The first of its kind in the nation, our animal-assisted social work (AASW) master’s certificate explores social justice from the perspective of humans, animals and the environment. This certificate is only available to students enrolled in our Denver Campus MSW Program, and you’ll complete the certificate and your MSW program at the same time. Together, the MSW and certificate will prepare you to consider humans, animals and the environment in practice settings that range from therapeutic programs to animal shelters and sanctuaries.
Offered by the Graduate School of Social Work and the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, this certificate will add three specialized elective courses to the MSW curriculum during your concentration year. The certificate also includes field internships that examine critical human, animal and environmental connections in the U.S. and internationally.
Want to learn more about the animal-assisted social work certificate?
Explore how animals change lives, transform trauma and improve the welfare of children, adults, families and communities. Train a professional therapy dog during graduate school, build your clinical social work skills to incorporate pets and other animals into therapeutic environments, or develop policy and programs for your macro social work practice.
International Courses and Internships
Animal-assisted social work certificate students can gain a global perspective through optional international courses and internships.
Intern Alongside Giant Pandas
Learn how human behavior influences habitat protection for animals such as the giant panda by studying biodiversity protection issues while completing an internship at the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu, China.
Advocate for Wild Animals in Kenya
Learn about the illegal wildlife trade, wild animal protection and advocacy as you participate in anti-poaching work while on assignment with our partners at Africa Network for Animal Welfare in Kenya.
Your Career Options
By completing the animal-assisted social work certificate, you’ll graduate with an additional professional credential and a competitive advantage in your job search. Your social work career could include:
- Creating, implementing and evaluating animal-assisted intervention programs in which an animal becomes a teacher, therapist, facilitator and support system
- Selecting the most appropriate animals for particular therapy modalities
- Caring for animals in accordance with national animal welfare standards
- Identifying, assessing and intervening in “link” violence—the frequent connection between animal abuse and violence toward people
- Integrating concepts of nature-based therapeutics, humane education and conservation in your social work practice
- Becoming an advocate for animal welfare and ethics
Foundations for Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work
About this Course
Foundational course with broad survey of the field and value exploration. Introduction to cultural and social justice aspects of human-animal-environment interactions. Formation of personal HAEI-SW vision and ethical framework, and beginning of culmination project concept development.
Human-Animal-Environment Interventions in Social Work Practice
About this Course
Focus on skill development for the integration of animals in social work practice with a primary focus on treatment. Exploration of clinical and community practice frameworks, across the lifespan.
Professional Integration of Human-Animal-Environment Interactions in Social Work
About this Course
Culmination course with a focus on applying knowledge and demonstrating competence through program and/or service design. Includes professional development and job search preparation unique to HAEIs in social work.
"This is an internship that I look forward to. There’s nowhere else I could be getting this great of a hands-on experience."Kaylee Keuthan, Denver Campus MSW Student
A conservation social work course took Graduate School of Social Work students to Kenya, where they discovered how the lives of humans and threatened species intersect.
Connecting Social Work and Animal Welfare
Jazzy Salter chose to pursue her Master of Social Work degree with the Animal-Assisted Social Work (AASW) Certificate through the Graduate School of Social Work and Institute for Human-Animal Connection because of the many different career paths available, including animal welfare.
Empowering Youth at the Therapeutic Ranch
Shanti Hill-Gauer earned her MSW and AASW certificate in 2013 and is now the owner and clinical director of the Wish Fulfilling Tree – Therapeutic Ranch. The Wish Fulfilling Tree provides animal-assisted therapy services to youth in Sonoma County, California.
2021 Advanced Standing Denver Campus MSW Program Deadline