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Master of Social Work: Full Program

The MSW full program is available to students with a bachelor’s degree other than a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). The program prepares graduates for advanced ethical and professional social work practice and licensure, emphasizing commitment to service, social justice, integrity, competence, and scientific inquiry.


Online with Intensives

You'll complete coursework online, with 1 week of on-campus intensives each year.

Location: St. Paul

Start Dates: Fall 2024

Total Credits


Finish in as Few as

24 months


  • Human Behavior in the Social Environment (SOWK600)

    Analysis of individuals, families and groups utilizing systems theory, learning theories and psychosocial frameworks as part of the human behavior in the social environment perspective. Appraisal of important lifespan milestones and the influence of social environment on human development. Application of information and theories consistent with social work values and the promotion of social and economic justice.

    3 credits

  • Advanced Social Work Practice I: Individuals and Families (SOWK605)

    Introduction to the generalist social work practice with individuals and families. Understanding of the theoretical framework of the phases of social work practice including engagement, assessment, intervention, evaluation, and termination. Emphasis placed on anti-racist, evidence-based intervention skills in the areas of rapport building, interviewing, critical thinking, and ethical decision-making. Practicing of social work skills related to the use of the professional self in relationships with clients.

    3 credits

  • Social Welfare History and Policy (SOWK610)

    Exploration of how social welfare history informs the development of social workers’ skills in contemporary society. Exploration of the ways the developing American societal culture, structure and values contributed to oppression and marginalization. Identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the American welfare state. Analysis of the major social policies and programs that exist. Development of the skills of policy analysis, formulation and advocacy. Identification of social policy positions of diverse religious traditions.

    3 credits

  • Field Seminar I (SOWK615)

    Introduction to the field experience in community-based practice setting. Integration of beginning knowledge, values, skills, cognitive and affective processes for ethical social work practice with an emphasis on the development of professional identity under supervision of a qualified field instructor.

    2 credits

  • Field Seminar II (SOWK620)

    Continuation of the field experience in a community-based practice setting. Application and integration of developing knowledge, values, skills, cognitive and affective processes for ethical generalist social work practice with an emphasis on diversity, human rights and justice under supervision of a qualified field instructor.

    2 credits

  • Advanced Social Work Practice II: Groups, Communities, and Organizations (SOWK630)

    Explanation of how diversity shapes the human experience in the context of organizations, groups and communities. Analysis of the extent to which sociocultural structures create privilege and power. Application of theoretical models incorporating social justice practices in macro practice. Application of practices reducing oppressive structural barriers. Application of multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks. Investigation of the issues, problems, needs, resources in macro practice. Interpretation of organizational and community data to inform effective evidence informed intervention strategies.

    3 credits

  • Diversity, Human Rights, Social Economic and Environmental Justice (SOWK640)

    Examination of historical and current societal conditions and their impact on individuals and communities. Exploration of culture, power, oppression, exclusion, and the impact of diverse realities in the U.S. Comparative examination through the synthesis of contemporary writings, social theory, and diverse voices. Understanding and critical evaluation of how market economies operate, their broad socioeconomic consequences, and their impact on the lives of socially disadvantaged people.

    3 credits

  • Social Work Research Methods & Design I (SOWK650)

    Evaluation of the ethical concerns in research. Critique of research methodologies including quantitative, qualitative, and single subject design. Connection of evidence-based practice and program evaluation research to improvements in practice, policy, and social service delivery. Critique of relevant evidence-based scholarly published research as research consumers. Explanation of protections for research subjects, ethical standards found in the NASW Code of Ethics regarding research, and ethical research guidelines and procedures.

    2 credits

  • Advanced Social Work Practice III (SOWK700)

    Assessment of diverse factors when making ethical, justice-informed practice decisions to attend to complex personal and systemic injustice factors which impact well-being. Application of evidenced-based, justice-informed social work theories and modalities in manners that are culturally appropriate and utilize critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments. Development of advanced engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation skills with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations with application of justice promoting practices.

    3 credits

  • Mental Health, Diagnosis, and Advanced Social Work Practice (SOWK705)

    Development of knowledge and skills necessary for working with individuals with an SPMI diagnosis (serious mental illness) using recovery-oriented, evidence-based practices. Identification of appropriate treatment outcomes that reflect effective, quality mental health practice with diverse groups. Examination of clinical work through case consultation, review, and presentation.

    3 credits

  • Trauma and Crisis in Social Work Practice (SOWK710)

    Exploration of the nature of trauma/ crises, current practice trends and related theories associated with conceptualizing trauma informed practice.

    3 credits

  • Theology, Justice and Human Rights (Advanced Standing) (SOWK715)

    Discussion of contemporary issues related to theology and praxis around the central biblical concept of justice, integrated into a social work perspective. Reflective exploration of lived human experience and how theology shapes approaches to justice in these contexts.

    3 credits

  • Advanced Social Work Methods and Design II (SOWK720)

    Examination of diverse scholarship and literature with a justice-informed perspective. Development of justice-informed research used to advance human rights by informing policy and empowering vulnerable populations.

    2 credits

  • Advanced Social Work Field Seminar III (SOWK725)

    Continuation of the field experience in a community-based practice setting. Application and integration of advanced justice-informed knowledge, values, skills, cognitive and affective processes for ethical generalist social work practice with an emphasis diversity, human rights, and justice under supervision of a qualified field instructor.

    2 credits

  • Advancing Social Policy, Justice Issues and Human Rights in our Communities (SOWK730)

    Exploration of advanced justice-informed models of policy analysis applied to social welfare issues and challenges from a socio-cultural/political viewpoint. Identification of the significance of policy analysis and advocacy in justice-informed social work. Advanced justice-informed analysis of major US social policies and discussion of how policies impact marginalized communities. Advanced development of justice-informed social policy advocacy skills.

    3 credits

  • Advanced Social Work Field Seminar IV (SOWK735)

    Continuation of the field experience in a community-based practice setting. Application and integration of advanced, justice-informed knowledge, values, skills, cognitive and affective processes for ethical generalist social work practice with an emphasis on diversity, human rights, and justice, under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. Students practice a minimum of 250 hours in field.

    2 credits

  • Advanced Applied Theory in Community and Global Contexts (SOWK740)

    Analysis of complex ethical issues facing local and global communities. Application of a rights-based discourse analysis to develop community and capacity building strategies in local and global contexts from a social work practice perspective.

    2 credits

  • Advanced Social Work Research Methods and Design III (SOWK745)

    Application of current justice-informed research methods to develop an agency-based research project. Engagement of key stakeholders in the research process to develop community action skills.

    2 credits

  • Professional Field Symposium (SOWK750)

    Culminating field sequence course. Summary of evidence-based practice in professional social work. Description of psychopharmacology and psychoeducation to social work practice. Application of cognitive behavioral therapeutic (CBT) interventions, motivational interviewing skills, solution-focused intervention strategies in simulated practice contexts, and a specific intervention to impact client outcome in case study/simulated practice.

    2 credits

  • Justice-Informed Clinical Practice with Marginalized Populations (SOWK765)

    Explore and equip clinical social work students with the knowledge base and skills to work with BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other historically marginalized populations in clinical settings.

    2 credits

  • Environmental Justice, Health Disparities and Community Health (SOWK770)

    Evaluation of a critical, decolonizing, anti-oppressive and ecological framework in social work practice. Engagement in professional practice which incorporates critical theory to investigate the impact of colonialism from a systems perspective. Identification of key issues about health, social determinants for health, and disparities in health across marginalized communities. Analysis of connections among social disparities, faith perspectives, power, health and ethics related to assumptions and actions in social work practice.

    2 credits

  • Diversity, Oppression and Decolonization in Social Work (SOWK780)

    Examination of assumptions underlying theory and research methodologies from which basic constructs of human behavior are drawn to understand how power and other dynamics manage and sustain oppression at the individual and institutional levels. An interest in how oppression affects service delivery at the micro and macro levels, particularly social policies and strategic planning. Examination through the synthesis of contemporary writings, social theory, and diverse voices with an eye to continued decolonization of social work practice.

    2 credits

  • Capstone Integrative Seminar (SOWK790)

    Integration of research and presentation skills to demonstrate readiness to practice professional, justice-informed social work practice at an advanced level. Preparation for professional licensure exam. Reflective integration of faith, social work practice and justice.

    2 credits

Professional Licensure

The MSW at Bethel prepares students to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) professional licensure exam.

Field Work

Four field seminars throughout the program provide practical experience and the opportunity to integrate knowledge, skills, values, critical thinking, and applied ethics for social work practice. Students in the full program will complete 900 hours of field work. Field work offers a progression of learning, including:

  • Experience in a multi-service community-based agency serving diverse populations
  • Emphasis on diversity, human rights, and justice
  • Development of a professional identity
  • Social work experience in a professional setting under the supervision of a qualified field instructor

Program Objectives

Graduates of the Master of Social Work at Bethel University will:

  • Address complex social issues such as poverty, systemic violence, human neglect, trafficking, child welfare, trauma, mental health, health disparities, environmental racism, and social systems reform
  • Explore concepts of theology, race, and equity to address social, economic, racial, and environmental injustice
  • Apply critical concepts related to trauma and mental health to social work practice
  • Apply learning in all contexts, micro to macro
  • Seek justice in innovative ways—in wide-based, diverse, professional field settings
  • Apply research and evidence-based practice to social work contexts and diverse community settings to impact sustainable change
  • Integrate inclusive and bias-free language into scholarly work and professional practice