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MSW Program:  Frequently Asked Questions

What does an MSW qualify me to do?

Why should I earn my MSW at SIUE?

What is the Regular Standing track?

What is the Advanced Standing track?

What GPA do I need?

If I have received a BSW within the last seven years but don’t have qualifying grades, can I apply for the Regular Standing track?

What about the liberal arts and biology requirement?

How long is the MSW program?

What admission materials do I need to submit?

What is the admission deadline?

Do I need to take the GRE?

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

What should I include in my personal statement?

When do graduate courses meet?

Do you offer summer classes?

When can I start the program?

When can I expect to hear from you whether I have been accepted or not?

What is practicum?

How does the practicum work?

Can I work full-time in addition to pursuing my MSW full-time?

Do you offer scholarships and fellowships?

What is the Capstone Project?




What does an MSW qualify me to do?

An MSW will qualify you to engage in advanced

  • Work with individuals, families, and groups
  • Work with communities
  • Work with organizations
  • Policy analysis and development

in a variety of settings such as hospitals, mental health agencies, private practice, schools, child welfare agencies, military installments, community centers, shelters, and prisons, to name just a few.

 

Why should I earn my MSW at SIUE?

  • Affordable tuition
  • Students develop social work skills working with simulated clients (paid actors) in Technology Enhanced Labs
  • Evening courses
  • Part-time options available
  • Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Flexible practicum opportunities
  • Strong university and department commitment to teaching excellence
  • Strong community ties with social service providers in the Metro East region
  • Faculty committed to teaching, scholarship, and local community development

 

What is the Regular Standing track?

The Regular Standing track is a program for:

  • Individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than social work. -OR-
  • Individuals who received a Bachelor of Social Work degree longer than seven years ago. -OR-
  • Individuals who received a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a program that is not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

 

What is the Advanced Standing track?

The Advanced Standing track is a program for:

  • Individuals who have a Bachelor of Social Work degree within the last seven years from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and who have a grade of B or better in statistics and research courses and all social work courses. 

 

What GPA do I need?

  • Individuals with a GPA of 3.0 or higher are preferred.
  • Individuals with a GPA below 3.0 will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

 

If I have received a BSW within the last seven years but don’t have qualifying grades, can I apply for the Regular Standing track?

No, if you have a BSW in the past seven years, the Advanced Standing track is your only option. You must re-take any social work, statistics, or research courses in which you received less than a B and earn at least a B. The Council on Social Work Education requires that no undergraduate student experience redundancy in the master’s curriculum. That is, you cannot repeat any coursework content for which you previously demonstrated competence.

 

What about the liberal arts and biology requirement?

Regardless of whether you are eligible for the Regular or Advanced Standing track, you must have 30 hours of liberal arts requirements as part of your undergraduate degree to be considered for admission into the MSW program. In addition, you must have had a class in human anatomy (Biology 111 at SIUE has the required content and may be used for comparison to determine whether the course you took covers the required content). If you have any questions regarding whether the Biology course you took covers this content, please contact the MSW Program Director, Dr. Bryan Duckham, at bduckha@siue.edu).

 

How long is the MSW program?

The Regular Standing track is a 60 credit hour program. The Regular Standing track may be completed in two calendar years of full-time study. Thus, a full-time student may complete the program over 6 consecutive semesters over the fall, spring, and summer terms. [3 semesters in year 1; 3 semesters in year 2]

A part-time Regular Standing student may complete the program over four calendar years or twelve consecutive semesters over the fall, spring, and summer terms. [3 semesters in year 1; 3 semesters in year 2; 3 semesters in year 3; 3 semesters in year 4]  

The Advanced Standing track is a 30 credit hour program. The Advanced Standing track may be completed in one calendar year of full-time study. Thus, a full-time student may complete the program over 3 consecutive semesters over the fall, spring, and summer terms.

A part-time Advanced Standing student may complete the program over two calendar years or six consecutive semesters over the fall, spring, and summer terms. [3 semesters in year 1; 3 semesters in year 2]

Further information with a chart detailing the course sequence can be found at our Curriculum Overview.

 

What admission materials do I need to submit?

  1. Two applications, one for the Graduate School and one for the Social Work Department. (Procedure and forms can be found here.)
  2. 3 letters of recommendation (The required form can be found here.)
  3. A personal statement (Instructions can be found here.)

All official college transcripts must be sent to SIUE (Office of Graduate Admissions, SIUE, Box 1047, Edwardsville, IL 62026-1047). If you attended SIUE you do not have to request transcripts be sent. Note that all admission materials must be sent to the Graduate School, Office of Graduate Admissions [not the Social Work Department].

 

What is the admission deadline?

All materials must be received by January 15th. If January 15th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline will be the Monday immediately following. 

 

Do I need to take the GRE?

No.

 

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

You need one letter from a current or past instructor/faculty member. One should be from someone who supervised you, preferably in a social service setting. If you do not have a supervisor from a social service setting, we will accept a letter from any other supervisor. The third letter should speak to your academic and professional potential. This letter can come from any of the following: practicum supervisors, instructors/faculty, colleagues, community leaders, community members, or organizational leaders. All recommenders should be people who know you and can provide a strong endorsement.

Note: Letters from employers and instructors hold the most weight. Character references from family and friends should be avoided.

 

What should I include in my personal statement?

You should include the following:

  1. Your reasons for wanting to pursue a career in social work as well as those formative experiences that have led you to want to help others. 
  2. Those individuals who influenced you and who modeled social work values. 
  3. Any experience(s) you have had in social service, on a paid or voluntary basis. 
  4. Your commitment to social justice—provide evidence of your understanding of the complexity of a social justice issue and the need to advocate for change.
  5. Your strengths and weaknesses, personally and professionally.

 

When do graduate courses meet?

Each course meets once per week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings, from 6:00 pm-8:50 pm. 

  • Full-time students attend class 3-4 times per week.
  • Part-time students attend class 1-2 times per week.

 

Do you offer summer classes?

Yes, select classes are offered during the summer in 5-week sessions. For more information, please see the course listings.

 

When can I start the program?

Students typically start the program in fall; however, students who are admitted into the program may take summer classes prior to the fall semester. For more information on which summer classes are being offered for incoming students, please see course listings or contact the MSW Program Director, Dr. Bryan Duckham, at bduckha@siue.edu

 

When can I expect to hear from you whether I have been accepted or not?

Letters of acceptance and denial go out in April.

 

What is practicum?

A practicum is a social work internship that allows students the opportunity to practice the theory and skills they acquired during their classroom study. In their practica, students work in and with a social service agency or program. 

 

How does the practicum work?

Students are required to complete practica in order to graduate from the MSW program.

Regular Standing students complete four practica: two part-time practica, a minimum of 225 hours of practice each, during the foundation year (spring and summer semesters) and two part-time practica, a minimum of 250 hours of practice each, during the concentration year (spring and summer semesters.). Advanced Standing students complete two part-time practica, a minimum of 250 practice hours each, during the spring and summer semesters.

Alternatively, foundation practica may be completed full-time during a summer semester as a 450 hour “block” practicum; likewise, concentration practica may be completed full-time during a summer semester as a 500 hour “block” practicum.

If admitted, you will be provided with a list of approved practicum sites and provided assistance during the process of finding an appropriate practicum placement.  Many agencies require criminal and other background checks and/or drug screens as part of their application procedures for a practicum.

Please be aware that evening and weekend hour practica are extremely limited. Most agencies expect field students to be in attendance during normal daytime working hours. Practica can be completed at the students place of employment, but specific criteria must be met.

More information about practica may be found in the MSW Practicum Handbook.

 

Can I work full-time in addition to pursuing my MSW full-time? 

This is strongly discouraged. Graduate work is demanding and rigorous. In addition, you will be required to complete a substantial number of practicum hours, and practicum placements with evening and weekend hours are extremely limited (see above). 

 

Do you offer scholarships and fellowships?

The Graduate School offers a number of graduate assistantships each year. Students who earn these awards are expected to engage in 10-20 hours of work with a faculty member or department and are also offered a small stipend and tuition waivers. For more information, please contact the Graduate School. There are also a few small scholarships offered from the social work department (see the MSW Admissions page), and a number of scholarships are offered through the Graduate School.

 

What is the Capstone Project?

The Capstone Project, or Portfolio, is the final graduate course. It is an integrative project in which students demonstrate competency in the core areas of the social work profession. Students assemble the best representation of their achievements through the curriculum in a binder with narrative statements that support their competency relative to the standards of the Council on Social Work Education.

For additional questions, please contact the MSW Program Director, Dr. Bryan Duckham, at bduckha@siue.edu. 

 

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