Social Work Courses at a Glance
Social Work Major Required Courses
Our Social Work major courses expose students to the range of challenges faced by today’s society and how social workers can be an advocate for underserved populations and an agent of change. The following courses illustrate the topics, subject matter, and foundational work that an undergraduate can expect to experience during their time as a Social Work major.
This course provides an overview of the social work profession. It orients the student to the value system and goals of social work and examines the various professional modalities of work with individuals, families, groups, and the community. Different agencies and fields of practice are presented with a focus on the role of the generalist social worker and the social service delivery system. Through guest speakers and special assignments, students have the opportunity to test their interest in, and suitability for, the field of social work.
This course centers on the biopsychosocial perspective that stresses a multidimensional view of human development and behavior. The focus is on the transactional relationship between human behavior and pertinent psychological, social, biological, economic, cultural, environmental, and institutional forces. Multiple theoretical perspectives are used to understand the behavior of individuals, families, groups, social networks, and systems. The role of social stressors such as poverty and oppression and their impact on human development are evaluated. All aspects of development and behavior are studied in the context of diversity. The life cycle stages of infancy and childhood are also viewed from a biopsychosocial perspective.
The course centers on expanding the student's understanding of the meaning of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and culture, as well as the concepts of prejudice, discrimination, oppression, stigma, and stereotyping. Racism, particularly as it impacts on personal, professional, institutional, and societal levels, is studied. Special attention is given to the experiences of African Americans and Latino/as in U.S. society in general and in the New York City metropolitan area in particular. Within an integrative perspective, implications for direct and indirect social work practice are explored. Specifically, the importance of ethnoculturally competent practice for the individual worker and the design of service delivery systems are covered.
The course goals are to develop understanding and analytic ability regarding social problems, social policy and programs, and the field of social work. Content includes analysis of contemporary social problems, use of an analytical model to evaluate issues of eligibility, benefits, financing, and the delivery of social services. The role of the social worker in assessing and achieving organizational, systemic, and legislative change is examined.
The overall objective of this course is to provide students with an integrative framework that combines direct practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities with a commitment to organizational and social change. Students are helped to develop skills in a broad range of practitioner roles. The course examines the history, values, and ethics of the profession; the societal and organizational context of practice; and the impact of diversity and oppression. Skills in systems assessment, engagement, interviewing, collaboration and advocacy, relationship issues and self-awareness, and the practice principles of both crisis and extended intervention are taught. A social work laboratory component provides students with opportunities for experiential learning.
Taken during the senior year (approximately 600 hours), these two courses provide students with opportunities to acquire skill in social work practice, to try out social work practice roles in the field, and to test in the field setting the theories and principles learned in the classroom. Students are assigned to social agencies or social work programs and learn by directly participating in the delivery of social work services under the supervision of professional social workers. Faculty advisement on both a group and an individual basis is an ongoing part of the field internship.
“In social work, you learn about everything.
My classes in human behavior, psychology, diversity, and communication skills are really interesting. I feel like everything I am learning will be useful no matter what I decide to do after graduation."
Sijia Zhao, Class of 2022
Social Work Electives
Discover the diverse and challenging social issues present in today’s world. Since our electives are open to all NYU undergraduate students, you have the opportunity to meet fellow students from other schools in the NYU academic community.
This course examines the historical and contemporary implications of inequality that have persisted especially in the United States, with some emphasis on other industrialized countries. In addition, this course will provide an overview of the causes and consequences of economic and social inequality and how it is reproduced throughout society. Using an intersectional perspective to better understand how various inequalities impact individuals, communities, and systems, this course uses a multi-disciplinary lens to explore complexities of how inequality continues to be reproduced in society. Students will be challenged to analyze core tenants of systemic inequality and critically develop strategies to reduce inequality. Finally, students will gain the knowledge to analyze social, political, and economic inequalities within a holistic and historical context, while closely examining issues that relate to the impact of systems based on race, gender, class, and sexuality.
The nature of this course is to explore, review, and better understand what is considered socially deviant and taboo in society from a social work perspective. In this course students will explore how deviance and social taboos are defined, determined, and socially constructed, how deviance and taboos functions in society, the causes of deviance and taboo behavior, how those who are considered deviant manage their behavior and identities, how deviance is organized socially, how social, economic, and political power dictates who and what is deviant or taboo, and how some behaviors that were considered deviant and taboo historically have changed over time. This course will consider the criminal and non-criminal and the sexual and non-sexual ideas of deviance and taboos and pay close attention to cultural differences, rational interventions, and consequences of behavior that is considered extreme or that falls outside of what is socially acceptable.
In this course students will draw on classic examples from literature and film to highlight and understand aspects of mental health in ways that are more vivid and visceral than any textbook can illustrate. Materials will be chosen from novels, poems, and films to illustrate various mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), dissociative identity disorder (DID), and schizophrenia. We will look at how some of the disorders fare in psychological treatments that either succeed or fail. Guest speakers may be invited to highlight some topics.