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Concurrent MSSW/VSW Certificate Program


The University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program (VSW-CP) trains University of Tennessee College of Social Work MSSW students in the four areas of Veterinary Social Work. Click here for more information on the UT MSSW program.



If you already have a Master’s degree in Social Work,

Click Here

for information about the Postgraduate VSW Certificate

UT MSSW VSW-CP students are expected to gain competency is all four areas of veterinary social work.  Although you may only be interested in animal assisted therapy, to practice social work with animals ethically, it is expected that you are exposed to and competent in dealing with all areas of veterinary social work. To help you accomplish this, the following competencies have been developed for the VSW-CP.

VSW-CP Program Competencies

  • Describe and discover research on human animal interactions that is salient to ethical social work practice.
  • Develop and demonstrate self-awareness and self management regarding animal welfare issues.
  • Intervene on behalf of human beings in the context of human‐animal interactions through micro and macro levels of practice, paying particular attention to under‐served and oppressed populations
  • Develop and implement animal related programs in existing social work agencies, in stand alone programs, or in host settings, according to the NASW Code of Ethics and existing veterinary animal welfare protocols.
  • Develop and demonstrate psycho‐educational, mediation, and team building skills.

Requirements for the VSW-CP

To earn the Veterinary Social Work Certificate students must complete 24 credits*:

  • Must be accepted to the UT MSSW Program.
  • 3 credit hour elective class of your choosing*
  • 3 elective credits in the Veterinary Social Work Course (SW 567)
  • 3 elective credits in the Principles and Techniques of Mediation (SW 557)
  • 3 credits in a specialization year course with a major assignment dedicated to a VSW-related topic**
  • 12 Credits in Concentration Year Field Practice ***
  • Attend live web meetings during specialization year
  • Complete the face to face Veterinary Social Work Intensive and AAI Workshop****
* This is a new University requirement that begins for those whose first semester is Fall 2017 or later.
**VSW assignment in a specialization year course must be submitted to Dr. Strand for review.
***As long as your field placement can incorporate one of the four areas of VSW on your learning plan, it will satisfy certificate requirements.
****Modules must be completed before face to face events.

Program Trajectory

Stage 1

Additional elective

  • Complete an additional elective course of choice before graduation
  • Will need college approval to take additional course
  • When the elective is completed depends on the student. If taken during Fall or Spring, it will not increase tuition. If taken over summer, it could possibly increase the cost of tuition depending on program.
  • This requirement impact students whose first semester in the VSW-CP is Fall 2017 or later

Stage 2

  • During your specialization year (final year in MSSW program)
    • Complete a field placement and incorporate one of the four areas of VSW on your learning plan
    •  Complete 2 required courses
      • Veterinary Social Work Course (SW 567)
      • Principles and Techniques of Mediation (SW 557)
      • These courses are typically take in the spring. Student may request to take SW 567 as an Independent Study in Summer or Fall depending on program and schedule.
    • Incorporate 1 of the 4 areas of VSW into a class project in any specialization course

Stage 3

Live Web Meetings

  • Available January-March each year
  • Offered through Zoom videoconference
  • Student gets specialization year field hours for participation
  • Students may participate in foundation year for no credit
  • Each session is 1 hour
  • With permission, students can watch sessions and write paper

Stage 4

Face-to-Face Intensives

  • Available March of each year in Knoxville
  • Student gets specialization year field hours for participation
  • Spring Break: 7-day Intensive: Animal Assisted Interactions; Grief and Bereavement; The Link between human and animal violence; Compassion Fatigue & Conflict Management

Stage 5

Take VSW oath just before your graduation ceremony at either the Knoxville or Nashville location.

Veterinary Social Work Oath

Specializing in veterinary social work, I pledge my service to society by tending to the human needs that arise in the relationship between humans and animals. From a strengths perspective and using evidence-based practice, I will uphold the ethical code of my profession, respect and promote the dignity and worth of all species, and diligently strive to maintain mindful balance in all of my professional endeavors.

Applications to the VSWCP are due by February 1st of the MSSW Foundation Year

  • For advanced standing students, applications are due as soon as possible after starting the program.
  • For all students, share your interest in the program with your field coordinator right away.

If you are a UT MSSW student, click here to apply for the Concurrent Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program

This certificate program is for students who have already been accepted into the UT MSSW program. If you are not an UT MSSW student, and are interested in learning more about our other educational offerings, email

Please email any questions to or call (865) 696-1117.

Veterinary Social Work

UT College of Veterinary Medicine
UT College of Social Work
Helpline: 865-755-8839
VSW Services:
Education and Events: 865-696-1117
Education and Events:

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