Social Work

Program Description

The St. Catherine University Department of Social Work’s mission is: 

We prepare students for critically reflective practice to use social work knowledge, values, and skills to demonstrate the intrinsic value of all humankind in a unified purpose to serve those in need and promote social justice and human rights.

The St. Catherine University Master of Social Work (MSW) program mission is to prepare clinical social workers for critically reflective social work practice.  We collaborate with students and communities to create learning environments grounded in social justice and scholarly inquiry with a critical perspective on social work knowledge, values, and skills, in order to lead and influence change.   

Two MSW program options are available: Advanced Standing, a reduced-credit option for students with bachelor's degrees in social work; and Regular Standing, for students with bachelor's degrees in any subject. One-year and two-year tracks are available for Advanced Standing students. Regular Standing students select from two-year or three-year tracks. The advanced standing program requires 38 credits, including 600 hours of field practica. The regular standing graduate program requires 56 semester credits, including 1,000 hours of field practica.  Foundation and advanced courses include study in human behavior and the social environment, social policy and services, research, generalist and clinical social work practice and fieldwork. Courses are offered on our St. Paul, MN campus, in a blended format that includes fully on-campus as well as hybrid (on campus and online) courses—all in a convenient schedule in the late afternoon and evening designed for working adults.

The MSW program emphasizes the development of the individual student.  Its focus on clinical social work practice with individuals, small groups and families, deals with problems including poverty, discrimination, mental illness, developmental disabilities and oppression. The MSW curriculum emphasizes demonstrated mastery of knowledge and practice skills and is rooted in a philosophy of social responsibility and respect for human rights. The development of areas of expertise can be explored through selection of electives and field placements.

The goals of the master of social work program are:

  1. We prepare students for critical clinical social work practice in order to lead and influence change.
  2. We prepare students to examine, through a critical perspective, injustice and systemic barriers affecting diverse populations to promote social well-being. 
  3. We prepare students to develop the necessary knowledge and skills in critical thinking, transformative advocacy, and critically reflective clinical social work practice.
  4. We prepare students for scholarly inquiry and the application of research in order to develop and evaluate social work policy and practice.
  5. We provide innovative leadership in social work education by emphasizing engaged and critically self-reflective pedagogy throughout our curriculum so that we facilitate the holistic development of our students as well the essential competencies needed for social work practice.

  6. We collaborate with our practice communities to deliver effective and responsive services via reciprocally beneficial field practica, cutting-edge field instructor training, and professional consultation/in-service opportunities provided by our faculty.

Program Accreditation

St. Kate's master's and bachelor of social work programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation.

Accreditation of a baccalaureate or master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of program quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited program has sufficient resources to meet its mission and goals and the Commission on Accreditation has verified that it demonstrates compliance with all sections of the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards.

Accreditation applies to all program sites and program delivery methods of an accredited program. Accreditation provides reasonable assurance about the quality of the program and the competence of students graduating from the program.

St. Catherine University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association: www.ncahlc.org.

Licensure

In 2007, Minnesota State Legislature passed a law, effective August 1, 2011, requiring 360 hours of clinical coursework in six clinical knowledge areas for everyone applying for LICSW licensure. Applicants for the independent license are subject to the new law. Students will get most of this mandated content through coursework in our MSW program.

For specific information regarding social work licensure, contact the Minnesota Board of Social Work, 2829 University Ave. SE, Suite #340, Minneapolis, MN 55414, 612-617-2100, or visit http://mn.gov/health-licensing-boards/social-work/.

Note: Effective August 1, 1997, all new applicants for licensure must have a criminal background check completed as part of their application.

Effective July 1990, an individual who desires to practice as a school social worker must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Education. For more information regarding school social work licensure, contact the Minnesota Department of Education, 1500 Hwy 36 W., Roseville, MN 55113, 651-582-8691, or visit http://www.education.state.mn.us/.

Degree Requirements

The regular standing graduate program requires 56 semester credits, including 1,000 hours of field practicum.  The advanced standing graduate program requires a minimum of 38 semester hours, including 600 hours of field practicum.

Years to Complete the Program

The program must be completed within four years from the initial term of enrollment in the MSW program. You may pursue program requirements during the regular academic year and summer sessions on a full- or extended-time status.

For regular standing students who do not have an undergraduate degree in social work, the MSW degree can be completed in the weekday format in a two-year, four-semester program. Students enroll in a minimum of 13-15 credits each semester, including field practicum. This two-year MSW program will allow regular standing students who carry 13-15 credits per semester to complete the 56 credits required for graduation.

Graduates of undergraduate social work programs accredited by the CSWE will be considered for advanced standing and will be required to complete a minimum of 38 semester credits to receive the MSW degree. Full time students admitted to the advanced standing one-year program in the weekday format take four courses during the summer sessions and graduate the following May after two semesters of full time study.

The MSW program at St. Kate's also offers an extended-time curriculum for those students who are unable to enroll on a full time basis.  Regular standing students can apply to complete the program on extended-time status on either a three-year plan. Advanced standing students can apply to complete the program on extended-time status, on a two-year plan. The degree requirements are the same as the full-time programs.

Dual Degree Programs

Innovative dual degree program options are available for students through collaborative programs with the Master of Social Work are offered through the Theology Department and the Holistic Health Studies Department at St. Catherine University

These programs were developed to reinforce and support a professional perspective that serves the multiple and complex needs of clients. To participate in a dual degree option, students must be independently accepted into both graduate programs. Applicants should express their intent to complete the dual-degree program when applying for admission. Once accepted, students develop a plan for completing both degrees with the support of an advisor from each program. For social work students, their advisor will be the MSW program director. Upon completion, students will have two degrees.

Additional Information

Advising

Upon admission to the MSW program, each student is assigned an academic advisor from among the full-time faculty. Advisors assist students in selecting appropriate elective courses and reviewing requests for changes in program sequence. Advisors also assist in developing greater understanding of the program and the profession, and in providing consultation about other issues that may arise related to the student’s participation in the program. Advisors also serve as student advocates. The MSW program does not require students to obtain academic advising as a condition of registration, but students are strongly encouraged to contact their advisors at least once a semester. Students may request a change of academic advisor by writing to the MSW program director.

Independent Study

An independent study course provides an opportunity for students who wish to undertake a well-defined research project or clearly outlined and carefully delineated course of study. Independent study courses are restricted to students of proven ability who have sufficient background in the subject and are able to complete their work under the guidance of a faculty member. They conduct the project in an independent manner without attending regular class meetings. Independent study is characterized by a reduction in formal instruction and an increase in the individual student’s responsibility and initiative in the learning process.

Approval of an independent study course by the faculty sponsor, MSW director and the dean attests to the academic value of the study and to the ability of the student to master a body of knowledge with minimal faculty guidance. Field practicum experiences may not be taken as independent study. Independent studies may not substitute for an elective course offered in the School of Social Work. Independent study arrangements are generally limited to one or two students per course and must be accompanied by an MSW Program Change form if it impacts their course sequencing.

Normally, independent studies are offered for three credits. However, independent studies are also offered for less than three credits in cases where a student is one or two credits short because of transfer of courses from another institution.

The Independent Study Proposal and Registration form is found on the Office of the Registrar Forms page. Registration for an independent study course requires the approval of the MSW faculty member and the MSW program director, who also maintains a copy of the completed contract.

Progression Policy

Students must earn a grade of C or better in each social work course. Students must also maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00. If a student has cumulative GPA of less than 3.00, they will automatically be placed on academic probation. If a student earns more than one grade of C or lower, they may be suspended or asked to withdraw from the program.

Students must comply with the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and the Minnesota Licensing Code of Ethics, as well as the Standards of the MSW Social Work program as detailed in the MSW Student Handbook.

Conditions for Probation, Suspension or Termination

There are six categories of academic standing, one related to admission status and five that are assigned at the end of each grading period.

At admission:

Provisional Admission – A student is considered a provisional admit if the student 1) has unmet prerequisites or 2) was admitted with an undergraduate cumulative GPA below 3.0. A student may move off of provisional status by 1) completing the required prerequisite coursework or 2) earning a 3.0 or higher GPA in the first 12 credits of the MSW program.

After each semester and final grading period:

  • Good Standing – To maintain good standing in the MSW program a student must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and successfully complete all field practicum requirements 
  • Probation (academic or disciplinary) – A student who is not maintaining the requirements of Good Standing will be placed on academic probation. Disciplinary probation may be assigned for conduct or other non-academic related behaviors 
  • Suspension – A student on academic probation for more than two semesters may be placed on suspension. A student who earns more than one grade of “C” or lower may be suspended from the program. A suspended student is not allowed to register for future terms or seek field placement until the conditions of the suspension have been addressed in a satisfactory manner
  • Academic Dismissal (termination) – Any student who fails a required course twice or receives more than one “F” on their transcript may be terminated from the MSW program 
  • Non-Academic Dismissal (termination) - Any student who fails to meet the non-academic standards as addressed in this handbook may be terminated from the MSW program

Terms for readmission to the program after suspension or dismissal are outlined in the Retention in the MSW Program policy section and communicated, along with specific conditions, to the affected student in the academic standing notification letter.

Readmission to the Program

Students who have been dismissed are not eligible to register for courses or seek field placement, but may apply for readmission after the lapse of at least one semester or as specified in the dismissal letter. To be readmitted, students must submit a petition to the dean of the School of Health via the MSW program director describing why they will be successful if readmitted and address the conditions of the probation, suspension or termination. 

If readmitted, students are automatically placed on probation, and the terms of probation will be provided in writing to them. A readmitted student must achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the next 12 credits of course work taken. Should the student fail to achieve a 3.0, she or he will be terminated from the program with no option for readmission. If a student is placed on probationary status, dismissed or terminated, she or he may use the institutional grievance policy and procedures of St. Catherine University to appeal any decision. This policy does not supersede or replace any applicable Institution-wide process or policy.

There may be circumstances that warrant immediate discipline including termination from the program. The Department of Social Work has the right to discipline or terminate a student during the course of or in lieu of the processes described.

St. Kate's Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares clinical social workers for critically reflective social work practice. In this clinical program, students and faculty collaborate in an environment grounded in social justice, with a critical perspective on social work knowledge, values, and skills.

Which program option is for me?

The Regular Standing (RS) MSW program requires 56 semester credits, including 1,000 hours of field practicum. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in any field other than social work are eligible to apply for this program.

The Advanced Standing (AS) MSW program requires a minimum of 38 semester hours, including 600 hours of field practicum and completion of a clinical research project. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program (and regionally accredited institution) are eligible to apply to this program.

RS Curriculum

Required Foundation and Clinical Courses:
GRSW 5000History and Philosophy of Social Work3
GRSW 5010Theory and Practice of Social Work I3
GRSW 5020Theory and Practice of Social Work II3
GRSW 5050Field Practicum and Seminar I3
GRSW 5060Field Practicum and Seminar II3
GRSW 5400Human Behavior and the Social Environment3
GRSW 5800Social Work Research Methods3
GRSW 6030Methods of Clinical Social Work I3
GRSW 6040Methods of Clinical Social Work II3
GRSW 6070Field Practicum and Seminar III4
GRSW 6080Field Practicum and Seminar IV4
GRSW 6250Social Policy and Program Development3
GRSW 6450Psychopathology and Human Behavior3
GRSW 6500Clinical Supervision and Program Management3
GRSW 6810Social Work Practice Research3
Select a minimum of nine credits from:9
Clinical Practice with Couples and Families
Cognitive Interventions
Integrative Psychotherapy
Clinical Practice with Adolescents
Clinical Practice with Older Adults
Clinical Practice for the Treatment of Trauma
Clinical Practice with Immigrants and Refugees
Clinical Social Work Practice in Integrated Healthcare
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Total Credits56

AS Curriculum

Required Foundation and Clinical Courses:
GRSW 5000History and Philosophy of Social Work3
GRSW 6030Methods of Clinical Social Work I3
GRSW 6040Methods of Clinical Social Work II3
GRSW 6070Field Practicum and Seminar III4
GRSW 6080Field Practicum and Seminar IV4
GRSW 6250Social Policy and Program Development3
GRSW 6450Psychopathology and Human Behavior3
GRSW 6500Clinical Supervision and Program Management3
GRSW 6810Social Work Practice Research3
Select a minimum of nine credits from:9
Clinical Practice with Couples and Families
Cognitive Interventions
Integrative Psychotherapy
Clinical Practice with Adolescents
Clinical Practice with Older Adults
Clinical Practice for the Treatment of Trauma
Clinical Practice with Immigrants and Refugees
Clinical Social Work Practice in Integrated Healthcare
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Total Credits38