School of Health Sciences Social Work

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I pursue a Master of Social Work degree?

There are many career opportunities for social workers, particularly for those with an MSW. MSWs practice in a wide variety of public and private agency settings such as child welfare, youth services, mental health/counseling, schools, criminal justice, veteran's services, service agencies for the elderly, and medical settings such a hospitals and long term care facilities. Social workers interact with diverse client populations and seek to improve quality of life, particularly for those who live on the margins of society. Career opportunities are abundant as the job market for professional social workers is expanding, both locally and nationally.            

The MSW degree can also open the door to upward career mobility within the profession. More and more frequently the MSW degree is a requirement for supervisory or management level positions. As a result, the MSW degree usually leads to higher salaries.

2. How much does the program cost?

3. How many credits do I need to take?

60 Credits (2 years full-time) are required for the regular standing program (i.e., for students who do not have an undergraduate degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program); 36 credits (3 semesters full-time—spring, fall, and spring) for those granted advanced standing (i.e., for students who have a baccalaureate degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program).

4. I have a BSW. Can I be given advanced standing?

To qualify for advanced standing you must meet the following qualifications:

  • BSW from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education
  • BSW was earned within 7 years of beginning the MSW program
  • Your GPA is 3.0 or better in your undergraduate social work classes

5. I have a master's degree from a related field. Can I qualify for advanced standing?


6. How is the program offered?            

We offer our students the option of attending the program full-time or part-time. The program can be completed in 2, 3, or 4 years. Students admitted with advanced standing join the program in the spring semester beginning in January.

7. When and where are classes held?     

All the classes will be held on Mondays or Tuesday's from 8:30 am – 9:30 pm. Classes will be held at the Health Sciences Center at 1400 West 22nd Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The address is on the front of the building. Our best advice is to google the address for directions. We are on the campus of the Sanford Hospital, not at the University Center.

8. Is the program accredited?

Yes. The program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

9. Do I need to have a certain undergraduate major to be admitted to the program? Are there any prerequisites?             

    No particular undergraduate major is required; however, to start the program a student must have his or her undergraduate degree in hand. It is expected that students will have a strong background in the liberal arts. As part of your undergraduate training, you will need to have completed the following courses with a grade of C or better:
  • Statistics
  • Biology with human biology content (USD courses include Biology 105, Anthropology 220, or a course in anatomy & physiology)
  • Human development across the life span
  • Three additional courses in the social sciences (sociology, psychology, political science, history, communications, criminal justice)

10. How many students will be admitted?  

We anticipate admitting 20 students during each admission cycle. Up to 5 of these students can be part-time; the rest should be full-time.

11. Will I be able to complete my practicum work at the agency where I currently work?       

It may be possible for you to complete some of your practicum hours with your current employer. Many social service agencies comprise of a variety of programs. You would need to be assigned to a completely different job/program with a different supervisor. Many agencies are willing to work with students to help them meet these requirements. You are encouraged to explore this issue with your employer. You many not use your job as your internship. This is a condition of accreditation with the Council on Social Work Education.

12. Do you require the GRE or another entrance exam?            


13. I have taken other graduate courses. Can I transfer them?          

Courses may not be transferred for any required course. A maximum of 3 credits may be considered for transfer credit for the elective courses. 

14. I have been working in the field for many years. Surely this should count for something?          

Academic credit for life experiences and previous work experience is not given, in whole or in part, in lieu of field practicum courses or academic courses. The Council on Social Work Education prohibits accredited programs from granting credit for life/work experience. 

15. What are the requirements for the MSW degree?             

Students are responsible for completing all requirements for the MSW degree—completing required and elective courses, meeting the standards for competency in coursework and in field, completing successfully all field placements, and maintaining a 3.0 GPA.

16. What if I earn a C in a graduate course?

Any MSW student whose cumulative grade point average (CGPA) falls below 3.0 will automatically be placed on academic probation. For regular standing MSW students, a student cannot earn more than two "Cs." In the advanced standing program, a student cannot earn more than one "C." In either case, the student will be placed on academic probation and may be academically dismissed from the MSW Program if he or she earns any additional grades below a "B" in the graduate social work program.

17.  Are Graduate Assistantships available? 

Graduate Assistantships are available through the graduate school. We encourage you to apply, even though the Department of Social Work does not employ graduate assistants.

18. Are there scholarships available?

There are some scholarships available. NASW offers students scholarships through the national office in Washington, DC, and the local NASW-SD Chapter offers scholarships. Please see the social work website for further information on these and other scholarships.