University of Connecticut

Advanced Concentrations FAQs

Reading the answers to these frequently asked questions may help you decide which Advanced Concentration is right for you.

Administration Concentration

What knowledge and skills will I learn?

Required content in the Administration Concentration covers knowledge and skills in Program Planning and Proposal Writing, Supervision, Financial Management, Leadership, Theories of Organizations, Managing Diversity, Resource Development, Working with Boards and Volunteers, and Organization Development. Electives offered regularly are Computer Applications in the Human Services, and Staff Training and Development. Other electives offered periodically address special topics such as Fund Raising, Managing Change, Legal Issues, and others.

What types of jobs do administration concentration graduates hold?

Graduates hold a wide range of positions in human services. About equal numbers work in public (mostly state and local) agencies and private, non-profit agencies, with a small number in the corporate sector and private consulting. Some examples of current or recent positions: Executive Director of My Sister’s Place Shelter, Director of AIDS Project Hartford, Regional Director for the Make a Wish Foundation Phoenix), Case Management Supervisor at Genesis, Director of St. Agnes Family Center, Director, Center for Human Development Community Outreach; Director, New Haven Home Recovery; and Director of the WIC program for the State of New Hampshire. Positions in state agencies in Connecticut in the Department Children & Families, Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, and others have ranged from Supervisor, to Program Supervisor, to Regional Director and Commissioner. At one time, the Concentration counted 6 Deputy Commissioners in 4 states among its graduates. .Graduates also hold mixed positions that involve both direct services to clients and administrative work, particularly in community based settings.

What agencies are used for field placements in administration?

The agencies used for field placements cover the full range of human service agencies–large and small, public and private, and include all types of specialties. Among the agencies in recent use are: Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Central Office of Catholic Charities, Connecticut Junior Republic, Quirk Middle School in Hartford, the Center for International Social Work Studies at the School of Social Work, The Village for Families and Children, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, You, Inc. in Worcester, Department of Social Services Division on Aging, Department of Children & Families, the Latino Partial Hospital Program of the Institute of Living, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness; Connecticut Institute for the Blind, Wheeler Clinic.

What are typical field placement assignments for students in administration?

Students in the Administration concentration have a wide variety of field placement assignments including: doing research for and preparing new grant applications or renewal of existing grants; developing or pilot testing new program ms; designing program evaluation measures and procedures; using computer technology in management and information systems; working on web-pages; formulating reporting tools and forms; developing brochures and other public relations materials; designing and conducting staff and volunteer training sessions; participating in and assisting with staff, board and other agency meetings; representing the agency in community and statewide coalitions; developing and delivering legislative testimony; and other general administrative tasks.

Why does the administration concentration require prior experience in social services?

We expect students to take on administrative projects during their first year of field placement and assume that all graduates will be prepared for administrative positions upon graduation. These expectations require building upon prior exposure to the social service system, social service work, and community social problems. Experience may be in direct service or management and may be paid or volunteer.

My work experience is all in direct services. Will I be at a disadvantage?

About equal numbers of administration students enter with mainly or solely direct service experience and with supervisory or administration experience. No prior management experience is required. We have found that students with only direct service experience do as well on their course work and adjust well to field placement expectations.

Casework Concentration

What knowledge and skills will I learn?

Casework is the practice method through which individuals and families are helped to empower themselves personally and politically to meet their needs, assure their rights and entitlements, maintain, restore or enhance their social functioning, or resolve problems in living as they arise at all points in the life course. Required course work focuses on the development of knowledge and skills necessary to effectively work with individuals and families with diverse backgrounds and circumstances. Specific content includes: the helping process (engagement, exploration, assessment, contracting, intervention); the ecological systems perspective and life model of practice; crisis intervention, cognitive behavioral and ego oriented clinical approaches; research in practice; clinical condition of childhood adolescence and adulthood, including application of the DSM-IV diagnostic classification system; family assessment; intervention strategies for specific populations (e.g., children, persons of color, lesbian/gay/bisexual/ tran gendered individuals, etc.); and clinical approaches used in different fields of practice (e.g., mental health, health, substance abuse, child welfare).

What types of jobs do casework concentration graduates hold?

Casework graduates hold a wide range of positions in agencies of all types, sizes, and locations – public and private, large and small, urban and rural. Career opportunities exist for Caseworkers in child welfare agencies, family service agencies, public schools, psychiatric clinics and hospitals, health care settings, child guidance clinics, industrial and labor organizations, criminal justice settings as well as in agencies or organizations addressing the needs of the poor, older adults, women, children and youth, gays and lesbians, substance abusers, the mentally retarded and the disabled, to name but a few. Casework graduates are identified by a variety of titles often reflecting their broad range of practice areas, Clinician, Therapist, Child and Family Therapist, Addictions Specialist, School Social Worker and levels of experience Clinical Supervisor, Program Coordinator, etc.

What agencies are used for field placements in casework?

Casework students are placed in agencies such as: Alcohol and Drug Recovery Centers, Inc.; Public Defenders Office; Ct. Department of Children and Family Services; East Hartford Youth Services; Inter-Community Mental Health Group Inc.; Glastonbury Youth and Family Services; Community Solutions, Inc.; Eastern CT State University; Institute of Living; Veterans Administration Medical Center; Catholic Family Services; Granby Public Schools; Hispanic Health Council; Manchester Memorial Hospital and CT Department of Corrections.

What are typical field placement assignments for students in casework?

Casework students typically are assigned to work with individuals, families and small groups to provide assessment and intervention services. They may have case management responsibilities in addition to providing individual, group and family therapy. Students are often assigned to work as a member of a treatment team and to coordinate with professionals from other disciplines when planning and carrying out intervention strategies. Students may be assigned to plan and conduct time-limited educational or therapeutic groups. Students receive weekly supervision and participate in on-site training opportunities available to agency staff.

Community Organization Concentration

What knowledge and skills will I learn?

Community organization content concentrates on knowledge, values and skills necessary for defining and supporting various types of 21st century communities, highlighting tactics and strategies essential for social change practice. Required content includes community assessment, community building, community development, policy, advocacy and social action. Community social work content includes theoretical and practice knowledge to enhance self determination, greater equality and a shift in power relationships to benefit members of oppressed communities. Concrete strategies and tactics for organizing through inclusion and consensus building and by addressing conflict are essential content areas in the Community Organization curriculum, as is social planning with and for people. Advanced content also covers grassroots organizing, working with boards of directors of community-based organizations, leadership enhancement, knowledge of formal and informal decision-making structures and political advocacy. In addition, Community Organization content emphasizes the planning process (setting goals and objectives, assessing needs, formulating and defining problems and issues, identifying and selecting interventions, and designing, implementing and evaluating programs) for proposal writing, program development, and fund raising.

What types of jobs do community organization graduates hold?

Graduates currently hold a wide range of positions at the national, regional, state and local levels in the public and
private sectors. Many work as organizers and planners in community-based organizations, as well as in state agencies such as the Department of Children and Families and in private, non-profit agencies such as The Village for Children and Families. Other examples include: Union Organizers and Officers in the Northeast and even in Central America; Consultant and Evaluator of National and International AIDS Programs; Deputy Director of the Department of Children Services, Washington, DC; Director of Ryan White Title I Services, City of Hartford; Public School System, such as Hartford Public Schools, College Professors; Associate Deans at California State University, San Jose School of Social Work and UCSSW; Legislative Analyst at the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Elected State Representatives, Director of Community Organizing and Policy at Connecticut Positive Action Coalition; Community Education and Advocacy Coordinator at Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund; and the Director of Democracy Works.

What agencies are used for field placements in community organization?

Current CO majors are placed at: Domestic Violence Prevention Program at Hartford Hospital; Alliance for Living; United Way of the Capital Area; Windham Public Schools; United Connecticut in Action for Neighborhoods (UCAN); ONE/CHANE, Inc.; Institute for the Hispanic Family; Citizen Research and Education Network, Inc.; Democracy Works; Holyoke, Massachusetts’ Center for Human Development; Hartford Federation for Teachers; Institute for the Advancement of Political Social Work Practice; AIDS Project Hartford; Connecticut United for Latino Children; The Village for Children and Families; Hartford Interval House; Health Awareness Services of Central Massachusetts; Connecticut Valley Hospital; Governor’s Prevention Partnership, CT Mentoring Partnership; Family Service of Greater Waterbury; and other such placements.

What are typical assignments for students in community organization?

Current students are assigned the following responsibilities in their field placements: organizers in housing authorities; community liaisons in public schools; staff persons in various programs of United Way; educators and outreach workers in AIDS projects and programs; grassroots community organizing; coordinating voter registration campaigns; community organizing for senior citizens action groups; hospital/community liaison activities; advocates for immigrant population groups; initiating and coordinating mentoring programs; promoting and coordinating literacy initiatives, staffing a youth conference coordinating committee; facilitating the recruitment of Latino foster and adoptive parents through faith-based government-funded programs and other placements.

Group Work Concentration

What knowledge and skills will I learn?

Social Group Work content covers the full range of social group work knowledge and skills required of a competent professional group worker. These include knowledge and ability to empower groups to enhance personal well being, improve coping functions, develop problem solving capacities, achieve clinical therapeutic benefits, and advocate for social action. Knowledge is focused primarily on small group theories; small group dynamics and processes, program theory and utilization, theories and methods of biopyschosocial assessment and intervention, contemporary group methods, natural support systems, basic principles and practices regarding the use of groups in administration, supervision and consultation in public/private agency practice, social and behavioral research methods related to group work interventions and outcomes. Group Work skills building on core social work practice and include ability to establish relationships with groups and their members, helping them work together to achieve mutually agreed upon goals, ability to assume a variety of functions and roles– enabler, facilitator, change agent, therapist, advisor, teacher or role model, ability to assess individual, group as a whole, environment of groups skills in dealing with functions and dysfunctions of social conflict.

What types of jobs do group workers hold?

Social Group Workers hold a wide range of positions in public and private social agencies, in hospitals, day treatment and clinical programs, in public and private schools, special education programs, community-based programs, residential treatment facilities, group homes and halfway houses, homeless shelters, in court supported programs. Group workers hold titles reflecting a wide range of competency and experience: Executive Director, Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Clinical Director, Program Director, Group Service Coordinator, Group Therapist, Clinical Group Worker, Case Manger, and Group Advocate.

What agencies are used for field placements in group work?

Group Work student placements include such agencies as: The Bloomfield Public Schools & Youth Services; Catholic Family Services; Community Mental Health Affiliates; Community Solutions; Court Support Services, CT Children’s Medical Center; Hamden County Correctional Center (MA); Hartford Public Schools; Institute of Living; Klingberg Family Centers; Natchaug Hospital Joshua Center; Open Hearth Association, Public Defenders Office, CT Department of Children Services, Department of Corrections, Department of Mental Health, Department of Social Services; The Village for Families & Children; UCONN Health Center, Wheeler Clinic; Yale New Haven Hospital, YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis Service, and others.

What are typical field placement assignments for group work students?

Primary focus is on working directly as sole or co-facilitators with groups, variously identified as; involuntary or voluntary, open or closed memberships, long-term, timelimited, single-session groups that vary in goals and functions, size, structure, memberships, contents, and, intensity and duration. Students are typically assigned groups variously described as: group therapy, support groups, psycheducational groups, parenting groups, angermanagement groups, social skills groups, activity groups, social action problem solving, prevention, correction, medications.

Policy Practice Concentration

What knowledge and skills will I learn?

Like all macro practitioners Policy Practitioners must know and understand communities and organizations and about how decisions are made. Other areas of content include knowledge and skill development in the areas of policy analysis, problem definition, needs assessment, formulation and comparison of alternative policy recommendations, adoption of policy, Implementation, evaluation of policy and programs and forecasting future needs. Specialized knowledge and specific skills are developed in funding for policies and programs including sources of funds and systems of transfer, use of large data sets, and cutting edge theories, advanced quantitative analysis, grant writing, use of the media and public relation strategies, designing political strategies, professional leadership, reducing oppression as a goal of policy-making, value and ethical dilemmas along with creativity and innovations in policy work.

What types of job do policy practice graduates hold?

Recent Policy Practice graduates hold many different jobs in Connecticut and around the country in both public and private agencies and organizations. Some examples include working as a full time lobbyist at the state capital, or advocates for a variety of advocacy organizations in Connecticut and other states, working as aides to elected officials, program officers for both national and Connecticut foundations, serving as legislative committee staff, working in the policy and legislative sections of state agencies, as well as large private agencies, as program evaluators and researchers and elected officeholders. Several Policy Practice graduates have completed or are currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs.

What agencies are used for field placements in policy practice?

A variety of different agencies and organizations in the public and private sector serve as field work placements. Recent placements have included a variety of advocacy Organizations such as Democracy Works, CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund and Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, with elected local officials, state legislators, or federal congresspersons, at grant-making foundations, in the policy and legislative advocacy sections of several state agencies, with a variety of research organizations and departments within public and private agencies such as the Division on Aging, DSS, DCF, Court Support Services of the Judicial Department and the Village for Children and Families. The Institute for the Advancement of Political Social Work Practice, based at the School of Social Work, usually has several Policy Practice students as well as students from other macro practice concentrations. Some agencies are used by more than one of the macro practice methods, Administration, Community Organization, or Policy Practice; when this happens the assignments given to students from various methods are different and reflect the particular emphasis of each of the individual concentrations.

What are typical field placement assignments for students in policy practice?

Typical field work assignments involve policy analysis work, problem definition and need assessments, advocating or lobbying for a particular policy proposal, mobilizing others to advocate or lobby, developing advocacy or lobbying programs, testifying before decision making bodies and legislative committees, program development, program evaluations and quality accountability initiatives, developing policy proposals and recommendations, moving a recommendation through the adoption and implementation phases, performing the duties of an aide to an elected official and attending various conferences and training.

How does policy practice differ from administration and community organization?

All three of the macro practice methods share some practice responsibilities and skills. The difference is a matter of degree rather than kind. Policy Practice students’ major focus is on policy more than communities which are the special emphasis of community organizers or organizations which is where administrators concentrate their activities. While there is some overlap among the three macro practice methods, there are distinct differences which become increasingly clear with more advanced practice.

Do I need to have work experience before applying to policy practice?

While experience in the social service field, either paid or volunteer, is useful it is not required for Policy Practice applicants. Policy Practice students must understand the broad dimensions of the social service delivery system and something about social problems. An appreciation of the problems, a discontent with the status quo and a belief that things could be improved are essential characteristics for applicants to the Policy Practice Concentration. BSW graduates are common Policy Practice applicants.