STU Launches Master of Social Work Program

St. Thomas University is launching a Master of Social Work program that specializes in advanced clinical practice and intensive workplace practicums.  


The new Master of Social Work is a full-time, one-year graduate program for students who possess a social work degree. It will provide students with advanced theory and skills in professional leadership, social work supervision, and skills development through courses, and the option of a thesis or a faculty-supervised, 450 hour practicum.


The first classes begin in September 2021 and registration is now open.


“The social work profession is evolving and an MSW is becoming an important credential for entry and advancement. Modern social work practise is highly specialized and requires the knowledge of advanced practice. This degree will respond to labour market needs and provide flexible and beneficial development opportunity for practitioners,” said Dawn Russell, President and Vice-Chancellor of St. Thomas University.


Russell added that recommendations in the Savoury Report (2019) were supportive of advanced education and training for social workers. It also called for the removal of barriers to the recruitment and retention of social workers in New Brunswick which are addressed by the new program.


“Our School of Social Work has worked very hard to develop the new program, and we are excited for its potential to help the province,” she said.


Dr. Marilyn Dupré, Director of the School of Social Work, noted the need for a graduate program in social work in the province is long-standing.


“STU’s one-year MSW program will make an advanced professional degree more accessible to working professionals. Labour market trends indicate that a master's degree will be desirable in meeting the needs of public service employers, such as education and health services, and recent changes point to the role that social workers with advanced training can play a greater role in diagnosis,” she said.


St. Thomas University is the only university in New Brunswick offering master and undergraduate social work degrees in English. Previously, graduates of undergraduate social work programs have had no options available to pursue professional development within the province. In fact, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are the only two Canadian provinces without a Master of Social Work program in  English.


“As our program will be limited to 16 students, it creates an optimal 4:1 student-to-faculty ratio and ensures that students receive exceptional personal support and guidance. We have also developed excellent relationships with government and non-profit agencies throughout the Maritime Provinces, giving us the capacity to match students with field practicums that meet their individualized learning objectives, and we will provide each student with one-to-one direct support from faculty throughout their field placement,” said Dupré.


Dupré said that the program will be attractive to graduates of any undergraduate social work program who have a minimum of 1,500 hours of professional social work experience, graduates from the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet BSW Program, and social workers from other provinces.


The MSW has the support of the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers which has more than 2,100 members. The program was extensively reviewed and has been accredited by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission and the Canadian Association of Social Work Educators.


Coinciding with the new MSW, the Bachelor of Social Work program is being restructured into a two-year program admitting students after their first two years of a Bachelor of Arts. STU also offers a Mi'kmaq Maliseet Bachelor of Social Work degree, an accredited program that provides Indigenous individuals with a social work education in a flexible and culturally relevant framework.


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