MSSW/VSW Certificate Program

Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program

The University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program (VSW-CP) trains University of Tennessee Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) students in the four areas of Veterinary Social Work. Learn more information about the UT MSSW program.

Two yellow puppies sitting a field of yellow flowers.
Intentional Well-being
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The link between Human & Animal Violence
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Animal-Assisted Interventions
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Animal-Related Grief & Bereavement
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University of Tennessee Master of Science in Social Work Veterinary Social Work Certificate 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 standalone programs, or in host settings, according to the National Association of Social Workers 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 UT MSSW students must complete 24 credits:

  • 3 credits in a specialization year course with a major assignment dedicated to a VSW-related topic
  • 12 Credits in specialization Year Field Practice 
  • 3 elective credits in the Veterinary Social Work Course (SW 567)
  • 3 elective credits in the Principles and Techniques of Mediation (SW 557)
  • 3 elective credits in Veterinary Social Work Capstone Course  (SW 577)

Program Trajectory

Stage 1

Apply to the UT MSSW Program

Once accepted into the UT MSSW program, apply to the Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program.

Applications to the VSWCP are due by January 1st of a students 1st year in the MSSW program

  • 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.

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
  • Incorporate 1 of the 4 areas of VSW into a class project in any specialization course
  • Complete 3 required courses
    • Veterinary Social Work Course (SW 567)
    • Principles and Techniques of Mediation (SW 557)
    • Veterinary Social Work Capstone Course

Stage 3

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

Veterinary Social Work Oath

Specializing in the interprofessional space of 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 based perspective and using evidence-based approaches within my scope of practice, I will uphold the ethical guidelines 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.

Email us if you have any questions:

Bethanie Poe Profile Page
Bethanie Poe
Social Work Program & Habit Coordinator, Large Animal