Apr 22, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Social Work Department

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Interim Department Chairperson : Frank Zavadil, M.A., LAC
Graduate Program Director: Kelly Bass, D.S.W., M.S.W., CSW-PIP, ACS

Department of Social Work

USD Health Science Center
1400 W. 22nd St., 3rd Floor
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Phone: 605-357-1450




Peter Kindle, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.S., University of Houston.

Associate Professors:

Kelly Bass, Graduate Program Director, D.S.W., M.S.W., CSW-PIP, ACS. University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Soonhee Roh, Ph.D., M.S.W., LCSW, New York University.

Assistant Professor:

Aubrey Jones, Ph.D., M.S.W., University of Tennessee-Knoxville.  

Senior Lecturer:

Debra Norris, Ed.D., M.S.W., University of South Dakota.
Wallace Jackmon, Ph.D., M.S.W., CSW-PIP, Capella University.


Tallie Cassanova, Field Education Coordinator, M.S.W., LCSW, QMHP, University of Iowa.
Megan Grode Wolters, Field Education Coordinator, A.M., CSW-PIP, QMHP, University of Chicago.
Kathy LaPlante, M.S.W., University of California, Berkeley.


Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)   

Program Description

The Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Accreditation (CSWE). It is the only graduate social work program in the state of South Dakota. A graduate with an M.S.W. degree is highly employable in a competitive job market. The program prepares professionals to provide social work services in diverse communities in South Dakota and the region. The M.S.W. program seeks to educate a workforce of social workers who are able to deliver professional services such as clinical and therapeutic services, administrative and staff supervision, community development, organizational planning, and social policy analysis and advocating, which will effectively meet the social services needs of the citizens of our state and region.

Students who apply to the M.S.W. program at the University of South Dakota can choose to apply to take all course work either through the face-to-face format (classroom setting) or take all their coursework through the fully online format utilizing Desire 2 Learn software.  With part-time and full-time options, the M.S.W. at USD prepares students to become a licensed clinical social worker (CSW).

All graduate social work courses in the face-to-face M.S.W. program will be offered at the USD Health Science Center (USD HSC), 1400 W. 22nd Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57105. Courses are held on Monday or Tuesday from 8:30 am until 9:30 pm.

All graduate social work students must complete their MSW degree within four years of starting the program.

Regular Standing (Standard Track) Degree Requirements

Standard Track students are individuals who do not have a baccalaureate social work degree from a CSWE-accredited program. Standard Track students begin courses in the fall term. A full-time, Regular Standing student can complete their degree in 24 months including summer coursework. Social Work Practicum and Seminar I and II are required and completed during the fall and spring semester with coursework. For each of the two successive semesters of Field Education, students must complete a minimum of 250 hours (i.e., about 16-24 hours per week for 16 weeks) for a total of 500 hours.

Monday courses are dedicated to students who enter our program through the Regular Standing Track.

Click here to view the Standard Track course schedule for the full-time student.  

Advanced Standing (Accelerated Track) Degree Requirements

For individuals who hold a baccalaureate degree in Social Work (e.g. B.S.W./B.S.S.W.) from a CSWE-accredited program, where a 36 credit hour Advanced Track concentration curriculum is offered. Advanced Standing students begin courses in the summer term. A full-time Advanced Standing student can complete their degree in 12 months. Internships are required and completed concurrently with coursework. For each of the two successive semesters of Field Education, students must complete a minimum of 250 hours (i.e., about 16-24 hours per week for 16 weeks) for a total of 500 hours per academic year.

Tuesday courses are dedicated to the students who enter our program through the Advanced Standing Track and for Regular Standing students who transition from the first to the second year of the graduate program.

Click here to view the Advanced Track course schedule for the full-time student.  

Additional information is available on the department’s website: www.usd.edu/socialwork.


  1. Each applicant must apply to the M.S.W. program through the centralized application service for social work SocialWorkCAS found at: https://socialworkcas2021.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login. SocialWorkCAS (SWCAS) deadline is December 1 for the following May/August. You can begin applying as early as September 1st in the year of application.
  2. In order to complete your Graduate School application to the University of South Dakota, you must submit a $35 application fee, in addition to the SocialWorkCAS fee. The USD Graduate Application Fee cannot be waived or deferred and it is nonrefundable. The fee can be paid on the USD Deposits and Fees website.
  3. Official transcript(s) verifying receipt of an undergraduate degree and previous graduate credit (in English or with translation) must accompany an application. In addition, an official transcript from each degree granting institution attended is required. Official transcripts of all academic work at the undergraduate and graduate levels are required for international students. The USD Graduate School and/or academic units retain the right to require credential evaluations from organizations, such as Educational Credential Evaluators/World Education Services (ECE/WES), for a student if such an evaluation is deemed necessary.
  4. Baccalaureate degree must be from an institution with full regional accreditation for that degree. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better is required for application to the M.S.W. program. Each graduate program may admit students on provisional status per university policy.
  5. Applicants with degrees from countries other than the United States and who have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree from a regionally accredited American college or university or from an accredited institution in the following English-speaking countries: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada (Excluding Quebec), Australia, and New Zealand are not required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score. For all other applicants, a minimum score of 79 on the Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT) or 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT), a minimum IELTS score of 6.0, or a minimum PTE score of 53 is required for graduate admission.

Additional Program Admission Requirements:

  1. Three (3) letters of recommendation are required to be submitted through the SocialWorkCAS application with one letter from an academic advisor or university faculty member and one letter from a supervisor (i.e. internship, work, etc.)
  2. A 3-5 page APA style paper with a minimum of 5 scholarly references is required to be submitted through the SocialWorkCAS application focusing on the following:
    1. A social justice issue that is of interest to you. Examples of social justice issue can include juvenile justice, corrections, medical, homelessness, needs of the elderly, human trafficking, child welfare, welfare programs, community needs, political action, etc.
    2. An academic paper that includes the following items: thesis statement, identification of problem/issue, contributing factors, evidenced based practices addressing said issue, and how you plan to utilize social work education and experiences to contribute to the resolution of the issue.
  3. A statement of purpose is required to be submitted through the SocialWorkCAS application focusing on the following questions:
    1. Tell us about yourself
      1. The M.S.W. degree requires a research project, what type of research project would you pursue and what would your research questions be for this project?
      2. Time and energy for the M.S.W. program: Do you have the time and energy to devote to graduate school? How do you plan to readjust your life to accommodate graduate school?
      3. Why do you want a M.S.W. degree?
      4. What areas do you need strengthening?
      5. What do you do particularly well?
      6. Discuss your attributes and liabilities and how they will impact your social work career?
      7. How have your life experiences shaped you for a career in social work?
    2. Indicate your career goals
      1. What do you want to be doing in six years?
      2. How will the M.S.W. degree from USD help meet your career goals?
      3. What are your career goals?
  4. Applicants must complete the following prerequisites with a C or better:
    1. A Biology course (preferably with human biology content)
    2. A Statistics course
    3. Three (3) additional courses in the social/behavioral sciences. Acceptable courses would be from the following disciplines:
      1. History
      2. Psychology
      3. Political Science
      4. Economics
      5. Sociology
      6. Anthropology
      7. Human Relations​

Deficits in any of these courses will not prohibit admission; however, the course(s) need to be completed with documentation of completion provided prior to the first semester of enrollment in the USD M.S.W. Program.

  1. Cover letter and resume: A current detailed resume including the following: education, paid work experience, volunteer experience and community involvement. Military experience should be included. Please include dates for each of these requirements. 
  2. Applicants transferring from another graduate social work program must submit through the SocialWorkCAS a letter of reference from the dean, program director, or chair indicating that the applicant left the graduate social work program in good standing.
  3. A criminal background check is required of all accepted applicants into the M.S.W. program.
    1. Admission to the program is contingent until the background check is completed and reviewed, and the applicant is cleared to start the USD M.S.W. Program.
    2. Detailed information will be provided upon contingent acceptance.
    3. Felony convictions may result in denial of acceptance and/or eligibility for licensure.
  4. Up-to-date immunizations must be completed prior to the first semester of enrollment in the M.S.W. program. This is a strict requirement of USD Health Affairs and the School of Health Sciences. Immunizations must include:
    1. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) (2X)
    2. Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (TDAP)
    3. Varicella (Chicken Pox and Shingles) Titer
    4. Hepatitis B Vaccine (3 shots), plus Titer
    5. Tuberculosis (TB) 2 Step - one every year after
    6. Influenza Vaccine - yearly

Upon acceptance into the M.S.W. program New Student Orientation attendance is required during the spring semester prior to courses beginning in May/August. Additional information can be found at: http://www.usd.edu/health-sciences/social-work/graduate. Additionally, there are yearly requirements to maintain active status in the program. The following items are required yearly: proof of personal health insurance, membership in the National Association of Social Work (NASW), and personal liability insurance through the National Association of Social Work (NASW).

Upholding the policies established by CSWE, the M.S.W. program does not grant academic credit for life experience or previous work experience. Interested persons are welcome to contact the Department of Social Work directly. Please contact Kelly Bass, M.S.W. Program Director at kelly.bass@usd.edu or at 605-357-1460.

Application Deadline

  • December 1
    • Summer start for advanced standing
    • Fall start for regular standing


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