Social Work

Social Work Department

The mission of The College of St. Scholastica Undergraduate Social Work Program is to prepare social work practitioners who demonstrate entry-level competence, practice ethical behavior, promote social justice and serve diverse communities in the Benedictine tradition, which includes the values of community, hospitality, respect, stewardship, and love of learning. Social work addresses the needs of individuals, families, groups and communities. The core values of the profession are service, social justice, dignity and worth of the individual, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence. The College of St. Scholastica Social Work Program embraces the mission of the social work profession in the context of the College's Benedictine tradition. The program requires graduates to be well prepared for beginning generalist professional practice.

The St. Scholastica Social Work Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE is recognized by the Commission for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting body for social work education in the United States. All accredited programs must comply with CSWE established policies and program standards. CSWE states:

"The purpose of the social work profession is to promote human and community well-being. Guided by a person and environment construct, a global perspective, respect for human diversity, and knowledge based on scientific inquiry, social work's purpose is actualized through its quest for social and economic justice, the prevention of conditions that limit human rights, the elimination of poverty, and the enhancement of the quality of life for all persons." (CSWE, 2008. Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards.)

Generalist social work practice is grounded in the liberal arts and the person and environment construct. To promote human and social well-being, generalist practitioners use a range of prevention and intervention methods in their practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The generalist practitioner identifies with the social work profession and applies ethical principles and critical thinking in practice. Generalist practitioners incorporate diversity in their practice and advocate for human rights and social and economic justice. They recognize, support, and build on the strengths and resiliency of all human beings. They engage in research-informed practice and are proactive in responding to the impact of context on professional practice. Baccalaureate social work practice incorporates all of the core competencies.

Graduates find employment in a variety of settings, some of which include: child and family service agencies, hospitals and other health care facilities, community action agencies, schools, child and adult protection, residential treatment programs, tribal social service agencies, gerontological services, mental health settings, criminal justice, developmental/mental disability programs, and international social work.

St. Scholastica graduates also may enter most MSW programs with advanced standing, requiring only 12 - 16 months of graduate study. For students who care about people and want to make a difference, social work may be the appropriate major.

Department Chair
Lee Gustafson, Ph.D., M.S.S.W., L.I.S.W.

Director, Undergraduate Social Work Program
Shelly Richardson, D.S.W., L.I.C.S.W.


The CSS Undergraduate Social Work Program is driven by our college and departmental vision, program mission, and nine competency standards (CSWE, 2015). Students who graduate from this program have completed courses grounded in the liberal arts and Benedictine traditions. The mission, goals, and competencies specified by the program are the same for all sites as follows:

Goal One

The College of St. Scholastica Undergraduate Social Work Program will prepare students for generalist social work practice that is demonstrated in academic and professional practice settings.

Goal Two

The Social Work Program will foster the mission of the College and the values from the Benedictine heritage: community, hospitality, respect, stewardship, and the love of learning.

Goal Three

The Social Work Program will prepare students for professional identity and lifelong learning.

Core Competencies

Accreditation standards require that the baccalaureate social work curriculum prepares graduates for generalist practice through mastery of a set of core competencies. These core competencies are measurable practice behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, and skills. St. Scholastica Social Work students delineate the educational goals and objectives of the Social Work Program through demonstration of specific competencies that serve to inform and aid evaluation of those students' preparation for generalist social work practice. These competencies serve as a link between what may be observed or demonstrated in student knowledge, value and skill performance, and the program's curriculum expectations. In a general way, these competencies operationalize the educational objectives for students, faculty, and administration and provide a common set of definitions to gauge performance and behavior. The nine core competencies are listed below.

  1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior.
  2. Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice.
  3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice.
  4. Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice.
  5. Engage in Policy Practice.
  6. Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities.
  7. Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities.
  8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities.
  9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities.

Social Work Licensure

The College of St. Scholastica Undergraduate Social Work Program enables graduates to sit for licensure as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) by the Minnesota Board of Social Work. Additionally, the curriculum is approved by the Minnesota Board of Teaching for School Social Worker Licensure. Students seeking licensure as a school social worker are required to complete the social work major coursework and SWK 4555 Field II Practicum in a school setting under the supervision of a licensed school social worker, consisting of at least 450 contact hours during one school year.

Social Work major

General education requirements:

  • BIO 1102 or BIO 2110 and 2120
  • PSY 1105 or PSY 2208
  • SOC 2265 or SOC 4405 or INS 4410 or INS 4415 or INS 4420 or WGS 1011
  • SOC 1125 or HIS/WGS 2231 or SOC 2433
  • Social/Behavior Science elective (4 cr.)
  • Religion elective (4 cr.)

Social Work core requirements:

SWK 3000, 3339, 3360, 3362, 3370, 3383, 3385, 3500, 3555, 4440, 4441, 4449, 4470, 4555; and a minimum of 4 credits of SWK topics 3777/4777, or other approved elective courses.

Other requirements

Students provide their own transportation to community learning experiences such as their field practicum during the junior and senior years. Students are required to submit a criminal background check and receive DHS clearance before beginning field experiences. Students first become members of NASW at the beginning of their junior year and maintain membership through graduation. Students planning to attend graduate school (including programs offering advanced standing in social work) are strongly recommended to take a statistics course (PSY 2335 or 3331; or SWK 3131 & 3132), and a Biology course with human content (Bio 1102 or Bio 2110 and 2120).

Admission and retention procedure and policy

All entering students are encouraged to submit their application for the Social Work major with the Registrar's Office once they are an intended major. Social Work majors apply for formal admission to the Undergraduate Social Work Program during the spring semester of the sophomore year. For fall junior-status priority admission, students transferring from a community college with an A.A. degree should make application to both the College and the Social Work Program by April 15.

Admission to the Social Work Program is a prerequisite condition for registration in SWK 3370/3000

Application to the Social Work Program includes the following:

  1. Written application from the student.
  2. One recommendation, preferably from an agency supervisor who has observed the student in relationship to a client population.
  3. Possible interview by the Social Work Program Admissions Committee.

The Social Work Program Director/Chair informs the student of the decision in writing by June 15.

Possible actions include:

  • Acceptance of application.
  • Denial of application. Students who are denied admission to the Social Work Program have the right to appeal the decision to the Social Work Grievance Committee.
  • Admission and retention criteria for the program are:
  • Student must maintain acceptable academic standing. For admission this includes: junior standing; a 2.5 overall GPA (on a 4.0 scale). All social work courses must be passed with a minimum grade of C. Retention requires continuation of these minimum grades. Students who earn a grade below C in any required social work course must retake the course prior to enrollment in the next course in the professional practice sequence.
  • Students are expected to exhibit commitment to the profession through attendance and active participation in classes.
  • Other evaluative criteria used by the program include:
  • Ability to demonstrate increasingly more advanced writing skills.
  • Demonstration of growth and maturity as a person and as a professional.
  • Willingness to give and receive honest and respectful feedback.
  • Increased growth in self-awareness.
  • Satisfactory performance in prerequisite courses, as well as in seminar and field experiences.
  • Positive references from academic and field representatives throughout the student's education.
  • Proper use of supervisory and collegial resources.
  • Ability to uphold the NASW Code of Ethics.

Many students enter St. Scholastica having first completed a portion of their education through a community college or other academic institution. In some cases, students complete associate degrees in human service or through other degree programs. The College recognizes previous academic work through recognition of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MNTC) and the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC). Additionally, the Social Work Program maintains strong reciprocal relationships with many community colleges, using specific articulation agreements and guides between the community college program and the College Social Work Department. These agreements specify transfer course equivalencies and other conditions to help transfer students meet necessary prerequisites, program admission requirements, and transfer to St. Scholastica "seamlessly." Fulfilling the terms of an articulation agreement or transfer guide is necessary in order for a student to receive full credit of transferred coursework to be applied for St. Scholastica graduation. Please feel free to contact one of the Social Work Program distance-site coordinators or the undergraduate director if you have questions.

The Social Work Program reserves the privilege of accepting and retaining in the program only those students who, in the judgment of the faculty, Admission Committee and Grievance Committee, satisfy the requirements of scholarship and the integrity of the social work profession as set forth in the NASW Code of Ethics. No academic credit is awarded for life or previous work experiences in this degree program.

Social Work Diversity Statement

The Social Work Program encourages all students to learn about the diversity in their communities. Program activities are dedicated to expanding students' experiences with diversity and to assist them in developing cultural competency. The Social Work Program conducts all of its activities without discrimination on the basis of age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, physical and mental ability, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, tribal sovereign status, or status with regard to public assistance.