Frequently Asked Questions about the St. Kate's - St. Thomas BSW Program

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions by students in the BSW program.  If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.

What can I do with a social work major?

Social workers practice in various different settings to respond to social & personal issues and concerns. Social workers work with individuals, families, groups, communities, and society on issues surrounding poverty, child welfare, family relationships, health care, immigration, crime, aging, and various other social issues. Social workers may work with individuals and families to address personal struggles (micro). They may work with groups and organizations to create better systems to respond to social problems and concerns (mezzo). They may also work on larger systems change, engaging society and political systems to larger, lasting change (macro). BSW social workers learn the knowledge, values and skills to work on all of these levels. 

Learn more about Careers in Social Work

 

What do social workers do? How is it different than youth work/psychology/sociology/family studies?

Social work is a professional degree that educates the practitioner to think holistically and from a strengths perspective. Social workers think about the individual, family, community, culture and society and how all of these systems interact with one another to construct the identified concerns and the ultimate solutions. It is the social worker’s assessment of how these systems interact and where the strengths in that interaction exist that serves as the basis for identifying the concerns and the plan for change. All of this is also done in collaboration with the client system. Social workers never “do to” a client system but “engage with” that client to collaboratively create the solutions to the identified problem. 

Learn more by viewing the School of Social Work's Integrative Model of Generalist Social Work Practice

Who do I talk to if I think I want to major in social work but want to know more about it?

Whether you are 100% sure you want to be a social work major or your just thinking about it, the best place to start the conversation is with the BSW Program Director. She is happy to sit down with you to discuss the profession and the major. She can be reached at smferguson@stkate.edu. She keeps office hours on both the St. Kate’s and St. Thomas campuses. 

How do I declare the social work major?

Declaring the major is easy but there are two different processes for St. Kate’s and for St. Thomas:

  • If you are a St. Kate’s student: Go to the registrar’s page and go to forms. Choose – “Change in Major/Advisor-day” if you are a day student and choose “Change in Major/Advisor-EWO” if you are an EWO student. When you complete the form, be sure to choose whether you would like to complete the BA or the BS in social work. The difference between these two degrees is in the liberal arts requirements. The BA requires a third semester of a language and another philosophy or theology course. The BS is the most common degree for social work majors as it requires one more science/social science course which is achieved through the supporting coursework for the major.
  • If you are a St. Thomas student: Pick up a “Major Field Declaration Form” from the front Social Work office (201 Summit Classroom Building) or from the Registrar’s office. Complete it and bring it to the front Social Work office for a signature and processing. Social Work students at St. Thomas will receive a BA in social work at graduation.     

Can I double major in social work and something else?

Yes, you can double major in social work and another major. The course work program plan for the social work major is fairly prescriptive, requiring courses to be taken in a particular order through junior and senior year. If you are interested in double majoring in social work, either work through a program plan with your advisor or make an appointment with the BSW Program Director. She would be happy to sit down with you and create a program plan for you.  She can be reached at smferguson@stkate.edu. She keeps office hours on both the St. Kate’s and St. Thomas campuses.

How do I get admitted to the major?

Social work majors complete a formal admission to the major process in the spring of their junior year. Admission to the major occurs after students have taken some social work course work so that faculty can more fairly assess the students’ aptitude and motivation for a career in social work. This is a gatekeeping process not a process to limit the number of students accepted because of a limited number of seats in the program. All students who display the aptitude and motivation for a career in social work will be accepted. The application process involves the student meeting with their advisor to review their completed application, transcripts, and junior mid-term field evaluation.  


Learn more about Admission to the Major

What is a field placement?

Field is the “heart of social work education.” A field placement is a learning experience in which students gain hands-on professional social work practice. Students participate in two field placements, one their junior year (200 hours) and a second their senior year (400) hours. Students are matched with a field placement at a social service agency where they are able to apply their learning to engage, assess, intervene, evaluate and end with diverse client systems. Concurrently, students are enrolled in an integrative field seminar during which they share knowledge and experiences about social service agencies, discuss issues and topics related to social work, and complete assignments that bring the connections between theory and practice to life. 


Learn more about Undergraduate Field Education

How do I get a field placement?

The process to obtain a field placement is carefully organized and coordinated by the BSW Field Education program. The process follows an employment model with students preparing application materials which the BSW program provides to prospective placements.  Students complete pre-placement interviews and then the BSW program matches students with an organization based on fit, level of learning and practice interests.  A wide range of practice settings are available for BSW field placements. Students will be oriented to the field placement process at the beginning of the semester and will receive guidance on each step of the process. Students should not contact any agencies prior to this orientation.


Additional detailed information about the placement process can be found here: Placement Process

What classes should I take if I want to be a social work major?

A good first class to take is Introduction to Social Work (SOWK 281/2810). This class provides you with an overview of the profession of social work along with an introduction to the knowledge, values and skills taught in the major. Other important classes to take in your first or sophomore years would include General Psychology (PSYC 1001/111), Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 1000/100), Biology of Women/ Human Biology (BIOL 1120/105 & 106), and Lifespan Developmental Psychology (PSYC 2025/202). These courses are the supporting or pre-requisites for the social work course work.  Learn more about the courses  in the Social Work Major>>

If you want to know all of the courses you need to take to major in social work you can make an appointment with the BSW Program Director. She would be happy to sit down with you and create a program plan for you.  She can be reached at smferguson@stkate.edu. She keeps office hours on both the St. Kate’s and St. Thomas campuses.

How do I register for classes being held on the other campus?

If you are a student in the Evening/Weekend/Online (EWO) program, you will only take courses at St. Kate’s.  If you are a day student, you will take a few social work courses on the other campus (St. Kate’s or St. Thomas).  The BSW program offers Fall Junior courses at the St. Thomas and offers Spring Junior courses at St. Kate’s. We offer Fall Senior courses at St. Kate’s and Spring Senior courses at St. Thomas.


Whether you are a student at St. Kate’s or St. Thomas, you register for courses at the other campus using the ACTC registration system. This is a paper registration system and requires you to turn in your paper registration into the registrar’s office by hand. The ACTC forms at St. Kate’s are found here: St. Kate's ACTC registration form The ACTC forms at St. Thomas are found here: UST ACTC registration for St. Kate's.


Go to the Registering for Classes page for complete instructions

What if I want to do research with a faculty member?

BSW students are actively involved in many of the BSW faculties’ research projects. Research in the BSW program includes projects on foster care, child welfare & disabilities, domestic violence organizations, and the immigration experience of the Hmong community. There is funding on both campuses to support you in working with faculty and completing research. The best place to start is to talk with a faculty member who is completing research in an area that interests you. Faculty interests

Is it possible to do a study abroad program as a social work major?

Yes, you can be a social work major and study abroad. Studying abroad provides you with a critical understanding of another culture, important learning for social work majors. Given our curriculum you would need to study abroad prior to your Senior year and if studying abroad Junior year, you can only be abroad one semester. A great study abroad opportunity is the Social Work in a Latin American context program. This program takes place in Cuernavaca, Mexico in the spring of your Junior year. Because it is sponsored by St. Kate’s and St. Thomas, you would take most of your regular spring social work courses in Mexico.


Learn more about this study abroad program 

I want to be a therapist; can I do that with a BSW?

No, an individual needs a master's or a doctoral degree to do therapy. Social workers with a BSW can provide counseling, which is short-term and focused on the challenges of daily living. Clinical MSW’s can provide therapy, which is more long-term and can focus on the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. However, a BSW is a great degree and first step towards achieving a clinical MSW and to becoming a therapist.

Students with a BSW degree can enter an MSW program as "Advanced Standing" and complete the Master in Social Work degree in as little as one year.  For our BSW students who plan to go into therapy, we now have an Accelerated MSW Admissions process for the St. Kate's-St. Thomas MSW in clinical social work practice.

I’ve heard there’s a “fast-track” to an MSW. How does the accelerated MSW admissions process work?

The Accelerated MSW Admissions Process is for current St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas Junior BSW majors. This process provides students with acceptance into the MSW program in their Junior year rather than their Senior year, streamlines the admissions process, and waives the application fee.  To apply, students must meet established criteria and complete the Accelerated Admission Application. In this application, students state their intent to apply for the MSW program, indicate their desired program track AS1, AS2, or AS3 (evening or Weekend Cohort), and include their current transcript showing successful completion of all allied/supporting coursework for the social work major.  


Learn more about the Accelerated MSW Admissions process