Background of the School of Social Work

The School of Social Work began as a partnership with St. Catherine University in the early 1970’s. Our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) was jointly accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) beginning in 1974, the first year of accreditation. The joint Master of Social Work (MSW) began in 1990 as the first clinical social work program in the region, preparing mental health professionals for clinical practice and licensure (LICSW level in MN).

In May 2014, the joint School of Social Work received approval from the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association, to offer a Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) with a focus on Education as Practice. Our DSW started in 2014-15, a first-of-its-kind online doctoral program focused on preparing social work educators specifically for teaching and leadership in teaching-intensive universities. The first cohort of 18 students graduated in 2017.

In late-spring of 2018, the two universities announced that the partnership would end and each would offer its programs independently after summer 2019. St. Catherine University is continuing to offer its BSW and MSW programs. The St. Thomas School of Social Work is continuing to offer the BSW, MSW and DSW in their original formats. The BSW and MSW programs at both universities are following an abbreviated one-year candidacy process that CSWE has customized for independent programs following the closure of a joint program relationship. CSWE does not currently accredit doctoral programs, so the DSW program is unaffected by this change and is now offered independently by the University of St. Thomas.