SOCIAL WORK (SOWK) - SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

School of Social Work
Summit Classroom Building 201, (651) 962-5800
Carvalho (interim dean), Baboila, Chigbu,  Fletcher, Hepperlen, Hill, Hollidge, Horn, Hurley-Johncox, Lundquist, Marrs Fuschel, Nesmith, Peterson, Rand, Roseborough, Solomonson, Theisen, Whitebird

Department Web Site: https://www.stthomas.edu/socialwork/undergraduate/

At the University of St. Thomas, social work is seen as a critical part of health & well-being for individuals, communities and society. Social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the U.S. We prepare you to become a licensed professional, equipped to work in direct practice with children or adults, families,  groups and organizations, or as an advocate for policies to advance the common good. Our graduates are committed to social justice and to helping people make positive changes in their lives.

Why Study Social Work at St. Thomas?

With an increase in jobs estimated at 16 percent or higher in the field over the next decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), social work offers vast career opportunities. Health care social work, along with mental health and substance abuse social work are among the fastest growing areas, while opportunities to work with children, families and schools are also growing faster than average. With a bachelor’s degree in social work, you can begin work upon graduation or enter a master of social work (MSW) program as an “advanced standing” student, and save a year of time and investment achieving your MSW.

With our bachelor’s degree in social work, you’ll be prepared to work with diverse populations across a wide variety of settings such as schools, health systems, nonprofits, and social services agencies including child welfare agencies. You will gain real-world practice experience during 600 hours of fieldwork (internships), and graduate prepared to take the bachelors-level social work licensure exam in any state.

The curriculum is rooted in a philosophy of social responsibility and respect for individuals’ rights. Drawing from the Judeo-Christian traditions of social caring, we prepare students to use social work knowledge, values and skills to demonstrate the intrinsic value of all humankind as they serve those in need and promote social justice and human rights. Our program prepares generalist social workers committed to professional ethics and values, service, social justice and human rights. Our comprehensive program integrates theory, research, field and personal growth components. Social work majors also take courses in human biology, introduction to sociology, general psychology and lifespan developmental psychology.

Majors will expand their knowledge of social work beyond the boundaries of the classroom by completing two field education placements. During their junior and senior years, students will complete 600 hours of field practice experience (200 hours as Juniors, 400 hours as Seniors), engaging them in hands-on learning opportunities in a variety of settings. We have developed strong agency partners and guide students through the process of interviewing and placement with these agencies. Field placements include opportunities such as case management, shelter advocacy, supervised visitation, community education and organizing, school social work, medical social work, research and grant writing, and county social work.

The School of Social Work includes 18 faculty who are known for their teaching excellence and scholarship and are eager to lend their expertise concerning academic and professional issues. Our faculty members hold leadership positions in local, regional and national professional organizations and have expertise in areas such as medical social work, school social work, social policy, child welfare, social work with immigrants and refugees and counseling and mental health. Your professors will enthusiastically challenge you and encourage you to reach your full potential.

The School of Social Work is recognized as a national leader for its strong commitment to social justice. Social Work for Social Justice: Ten Principles, developed by the program and used in the baccalaureate and graduate programs, have been adopted by programs across the country. The social work program also has an active Social Work Club and Honor Society, Phi Alpha.

The social work program requires students to be formally admitted to the major. This process takes place in February of the junior year. Prospective majors must have a grade point average of 2.25 and must be interviewed by the School of Social Work faculty.

There are three social work minors available to all majors: Social Welfare, Chemical Dependency Counseling: Addiction and Recovery, and Social Services Management.  These minors are not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and do not qualify graduates to sit for the Minnesota Board of Social Work examination for State of Minnesota licensure at the licensed social worker level.

Social Work Honor Society

Epsilon Zeta Eta, the campus chapter of Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society, was established at the University of St. Thomas in 2019. The purpose of this organization is to advance excellence in social work practice and to encourage, stimulate and maintain scholarship of the individual members.

As a social work major, you are eligible for membership after achieving a junior or senior standing, earning a minimum of six semester hours or equivalent in social work, achieving an overall grade point average of 3.25 or above, and a social work grade point average of 3.50 or above. 

Major in Social Work

  • SOWK 281 Introduction to Social Work (4 credits)
  • SOWK 340 Human Behavior and the Social Environment (4 credits)
  • SOWK 355 Communication and Interviewing Skills (4 credits)
  • SOWK 375 (2 credits) and 376 (2 credits) Junior Field Placement and Integrative Seminar or 378 (4 credits - only for students studying abroad fall or spring semester)
  • SOWK 380 Social Work Research (4 credits)
  • SOWK 385 Group Work Skills (4 credits)
  • SOWK 391 Social Policy for Social Change (4 credits)
  • SOWK 401 Generalist Practice I: Small Client Systems (4 credits)
  • SOWK 402 Generalist Practice II: Large Client Systems (4 credits)
  • SOWK 405 and 406 Senior Field Placement and Integrative Seminar (4 credits each)

Allied requirements

  • BIOL 105 Human Biology (4 credits) or BIOL 106 Women, Medicine and Biology (4 credits) or BIOL 1120C Biology of Women (4 credits)
  • PSYC 111 General Psychology (4 credits)
  • PSYC 202 Lifespan Development (4 credits)
  • SOCI 100 Introduction to Sociology (4 credits)

Required Fieldwork Experience

Field placements, arranged by the School of Social Work, provide hands-on practice experience in social work agencies, institutions, and/or departments to complement your academic work through integration of theory and practice.

Junior year:

Two semesters of approximately eight to ten hours per week off campus in a field agency setting totaling 200 hours, plus a weekly seminar course on campus. As a social work student contact your social work adviser or program director during the second semester of sophomore year to discuss the placement process.

Senior year:

Two semesters of approximately 12-16 hours per week off campus in a field agency setting totaling 400 hours, plus bi-weekly seminar course on campus.

Elective courses

Electives are updated frequently. Visit www.stthomas.edu/socialwork/undergraduate/curriculum/default.html for a current list of electives.

CHDC 300 Chemical Dependency Assessment & Intervention (4 credits)
CHDC 305 Chemical Dependency: Families & Cultural Diversity (4 credits)
IDSC 293 Grief, Loss and Coping (4 credits)
SOWK 210 Relationships, Intimacy and Sexuality (4 credits)
SOWK 291 The Anatomy of Violence (4 credits)
SOWK 390 Faith, Social Transformation and Social Work (4 credits)*
SOWK 434 Practice with Military Service Members, Veterans and their Families (4 credits)
SOWK 441 Family Resiliency and Diversity: Immigrant/Refugee (4 credits)
SOWK 423 Practice with Older Adults and their Families (4 credits)
SOWK 490 Topics: Child Welfare
*Crosslisted with THEO 397 which fulfills the 300 level theology course requirement at the University of St. Thomas. You must register for the course as THEO 397 in order to get THEO credit.

Admission Process

The School of Social Work requires you to be formally admitted to the major. This process takes place at the middle of the junior year. As a prospective major, you must have a GPA of 2.25 and be interviewed by faculty of the school. Contact your adviser for more details.

Minor in Social Welfare

A minor in social welfare is available through School of Social Work. A minor in social welfare is not accepted by the Council on Social Work Education as preparation for beginning-level generalist social work practice. A minor is offered for your own learning in the area of social welfare.

  • SOWK 281 Introduction to Social Work (4 credits)
  • SOWK 340 Human Behavior and the Social Environment (4 credits)
  • SOWK 391 Social Policy for Social Change (4 credits)

Plus eight credits from the following:

  • PSYC 202 Lifespan Development (4 credits)
  • PSYC 207 Drugs and Behavior (4 credits)
  • SOCI 251 Race and Ethnicity (4 credits)
  • SOWK 380 Social Research: Designs and Statistical Application (4 credits)

Minor in Social Services Management

The ability to administer programs, raise funds, and write grants is increasingly important in social service and nonprofit work.  The purpose of this minor is to prepare students for administrative, management, or fundraising roles with nonprofits and social service agencies.  Students will be introduced to social work and social services, gain an understanding of the impact of social policies on the provision and scope of social services in the United States as well as gain tangible skills, such as fundraising, grant writing, management, program evaluation, and accounting or marketing, for work in social services management.  Students will learn critical leadership skills necessary for effective management.  Upon completion of the minor, students will have enhanced skills that will help to position them to be successful advocates, administrators, and managers within social service and nonprofit agencies. 

Minor Objectives

  • Gain a broad understanding of social work and social services in the United States
  • Understand the impact of social policies and government programs on the scope of and provision of social services in the United States
  • Develop marketable skills in fundraising, grant writing, leadership, evaluation, and development for nonprofit agencies and programs
  • Build a strong core of business skills, knowledge, and management ethics that will enhance students’ work in social service and nonprofit agencies

Required Courses:
ACCT 210 Intro to Financial Accounting (4 credits)
BUSN 200 Business Learning Through Service (0 credit)
MGMT 305 Management and Organizational Behavior (4 credits)
MKTG 300 Principles of Marketing (4 credits)
SOWK 281 Introduction to Social Work (4 credits)
SOWK 391 Social Policy for Social Change (4 credits)
SOWK 430 Development and Fundraising for Social Service Agencies

Minor in Chemical Dependency: Addiction and Recovery

This minor provides students preparing for work in a variety of settings (social work, health care, criminal justice, etc.) with a foundational understanding of addiction and recovery and their impact on multiple areas of life, how to identify abuse and addiction, beginning steps in assisting, advocating for, and referring people who have chemical health concerns.  This minor is a part of the preparation for Minnesota's Alcohol and Drug Counselor Licensure. 


Minor Objectives

  • Understand addiction and recovery and their impact on multiple areas of life.
  • Understand the interdisciplinary approach to addiction and recovery counseling.
  • Pharmacology of substance abuse disorders and the dynamics of addiction including co-occurring disorders.
  • Screening, intake, assessment, and treatment planning
  • Understand and apply counseling theory and practice, models of treatment, and crisis intervention.
  • Develop skills in case management, consultation, referral, treatment planning, reporting, record keeping.
  • Understand professional and ethical responsibilities.
  • Identify and respond to multicultural considerations of addiction and recovery.


Required Courses:
CHDC 300 Chemical Dependency Assessment & Interventions (4 credits)
CHDC 305 Chemical Dependency: Families & Cultural Diversity (4 credits)
SOWK 355 Communication and Interviewing Skills (4 credits)
CHDC 435 Co-Occuring Disorders & Pharmacology (4 credits)


Pursuing the License Drug and Addiction Counseling (LADC):
Students who are interested in pursuing licensure through the Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor application and exam process may have some additional requirements. These requirements can be met during or post completion of the undergraduate degree but must be taken at an accredited institution and be displayed on a transcript. Eligibility for the LADC requires 18 credits of course work plus 880 hours of practicum. A stipulation of the LADC is that the 18 credits required for the exam cannot be acquired from the practicum (CDC 355 & 435). Students interested in the LADC must take an additional 4 credits beyond the 18 offered in the minor to sit for the exam. It is an additional 4 credits because the LADC also requires the practicum. See the Minor and LADC course chart for potential course options.

Course Number Title Credits
CHDC  300 Assessment & Intervention 4
CHDC  305 Families & Cultural Diversity 4
CHDC  435 Co-Occurring Disorders & Pharm 4
Course Number Title Credits
SOWK  210 Relat/Intimacy/Sexuality 4
SOWK  243 Individual Study 2 OR 4
SOWK  269 Research 2 OR 4
SOWK  281 Introduction to Social Work 4
SOWK  291 The Anatomy of Violence 4
SOWK  295 Topics 2
SOWK  296 Topics 2
SOWK  297 Topics 4
SOWK  298 Topics 4
SOWK  340 Human Behav & Social Env 4
SOWK  355 Comm/Interviewing Skills 4
SOWK  375 Jr Field Place & Integ Seminar 2
SOWK  376 Jr Field Place & Integ Seminar 2
SOWK  378 Jr Field Place & Integ Seminar 4
SOWK  380 Social Work Research 4
SOWK  385 Group Work Skills 4
SOWK  389 Research 2 OR 4
SOWK  391 Social Policy for Change 4
SOWK  393 Individual Study 2 OR 4
SOWK  401 Gen. Pract I: Small Client Sys 4
SOWK  402 Gen Pract II: Large Client Sys 4
SOWK  405 Sr Field Place & Integ Seminar 4
SOWK  406 Sr Field Place & Integ Seminar 4
SOWK  423 Prac w/Older Adults & Families 4
SOWK  430 Ldrshp, Advocacy & Fundraising 4
SOWK  434 Prac w/Svc Members/Vets/Family 4
SOWK  441 Fam Res/Div: Immigrant Refugee 4
SOWK  475 Experiential Learning 2
SOWK  476 Experiential Learning 2
SOWK  477 Experiential Learning 4
SOWK  478 Experiential Learning 4
SOWK  483 Seminar 2
SOWK  484 Seminar 2
SOWK  485 Seminar 4
SOWK  486 Seminar 4
SOWK  487 Topics 2
SOWK  488 Topics 2
SOWK  489 Topics 4
SOWK  490 Topics 4
SOWK  491 Research 2 OR 4
SOWK  495 Individual Study 2 OR 4