed methods of inquiry, and developmental evaluation.