Brandman News

Master of Social Work program begins enrolling students for fall

January 22, 2018
MSW faculty

Assistant Professor Tobi DeLong Hamilton, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor Ellen Belluomini, Ph.D., are among the faculty members creating courses for Brandman's Master of Social Work program.

If you want to see changes in your community and the world, consider getting a master’s degree in social work.

While classes for the new program at Brandman University don’t begin until the last week of August, now is the time to enroll, said social work faculty member Ellen Belluomini, Ph.D. This is the time of year that students should begin seeking internships to match their interests, and the faculty, led by Tobi DeLong Hamilton, Ph.D., are eager to help connect incoming students to the opportunities that will help them put what they learn into practice.

“We’re looking for people who see that there needs to be a change in the world and want to help us progress as a nation toward caring for everyone. This program is a way that you can make a difference,” said Belluomini. Social work, she said, is part of social justice. “We’re not just looking at the micro or direct practice. We’re looking at macro practice – how, in a broad sense, we can affect change through policy, by impacting what’s happening within government or local communities as well as with individuals.”

Brandman’s social work master’s program distinguishes itself three ways.


Students can design their program based on their goals and visions with the wide variety of electives rather than following a pre-set track. It uses a visual/auditory/reading-writing/kinesthetic (VARK) model where each resource reinforces and enhances the topics of the week while appealing to different learning styles.

Faculty mentors would be available to provide guidance about electives as requested.


Classes will be available at 14 campuses in California, two campuses in Washington and online. See Locations. No matter where students enroll, they’ll find a program that emphasizes the ethical use of technology for understanding and assessing the people they’ll serve.

“All of the faculty are up-to-date on the latest uses of technology, not just in how they teach the courses but how they use technology assessments and the impact that technology has on clients,” said Belluomini, pointing to the effect social media has had on the individual, families and cultural and societal systems. “We want them to understand that technology use results in functional or dysfunctional behavior. Technology can potentially place adolescents or family systems at risk. We’ll help students understand risk management as far as their own social media practice to keep them from going ‘viral’ in a bad way.”

Students will use technology to build resources that can help clients no matter they live – in an urban, suburban or rural setting. Digital advocacy and online researching are skills students can they can take with them, no matter where they live.

Another way Belluomini plans to make use of technology is by helping students understand a culture by viewing news stories, website comments, hashtag trends and social media such as Twitter from a racial or ethnic perspective other than their own. “It will help them understand what the prejudices and racism other cultures experience,” she said.

Focus on ‘walking the walk’

The third way Brandman’s program stands out from others is by adding an experiential component to coursework. Giving up caffeine, sugar and white flour for two weeks may not seem as daunting as withdrawal from a drug or alcohol addiction, but going without those still helps students understand the process of withdrawal and the impact of sobriety.

“It’s not just reading textbooks or journal articles or watching videos but also experiential – using real-life experience to integrate theories,” said Belluomini. 

Two routes to graduation

Students will be able to enter the program with advanced standing if they’ve completed a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW or BSW) accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, such as the one offered at Brandman. Those students will get credit for fieldwork completed in their bachelor’s program, reducing the amount of fieldwork required to graduate to 600 hours and coursework to 39 credit hours.

Those entering the program without an undergraduate degree in social work will need 69 credit hours of coursework and 1,000 hours of fieldwork to complete the master’s degree.

The program is currently undergoing the accreditation process through the Council on Social Work Education. “This is particularly useful for people in the military who might start the program in one place and finish it in another,” she said.

Why social work

The world needs social workers more than ever, said Belluomini, pointing to recent news events such as fires, floods, and refugee and immigration experiences. “(Social workers) deal with the impact of trauma and how to transform that into a strength-based orientation. We help them toward personal revelations that let them move from victim to a powerful perspective where they can make constructive and empowering life choices.”

“Our goal is to make sure future generations don’t grow up with the consequences of trauma that’s occurring in this generation,” said Belluomini.


Brandman campuses offering on-ground classes for the Master of Social Work are Antelope Valley. FairfieldHanford, Irvine, LaceyModesto, McChord Air Force Base (JBLM),  MenifeeOntarioPalm DesertRiversideRosevilleSan DiegoVictorvilleWalnut CreekYuba City. The program is also available through the Online campus.

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