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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Undergraduate Program

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Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW)

Dr. Debra Gohagan, BSSW Program Director

Please make sure to have an Academic Advisor assigned and see an advisor in plenty of time BEFORE you register! Contact the Department Secretary in Trafton North 358 to have an advisor assigned.

See the curriculum planning guides on the Social Work Major page for course planning!

About the BSSW Program

The Department of Social Work is an outstanding example of what Minnesota State University does best - apply knowledge, skills, and values to tackle real world problems. Our Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) major builds a professional curriculum on a liberal arts base. Our students integrate service to the community with their academic education. Our graduates become employed in positions of responsibility throughout the Midwest, and our faculty contribute research and service to their university, service region, and professional communities.  The Department also offers the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. (See thr Graduate/MSW program's section of this website for more information about the MSW.)


The BSSW Program has a defined, progressive, sequential curriculum. We build a strong foundation and structure student progress through a planned program. A firm grounding in liberal arts anchors the major. Social Work students must be able to access information, reason clearly, write persuasively, and speak effectively. The curriculum requirements include content on social work values and ethics, diversity, social and economic justice, populations-at-risk, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, social work practice, and research. Students complete a pre-professional internship of 120 hours (SOWK 315) in their junior year, plus a professional practicum experience of 440-480 hours (SOWK 455) in the last term of their senior year.


Social Work is a professional major. We have maintained our accredited status by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) for preparation of baccalaureate Social Workers since 1974. Graduation from a CSWE-accredited program is a requirement for licensure in Minnesota and many other states. The accrediting body influences the nature, content and structure of our curriculum, while the faculty develop the unique professional learning experiences that help make our alumnae so positively regarded in the practice community.


The Social Work major/BSSW degree attracts many students to our campus. We draw students from the Twin Cities and northern Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas, as well as from the southern Minnesota service region. Many students commute long distances to attend our well-known and accredited program. Many of our students are transfer students who come to Minnesota State University, Mankato to complete their degree in Social Work. We also serve a wide range of student age groups from traditional students beginning their search for a career through older non-traditional students who have found their career interest later in life.

We annually serve about 300 majors and pre-majors, with a target of graduating about 32 students each spring and fall semester. Admission to the program is limited to the best applicants each semester, with applications judged on a range of criteria including GPA (2.8), volunteer and work experience, teamwork and leadership skills, written and oral communication, and potential for furthering the mission of the Social Work profession.

The academic performance of our students has been recognized through scholarship awards from the department, the university and external supporters. Our students also distinguish themselves through their community service as part of the required academic experiences but also through their extensive volunteer work. The extracurricular service of our students has been recognized through Community Service Awards from local agencies through the Governor's office. Students have been honored for serving on Advisory Boards, developing advocacy organizations, publicizing social needs, raising funds for local agencies and leading community youth groups.

The Social Work Student Organization (Social Work Club) has received a wide range of campus and communities awards for the work on behalf of clients.  Students have been recognized repeatedly as "BSW Student of the Year" by the Minnesota Chapter of NASW.


Social Work licensure has increased the demand for graduates with an accredited social work degree, as well as the specific demand for graduates of our program. Students from Minnesota State University, Mankato have an extremely high passage rate on the national licensure exam managed by the Association of State Social Work Boards, as well as on the state civil service exam (Minnesota Merit System).

The BSSW program has an exemplary record in placing graduates in professional employment. In the Mankato area alone, our graduates have staffed the battered women's shelter, the homeless shelter, and work for the Mayo Health System. Alumnae are employed in hospitals, nursing homes, county social services, schools, community action programs, and many other types of programs. We also have alumnae employed in social agencies across the United States and internationally.

Our alumnae have also been successful in graduate programs. MSW programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, and California have recently graduated alumnae of our program. Other alumnae have pursued degrees in law or have pursued graduate education here at Minnesota State University, Mankato in fields such as social work, corrections, human services planning and administration, urban planning, and counseling psychology and student personnel.

Graduates have been honored for their contributions to the profession. One alumna was chosen as "Teacher of the Year" by her school district in recognition of her outstanding work as a school social worker. Another graduate was recognized by the ARC as an outstanding advocate for persons with developmental disabilities. Another graduate was named "Gerontologist of the Year" in Minnesota, and an alumna was named "Social Worker of the Year" for the state of West Virginia.

Graduates remain involved with the program. Alumnae refer students, notify the program of job openings, and support scholarships with donations. Some alumnae serve as practicum or internship supervisors and others are active on the BSSW Program's Community Advisory Board.


Social Work faculty are dedicated to teaching. Faculty evaluations confirm that faculty are achieving excellence in the classroom and are also highly rated as advisors. Social Work faculty serve as mentors to students as they complete various projects throughout the program. Faculty also are expected to represent the profession in the classroom. Each faculty member is an experienced social worker, representing a wide range of practice settings including public social services, domestic violence agencies, child welfare, corrections, mental health, and medical, schools, and geriatric social work.

Our faculty are active in professional and community organizations from local agencies through national organizations. Faculty have served on the board of the national licensure organization ASWB as well as the state licensure boards. Faculty have been very involved in practice organizations such as NASW and MSSA as well as academic organizations such as MCSWE, BPD, and CSWE.

Faculty publications have appeared in The Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, International Social Work, Journal of Social Service Research, Social Work, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, Community Mental Health Journal, New Technology in Human Services, Journal of Social Work Education, and many others. Faculty have presented research findings at conferences throughout the United States and internationally at meetings in England, Finland, and Kuwait, among others.

Community service is also a priority for faculty. Faculty have served the county departments of human services throughout the region as members of advisory boards and task forces. Faculty have also served on advisory boards for regional treatment centers, school districts, community action agencies, battered women's shelters, the area agency on aging. Faculty members have been instrumental in the development of the local food shelf and the local homeless shelter.

Faculty members have recently focused on internationalizing the curriculum. In addition to an elective on Global Human Needs, faculty have connections with professional and service organizations in the United Kingdom, Finland, Holland and Japan, among others. In recent years, students have completed service learning or academic work in South Africa, Guatemala, Finland, Australia, Belize, and England.

Summary of Quality Indicators

The BSSW program is a model for quality indicators chosen by Minnesota State University. Over 75 percent of the major is upper division courses. The teaching techniques recommended in recent critical thinking workshops have been staples of social work instruction for years. Faculty are experts in educational technology and the use of the internet. All courses include an emphasis on using a multicultural perspective. Students learn research skills as well as strong skills in verbal and written presentation. Students graduate with a distinguished resume of practice experiences.

The program has high academic standards. Students must have at least a 2.8 GPA to be admitted to and continue in the program. Each student completes a capstone experience that demonstrates that they have integrated their learning experiences and can apply the curriculum to Social Work practice. Graduates of the program score well above the national average on the licensure exam and perform well on the state merit exam. Graduates have a very high job placement and report strong satisfaction with both their employment and the education that prepared them for their work. Alumnae identify positively with the program and often remain active in their association with Minnesota State University, Mankato and the Department.


The Department of Social Work and the BSSW Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato are centers of excellence. The program serves its students, the university, and the community. The program is dedicated to preparing students for a lifetime of professional service.

Information in this publication will be made available in alternative format, such as large print or cassette tape, upon request.