Master of Social Work

Other Information

Graduate Catalog: MSW

  • Admission requirements
  • Program details
  • Course descriptions

Application Deadlines

Department: Social Work

Graduate Director:
Dr. Gary Whitford

Program Overview

The Master of Social Work degree prepares the professional worker to think critically, and work effectively and collaboratively in the professional world of social services. Social workers graduating from SCSU will be prepared to promote economic, political, and social justice in a diverse and global society The purpose of the program is to:

  • Develop social work knowledge and skills to become advanced-level generalist social workers who are grounded in the liberal arts and the values, ethics, and theories of the social work profession
  • Encourage and guide students' use of critical thinking and collaboration with others to intervene with systems at all levels.
  • Develop student's professional identity as social workers who promote change at levels including individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and the policy arena.
  • Provide opportunities for students to become knowledgeable and involved in empowering communities and populations who create human service delivery systems based on social work values.
  • Educate students so they will understand the implications of social welfare history and policy and demonstrate policy practice skills to influence, formulate, and advocate for policy consistent with social work values.
  • Educate students in order they they will be able to evaluate their own practice and contribute their knowledge to the advancement of their social work profession.
  • Challenge and educate students so they will be able to recognize and enhance cultural and global diversity, and advocate for equality in the distribution of societal resources and political justice at all levels of intervention (local, state, national and global).

Mission of the Department of Social Work

The mission of the Department of Social Work is to use an anti-oppression lens, with a focus on race, class and gender, to inform both its educational environment and educational programs. Faculty, staff and students commit to an experiential and transformative educational process that will challenge them to think critically and analyze systemic inequalities in the United States and the world. This process will prepare professional social workers to work as change agents in a diverse world.

Mission of the MSW Program

Our mission is to engage students in an educational program that prepares them to think critically and evaluate practice and programs and contribute to the body of social work knowledge through active research. Students will be prepared to work effectively and collaboratively as professional social workers to enhance human well-being and promote economic, political and social justice in a diverse and global society. Using justice centered and community based practice approaches, the MSW program will prepare social work professionals at the advanced generalist level who can practice across a variety of social service settings.

Accreditation Specific to the Program

The Master of Social Work Program is accredited by and in good standing with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

The Profession

The social work profession is committed to social justice and works towards resolving systemic issues that may impact a community and its members. It is considered a "profession of hope, grounded in practice problem solving expertise" (Celebrate Social Work Month-2009) professional social workers see human potential. Social workers strive towards empowering individuals, groups, and communities to create better lives for themselves and those around them. Social workers are active in public advocacy, government agencies, an at all levels of services in communities. According to the National Association of Social Workers and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social workers is expected to continue growing through 2012 ( The MSW has national and international recognition as a professional degree.


Professionals with the MSW degree work in public and not-for-profit community agencies. This includes mental health settings, hospitals, clinics, domestic violence agencies, employee assistance programs, and all areas of child welfare practice. MSW degree holders have enjoyed responsible administrative positions such as: agency directors, clinical directors, advocates through the court system, and in communities with groups of all sizes. Social workers may serve as researchers and consultants for managers in the social service arena. Social workers are also employed in the political arena as advocates for social work or human rights organizations that seek changes in policy which will further social justice for all persons.

Admission Information

  • The two-year Foundation program is for the applicant with a bachelor degree other than social work and for applicants whose Bachelor's in Social Work (BSW) is older than seven years.
  • The Advanced Standing track is for applicants who have received the BSW degree within the last seven years.
  • Admission is competitive and selection is based on an evaluation of all factors.
  • Applicants can enhance their chance for an admission offer by having all application materials in by the priority deadline of January 15.
  • Applications received after January 15 will be considered if program spaces remain available following the January 15 priority review.
  • To be considered for a possible second round of consideration, complete applications must be received by February 15.  A faculty committee review will take place following the secondary deadline of February 15. Notification of an admission decision will be provided to secondary pool applicants within approximately one month.
  • Once the Program is full, qualified applicants are placed on a waiting list in the event, space in the Program becomes available. Applicants are encouraged to check deadlines as the date may change slightly from year to year. 

MSW Supplemental Essay - Required at time of application

As part of the online application process, please upload in the Writing Sample feature an essay that is:

  •  Three to five (3 – 5) typed double spaced pages (12 point font).
  • Include citations for any sources used.

Please respond to the questions below: 

  •  How are your career goals consistent with:
    •  The mission of the Department of Social Work;
    • The mission of the MSW Program; and
    • The values of the Social Work profession as articulated in the NASW Code of Ethics?
  • Describe a social justice issue that is of interest to you and describe the contribution you plan to make toward the resolution of the problem.

Priority Application Deadline - January 15 for fall semester admission

Programs with a priority deadline will hold all completed applicant files until the application deadline date, then academic review will begin. The program will review all completed applications at one time (in a pool).  If space remains in the program, a second round of review will be held for completed files received after the priority deadline.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Wait list Information

  • Competition for limited places in the MSW program requires the necessity of a waitlist.


Admission to a graduate program does not constitute candidacy for a degree. Rather, a student who has been admitted to graduate study is advanced to degree candidacy upon the recommendation of the Department of Social Work degree faculty. Advancement to a degree candidacy requires that that candidate:

  • Successfully complete the required coursework, research and field internships required for the MSW degree.
  • Clearly demonstrate the aptitude and ability to pursue graduate work, exhibited the maturity expected of an MSW and compliance with the social work code of ethics in the classroom and in the field internships, and a documented commitment to social work as a profession.
  • Complete the necessary forms for graduation.

Required Orientation Program

All new students will be required to attend a new student orientation program prior to the beginning of the academic year. Students will be notified of the date, time, meeting place, and schedule for orientation.

Length of Program

The MSW Program provides students with full-time and part-time options.

  • Full-time student Foundation: four semesters (54 credits) with a two-year commitment beginning the fall semester following admission. The Research II (SW 632) course is offered during the summer only and is taken between semester two and three in the program plan of study.
  • Full-time student Advanced Standing: one summer session and two semesters (30 credits) with a one-year commitment beginning with the summer session following admission. The Research II (SW 632) course is offered during the summer only and is taken prior to the start of the fall semester.
  • Part-time student Foundation: eight semesters (54 credits) with a four-year commitment beginning the fall semester following admission. The Research II (SW 632) course is offered during the summer only and must be taken following Foundation coursework and prior to Concentration Year field placement, thesis, or capstone.
  • Part-time student Advanced Standing: one summer session and four semesters (30 credits) with a two-year commitment beginning with either the fall or summer session following admission. The Research II (SW 632) course is offered during the summer only and must be taken following Foundation coursework and prior to Concentration Year field placement, thesis, or capstone.

Elective courses will be incorporated into the program plan of study for students.

Program Structure

Courses are held on Wednesday and Thursday in the late afternoon and evening from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during the regular academic year. Field Placements (see Supervised Field Placement below) are scheduled during the week and typically during the day based on needs of the Field Agency, Field Instructor, student, and Program standards. Elective courses may be offered on other days and times during the week as well as during summer sessions. SW 632 Research II is only available during the summer session.


Each new student will be assigned an advisor when they are admitted. In order for courses to be taken in sequence, all semester schedules will be planned by the department. Students may have some flexibility in the course section in which they are enrolled and the selection of their Field Placement site and hours. 

Supervised Field Placement

All Field Placements must be in an agency approved by the Department of Social Work and supervised by Faculty Field Liaison and Field Instructor with an MSW degree and two years of post master's degree experience. Students admitted as Foundation students complete two Field Placements over a period of four semesters. In the first year students enter Field Placement and complete 150 hours per semester for a total of 300 hours. In the Concentration Year (second year), students enter Field Placement and complete 300 hours per semester for a total of 600 hours. Students entering as Advanced Standing enter Field Placement for two semesters and complete 300 hours per semester for a total of 600 hours.

Academic Review and Retention Policy

The Department of Social Work faculty meets regularly to discuss the progress of students in the program. The following elements are reviewed: academic progress and promise; social work skill acquisition and development;  and legal and ethical issues or other matters that may interfere with or impede progress in the program. In the event that there is a faculty concern about a student regarding any of these areas, a faculty member will meet with the student to discuss necessary remediation, offer steps toward improvement, or offer assistance to the student in finding a more suitable field of study. Preliminary evaluation of  prospective students’ suitability for social work occurs at the time of admission and throughout the course of study. Throughout the program, course evaluations are made by faculty as to whether students have developed the skills, professional behavior, and professional characteristics necessary to proceed as a MSW student. During the Field Placements, regular evaluations based upon a learning contract are made by Faculty Field Liaisons and the Field Instructor to determine student progress, successful completion of the Field Placement and progress towards graduation.

Graduate Assistantships

  • Three graduate assistantship positions are available for the fall-spring academic year.
  • Graduate assistants work 20 hours per week with a faculty member on administration, teaching, research projects, or providing administrative support.
  • Graduate assistantships require full-time student status.
  • An application must be submitted to the department chairperson. It is recommended that applicants for department graduate assistantships meet the March 1 deadline for full consideration.
  • In addition, all applicants for department assistantships are required to contact the Financial Aid Office to determine eligibility and apply for a federal work-study assistantship.
  • Graduate assistants receive a stipend for the fall-spring academic year and tuition reimbursement in both the fall and spring semesters. Interested individuals should consult the Graduate Studies Web site for Graduate Assistants at for specific details. 

Minnesota License to Practice

The Minnesota Board of Social Work has specified requirements for individuals to obtain a license to practice social work. Primary requirements include submission of an application, fee for application, documentation of degree from a CSWE-accredited program, and examination. Applicants for a license from the MN Board of Social work must document any ethical or legal irregularities. Information regarding licensure can be found at Individuals should consult the MN Board of Social Work directly with any question or concerns. 

**Upcoming MSW Informational Outreach Sessions**

Monday, Oct. 20 at 6:00pm
Miller Center, Room 117, - 400 6th St. S. St. Cloud – Park in Ramp
Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 6:30pm
Ridgewater College – Room 151, 2101 15th Ave. NW, Willmar 56201
Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 6:30pm
SCSU Graduate Center Maple Grove – conference room, 6401 Sycamore Court N. Maple Grove, MN 55369
Saturday, Nov. 15 at 10:30am
Miller Center, Room 117, - 400 6th St. S. St. Cloud – Park in Ramp
Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 6:00pm
Brainerd Public Library – small meeting room, 416 South 5th St Brainerd, MN 56401
Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 5:30pm
Miller Center, Room 117, - 400 6th St. S. St. Cloud – Park in Ramp
Monday, Jan. 5 at 6:30pm
Miller Center, Room 117, - 400 6th St. S. St. Cloud – Park in Ramp