Aug 10, 2022  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Master of Social Work (MSW) - MSW

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60 S.H. (regular standing status)
42 S.H. (advanced standing status)

Visit the Master of Social Work website for application process details.


The Master of Social Work (MSW) Program awards graduates an MSW degree, the terminal degree for social work practitioners. The MSW program offers a Trauma-Informed Clinical Social Work concentration, providing graduates with all educational requirements needed for licensure as an independent clinical social worker (LICSW) in Minnesota and most other states, the highest level of social work licensure available. Clinical social workers are equipped to work in any social work subfield, including mental health/psychotherapy, health care social work, and child welfare. Clinical social workers are in high demand throughout the United States, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies Clinical Social Work as one of the fastest growing occupations in the nation. The program’s unique trauma-informed focus reflects both best practices in the profession and the Council on Social Work Education’s suggestion that social work practitioners must be trauma-informed in order to engage in the highest levels of ethical practice.

The MSW Program’s curriculum is uniquely designed to well-meet the needs of adult learners. All courses are offered fully on-line with the exception of practica and Professional Development Labs (PDLs). The online courses are asynchronous, allowing students to engage in learning activities when it fits their lives. Courses are offered in concentrated seven-week blocks, allowing students to focus their engagement on one or two regular courses at a time. Hands-on practicum experiences are the signature pedagogy of social work education, and they allow students to apply their learning in real-world settings under the mentorship of licensed social workers. The practica are distributed across multiple semesters so that they are accessible to busy, adult learners. PDLs are the only on-campus program requirement and occur on weekends at the Downtown Rochester campus once or twice each semester. The PDLs provide unique learning opportunities that cannot be replicated online, and they enhance student relationships, build community, and allow networking with regional professionals.

The MSW Program’s curriculum is uniquely designed and informed through the input of expert community practitioners and agencies. Both the roster of courses and the content of individual courses have been designed in collaboration with these experts. This unique arrangement enables the program to bridge common gaps between social work education and social work practice.

The success of students is paramount to the program. Toward that end, each student is connected with a faculty guide with whom a supportive, mentoring, and collaborative relationship is forged to help ensure that each student’s unique interests and strengths are recognized and enhanced.

Mission and Goals

Mission Statement

WSU’s Master of Social Work Program, located within a regional university committed to community engagement and service, collaborates with eminent community partners to prepare trauma-informed clinical social workers with a distinctive synthesis of knowledge, skills, practice wisdom, and immersive experiences to:

  • Promote client empowerment and social justice through applying an honoring, strengths-based orientation to increasingly diverse, disparate, and ever-evolving individuals and communities
  • Integrate with, expand, and enhance existing communities of practice
  • Utilize, assess, and develop innovative and research-informed practices


WSU’s MSW Program strives to:

  • Produce trauma-informed clinical social workers who are effective, self-reflective, and ethical
  • Be an agent of social justice and social change, particularly with diverse and vulnerable populations
  • Offer an integrated curriculum that incorporates our practice communities’ expertise, with a curriculum that models the interrelationship between knowledge, research, and practice wisdom
  • Provide a center of social work innovation and excellence that promotes evidence-informed practice, practice-informed research, and life-long learning
  • Maintain a faculty of distinction who are diverse in demographics, teaching and practice experiences, research interests, and theoretical perspectives
  • Promote a nurturing academic environment where strengths are honored to support the learning and professional growth of students


Admission to WSU’s MSW Program is granted on a selective basis. Applicants for admission must have:

  • An earned baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting association
  • Undergraduate coursework in the liberal arts that addressed socio-cultural, psychological, and biological determinants of human behavior and diverse cultures, social conditions, and social issues
  • Personal values that are consistent with professional social work values and ethics
  • Personal qualities needed for agency-based clinical social work practice with oppressed and disadvantaged populations
  • Demonstrated and/or well-reasoned commitment to the field of social work

Detailed admissions and application information is available on the MSW Program website.


Students have two options for completing the MSW program: Regular Standing or Advanced Standing. Students may proceed at a full-time or a part-time pace.

Regular Standing vs. Advanced Standing

Regular Standing MSW students have earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work or have earned a social work degree but do not meet the requirements for Advanced Standing status. Regular Standing students complete a total of 60 S.H. and complete both Generalist Social Work Practica and Trauma-Informed Clinical Social Work Practica.

Advanced Standing MSW students have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program within the past 7 years. Students earning a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program more than 7 years ago may qualify for provisional admission if they have been consistently engaged in social work practice and continuing education and if their undergraduate GPA was 3.0 or greater and their social work GPA was 3.2 or greater. Advanced Standing students complete a total of 42 S.H. and complete Trauma-Informed Clinical Social Work Practica. The reduction in required coursework for Advanced Standing students reflects their exemption from coursework that would replicate their undergraduate social work education.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time

Full-time MSW students typically simultaneously engage in two content courses each 7-week block as well as a professional development course and, in some semesters, a practicum/seminar course. Semester enrollment usually totals 15-16 S.H.

Part-time MSW students typically engage in one content course each 7-week block as well as a professional development course and, in some semesters, a practicum/seminar course.  Semester enrollment typically ranges from 5-10 S.H.

Please consult with WSU’s Financial Aid for their definitions of full-time and part-time graduate study.

CSWE Accreditation

The WSU MSW Program is currently in Pre-Candidacy for Accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation.

Pre-Candidacy for master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation indicates that it has submitted an application to be reviewed for Candidacy. A program that has attained Pre-Candidacy has not yet been reviewed by the Commission on Accreditation or been verified to be in compliance with the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. The Council on Social Work Education does not publicly disclose whether programs have currently attained Pre-Candidacy Status until they are granted Candidacy. The MSW program may attain candidacy status as early as February, 2020.

The CSWE accreditation process lasts a minimum of 3 years. Graduates of the program before full accreditation is attained are eligible for provisional social work licensure that grants them access to the same rights and privileges as standard licensure. Upon the program’s completion of the CSWE accreditation process, provisional licenses can be exchanged for standard licenses.

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