social-work

The MSW program (full-time and part-time) is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Full-time students attending on a full-time basis generally complete the program in two academic years; Part-time students, both in the Part-Time MSW Program and Full-Time Program attending part-time, complete it in four. Students from CSWE-accredited undergraduate social work programs may be granted up to one year of advanced standing in the full-time program or up to two years advanced standing in the part-time program for comparable coursework taken prior to enrollment.

MSW Program Goals

  • Provide an MSW curriculum that builds on a liberal arts base, grounded in a person-in-environment, empowerment, and strengths perspective that promotes the values, ethics, and purposes of the profession.
  • Prepare students for generalist and autonomous advanced generalist practice that is transferable across diverse contexts, locations, and problems by providing knowledge, values, and skills training regarding:
    • Populations and related social problems/issues;
    • Social, health, and/or human services systems and policies;
    • Systems of oppression, privilege, and power;
    • Multilevel and multimethod approaches based on scientific inquiry and best practices;
    • Ethical advocacy and social, economic, and environmental justice;
    • Reflective leadership;
    • Research-informed practice, and practice and program evaluation methods that contribute to the profession's knowledge base.
  • Develop and maintain an inclusive environment that will attract, nurture, and support diversity within the School, among students, faculty, and staff.
  • Cultivate and maintain partnerships with a variety of social, health and/or human service organizations to provide meaningful field experiences and supervision while respecting and contributing to their respective mission.

The school's curriculum is generalist social work practice in orientation. In courses across the curriculum, faculty interweave: content about social work values and ethics; content that promotes understanding, affirmation, and respect for people from diverse backgrounds; content on populations-at-risk, including strategies to respond to and strategies to redress risk factors; and content on social, economic and environmental justice grounded in an understanding of distributive justice, human and civil rights, and the global interconnections of oppression.

The generalist practice year curriculum emphasizes direct practice across system sizes (micro-to-macro). Students take courses in social welfare policies and services, human behavior and the social environment (including social work with ethnic and racial groups; and psychopathology for generalist practice), research methods, social work practice (including generalist practice with individuals, families, and groups; and generalist practice with organizations and communities), and a field course that includes a social work practice integrative seminar and social work field placement.

The advanced curriculum offers an advanced generalist specialization with areas of focus in: aging; child, youth, and family welfare; health; and mental health. The advanced generalist specialization requires that students complete an advanced practice course (e.g., advanced practice in health; aging and mental health; interventions with children, youth, and families; psychopathology for social work practice in mental health); a social policies and services course (e.g., child welfare services or child, youth and family policies and services; health, aging, and disability policy and services; mental health policies and services); an advanced macro practice course; and advanced generalist social work field course that includes a social work practice integrative seminar and a social work field placement specific to the student's area of focus.

Individualized sub-focus areas are also available and are constructed with assistance from the academic advisors.

Social Work Competencies

At the conclusion the MSW program we expect graduate students to have achieved the following core competencies:

  • Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior
  • Engage diversity and difference in practice
  • Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice
  • Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice
  • Engage in policy practice
  • Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
  • Assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
  • Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
  • Evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities

At the end of the generalist practice curriculum sequence, students are expected to evidence the identified generalist behaviors for each competency. At the end of the advanced year, students are expected to have achieved the competencies at the generalist and specialist levels through the demonstration of generalist behaviors and advanced generalist behaviors in the advanced generalist specialization with an area of focus learned in classroom and field experiences—all of which are derived from social work knowledge, values, and skills.

Clinical Practice Licensure

Students seeking preparation for licensure as a clinical social worker in the State of Wisconsin or State of Minnesota typically complete the mental health focus area. Contact the social work academic advisors in the Full- or Part-Time Programs (see contact information on the program website) for a complete list of requirements necessary for these credentials. Information on social work certification and licensure is also detailed in the section for Professional Social Work Credentials & Continuing Education.

School Social Work Licensure

Students seeking preparation for licensure as a school social worker in the State of Wisconsin typically complete the child, youth, and family welfare focus area. Contact the social work academic advisors in the Full- or Part-Time Programs (see contact information on the program website) for a complete list of requirements necessary for these credentials. Information on social work certification and licensure is is also detailed in the section for Professional Social Work Credentials & Continuing Education.

Child Welfare Training

Federal Title IV-E funding is available to MSW students in both Full- and Part-Time programs for training in public child welfare. After acceptance into the school, generalist year or advanced practice year students may apply to this special program designed to prepare advanced practitioners for practice in public child welfare. Students complete a specialized curriculum within the child, youth, and family welfare focus area. MSW students accepted into the training program receive tuition (in-state or MN reciprocity), a book & mileage stipend, and a monthly stipend each year they are in field in the program. In return, after graduation, child welfare trainees agree to work in a public child welfare position in the State of Wisconsin for each year they received funding. For complete details, contact the Title IV-E program coordinator (contact information available on the program website).

Part-Time MSW Program

The Part-Time MSW Program is offered on two sites: the UW–Madison campus for those in the greater Madison area and on the UW–Eau Claire campus for those who live in the northwest part of the state. The Part-Time MSW Program is designed to allow students who are not able to pursue full-time study to work toward an MSW degree on a structured, time-extended basis.

  • Courses are offered on Saturdays at both sites.
  • Fieldwork options may include place of employment.
  • Traditional and advanced standing options are offered.
  • Focus Areas in: aging, health, or health and aging; child, youth and family welfare; or mental health are offered.

Applicants must meet the School of Social Work admission requirements to be accepted into the program.

Field Education Program

Generalist practice year social work students complete two semesters (256 hours per semester) of field work (SOC WORK 400 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar I, SOC WORK 401 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar II) concurrent with their generalist practice coursework, starting in the fall semester. Advanced practice year students complete two semesters (320 hours per semester) of field work (SOC WORK 800 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar III, SOC WORK 801 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar IV) concurrent with their advanced practice concentration coursework, beginning in the fall semester.

The field units are organized around a social problem area, a field of practice, or a major intervention method. Each unit has a range of field placement agencies and settings appropriate to its theme. The emphasis for Social Work 400-level placements is on a generalist perspective and direct practice experience. The focus is on learning and applying analytic and interventive skills within an ethically based, problem-focused approach. Social Work 800-level field emphases are practice from an advanced generalist perspective with either a direct or indirect practice experience. The focus is on autonomous practice and advanced practice knowledge and skills in an area of concentration.

The following field units are available to generalist practice year and/or advance practice year MSW students in the full-time program. These units represent more than 100 placements in agencies and organizations throughout Dane and its contiguous counties.

  • Social work practice in community agencies
  • Social work practice in community mental health agencies
  • Social work practice in county human services
  • Social work practice in intellectual and other disabilities
  • Social work practice in educational settings
  • Social work practice in health
  • Social work practice in juvenile and criminal justice systems
  • Social work practice in mental health
  • Social work practice with older adults
  • Social work practice in policy and administration
  • Social work practice in public and private child welfare
  • Social work practice in public child welfare

Field units offered in the part-time MSW program at both program sites are:

  • Social work practice in community agencies
  • Social work practice in child and family welfare: public, private, and educational settings
  • Social work practice in aging and/or health (depending on student demand)
  • Social work practice in mental health

Social work applicants should be advised that state statutes require the Department of Justice to conduct background checks on all potential field students prior to the field experience. Information regarding this process is provided to students after they are accepted into the School of Social Work.

ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

The School of Social Work at UW–Madison is consistently ranked among the best schools of social work in the country. Faculty prepare social work professionals at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Through the preparation of social work practitioners, scholars and educators, faculty and students explore and seek to understand the nature of social problems, their impact on vulnerable populations, and ways to critically analyze and promote the achievement of a just, equitable, healthy, and productive society.

Social work faculty are noted for their scholarly work in developing a conceptual understanding of social work practice and policy, and in producing research in important social problem areas. For example, faculty took a leadership role in the development of the generalist model of practice that is now used by most social work programs. Faculty members have made valuable research contributions in the fields of aging, child welfare, developmental disabilities, and family and inter-generational caregiving, as well as in educational attainment and life-course decision-making, end-of-life care for older adults and palliative care, health disparities, homelessness, poverty, social policy, welfare reform, and child support. Drawing on strong faculty, excellent students, and the resources of a world-renowned university in a community rich with social and human service programs, there is much to offer prospective students: individualized, faculty-taught field education for master's students, nationally renowned faculty with a strong interdisciplinary focus, and hands-on research training in a highly individualized program of study for doctoral students.

The school offers unique opportunities for students to receive state-of-the-art professional training through its field education program. Student practice opportunities range from experiences in institutional and community-based settings to working with families and other significant care-givers, with individuals and groups, and in policy and service delivery issues.

Mission. The mission of the School of Social Work is to enhance human well-being and promote social and economic justice for people who are disadvantaged to achieve an equitable, healthy, and productive society. The school aims to:

  • Create, advance, strengthen, and integrate interdisciplinary knowledge for students and the profession through research, scholarship, and practice.
  • Educate students to become highly-skilled, culturally-competent and ethical practitioners who will provide leadership for the profession of social work within the state of Wisconsin and nationally.
  • Promote change at levels ranging from the individual client to national, including empowering communities and populations that are disadvantaged and developing humane service delivery systems.
  • Create and disseminate knowledge regarding the prevention and amelioration of social problems.

The School of Social Work is one of five professional schools in the College of Letters and Science. As part of the college, the school maintains relationships with the other social studies and professional schools within the university system through interchange of faculty and students and through joint research and publication endeavors.

Students apply to the Master of Social Work through one of the named options:

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Master's students are eligible for a variety of School of Social Work awards that include Federal Training Grants, Veterans Administration stipends, Harriet & Sandra Rosenbaum Scholarship, and many others. For complete details regarding eligibility and application process for these awards, see Awards and Scholarships on the school's website.

Students also have access to federal loans and work study.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (http://my.wisc.edu/CourseGuideRedirect/BrowseByTitle).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Grades of C are accepted only if they are offset by an equal number of credits of A. Candidates who receive more than two grades of C (in courses that do not extend beyond one term) or a grade of D or F while in the program will be dropped from the MSW Program. Candidates who receive a grade of C in the Field and Integrative Seminar courses may continue only with permission of the faculty and may not offset the grade with a grade of A. (This policy does not apply to grades received for courses taken to meet the statistics prerequisite while in the program).
Assessments and Examinations None.
Language Requirements None.

Required Courses

Select a Named Option for courses required.

Named Options

A named option is a formally documented sub-major within an academic major program. Named options appear on the transcript with degree conferral. Students pursuing the Master of Social Work must select one of the following named options:

Students should refer to one of the named options for policy information:

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Engage diversity and difference in practice.
  2. Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.
  3. Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice.
  4. Engage in policy practice.
  5. Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  6. Assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  7. Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior.
  8. Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  9. Evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Professors: Lawrence M. Berger, MSW, Ph.D.; Marah H. Curtis, MSW, Ph.D.; Betty J. Kramer,  MSSW, Ph.D.; Katherine Magnuson, Ph.D.; Daniel R. Meyer, MSW, Ph.D.; Stephanie A. Robert, MSW, Ph.D. (School director); Tracy Schroepfer, MSW, Ph.D., Kristen Slack, A.M., Ph.D.

Associate Professors: Tally Moses, MSW, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors: Lauren Bishop, Ph.D.; Pajarita Charles, MPA, MSW, Ph.D.; Lara Gerassi, MSW, Ph.D.; Jooyoung Kong, MSW, Ph.D.; Jessica Pac, Ph.D.; Alejandra Ros Pilarz, Ph.D.;  Tova Walsh, MSW, Ph.D.; Yang Sao Xiong, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professor: Audrey Conn, MSSW, APSW; Alice Egan, MSSW, APSW; Ellen Smith, MSSW

Clinical Assistant Professors: Laura Dresser, MSW, Ph.D.; Amanda Ngola, MSW, LCSW; Lynette Studer, MSSW, Ph.D.; Angela Willits, MSW, LCSW

A complete list of all faculty and staff in the school is available on the School of Social Work Directory.

Accreditation

Council on Social Work Education

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2021.

Certification/Licensure

Association of Social Work Boards

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure about whether each program meets state educational requirements for initial licensure or certification. Following is this disclosure information for this program:

The requirements of this program meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin

The requirements of this program do not meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Not applicable

The requirements of this program have not been determined if they meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands