Social Work / Master of Social Work (MSW)

The Master of Social Work (MSW) Program is Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

For more information about social work accreditation, you may contact

Department of Social Work MSW Mission Statement
The Department of Social Work at Lewis University seeks to educate clinical social workers who exhibit integrity and follow ethical principles. Supported by a Catholic and Lasallian heritage, social work students engage in an education that that is dedicated to advancing social and economic justice and the well-being and quality of life of individuals, groups, and families in urban and suburban communities. Social work students know and respect diversity, respond to context, think critically, understand, utilize, and create research, and are committed to the pursuit of truth through lifelong learning and professional development.

Program Goals
  1. To educate students to use critical thinking skills, informed by self-knowledge and evidence based research, in their clinical social work practice.
  2. To educate students in applying ethical principles to guide their clinical practice.
  3. To prepare students to work with diverse and oppressed populations, particularly individuals and communities of color, utilizing knowledge of human behavior in the social environment, to advance human rights and advocate for social justice.
  4. To foster the development of a strong clinical social work identity, dedicated to the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and truth.
  5. To prepare students for leadership roles with diverse populations in a changing global environment.
  6. To prepare students who recognize the importance of human relationships and acknowledge and respect diversity, in keeping with the Catholic and Lasallian heritage at Lewis University.

Admissions Standards

Admission to the graduate program in Social Work (MSW) is based on academic and personal qualifications of the applicant. It is made without regard to race, color, religion, age, gender, irrelevant handicap, national or ethnic origin, or disability.

All students must submit a final transcript documenting evidence of a baccalaureate degree awarded by a regionally-accredited institution of higher education and a completed application which includes a personal statement of professional goals and two letters of reference.

Full Admission

Students in this category have:
  1. Submitted a completed application with an accompanying personal statement, which serves as a writing sample, and a non-refundable application fee.
  2. Submitted two letters of recommendation from professors, employers or supervisors (at least one letter from an instructor is strongly preferred).
  3. Submitted an official transcript of all academic work previously attempted or completed. An applicant’s GPA should equal a 3.0 Grade Point Average on a 4.0 scale.
  4. Certified their proficiency in reading and writing English, if the applicant is from a non-English speaking country, by achieving a 550 on the TOEFL written exam; 213 on the computerized exam; 79 on the Internet-based exam or IELTS score of 6.0. ELS level 112 completed. Step Eiken (Japan) Pre-1 is also accepted.
  5. Received acceptance by the Graduate Council of the College of Education and Social Sciences.

Provisional Admission

In select cases, a student who does not meet the requirements for full admission may be considered for provisional admission. Provisional status may change after one year if the student maintains a GPA of 3.0 or higher in all coursework. Students may be allowed to take up to 9 graduate credit hours as a provisionally admitted student. The student must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 in these courses.

Transfer Admission Procedures
Students may apply up to 12 semester hours of graduate-level work from other CSWE accredited institutions to their program of social work prior to their acceptance into Lewis Masters of Social Work (MSW) program. A transfer student, whether admitted as full or provisional, will follow the admission criteria described above and below. The following conditions apply to the acceptance of transfer credit:
  1. Only courses with a grade of B or better will be accepted.
  2. Coursework must have been completed at a CSWE accredited graduate school.
  3. Appropriateness of coursework will be decided by the MSW Program Director at the time of the student’s application to the program.
  4. Courses from outside the United States will be considered if they are evaluated as graduate level by the Office of Admission and the International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service.
Please note: The Department of Social Work does not grant Social Work course credit for life experience or for previous work experience.

Transfer of Credit after Matriculation
Students who are already matriculated at Lewis University and wish to transfer in a course must seek written approval from the MSW Program Director before the course is attempted. Only courses with a grade of B or better will be accepted. Students may transfer in up to 2 courses.

Course of Study Overview

The MSW is a 60 hour course of study designed to prepare students to work in a variety of clinical settings providing mental health services, therapy, counseling, clinical case management and other direct practice skills. In the foundation year, students are trained in the Generalist Practice Model of social work, where they learn foundation skills that are transferable across populations and settings, and apply them in the field placement. In the advanced clinical year, students select a population concentration (child/adolescent, adult, or older adult) and learn advanced practice skills and knowledge, applied in their field placement. In the classroom, students learn theory and practice skills. In the field placements, students utilize their professional knowledge to develop advanced competencies in clinical social work practice. The program provides social work students with a comprehensive set of practice skills, and a commitment to evidence-based practice, clinical social work, and social justice. The development of critical thinking skills allows for the flexibility to work in complex and ever changing practice environments.

Course Formats and Credit

Courses are offered in the evening. The normal load for a full-time graduate student is 5 courses, or 15 semester hours, plus a field internship per semester. Planned part-time students take two courses, or 6 semester hours, per semester, including summer. Planned part-time students complete the MSW program in four years. In the second year of the part-time program, students complete their field internship, and take 2 courses per semester. In the advanced year, part-time students complete course work in the third year, and their field internship in the fourth year.

Field Education
  • The full-time MSW program is completed in two years and includes two field placements. The Foundation year field placement is 480 hours, and the advanced clinical placement is 600 hours.
  • The part-time MSW program is completed in four years and includes two field placements. The Foundation year field placement is 480 hours, and the advanced clinical placement is 600 hours. Field Internships are completed in the second and fourth year of the planned part-time program.

Advanced Standing

  • The Advanced Standing program is for undergraduate social work majors who have attained an overall GPA of 3.0 and a social work GPA of 3.0. Advanced standing students complete only the advanced clinical year. Students complete one field placement, the advanced 600 hour clinical placement. This program can be completed as a full-time student in one year or as a part-time student in two years.

Good Academic Standing

See Good Academic Standing

Academic Probation and Dismissal
See Academic Probation and Dismissal.   (See also the MSW Handbook)

Time Limitations and Resident Requirement
Students must complete all requirements within 7 years from the time of completion of the first graduate course at Lewis University. Students remain under the requirements of the catalog in effect at the time of matriculation unless they discontinue attendance for two consecutive years or more, in which case they will follow the catalog in effect upon their return.

Graduation Requirements
Students will be awarded the MSW degree when they have:

  1. Completed at least 60 hours of graduate study as stipulated previously (30 hours for Advanced Standing Students), including two field internships (1 for Advanced Standing).
  2. Successfully passed the capstone paper submitted in the final semester of the program.
  3. Obtained a GPA of 3.0 or above.

Degree Offered: Master of Social Work

Total Credit Hours: 60

Degree Requirements

Program: MSW-SCWK-3

Foundations Courses (30)

SCWK-50100Foundation Practice with Individuals and Families


SCWK-50200Human Behavior in the Social Environment 1: Theory and Development Across the Lifespan


SCWK-50300Social Justice and Empowerment: Oppression, Privilege, and Diversity


SCWK-50400Social Welfare Policy and Services


SCWK-50500Graduate Field Placement 1/Seminar


SCWK-50600Foundation Practice with Groups, Organizations and Communities


SCWK-50700Human Behavior in the Social Environment 2: Assessment, Diagnosis and Psychopathology


SCWK-50800Research Methods in Social Work


SCWK-50900Graduate Field Placement 2/Seminar


SCWK-51000Social Work Ethics


Advanced Courses

Core Advanced Courses (15)

SCWK-60400Evaluation Research


SCWK-60500Psychodynamic Theory


SCWK-60600Management/ Leadership/Supervision in Social Work Practice


SCWK-61100Graduate Field Placement 3/Seminar


SCWK-61200Graduate Field Placement 4/Seminar


SCWK-62000School Social Work Field Seminar I


SCWK-62100School Social Work Field Seminar II


Students interested in School Social Work should complete SCWK 62000 and 62100 instead of SCWK 61100 and 61200

Advanced Individual Practice (6)

Students should take the advance practice course that corresponds with the population served in the clinical field placement. Select one additional practice course, either the other advanced practice course, the substance use disorders course or the violence course

SCWK-60100Advanced Individual Practice with Older Adults


SCWK-60200Advanced Individual Practice with Adults


SCWK-60300Advanced Individual Practice with Children, Adolescents, and Families


SCWK-62500Violence Prevalence, Meaning and Treatment


SCWK-63000Substance Use Disorders: Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment


Advanced Policy (3)

SCWK-61300Advanced Policy in Clinical Practice: Skills and Knowledge


Electives (6)

Students will select one of the following two-course pairings in advanced clinical practice, child welfare, organizational leadership or school social work..

Advanced Clinical Social Work

SCWK-60900Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


SCWK-61000Family Therapy


Advanced Child Welfare

SCWK-61400Advanced Child Welfare: An Overview of History and Practice


SCWK-61500Advanced Child Welfare in Applied Contexts


The successful completion of the Advanced Child Welfare two-course sequence qualifies students to be licensed upon hire by DCFS or a contract child welfare agency. Graduate sequences includes additional assignments and focuses on the special issues for MSW-credentialed child welfare workers such as management and supervision.

Organizational Leadership

ORGL-50900Leadership: Theories, Practices and Context


ORGL-51200Assessing Leadership Skills


School Social Work

SCWK-61600Social Work in the Schools


SPED-55700Exceptional Learners in Inclusive Communities