Degree Requirements

Course Work

Students are required to take five 3-credit core courses and two 3-credit post-MSW electives.

Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive process will consist of the satisfactory completion of a comprehensive paper outline (3-page in length) and a comprehensive paper (50-pages in length, excluding references.

An examination of the Comprehensive Paper is required in order to evaluate the student’s mastery of theory and research in a selected area of social work. It requires the student to develop a critical capacity in research and writing which is fundamental to scholarship. The Comprehensive Paper is to be a critical assessment of theory, existing knowledge and research on a selected issue, policy, or problem area in the social welfare field. The Comprehensive Paper also forms the topical and theoretical background of the research question to be addressed in the Thesis. In other words, the literature research conducted for the Comprehensive Paper advances the preliminary work necessary for formulating the Thesis question. The Comprehensive Paper asks the following questions: What do we know about the topic/issue/problem? How do we know about the topic/issue/problem? What are the relevant knowledge and theory gaps?

Students are expected to demonstrate their capacity for the integration of ideas and their skills in scholarly inquiry and writing. The goal of the Comprehensive Paper is to assess the candidate’s ability in the following areas:

  • The logical development and presentation of the salient aspects and history of the topic selected.
  • The selection and use of relevant literature from a variety of areas of knowledge.
  • The critical analysis and synthesis of theories that are relevant to the topic.

The critical analysis and synthesis of relevant knowledge and research studies, attending to how the studies come to their findings/conclusion, i.e. how the adopted theories and methodology interact to influence the findings and knowledge being created.


Following successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, students will advance to the dissertation stage.

An original research study and written dissertation must be completed by the student. The student must successfully defend the dissertation at an oral examination presided over by an Examination Committee.