Jul 24, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Social Work Department

Department Chairperson and Graduate Program Director: Kelly Bass, D.S.W., M.S.W., CSW-PIP, ACS

Department of Social Work

University of South Dakota - Sioux Falls
Classroom Building, Suite 145
4801 N. Career Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Phone: 605-357-1450



Professor Emeritus:

Debra NorrisEd.D., M.S.W., University of South Dakota.


Soonhee Roh, Ph.D., M.S.W., LCSW, New York University.

Associate Professor:

Kelly Bass, Graduate Program Director, D.S.W., M.S.W., CSW-PIP, ACS. University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Assistant Professor:

Erna Dinata, Ph.D., The University of Chicago
Natalie Lecy, Ph.D., University of Utah


Katelyn Anderson, M.S.W., University of South Dakota
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.
Randi Schneider, M.S.W., University of South Dakota


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.

WICHE Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) eligible 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 four 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 1000 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://socialworkcas.liaisoncas.com. SocialWorkCAS (SWCAS) deadline is December 1 for the following May/August. You can begin applying as early as September 8th 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. Official transcripts of all academic work at the undergraduate and graduate levels are required for all 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 institutional 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 an institutionally 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), 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT), 8.5 on the TOEFL Essentials, 6.0 on the IELTS Academic, or 53 on the PTE 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 concisely answering ALL of the following questions:
    1. How has your life experiences shaped you for a career in social work?
    2. What are your attributes and liabilities and how will they affect your social work career?
    3. What do you do particularly well?
    4. What areas need strengthening?
    5. Why do want a Master of Social Work degree?
    6. Do you have the time and energy to devote to graduate school?
    7. How do you plan to readjust your life to accommodate graduate school?
    8. What are your career goals?
    9. How will a Master a Social Work degree from University of South Dakota help you meet your career goals?
    10. What do you want to be doing in five (5) years?
  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) Initial 2 Step - annual screening thereafter 
    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

Student Learning Outcomes for Social Work (M.S.W.)

  1. Students in the MSW program will demonstrate ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics. (CSWE 2.1.2) 
  2. MSW students will demonstrate knowledge of the NASW code of ethics by conducting themselves ethically and engaging  in ethical decision-making using different approaches and strategies, e.g. moral reasoning, cultural responsiveness, and professionalism (CSWE 2.1.2) 
  3. MSW students will demonstrate evidence-based practice knowledge by using academic  research as evidence to inform practice. (CSWE 2.1.6) 
  4. MSW students will demonstrate the ability to conduct research by designing, implementing, and interpreting social work research. (CSWE 2.1.6) 
  5. MSW students will demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively and cooperatively with colleagues and clients by developing an agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes (CSWE 2.1.10) 
  6. MSW students will demonstrate knowledge of diversity by employing culturally responsive engagement skills. (CSWE 2.1.10) 
  7. MSW students will demonstrate the ability to Select appropriate intervention strategies (CSWE 2.1.10) 
  8. MSW students will demonstrate the ability to evaluate  multi-system dimension of client problems and design with client system approaches that affect change at multiple system levels. (CSWE 2.1.10) 
  9. MSW students will demonstrate the ability select appropriate interventions. (CSWE 2.1.10) 
  10.  MSW students will demonstrate the ability to synthesize and apply a broad range of interdisciplinary knowledge and skills consistent with current evidence informed practice. (CSWE 2.1.10) 
  11. MSW students will demonstrate the ability to critically analyzes, monitor and evaluate interventions. (CSWE 2.1.10) 
  12. Critically analyzes multiple client system intervention processes for effectiveness and cultural responsiveness. (CSWE 2.1.10)