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School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Earn Your Master of Social Work

Prepare for advanced clinical social work practice in our Master of Social Work program. Our program is recognized for its commitment to social justice, teaching excellence & mentorship, and exceptional preparation for clinical social work practice and licensure.

Our students develop:

  • A strong clinical social work identity grounded in social work values and ethics.
  • Skills in actively engaging diverse client populations and adapting their practice to groups as needed.
  • Critical thinking, reflective practice skills, and substantive knowledge essential for competent clinical social work practice.
  • The capacity for leadership and supervision in multiple settings.
  • The capacity to critically interpret and conduct social work research in order to increase the body of knowledge, assess the effectiveness of clinical interventions and improve social work practice.

University of St. Thomas Master of Social Work Mission Statement:

As a clinically engaged faculty with a passion for social justice, we prepare clinical social workers for culturally responsive, reflective practice and emerging leadership.

Where You'll Learn:

In-person, on campus or hybrid

When to Start:

Summer or Fall

Program Options

On-Campus or Hybrid

On-Campus Learning (Weekday/Evening): Courses take place late afternoon and evening at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul campus, Monday – Thursday.

Hybrid Learning: Online course delivery with three Saturday sessions at St. Thomas each semester (9:30 am - 5:30 pm).

Advanced and Regular Standing

social work students in a classroom

01 The right program for you

Advanced Standing vs. Regular Standing

Advanced standing admission is available to students who earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from an undergraduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students with Advanced Standing are considered to have already completed the foundational courses associated with the MSW program. The undergraduate degree must have been accredited by CSWE at the time the degree was awarded. Regular Standing admission is for students who have an earned bachelor’s degree in an area other than social work.

Degree Details

  • Timing and Options
  • Clinical Courses
  • Foundation Courses
  • Elective Courses
  • Hybrid MSW
  • Timing and Options

    Advanced Standing admission is for applicants with an undergraduate degree in social work from a program accredited by the CSWE. Advanced Standing students complete 38 credits and 600 hours of field practicum for their degree. Advanced standing program options include:

    • One year weekday/evening (full-time) - summer start
    • Two-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Three-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Hybrid MSW: Two years - summer start

    Regular Standing admission is for applicants without an undergraduate degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Regular Standing students complete 56 credits and 1,000 hours of field practicum for their degree. Regular standing options include:

    • Two-year weekday/evening (full-time) - fall start
    • Three-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Four-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Hybrid MSW: Three years - summer start
    Program Completion Options (PDF)

    Clinical Courses

    These courses are taken by all students regardless of standing.

    • GRSW 500: History and Philosophy of Social Work
    • GRSW 603: Methods of Clinical Social Work I
    • GRSW 604: Methods of Clinical Social Work II
    • GRSW 607: Field Practicum and Seminar III*
    • GRSW 608: Field Practicum and Seminar IV*
    • GRSW 625: Social Policy and Program Development
    • GRSW 645: Assessment and Differential Diagnosis
    • GRSW 650: Clinical Supervision and Program Management
    • GRSW 681: Social Work Practice Research

    *Four-credit courses; all other courses are three credits

    Browse MSW Courses

    Foundation Courses

    These courses are taken by students with Regular Standing only.

    • GRSW 500: History and Philosophy of Social Work
    • GRSW 501: Theory and Practice of Social Work I
    • GRSW 502: Theory and Practice of Social Work II
    • GRSW 505: Field Practice and Seminar I
    • GRSW 506: Field Practice and Seminar II
    • GRSW 540: Human Behavior and the Social Environment
    • GRSW 580: Social Work Research Methods
    Browse MSW Courses

    Elective Courses

    All MSW students take three elective courses: 

    • GRSW 609: Spiritual Dimensions of Social WorkPractice
    • GRSW 612: Grief Counseling and Therapy
    • GRSW 614: Clinical Practice with Children
    • GRSW 615: Clinical Practice with Couples and Families
    • GRSW 616: Clinical Practice with Groups
    • GRSW 618: Cognitive Interventions
    • GRSW 619: Integrative Psychotherapy
    • GRSW 621: Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy
    • GRSW 622: Clinical Practice with Adolescents
    • GRSW 623: Clinical Practice with Older Adults
    • GRSW 626: Clinical Practice for the Treatmentof Trauma
    • GRSW 627: Clinical Practice in Schools
    • GRSW 628: Clinical Practice with People of Immigrant and Refugee Backgrounds
    • GRSW 629: Clinical Social Work Practice in Integrated Healthcare
    • GRSW 633: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
    • GRSW 634: Clinical Practice in Military Social Work
    • GRSW 682: Clinical Research Project
    Browse MSW Courses

    Hybrid MSW

    Receive the same exceptional preparation for clinical practice but with more flexibility for working professionals who want a balance of important face-to-face time and online components they can complete from home at a convenient time.

    The Hybrid MSW program includes:

    • Two courses per term (fall, spring and summer)
    • Required on-campus sessions three Saturdays per term
    • Online asynchronous coursework between on-campus sessions using a variety of online tools
    • A cohort model in which students build strong relationships with their peers

    Timing and Options

    Advanced Standing admission is for applicants with an undergraduate degree in social work from a program accredited by the CSWE. Advanced Standing students complete 38 credits and 600 hours of field practicum for their degree. Advanced standing program options include:

    • One year weekday/evening (full-time) - summer start
    • Two-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Three-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Hybrid MSW: Two years - summer start

    Regular Standing admission is for applicants without an undergraduate degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Regular Standing students complete 56 credits and 1,000 hours of field practicum for their degree. Regular standing options include:

    • Two-year weekday/evening (full-time) - fall start
    • Three-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Four-year weekday/evening - fall start
    • Hybrid MSW: Three years - summer start
    Program Completion Options (PDF)

    Clinical Courses

    These courses are taken by all students regardless of standing.

    • GRSW 500: History and Philosophy of Social Work
    • GRSW 603: Methods of Clinical Social Work I
    • GRSW 604: Methods of Clinical Social Work II
    • GRSW 607: Field Practicum and Seminar III*
    • GRSW 608: Field Practicum and Seminar IV*
    • GRSW 625: Social Policy and Program Development
    • GRSW 645: Assessment and Differential Diagnosis
    • GRSW 650: Clinical Supervision and Program Management
    • GRSW 681: Social Work Practice Research

    *Four-credit courses; all other courses are three credits

    Browse MSW Courses

    Foundation Courses

    These courses are taken by students with Regular Standing only.

    • GRSW 500: History and Philosophy of Social Work
    • GRSW 501: Theory and Practice of Social Work I
    • GRSW 502: Theory and Practice of Social Work II
    • GRSW 505: Field Practice and Seminar I
    • GRSW 506: Field Practice and Seminar II
    • GRSW 540: Human Behavior and the Social Environment
    • GRSW 580: Social Work Research Methods
    Browse MSW Courses

    Elective Courses

    All MSW students take three elective courses: 

    • GRSW 609: Spiritual Dimensions of Social WorkPractice
    • GRSW 612: Grief Counseling and Therapy
    • GRSW 614: Clinical Practice with Children
    • GRSW 615: Clinical Practice with Couples and Families
    • GRSW 616: Clinical Practice with Groups
    • GRSW 618: Cognitive Interventions
    • GRSW 619: Integrative Psychotherapy
    • GRSW 621: Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy
    • GRSW 622: Clinical Practice with Adolescents
    • GRSW 623: Clinical Practice with Older Adults
    • GRSW 626: Clinical Practice for the Treatmentof Trauma
    • GRSW 627: Clinical Practice in Schools
    • GRSW 628: Clinical Practice with People of Immigrant and Refugee Backgrounds
    • GRSW 629: Clinical Social Work Practice in Integrated Healthcare
    • GRSW 633: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
    • GRSW 634: Clinical Practice in Military Social Work
    • GRSW 682: Clinical Research Project
    Browse MSW Courses

    Hybrid MSW

    Receive the same exceptional preparation for clinical practice but with more flexibility for working professionals who want a balance of important face-to-face time and online components they can complete from home at a convenient time.

    The Hybrid MSW program includes:

    • Two courses per term (fall, spring and summer)
    • Required on-campus sessions three Saturdays per term
    • Online asynchronous coursework between on-campus sessions using a variety of online tools
    • A cohort model in which students build strong relationships with their peers

    The St. Thomas Advantage

    The School of Social Work, established in 1975, has more than 3,500 graduates, creating a life-long professional network of undergraduate and graduate-level alumni. Our MSW faculty help you develop your unique contribution to the profession. 90% of MSW faculty are clinically licensed and engaged in clinical practice, and they will help you develop your unique contribution to the profession.

    In our program, you'll gain access to an extensive network of clinical field partners and more than 2,500 clinically prepared MSW alumni. Clinical supervision is based on collaborative partnerships with a statewide network in clinical social work community settings. All MSW students receive the 30 hours of supervision training needed to be a social work supervisor in Minnesota.

    Students gather for a rally on the St. Thomas campus

    Social Work for Social Justice

    Social justice is written into the code of ethics of the social work profession. Read about the 10 principles of social work for social justice that guide our work.

    Graduate Student Testimonials

    Danielle Lee
    Francois Vang
    DSWAP Scholar
    Danielle Lee Francois Vang
    01 / 02

    Danielle Lee

    “I've always valued the relationships with people and [helping] them work towards whatever goals they're working on. I think that clinical social work lends itself to that relationship-building piece. Also, it opens a lot of doors to other things you can do, like working in a school or a hospital or [doing] traditional therapy.”

    02 / 02

    Francois Vang

    I would recommend this program because of the strength of its clinical focus. The training and the intensity of it made this program difficult, but it was a good challenge. It really prepared me for real world clinical practice.

    Social work alum reviews paperwork in a hotel room.

    Master of Social Work Alumni Assist Older Unhoused Adults

    When the pandemic hit, social work alumni helped connect older unhoused adults to safe spaces for shelter. Here's how.

    Social Work Licensure

  • Licensure Overview
  • Licensure in Minnesota
  • Clinical Licensure in Minnesota (LICSW)
  • Forms, Documents and Samples for LICSW
  • School Social Work
  • Path to Licensure Program
  • Licensure Overview

    Social work is a licensed profession. Each state’s licensing body establishes its own rules and regulations for getting and maintaining social work licensure in that state. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) provides the licensing examinations required. There are four ASWB tests: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. Social work students should check with the licensing body in each state in which they plan to practice social work to make sure they are clear about the licensing requirements in that state. ASWB maintains complete contact information for every licensing board on its website.
    Master of Social Work Licensure Disclosure

    Licensure in Minnesota

    Social Work licensure in MN is regulated by the Minnesota Board of Social Work.

    Effective in July 1987, the Minnesota legislature passed legislation that provides for licensure of social workers at four levels. The licensing statute in Minnesota is both a title and practice act, which means that all persons who use the title "social worker," and all persons who provide social work services to clients in the state, unless there are specific applicable exemptions, are covered by the law. The four levels of licensure are:

    • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): BSW degree + Bachelors Exam
      Watch this presentation on obtaining bachelor's-level social work licensure in Minnesota
    • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW): MSW degree + Masters Exam
      Watch this presentation on obtaining master's-level social work licensure in Minnesota
    • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW): MSW degree + Advanced Generalist Exam + Supervised Practice (2+ years)
    • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): MSW degree + Clinical Exam + Supervised Practice in Clinical Settings (2+ years) + 360 hours of graduate/post-graduate clinical curriculum content

    Contact the Minnesota Board of Social Work: 

    2829 University Ave. SE, Suite #340
    Minneapolis, MN 55414-3239
    (612) 617-2100 (main)
    (888) 234-1320 (toll free)
    (800) 627-3529 (TTY)
    (612) 617-2103 (fax)

    All licensees must document 40 Continuing Education (CE) hours, including two in ethics, during each 24-month renewal term. For more information, review the MN Board of Social Work CE requirements.

    MN Board of Social Work Licensure Categories (PDF)

    Clinical Licensure in Minnesota (LICSW)

    In 2007, Minnesota State Legislature passed a law, effective August 1, 2011, requiring 360 hours of specific clinical coursework in six clinical knowledge areas, in addition to required continuing education hours during the 4000 hours (2+ years) of post-MSW supervised practice in a clinical setting, for everyone applying for LICSW licensure. Review the MN Board of Social Work LICSW requirements.

    Your transcript verifies which courses you took in our program and used together with the grid, you will be able to assess your status for the MN LICSW application. For a transcript of your coursework, please contact the Registrar's Office.

    Graduates should send both the completed original Board of Social Work LICSW application form (Form 1) and the grid for signature to msw@stthomas.edu.

    The school will forward your completed Form 1 and signed grid to the Board of Social Work. Please see example of completed Form 1 and Clinical Grid to the right under Related Content if you are unsure of how to complete these forms.

    Most students complete the majority of required clinical clock hours in the MSW program. If you are short in any knowledge area, you can complete the remaining hours as continuing education (CE) hours. Review these instructions on how to satisfy your 360 clock hours using CEs. (Click on the "360 Clock Hours" tab under the Application Process section.)

    The school does not verify CE hours. You will use Form 3 and submit information directly to the Board.

    Forms, Documents and Samples for LICSW

    St. Thomas has conducted an analysis of our MSW curriculum to identify the clock hours for each clinical knowledge area covered in each required and elective MSW course. St. Thomas has prepared sample grids to help you record how you have covered the required clinical knowledge content through your MSW courses:

    Graduates should send both the completed Board of Social Work LICSW application form (Form 1) and the appropriate content grid for signature to msw@stthomas.edu. The School of Social Work will forward your completed Form 1 and signed grid to the Board of Social Work. You can view a sample Board of Social Work Form 1.   

    MN BOSW Licensing Presentation (PDF)

    School Social Work

    An individual who desires to practice as a school social worker in Minnesota must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Education. For more information, contact the Minnesota Department of Education at (651) 582-8200.

    You can also search for "Related Services Licensure" on the Minnesota Department of Education website

    Path to Licensure Program

    Association of Social Work Boards logo

    The ASWB Path to Licensure (PTL) program is a collaboration of educators, practitioners, and regulators encouraging and supporting students’ professional development journey.

    In spring 2017, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) selected St. Thomas clinical faculty member and coordinator of student and career services, Jane Hurley Johncox, to participate in its Path to Licensure Institute. Her selection recognized her ongoing work with our MSW student association to ensure our graduates are well-prepared for licensure success. As a scholar, she formalized and implemented our initial PTL program and continues to expand the program based on ongoing needs assessments and feedback, including supporting the development of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) student groups and providing resources related to professional development and licensure.

    Our MSW curriculum is guided by licensure standards and we are strongly committed to our students' licensure success.

    Our graduates' pass rates on the LGSW licensing exam are 20% higher (on average) than the national average. All graduates are academically on-track to meet Minnesota's rigorous clinical social work licensing requirements.

    Path to Licensure Overview (PDF)

    Licensure Overview

    Social work is a licensed profession. Each state’s licensing body establishes its own rules and regulations for getting and maintaining social work licensure in that state. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) provides the licensing examinations required. There are four ASWB tests: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. Social work students should check with the licensing body in each state in which they plan to practice social work to make sure they are clear about the licensing requirements in that state. ASWB maintains complete contact information for every licensing board on its website.
    Master of Social Work Licensure Disclosure

    Licensure in Minnesota

    Social Work licensure in MN is regulated by the Minnesota Board of Social Work.

    Effective in July 1987, the Minnesota legislature passed legislation that provides for licensure of social workers at four levels. The licensing statute in Minnesota is both a title and practice act, which means that all persons who use the title "social worker," and all persons who provide social work services to clients in the state, unless there are specific applicable exemptions, are covered by the law. The four levels of licensure are:

    • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): BSW degree + Bachelors Exam
      Watch this presentation on obtaining bachelor's-level social work licensure in Minnesota
    • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW): MSW degree + Masters Exam
      Watch this presentation on obtaining master's-level social work licensure in Minnesota
    • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW): MSW degree + Advanced Generalist Exam + Supervised Practice (2+ years)
    • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): MSW degree + Clinical Exam + Supervised Practice in Clinical Settings (2+ years) + 360 hours of graduate/post-graduate clinical curriculum content

    Contact the Minnesota Board of Social Work: 

    2829 University Ave. SE, Suite #340
    Minneapolis, MN 55414-3239
    (612) 617-2100 (main)
    (888) 234-1320 (toll free)
    (800) 627-3529 (TTY)
    (612) 617-2103 (fax)

    All licensees must document 40 Continuing Education (CE) hours, including two in ethics, during each 24-month renewal term. For more information, review the MN Board of Social Work CE requirements.

    MN Board of Social Work Licensure Categories (PDF)

    Clinical Licensure in Minnesota (LICSW)

    In 2007, Minnesota State Legislature passed a law, effective August 1, 2011, requiring 360 hours of specific clinical coursework in six clinical knowledge areas, in addition to required continuing education hours during the 4000 hours (2+ years) of post-MSW supervised practice in a clinical setting, for everyone applying for LICSW licensure. Review the MN Board of Social Work LICSW requirements.

    Your transcript verifies which courses you took in our program and used together with the grid, you will be able to assess your status for the MN LICSW application. For a transcript of your coursework, please contact the Registrar's Office.

    Graduates should send both the completed original Board of Social Work LICSW application form (Form 1) and the grid for signature to msw@stthomas.edu.

    The school will forward your completed Form 1 and signed grid to the Board of Social Work. Please see example of completed Form 1 and Clinical Grid to the right under Related Content if you are unsure of how to complete these forms.

    Most students complete the majority of required clinical clock hours in the MSW program. If you are short in any knowledge area, you can complete the remaining hours as continuing education (CE) hours. Review these instructions on how to satisfy your 360 clock hours using CEs. (Click on the "360 Clock Hours" tab under the Application Process section.)

    The school does not verify CE hours. You will use Form 3 and submit information directly to the Board.

    Forms, Documents and Samples for LICSW

    St. Thomas has conducted an analysis of our MSW curriculum to identify the clock hours for each clinical knowledge area covered in each required and elective MSW course. St. Thomas has prepared sample grids to help you record how you have covered the required clinical knowledge content through your MSW courses:

    Graduates should send both the completed Board of Social Work LICSW application form (Form 1) and the appropriate content grid for signature to msw@stthomas.edu. The School of Social Work will forward your completed Form 1 and signed grid to the Board of Social Work. You can view a sample Board of Social Work Form 1.   

    MN BOSW Licensing Presentation (PDF)

    School Social Work

    An individual who desires to practice as a school social worker in Minnesota must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Education. For more information, contact the Minnesota Department of Education at (651) 582-8200.

    You can also search for "Related Services Licensure" on the Minnesota Department of Education website

    Path to Licensure Program

    Association of Social Work Boards logo

    The ASWB Path to Licensure (PTL) program is a collaboration of educators, practitioners, and regulators encouraging and supporting students’ professional development journey.

    In spring 2017, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) selected St. Thomas clinical faculty member and coordinator of student and career services, Jane Hurley Johncox, to participate in its Path to Licensure Institute. Her selection recognized her ongoing work with our MSW student association to ensure our graduates are well-prepared for licensure success. As a scholar, she formalized and implemented our initial PTL program and continues to expand the program based on ongoing needs assessments and feedback, including supporting the development of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) student groups and providing resources related to professional development and licensure.

    Our MSW curriculum is guided by licensure standards and we are strongly committed to our students' licensure success.

    Our graduates' pass rates on the LGSW licensing exam are 20% higher (on average) than the national average. All graduates are academically on-track to meet Minnesota's rigorous clinical social work licensing requirements.

    Path to Licensure Overview (PDF)

    Accreditation

    The University of St. Thomas social work program was first accredited as a joint program (with St. Catherine University) in 1975 from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Since that time, the School of Social Work successfully obtained reaffirmation of accreditation through 2019. After the dissolution of the joint program, the St. Thomas BA in Social Work and Master of Social Work programs earned independent accreditation in 2019.

    MSW Assessment of Student Learning Summaries:

    2012
    2013
    2014
    2016
    2018
    2019
    2020