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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 2022

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

    Corequisite Course: SOWK615

  • Social Welfare History and Policy Practice (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

    Corequisite Course: SOWK605

  • 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)

    Develop the knowledge and skills necessary for working with individuals with a SPMI diagnosis (serious mental illness) using recovery-oriented, evidence-based practices. Students will become familiar with evidence-based practices, within a recovery-oriented paradigm, as a general approach to practice as well as specific evidence-based interventions to use for individuals with a diagnosis of serious mental illness. Students will learn to examine research literature to determine the various levels of support for specific interventions and essential principles for translating research into practice. In addition, they will identify the appropriate treatment outcomes that reflect effective, quality mental health practice with diverse groups.

    3 credits

  • Trauma and Crisis in Social Work Practice (SOWK710)

    Theories associated with conceptualizing trauma and crisis • Nature and types of trauma/crisis – A review of typologies • Survey of intervention models • Psychosocial factors associated with trauma response (e.g., age, ability, gender, cultural and racial identities, class, and spirituality/religious faith) • Overview of the cognitive, affective, behavioral, neurological sequelae associated with trauma • Introduction and application of skills and techniques utilized in crisis intervention, including assessment and triage, safety and security concerns, facilitation of validation, and preparation and rehearsal for maintenance • Review of current practice trends in post trauma therapy • Special topics in intervention including assessment of lethality, mass disaster, death notification, suicide of the young, and the role of spirituality • Caring for the caregiver: Attenuating compassion fatigue.

    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 Theory and Practice in Community and Global Contexts (SOWK740)

    Understand the complexity of global community practice and social development and the roles that social work plays in advancing social, economic, and environmental justice. Understand and critically analyze globalization and its impact on local contexts, to develop skills in working with communities and marginalized groups. Develop an advanced understanding of the civil society and current trends in international social development. Using a human rights framework, develop an awareness and analyze ethical issues facing global communities. Apply a rights-based discourse analysis to develop community and capacity building strategies in global and local contexts.Develop awareness of the global community from a social work 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

  • Advanced Social Work Field Seminar V (SOWK750)

    Culminating field seminar with master case presentation and overview of cutting edge therapies and practices in advanced justice-informed social work micro, macro, and meso practice.

    2 credits

  • Justice-Informed Clinical Practice with Children and Families (SOWK765)

    This course is designed to 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)

    Explore and understand the concept of a critical, decolonizing, anti-oppressive and ecological framework for engaging in social work practice. Develop ability to engage in professional practice which incorporates critical theory to investigate the impact of colonialism from a systems perspective. Learn key issues about health, social determinants for health and disparities in health across marginalized communities.

    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)

    Integrative seminar to demonstrate readiness to practice social work at an advanced level in the student's area of specialization.

    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

Five field seminars throughout the program provide practical experience and the opportunity to integrate knowledge, skills, values, and 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, 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