Nicole Lynn Lee, Ph.D.
Director, M.S.W. Program

Program mission and profession purpose and values

The VCU School of Social Work offers a graduate professional curriculum accredited by the Council on Social Work Education leading to the Master of Social Work degree. The mission of the M.S.W. program at VCU is to educate students for advanced practice in either clinical social work or social work administration, planning and policy practice under the guiding principle of promoting a more just society that includes a commitment to the values of diversity, ethics and competent social work practice in a multicultural society. The M.S.W. program’s mission is strongly aligned to the purpose of the social work profession in that it fully embodies and promotes the worth and dignity of the person and the empowerment and self-determination of individuals, families and communities. In addition, a strong focus on the values of diversity; social, economic and environmental justice; cultural competence/sensitivity; and the importance of human relationships are the cornerstone of the M.S.W. program mission statement. This mission is consistent with and reflected throughout the NASW Code of Ethics.

Upon completion of the M.S.W. program, students will possess the knowledge, skills, values and ethics that guide the core practice standards of the VCU School of Social Work, NASW and CSWE’s Educational Policy and Accreditation standards. The curriculum fosters student learning about human rights through course work that addresses poverty and the enhancement of the quality of life for all persons. The program curriculum promotes human and community well-being by providing courses focused on service to and empowerment of people who experience oppression or vulnerability due to inadequate or inequitable distribution of personal, social or institutional resources. This perspective is infused across the curriculum. Within this context, social work practice is defined as the application of professional knowledge, skills and values across a range of settings and populations for the prevention and amelioration of personal and social problems. The curriculum connects with the profession’s purpose of using scientific inquiry within the practice setting by providing students with practice knowledge based upon the analysis of critical application of qualitative and quantitative research from within the profession and related social, behavioral and biological sciences. The interactions among persons and their environments are the primary targets of social work practice and students obtain critical skills to provide services including the restoration, rehabilitation, maintenance and enhancement of the functioning of individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations.