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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Commonly Asked Questions

Page address: http://sbs.mnsu.edu/socialwork/graduate/commonquestions.html

Following are answers to several common questions about our MSW program. They are organized in groups and you can move from one area to the next by using the links in the box to the right of this introduction. Then you can use the gold/brown arrows to return to the top when desired.These are brief answers but do not necessarily constitute full or complete policies.

Application and Admissions

Q. How do I apply to the MSW program?

A. Follow the requirements for admission to BOTH the College of Graduate Studies and Research AND to the MSW Program offered in the Department of Social Work. This process requires you to submit two sets of materials that are to be sent directly to two different offices at the University by the annual January deadline. You must apply/reapply to the College of Graduate Studies if you have not applied in the past year or have applied to a different graduate program in the past. 

Q. When do I apply to the MSW program?

A. Application forms are available each fall beginning October 1. We will review applications received by the Priority Application Deadline each year for the class being admitted for the following summer for Advanced Standing students and following fall for Traditional students. Applications received after the priority deadline may be reviewed if space is available after the priority applications are reviewed and the first round of admissions have been determined.

Q. How do I know which of the programs I should apply to?

A. If you already hold a bachelor's degree in social work (e.g. BS, BA, BSW, BSSW) from a CSWE accredited program, you are eligible to apply to the Advanced Standing Program. Some people who already hold the bachelor degree in social work, especially if the degree was obtained several years ago, may wish to apply into the Traditional 2-year program. If you do not have an undergraduate social work degree, you can only apply to the Traditional 2-year program.

Q. What are the admission requirements for the Traditional 2-Year (TY) Program?

A. The Traditional MSW Program is the only option for students who do not hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited social work program. General criteria for admission to the this program include consideration of: 1) Prior Undergraduate Degree with 21 semester credit hours in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2) Previous academic performance-GPA 3.0, 3) Course Prerequisites, including courses in social and behavioral sciences, human biology, and statistics, 4) 3 Recommendations, and 5) a Professional Statement. Social Service Experience either paid or unpaid is preferred. For details go to Admissions & Forms.

Q. What are the admission requirements for the Advanced Standing (AS) Program?

A.  The Advanced Standing option is available only to students who already hold a bachelor's degree (BA, BS, BSW, or BSSW) from a CSWE-accredited social work program. Criteria for admission to the AS Program include consideration of: 1) Bachelor's degree in Social Work, 2) Previous academic performance-GPA 3.0, 3) Course Prerequisites in human biology and statistics, 4) 3 Recommendations, and 5) Professional Statement. Social Service experience is preferred. For details go to Admissions & Forms.

Q. When does the Advanced Standing Program begin?

A. Courses for the AS Program begin in the Summer session (mid-May) prior to the "concentration year" with a 3-credit, 10 week seminar to prepare students for graduate-level study in social work.

Q. Do I need letters of recommendation to apply?

A. Yes. Applicants will need to have 3 recommendation forms with letters from people who know the applicant professionally or as a student. These are to be submitted along with the other parts of the application directly to the MSW program by the applicant. For details see the Recommendation Form and Letter Request on the Admissions & Forms page.

Q. Will my GPA from my previous college and university courses and degrees be considered in admissions decisions?

A. Yes. Applicants will need to submit their academic transcripts for ALL previous college and/or university courses whether or not they received a degree. Your cummulative undergraduate GPA, the courses you have taken, and any previous graduate study are part of the admissions process. If your undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0 you will be asked to explain your circumstances. Transcripts are submitted with your application to the College of Graduate Studies and Research. For details go to  Admissions & Forms.

Q. How many students will be admitted each year?

A. We admit 32-40 new students each year - 16 to 20 in the Traditional Program and 16 to 20 in the Advanced Standing Program. Most classes you take will have approximately 16 students enrolled in them. We have about 45 full-time graduate students enrolled in the MSW program at any given time.

Q. Are applicants who earned a social work degree from Minnesota State Mankato given preference or automatically accepted into the Master's program?

A. No. The application and admission process for the MSW program is an entirely separate process from that of the undergraduate program. Having a degree from MSU, Mankato does not give an applicant preferential consideration in admission to the MSW program.

Q. Can international students apply?

A. Yes. We encourage international students to apply. You should be aware, however, that there are additional steps you need to take to be admitted to graduate education at MSU, Mankato. And these take additional time. In addition to other admissions requirements, students who have received their undergraduate (baccalaureate) degree from a university outside the U.S. need to have their creditials evaluated by an international equivalency evaluator and to take and submit TOELF scores. International applicants should visit the University's International Applicant Webpage, contact the Office of International Students, and the College of Graduate Studies and Research for more information and assistance related to studying at Minnesota State Mankato. Our department can not make any admissions decisions about international applicants unless the other steps are taken first. This process can take several months to complete.

Q. If I have already been admitted to the College of Graduate Studies and Research in the past or in a different department or program, do I have to apply again?

A. Yes. The College of Graduate Studies and Research requires that you complete another application with their office and have your transcripts updated. They will often allow you to use the same application for one year if applying to the same graduate program. Check with the College of Graduate Studies if you have questions about this process.

Q. Are personal interviews required as part of the admissions process?

A. No. Interviews are not required for admission to our program.

Q. Do you require graduate qualifying exams such as the GRE?

A. No additional exams are required for admission to our program.

Q. Can I begin the program in the Spring?

A. No. Students admitted to the Advanced Standing program will begin the summer (mid-May) immediately following their admission. Those admitted to the Traditional Program will begin in the fall semester (late-August) following their admission. An interested student could take graduate-level elective courses, however.

Q. Do you admit students who don't have an undergraduate degree in Social Work?

A. Yes. See the Traditional Program admission requirements. You could have a degree in nearly any major, but you will still need an undergraduate degree, 21 college credits in social and behavioral sciences, a course with content in human biology, and a statistics course. Go to Admissions & Forms.

Q. Can students with previous master's degrees in other areas apply into the program?

A. Yes, they can. We will evaluate the entire academic record as needed.
 

Q. How important is work experience in the admissions decision?

A. Experience in social work, human services, health care, education and related fields as a paid employee, intern or volunteer is considered as part of your application. After looking at the required criteria for program admission, the Admission's Committee will consider the length, breadth, and types of social service experiences as part of the overall recommendation for admission.

MSW Courses and Degree Requirements

Q. Can I transfer credits from other programs or universities?

A. Maybe. Under some conditions the MSW program may be able to accept up to 10 transfer graduate credits from other programs or institutions, but this will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Concentration year required courses are not accepted in transfer, but foundation year and elective courses may be accepted. Once accepted into the program, a student may work with the MSW Program Director or faculty advisor to determine which graduate credits may be transferred into their program. University policy requires that those credits must be no more than 6 years old at the time you complete the MSW program. 

Q. Can I take courses from other departments and use them for this program?

A. Yes. Approved courses from several other departments at MSU, Mankato may be used for a student's 3 elective credits. Students may opt to take more credits if they so choose. You should be aware that the cost of credits vary across different programs. An elective course substitution request will need to be made by the student if the course is not on the approved electives list. 

Q. Can I get college credit for work I have done in the past in social services?

A. No. Though previous social service experience is evaluated as part of the admissions process and is a valued part of your overall qualifications, no college course credit will be given to any student in the MSW program for either previous life or work experience. This policy is part of the CSWE Accreditation standards. 

Q. Is there a way to do this program "part-time" and take only a class or two at a time?

A. No. At this point in time the only option for the program is as a full-time student.

Q. Can students complete this program while they are still working?

A. Yes, but it is a very individual decision. We have tried to develop a program that meets the needs of working and commuting adults by spreading the credits out over a full calendar year rather than traditional two semesters. We have scheduled classes for Thursday nights, Fridays, and Saturdays. We are open to working with students to develop practicum placements that work with their lives. We also have to balance these considerations with what is feasible for our institution and fits the requirements of our accrediting body, while offering a high quality program. It is our experience that most students can do this program while working at least part-time. In some isolated cases, students have worked full-time, but we don't encourage this. In both Spring and Summer students have to devote about 20 hours/week to Field Practicum. The answer is that it depends upon your particular situation. Taking on the demands of a graduate education means making a major committment of time and energy, so it is something to carefully consider.

Q. Is this program Online or do I have to come to your campus?

Our program is NOT an online program. Many courses are hybrid and meet partially online and partially face to face.

Q. What days and times will courses be offered?

A. We offer the required MSW courses primarily on Thursday evenings, Fridays (starting as early as 9:00 a.m.) and Saturdays (starting as early as 9:00 a.m.), although elective courses may be offered during other days and times. Field Practicum hours will be arranged depending upon the placement, but are generally during a normal 9-5 work day. Some courses are "hybrid" or "web enhanced" and use the Internet so students may not need to meet in-person every week for every class. Elective courses may be taken when they are offered on the course schedule set by each department each semester.

Q. How long will this take and how many classes/credits do I have to take?

A. The Traditional MSW Program will take two calendar years to complete. It is a full-time, 59-credit hour program that includes 19 courses (41 credit hours of coursework and 18 credit hours of field practicum and seminar.) The Advanced Standing MSW Program will take 14 months to complete. It is a 34-credit hour program that includes 11 courses (26 credit hours or coursework and 8 credit hours of field practicum and seminar.) Both programs are considered full-time in terms of graduate credit load. See Curriculum and Courses.

Q. Do students need to write a master's thesis?

A. No. There is not master's thesis requirement. Students complete a capstone field practicum and seminar in the concentration (specialization) year. This includes an individualized learning plan that may include completion of a research or evaluation project, or other such projects as part of their practicum.

Q. Are there opportunities for students to be involved in faculty research projects?

A. Yes. We have a faculty of twelve members with a diverse set of practice and research experiences. See the Faculty link from the home page to read descriptions of each faculty member's practice, teaching, and research interests. Each year we offer some graduate assitant positions for students to work closely with faculty on their research and other scholarly projects.

Q. Where can students do their field practicum?

A. The field education (eg. practicum, internship) component of the program has been developed based upon our successful undergraduate field program. We have been placing students in a number of settings from county social services to community-based private agencies in and around the South Central Minnesota region and within a 150 mile radius of Mankato. See the Field Education/Practicum section of this website for additional field site information.

Q. Can I do my practicum hours where I work?

A. See the Field Education/Practicum section of this website.

Q. Can I transfer practicum hours from a different site toward my MSW degree?

A.  See the Field Education/Practicum section of this website.

Paying For Your Graduate Degree

Q. How much will the MSW degree program cost?

A. While specific tuition is determined each year by the state-wide Minnesota State system, we have estimated costs based on the 2017-18 MSW graduate tuition rate. Tuition and fees for the Traditional program is about $28,823 for the entire program. Tuition and fees for the Advanced Standing program is about $16,610 for the entire program.  Non-resident tuition is generally higher, though Minnesota has reciprocity agreements with some adjacent states. To check on the most current tuition rates and fees search for Tuition and Fees on the main University web-site as these do change annually.

Q. Is there financial assistance available?

A. Yes. Minnesota State Mankato does have some options available to assist with the costs of your graduate education. These include graduate assistantships, financial aid, scholarships, loans, and other options. We have some stipend programs in our department ass well. Each individual student's financial situation is unique, thus there is no single answer to this question. Federal Financial Aid, usually low interest student loans, are  dependent upon your financial aid history. Each student will need to check into this individually. See the University's Financial Aid website.

Q. Will there by any graduate assistantships available?

A. Yes. There are some graduate assistantships in the Department of Social Work and other opportunities across campus. These are posted in the spring to begin the following academic year. If you are interested in applying for Graduate Assistantships, which are part-time campus jobs in teaching, advising, research, or program administration, please seek information from the Graduate Assistantship University website.

Policies and Responsibilities

Q. Will I be required to get a criminal background check?

A. Yes. Background checks are required for field placement and licensure purposes though not part of application for admission. You should be aware that past legal problems, particularly violations of criminal code, may limit internship and employment opportunities.

Q. Are there any other student policies or responsibilities as a MSW student?

A. Yes. If you are admitted to the program, you will be asked to agree to a statement of responsibilities and agreements at the time of your accepting the offer of admission. This document is part of the Admissions and Application Forms. There are also other student policies you may also wish to read in the MSW Program Graduate Student Handbook. Once admitted to the program all students are covered by related College and Unversity student policies.

For more information about issues of professional social work practice you can also go to the following websites:

Accreditation and Licensure

Q. Is this MSW program accredited?

A. Yes. Since this is a new MSW Program that was fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in October 2010 and is accredited through 2022. 

Q. Will I be able to be licensed in MN when I complete this program?

A. Yes. You will be eligible to take your LGSW licensure exam. In order to become a licensed graduate or independent social worker in the State of Minnesota, a student has to graduate with the MSW from a program that is accredited. See Accreditation and Licensure.

Student Services

Q. Are there services available to help a person with a disability succeed in this program?

A. Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that the University provide reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. Students may request accommodation through the Accessibility Resources. You may contact their office using the link, or find them in the Lower Level of the Memorial Library, or contact by telephone at 507-389-2825.

Q. Can a student commute or must they be residential?

A. Most of our graduate students commute to campus for classes, an average of 45 miles. There is ample parking and a campus area bus service available. Many graduate students live near, but not on campus, while many other graduate students commute from their homes in the region, mostly from central or southern Minnesota. There is very limited availability for oncampus housing, but there are many apartment buildings very near campus. For more information about housing go to the Department of Residential Life.

Q. What kinds of services and opportunities will students have at Minnesota State University?

A. Lots! The Department of Social Work has a student Social Work Club and Chapter of Phi Alpha Honor Society dedicated to service. Across campus there are a number of excellent student organizations, clubs, and other programs such as the Women's Center, LGBT Center, and many cultural organizations. Student leadership development and service opportunities abound. There are health and counseling services among many others on campus. For more information about the services and opportunities offered to students at Minnesota State University go to the Student Life Page or see Campus Services.

Other Questions

Q. Will you be hiring new faculty?

A. There are no full-time faculty positions posted at this time. with primary responsibilities in the MSW program. There may be opportunities for adjunct (part-time) faculty in the Department from time to time. Contact Dr. David Beimers, Chair, Department of Social Work Chair.

Q. Will there be a need for practicum sites and supervisors?

A. Yes. While we have many terrific field education and practicum contacts already established in the community and across the state, we will need to have a new level of supervisors and practicum sites for master's level students. Contact the MSW Field Director Jennifer Parker, Jennifer,Parker@mnsu.edu, for additional information.

Q. What is the faculty to student ratio in the graduate program?

A. We plan to maintain a 6 faculty assigned primarily to the MSW program for 45 students, or a ratio of about 1 faculty member for every 7-8 students. The Department has 12 full-time IFO faculty, some temporary adjunct faculty who are community socal work practitioners, and our MSW Field Education Director who is in a MSUASSF position.

Q. Can I take classes in your department even if I am not a graduate student in your MSW program?

A. There are some electives that can be taken for graduate credit, but the core MSW courses are not open to non-degree seeking students at this time.

Q. What are some special advantages of this program?

A. This program focuses on preparing graduates for Advanced Generalist practice which will give graduates a balance of both administrative and clinical practice skills, with an emphasis on the unique issues of practice in small towns and rural communities. The cost of the program is less than comparable public universities and less than private colleges in Minnesota. Classes are being offered at times and on days that would allow most students to be able to continue a job and other community commitments or family obligations while in school. The program will be relatively small so that students will have lots of opportunities to learn from and interact with faculty in small classes while developing a cohesive student cohort.

Q. What do students do upon completion of an MSW?

A. Most will work in social work roles in a variety of fields and practice settings. The MSW will allow graduates to have jobs with greater responsibilities and often including supervision and management. Some may go on for doctoral education to get more training and to teach. There is a great need for qualified MSW supervisors and faculty in many parts of the state and country.