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2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog | 20253

PDF of Social Work

The social work profession is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. It addresses a variety of human needs and conditions in the context of complex personal and social situations, and promotes the positive use of resources. Social work settings include rural, suburban, and urban communities in public or private social service agencies, such as county social service agencies, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, residential youth programs, domestic abuse and sexual assault programs, adult day care, hospice, chemical dependency agencies, mental health organizations, family counseling programs, correctional programs, adoption and foster care agencies, and community outreach and social justice programs.

The Social Work Program emphasizes culturally responsive generalist social work practice and promotes an understanding of human interactions within the social environment. Content areas include social work values and ethics; diversity; promotion of social and economic justice; human behavior in the social environment, social welfare policy and services, social work practice with individuals, groups and communities; research; field placements; and a trauma-informed practice perspective. Graduates of the program are prepared for entry-level social work practice and for graduate study.


Accelerated Master’s Degree
As a graduate of BSU’s Social Work Program, students may qualify for advanced standing in an accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Advanced standing is a graduate program designed for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a university with a CSWE (Council of Social Work Education) accredited program, such as Bemidji State University with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (requirements vary). Advanced standing MSW programs typically take just one year to complete instead of two for students without a social work undergraduate degree.

The Social Work program offers a number of special activities and opportunities, including the following:

  • Child Welfare Scholars Program -- stipends
  • Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) certification courses Program Report
  • Addictions Minor
  • Mexico Consortium -- Social Work in a Latin American Context
  • Social Work Program Field Expeditions
  • Social Work Club

Addictions: The Social Work program offers both a minor and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor certification coursework. The 18-credit Addictions minor provides students with the opportunity to expand their knowledge in addictions, but does not prepare students for educational eligibility for Alcohol and Drug Counselor licensure (LADC) application. The certificate in Chemical Dependency requires a four-year degree, 270 hour classroom training, and an 880 hour internship required for LADC application.


For graduates with a social work degree, a license is required by law if you provide social work services as defined in Minnesota Statutes section 148E.010, subdivisions 6 or 11, or use the title social worker, unless you are employed by a county or a federally recognized tribe.

  • A license may still be required even if the employer does not require a license, the job does not require direct client contact, or if the job title is not social worker
  • Only the Board of Social Work has the authority to determine whether a person is engaged in social work practice and must be licensed
  • Check with the MN Board of Social Work for more information about when a license is required

The Minnesota Board of Social Work offers four levels of licensure. Graduates of Bemidji State University will apply for the LSW level of licensure.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW) - May engage in generalist social work practice: must be supervised by another social worker for the equivalent of two years of full-time practice. The LSW requires:

  • Graduation with a Baccalaureate or Master's Degree from an accredited social work program, such as Bemidji State University;
  • Social workers must pass the national, multiple-choice examination provided by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
  • Licensure by the Board of Social Work;
  • Tribal and county-employed social workers are exempt from this licensure requirement.

School Social Worker Licensure – To practice school social work in Minnesota, the following are required:

  • Graduation with a Baccalaureate or Master's Degree from an accredited social work program, such as Bemidji State University;
  • Social workers must pass the national, multiple-choice examination provided by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
  • Licensure by the Board of Social Work;
  • Licensure at Tier 3 by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board

Supervised Practice: Supervision means a professional relationship between a licensing supervisor and a social worker in which the licensing supervisor provides evaluation and direction of the services provided by the social worker to promote competent and ethical services to clients through the continuing development of the social workers knowledge, skills, and values.

A minimum of 4,000 hours of supervised practice is required for the LSW after the license is issued.

Social Worker Licensing Supervisor must be an LSW; LGSW; LISW; or LICSW; and have completed 30 hours of training in supervision.

Supervision is a one-time requirement for LSW and must include:

  • 100 hours of supervision over 4,000 hours of practice at the rate of 4 hours of supervision for every 160 hours of practice
    • 50 hours must be provided through one-on-one supervision, and
    • a minimum of 25 hours of in-person supervision, and
    • no more than 25 hours of supervision via eye-to-eye electronic media while maintaining visual contact, excluding e-mail
    • Remaining 50 hours must be provided through:
      • one-on-one supervision, or
      • group supervision (limited to 6 supervisees)
      • supervision may be in-person, by telephone, or via eye-to-eye electronic media while maintaining visual contact, excluding email

Minnesota Board of Social Work
2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 340
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3239
Toll free: 888-234-1320


Alcohol and Drug Counselor (Minnesota Health Department, Health Occupations Program): An applicant for Alcohol and Drug Counselor licensure (LADC) in Minnesota must have completed a four-year degree, 270 hours of classroom training, and an 880 hour internship in the field as well as pass written and oral licensure tests. (See Addictions Minor and Certificate sections for contact information.)

School Social Work Preparation and Licensure: The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board issues licensure for school social workers. A school social worker is authorized to provide social work services to prekindergarten through grade 12 students in a school setting. Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board school social worker licensure is not authorization to practice as a social worker in a school setting without current Board of Social Work licensure to practice as a social worker.

The Social Work faculty encourages students to take additional courses in education along with SOWK 3620 School Social Work to be well prepared for school social work practice.

Application Process:

A school social worker is required to obtain a Tier 3 license through the MN Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board.  A Tier 3 license issued under part 8710.0313 must be issued to a school social worker if the applicant:

  • holds a baccalaureate or master's degree; and
  • is currently licensed in Minnesota to practice as a social worker under the Board of Social Work.
  • Note: social workers are not required to pass the MTLE content and pedagogy exams for tier 3 licensure.

Maintaining Licensure: In order to retain licensure as a school social worker, current Minnesota Board of Social Work licensure must be maintained at all times. Lapse of Board of Social Work licensure is grounds for revocation of the school social worker license.

Graduates will apply online with the Minnesota Professional Educator and Standards Board.
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Career Directions

At Bemidji State University, we recognize that social work is a critical link to the health and well-being for individuals, families, and society. We prepare students to be licensed professionals, prepared to work in direct practice with children or adults, groups and organizations, and as advocates for policies to advance the common good.  Our students and faculty are committed to social justice and helping people make positive changes in their lives and communities.

Social workers are found in every facet of community life, including schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior centers, elected office, private practices, prisons, military, corporations, and in numerous public and private agencies. Some social workers conduct research, advocate for improved services, engage in systems design or are involved in planning or policy development. Many social workers specialize in serving a particular population or working in a specific setting. Some social work specializations focus on particular demographics, like people who are:

  • Aging
  • Children andfamilies
  • Developmentallydisabled
  • Terminallyill
  • Veterans and activemilitary
  • Women and girls

    Other social workers specialize in essential functions, like:
  • Addiction &recovery
  • Administration and human servicesmanagement
  • Advocacy and communityorganization
  • Casemanagement
  • Childwelfare
  • Communityorganizing
  • Crisisintervention
  • Health care& medical socialwork
  • International socialwork
  • Military socialwork
  • Policy &planning
  • Restorative justice &corrections
  • School socialwork
  • Social justiceadvocacy
  • Substance usedisorders
  • Trauma and disaster relief

Clinical Social Work: A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from an accredited program paves the way to becoming licensed as a clinical social worker in addition to the practice areas mentioned above. Within the mental health professions, clinical social workers are trained not only to practice counseling and therapy, but to examine and integrate entire systems to support their clients. Having the mental health training prepares social workers to maximize their potential impact on their clients, their communities and their careers.

Clinical social work is a rapidly expanding profession, with many areas of practice expected to grow by almost 20 percent in the next decade. High-growth areas include:

  • Aging / Gerontology
  • Child / Family / School
  • Health Care
  • Immigrant / Refugees
  • Military / Veterans
  • Mental Health & Substance Abuse

Clinical licensure is increasingly preferred or required for master’s-level social work roles, even those that do not include direct treatment/therapy. Our BSW program prepares students for advanced standing in a clinical social work program, paving the way for degree completion in just one year instead of two, maximizing their advancement toward clinical career opportunities.

Also: Graduate Study


Recommended High School Courses

Human Development
Social Science
Sociology Health