The School of Social Work History

From the 1930’s until 1969, the Sociology Departments of the Colleges of St. Catherine and St. Thomas maintained courses in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work.  In the fall of 1969, a Social Work major was established for the first time in the Sociology Department at the College of St. Catherine. In the spring of 1974, a combined major in Social Work was established at the Colleges of St. Catherine and St. Thomas. Social Work changed from a major at the College of St. Catherine, and from an emphasis at the College of St. Thomas, to a joint department of the Colleges of St. Catherine and St. Thomas in the fall of 1976.

The joint Bachelor of Social Work program at both institutions received its first accreditation in 1974 from the Council on Social Work Education. In 1979, the social work program was extended to Weekend College at the College of St. Catherine.

In the fall of 1990, the College of St. Catherine and the University of St. Thomas (formerly the College of St. Thomas) implemented the Master of Social Work program with an emphasis in clinical social work practice. The Department of Social Work became the School of Social Work in 1996. On June 1, 2009, the College of St. Catherine became St. Catherine University.

In February 2012, the Council on Social Work Education reaffirmed both the BSW and MSW programs for accreditation through 2020. 

In May 2014, the School of Social Work received approval from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to offer a Doctorate in Social Work focused on Education as Practice, preparing graduates to teach and lead in higher education. The first cohort of 18 doctoral students graduated in May of 2017.

Programs now offered independently

In May of 2018, the presidents of St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas announced that each university will pursue its social work programs independently (link to statement response). This change took effect in late-August 2019.

Immediately after the collaboration dissolved, the joint social work programs transitioned from being accredited as a collaborative program to pursuing individual program accreditation. Both St. Thomas and St. Kate’s are pursuing accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which accredits both the BSW and MSW programs individually. Both schools are following an abbreviated one-year candidacy process that CSWE has customized for independent programs following the closure of a joint program relationship.

Click here for St. Kate's - St. Thomas Partnership Updates & FAQs»