Degree Requirements

Course Work

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

Comprehensive Paper

The process requires students to complete a three-page comprehensive paper outline and a 50-page comprehensive paper (excluding references).

The comprehensive paper is to be a critical assessment of theory and existing knowledge and research on a selected issue, policy, or problem area in the field social welfare. The paper asks students to answer: 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? The paper will form the topical and theoretical background of the research question to be addressed in the Thesis.

Students will be evaluated on their mastery of theory and research in a selected area of social work.

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.
  • 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 paper, students will advance to the dissertation stage. The dissertation is an original research study and must be completed by the student. The student will then need to successfully defend the dissertation at an oral examination presided over by an Examination Committee.