St. Kate's - St. Thomas Partnership Updates & FAQs

This past May, the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University announced the end of their formal collaboration on their joint social work programs. We are planning for this change to take effect August 23, 2019. The St. Kate's - St. Thomas School of Social Work will continue to operate as a collaborative through the 2018-2019 academic year, and the two universities are working closely together toward a smooth and supportive transition for all of our students, faculty, alumni, and community partners.

Both institutions are committed to offering social work programs and will establish independent offerings. St. Catherine University will continue to offer both the bachelor of social work (BSW) and masters of social work (MSW) in formats that meet the needs of working adults. St. Thomas will offer the doctorate of social work (DSW), in addition to the BSW and MSW, in both its weekday/evening and hybrid formats.

Immediately after the collaboration dissolves, the joint social work programs will transition from being accredited as a collaborative program to pursuing individual program accreditation. Both St. Thomas and St. Kate’s will pursue accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which accredits both the BSW and MSW programs individually. We will follow an abbreviated one-year candidacy process that CSWE has customized for independent programs following the closure of a joint program relationship. We will provide updates once the exact timeline is known. (Note: CSWE does not currently accredit doctoral programs, so the DSW program is unaffected by this change and will transition to the St. Thomas DSW starting in summer 2019.)

Restrictions put in place by CSWE will require all continuing students to enroll into either the St. Kate’s or St. Thomas independent programs for the 2019-2020 academic year. Details on this process will be provided as they are finalized.

We recognize there are still many unknowns as the partnership and accreditation processes are ongoing. We are committed to keeping our community informed, so have created the following frequently asked questions (FAQs) that provide the most current information available regarding accreditation and other considerations for our students, partners, and all other stakeholders. We will update and add to this list as further details are known.

If you have questions or comments about this process, please contact Dr. Corrine Carvalho, Interim Dean of Social Work at clcarvalho@stthomas.edu.


General information

St. Catherine University will continue to offer both the bachelor of social work (BSW) and masters of social work (MSW) and St. Thomas will offer the doctorate of social work (DSW), MSW and BSW. Information for prospective students in 2019 and beyond will be housed on the university’s respective web pages.

The main landing page for each university’s social work programs is as follows:

Because we will continue to operate as the joint St. Kate’s – St. Thomas School of Social Work through the 2018-19 academic year, information for current students will remain housed on the School of Social Work pages as follows:

Accreditation FAQs

Both universities are working closely with the Council and Social Work Education (CSWE) to do all that we can to ensure a seamless transition from being accredited as a collaborative to being accredited as independent programs. To this end, here is a link to the complete process of accreditation as outlined by CSWE.

CSWE Statement on the Dissolution of Collaborative Programs (PDF) - Retrieved from https://cswe.org/Accreditation/Standards-and-Policies/EPAS-Handbook

During this transition period, we continue to receive additional clarity about the process and requirements of accreditation from CSWE, and we will continue to update you as we learn more. Both institutions are working with our CSWE accreditation specialist to set specific timelines to complete each step of the process. Once the timeline is officially approved, each institution will post it on their respective website FAQs.

OVERVIEW OF NEXT STEPS RELATED TO DISSOLUTION OF THE COLLABORATIVE AND INDEPENDENT ACCREDITATION:
Each program will apply for candidacy status, the preliminary stage of accreditation, to take effect in fall 2019. Because we are currently accredited as collaborative programs, both the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University programs can apply for a one-year period of candidacy rather than the full three-year candidacy typically required of new programs. During 2019-2020, we will continue to work closely with CSWE on the documentation needed for full accreditation, including writing our self-studies and developing budgets. If the St. Kate’s or St. Thomas program in which you are enrolled is approved for the one-year candidacy, then the next stages of accreditation, including a site visit from CSWE and review of assessment data, will occur in 2019-2020. If the program is successful in attaining accreditation, all students who successfully complete the program will graduate from an accredited program. Both current and prospective students will receive regular reports of the progress on the candidacy applications to CSWE.

No, the process is quite similar. In 2012, the St. Kate's - St. Thomas BSW and MSW programs received re-accreditation as a collaborative through 2020. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the programs were already starting to prepare for the re-accreditation process for 2020. For re-accreditation, programs also create self-studies and budgets, and the process includes a site visit and assessment review from the Commission on Accreditation (COA). The abbreviated one-year candidacy process for formerly collaborative programs has a similar timeline to the re-accreditation process and requires the same documentation to be provided to the CSWE Commission on Accreditation (COA). Just as programs in candidacy cannot guarantee initial accreditation, re-accreditation can never be guaranteed by any program.

If any of our programs (BSW and MSW at each university) is not approved for one-year candidacy, the institution can choose to apply for the longer process of a three-year candidacy status for that program. Students will be informed of the outcomes of these candidacy applications before matriculating into any program.

We know this may be worrisome for current students and some may consider transferring to another Social Work program. Because we are accredited as a collaborative through August 23, 2019, know that all coursework taken in the program up until this date will have been completed in an accredited program, thus eligible for transfer to another accredited social work program. The collective goal of CSWE, St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas is to provide a smooth transition for all current students, no matter what you decide to do.

FAQs for Current MSW Students

All MSW students who have completed the program on or before August 2019 will be a graduate of the jointly accredited St. Catherine University - University of St. Thomas MSW program.

Current students in the MSW program who will graduate in fall 2019 or later will transfer into one of the independent programs and complete your studies at either St. Thomas or St. Kate’s. You will graduate from the institution you chose to complete your studies. The institution transferred to becomes the student’s new “home institution.” You will become an alumnus of your home institution.

It is too early for most students to make this decision as full details are not yet known for both institutions. St. Thomas knows that it will offer the MSW in its current formats. Current students can inquire about both institutions through their advisors. As available, details of program offerings will be posted on each school’s master of social work web pages: stthomas.edu/socialwork and stkate.edu/socialwork.

There will be a Q&A forum for current MSW students who are graduating after August 2019. This forum will take place on November 1, 3-4:30 in MCH 100. Remote access will be available, and a recording of the session will be posted for viewing after the session ends. Students have been sent an email to register for this event and to submit questions to be addressed during this forum. You can register and submit questions from the EVENT PAGE.  We hope to have more details to share about the program offerings at each school at that time.

Students will not have to reapply to the respective independent programs, but CSWE requires that each program have a clear plan detailing how they will graduate or transfer all of its students at the end of the joint program. We will have more details in spring 2019 as to what this process will entail.

Absolutely! Both the St. Kate’s and St. Thomas individual programs will honor the coursework you have completed as part of the joint program. Where students take their classes this academic year has no bearing on their ability to choose one school or the other as their home institution.

With respect to courses starting in fall 2019, students will take the MSW courses offered at their chosen institution by its respective faculty. If a student wants to explore taking a course at another institution (which includes a St. Thomas student taking a course at St. Kate’s and a St. Kate’s student taking a course at St. Thomas) they must work with their advisor and program director to ensure that the course will transfer into their program. Students should also consult with financial aid counselors to determine impact on their financial aid. As St. Kate’s and St. Thomas will have independent programs beginning fall 2019, courses taken outside a student’s home institution will be considered transfer courses.

St. Kate’s and St. Thomas will provide access to Grammarly and ensure there is support for writing. The libraries at both institutions are available to all graduate students through the ACTC (Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities) collaborative arrangement. Technology, academic advising, and tutoring support will be accessed at your home institution.

Current field agencies are considered partners of both St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas. Spring 2019 field placements will be done collaboratively and field placements will not determine which university you must choose as your home institution.

Both St. Kate's and St. Thomas will honor current Dean’s Scholarships, Diversity Grants and Alumni Grants. St. Thomas will continue to offer the three Area of Emphasis programs (AEA, AEMP and AEIR) in their current formats.

Students can apply for a temporary license while a program is in candidacy status and that temporary license is valid for 12 months. This is longer than you would need as each independent program expects to receive a decision regarding accreditation by the end of summer 2020. If an independent program receives accreditation PRIOR to May 2020, those graduating in May would not need to apply for a temporary license and can apply for a permanent license immediately after you graduate. The December 7, 2018 Licensure Information Session will cover options for graduates in this situation.

As long as the university receives accreditation by Sept 1, 2020, all students who graduate prior to that point will be considered graduates of an accredited university.

After students transfer into the St. Kate’s or St. Thomas MSW program, that becomes their home institution and they are eligible for federal student aid, as well as other financial aid, through their new home institution. Since financial aid currently is run through St. Thomas for all MSW students, if a student chooses to transfer to St. Kate’s, St. Thomas financial aid would be required to send exit loan information to the student since they are no longer enrolled as a degree-seeking student at St. Thomas. They will need to work with financial aid at St. Catherine University for specific questions. If a student chooses to transfer into St. Thomas’ program, they will see no change to their financial aid.

FAQs for Alumni

All MSW and DSW students who graduate under the collaborative structure (through summer 2019) will always be considered alumni of BOTH universities!* Each university will manage its alumni records independently, so plan to keep both schools up-to-date on your preferred contact information and professional updates:


*Note that graduate student records are currently housed at St. Thomas, so graduates of the collaborative program (through summer 2019) should request transcripts from, and send LICSW forms to, St. Thomas, as necessary.

Yes! Both universities have stated that BSW students who graduate under the collaborative structure (through summer 2019) will be considered alumni of both universities for the purpose of graduate alumni grant awards, as structured, for the foreseeable future. For students graduating after the separation, each MSW may choose to extend “alumni grants” or similarly structured awards to students from the non-home institution, so plan to check with each school for details.

Many ways! Here are just a few…

  • Join the SCU-UST School of Social Work Student/Alumni group on LinkedIn. This group will continue to function as a student/alumni group for networking even after the SSW is no longer a joint program. All BSW, MSW and DSW students and alums, and faculty from both universities – now and in the future – are encouraged to join.
  • Engage as a field instructor! For the 2019-20 academic year, MSW field placements will be done collaboratively between the two schools, and there will likely be on-going collaboration in some form into the future. Field instructors benefit from professional development opportunities, including free continuing education workshops. There is no better way to “pay it forward” than to host a student.
  • Attend events hosted at each university. After the separation, both schools’ social work programs will once again host an array of community events and professional development opportunities. Be sure you stay in-the-loop by updating your contact information at each school, periodically checking each school’s main web page for upcoming events, and “liking” the SSW @StKateStThomasSW on Facebook. We anticipate that toward the end of the 2018-19 academic year, new social media accounts will be announced.