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Master of Social Work

Have a commitment to social justice, an ability to think critically, and a natural talent for helping? Join our newest program that builds on these natural talents to train the next generation of master’s level social workers.

Degrees & Offerings
  • M.S.W.
Location
  • Bloomsburg
Department
College
Program Contact
MSW Program Director/Associate Professor of Social Worker
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Do you have passion for helping others?

Not only is the need for licensed social workers predicted to grow over the next 10 years, but our current economic, health care, and social crises unfortunately highlight the need for social workers. We're a profession that's charged with advocating for, empowering, and assisting those in society who are most oppressed. Often, this means supporting children and families living on the margins; however, we're also charged with strengthening social systems and support networks so that no one is denied basic human rights.

Program Overview

  • Program Options – The MSW program has two options for students based on their undergraduate degree:
    • 2-Year Program: This is a two-year program for people who've earned bachelor’s degrees, not limited to just social work. Anyone interested in a career in social work can- and should- apply.
    • Advanced Standing: Applicants with a BSW can apply for “advanced standing.” Those who excelled in their BSW programs may opt out of the foundational year of the program. Advanced standing essentially cuts two semesters off the program.
  • Flexible Start Dates – Applications are accepted for the Spring and Summer semesters.
  • Who Should Apply – Great fit for students from any undergraduate major. Some of the more common applicant majors are psychology, sociology, education, and criminal justice.
  • Program Flexibility – Full-time and part-time options available.
  • MSW Curriculum – Because this MSW curriculum is standardized, you'll be eligible for professional licensure in Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the United States. You'll receive advanced generalist training for helping professionals working in a number of practice settings, such as school systems, behavioral health institutions, medical settings, and child welfare agencies.

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Courses and Curriculum

CU Degree Requirements (Effective Fall 2023)*

*Please see the CU degree requirements effective Fall 2023. All enrolled students can also review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion in Degree Works.

  • Applicants must have an earned baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized U.S. regional accrediting association or an equivalent degree from an institution outside the U.S.
  • Grade Point Average: A minimum GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required. Following Commonwealth University guidelines, applicants with a GPA of 2.7 to 2.99 may be considered for provisional acceptance.
  • Application Statement: Applicants must submit a statement that addresses the following. The statement should be no more than five double-spaced pages and address each item. This statement will be reviewed for content and writing quality:
    • Why have you chosen social work as a profession?
    • What are your goals in pursuing an MSW?
    • How are your values consistent with the ethical principles of social work as articulated by the National Association of Social Workers?
    • What is your experience working or volunteering in a helping capacity?
    • What is your experience working with diverse groups of people?
    • What will be your greatest challenges in pursuing a master’s degree in social work?
  • Resume: Applicants will provide a resume that includes both volunteer and paid experience.
  • References: Applicants will provide the names and contact information of three professional references who will then be contacted to provide letters of recommendation. One reference will be from a current or recent employer, and one will be from an educational setting. References from personal relationships will not be accepted.
  • Life Experience: As per the guidelines of our accrediting body, the Commonwealth MSW program does not give academic credit for life experience.
  • Criminal Record: A criminal record will exclude potential students from some areas of social work practice. Applicants with a criminal record should consult with the Program Director as part of their application process. All students will be required to complete criminal background checks after being admitted to the Program.
  • Credit for BSW Classes: Prospective students who have completed undergraduate social work coursework, but do not qualify for advanced standing, may apply for exemption to first year equivalent MSW classes that they earned at least a B in.
  • Transfer Credits: Students who are accepted to the program may transfer primary social work courses from a CSWE accredited MSW program. Electives may be transferred from other applicable graduate programs. These credits must have been earned in the past five years while the student was in good standing in the academic program. Only grades of a B or higher will be accepted for transfer. Pass/fail grades are not accepted. Workshop or otherwise condensed courses will not be accepted. CU policy limits the transfer of graduate credits to nine. However, this limit may be increased with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies. If you wish to apply for a waiver, please inquire with the MSW Program Director.

Advanced Standing Admissions

Students who are accepted into the advanced standing program will complete only the Specialized Curriculum (second year) in order to earn an MSW. All general admissions criteria apply with the following changes:

  • Undergraduate degree in social welfare or social work: Applicants must have an earned undergraduate degree (BSW, BA, BS) from a CSWE accredited baccalaureate program. Additionally, BSW programs recognized through CSWE’s International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Services, or that are covered under a memorandum of understanding with international social work accreditors will be accepted. All applicants must have earned a 3.2 in their major (on a 4.0 scale) in order to be eligible for advanced standing. Applicants without a 3.2 GPA but with unusual circumstances may be considered for admission for advanced standing when they provide a written argument for exception to this requirement in the admissions essay.
  • References: Applicants will provide the names and contact information of three professional references who will then be contacted to provide letters of recommendation. References from personal relationships will not be accepted. One reference must be from a BSW field supervisor, liaison, or field faculty. At least one reference must be from a BSW faculty member.
  • Advanced standing applicants will also submit a copy of their final BSW field internship evaluation.

Admission Process

  • Application Materials: Prospective students will submit materials via the School of Graduate Studies application portal. Information on how to apply can be found there. Application materials include: transcripts from undergraduate work; personal statement; resume; references, and admissions fees.
  • Application Dates: Application materials will be evaluated on a rolling basis with a final deadline of April 15 for summer start date of the program. Applications will be accepted until this date, or until the program is full. Both regular and advanced standing students begin the program in the summer term
  • Evaluation of Material: The Social Work Admissions Committee will evaluate completed admissions packets on a rolling basis. Students will be informed of the outcome of their application in a timely fashion via their provided email address.

There are three outcomes to the application:

  • Accepted Students are applicants who are approved to begin the program at the next starting date. Accepted Students who wish to defer beginning the program should consult with the program director.
  • Provisionally Accepted Students are applicants who meet most, but not all, admissions criteria and must agree in writing to the terms of provisional admission (e.g. maintain GPA, complete missing undergraduate coursework) and timeline for completion (e.g. by the end of the first semester, by the time the program begins, etc.) in order to begin the program. Provisionally Accepted Students understand that they will not be allowed to begin or continue in the program if they do not meet the specific requirements set out by the Admissions Committee. Once the provisional requirements have been met, the Provisionally Accepted Student’s status will be updated to Accepted Student.
  • Applicants who are not accepted for admission may reapply after consultation with the program director.
  • Q: Do I need a degree in social work to be admitted?
    A: No- it’s an excellent fit for students from any undergraduate major. Some of the more common applicant majors are psychology, sociology, education, and criminal justice.
  • Q: How are classes offered?
    A: Courses are primarily delivered in person at the Bloomsburg campus. We are committed to providing accessibility to returning students and offer classes in the evening to accommodate work, family, and life commitments. Beginning Spring 2024 – online options for starting the program.
  • Q: What is the requirement for field practicum?
    A: In the first year of the program, students complete 400 hours of field work over two semesters in the same agency. Second year students complete 450 hours during that year in a different agency. Students may be approved for an employment based practicum if they are already working in a social service agency. Graduate assistantships are also available through the Social Work Program.
  • Q: What are my career options with an MSW?
    A: Social workers are needed in a variety of different professional settings, including mental health, child welfare, criminal justice, community development, healthcare, and education.
  • Q: What is the job outlook for social workers?
    A: With the renewed emphasis on social support and mental health, both regionally and nationally, the demand for social workers is estimated to continue to grow at a faster rate than other professions.
  • Q: What is the Advanced Standing Program?
    A: This is for applicants who have an undergraduate degree in social work. If accepted into this option, they are essentially eligible to waive the requirements of the first year of the program and complete the MSW in about 11 months (BSW + 36 credits).
  • Q: When can I start?
    A: Applications are accepted for the Spring and Summer semesters.
  • Q: Do I need to take the GRE in order to apply?
    A. No- the GRE is not required for admission.

Field Education is the Signature Pedagogy of Social Work Education, and is intended to provide students the opportunity to apply models, theories, and ethical concepts learned in the classroom to a variety of community practice settings.

Commonwealth University- Bloomsburg Social Work program has relationships with many community agencies and organizations that allow students to gain meaningful practice experience with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations. Possible internship settings include, but are not limited to, hospitals and other medical facilities, schools, county child welfare organizations, behavioral health and addiction treatment programs, juvenile and adult corrections programs, community service organizations, university-based student services and research programs, and programs that serve veterans and older adults.

The Council on Social Work Education requires that MSW students complete at least 900 hours of field experience in an appropriate practice setting in order to earn their degree.

Traditional, two-year program students will participate in four semesters of Field, in two different agencies or practice settings, in order to meet this requirement. Advanced Standing students will participate in two semesters of Field. Since these students bring at least 400 hours of field experience with them from their undergraduate programs, they will complete a minimum of 500 hours in an appropriate advanced generalist setting.

Students will work with the Field Director to secure their field placements. While this process is collaborative, all internship sites must be vetted and approved by the Field Director before a placement can be finalized. Details on this process, and other Field Education Policies and Procedures, will be available in the Field Education Manual.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Licensure and Certification

Professional licensure laws and regulations vary from state to state and are subject to change without notice. If you are planning to pursue a professional credential in a state other than PA, it is highly recommended that you contact the appropriate state licensing agency to seek guidance and verify requirements. In states that provide licensure for master’s level social workers, an MSW degree from a CSWE accredited program is one of the requirements for licensure. While our program will meet this standard, we have not independently verified licensure requirements in all states. Visit our state authorization page for details.

ONWARD AND UPWARD

900
Hours of Field Experience
Gain the hands-on experience you need to become a leader in the social work field
CSWE Accreditation
The Commonwealth University Master of Social Work program has been awarded full accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Careers

Nationally, the demand for social workers is estimated to continue to grow at a faster rate than other professions. Career options include:

Potential Job Opportunities

  • Clinical Social Worker
  • School Social Worker
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Human Services Administrator
  • Policy Analyst or Advocate
  • Child and Family Social Worker
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselor

CONTINUE TO EXPLORE

Program Faculty

CommonwealthU University Employee

Andy Dunlap

  • MSW Program Director/Associate Professor of Social Worker
  • Bloomsburg
CommonwealthU University Employee

Shane Jaynes

  • Chair of Department of Social Work
  • Bloomsburg
CommonwealthU University Employee

Tulare Park

  • Assistant Professor of Social Work
  • Lock Haven
CommonwealthU University Employee

Annjane Ross

  • Assistant Professor, Field Coordinator; Social Work
  • Clearfield

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