Master of Social Work


Our MSW program gives you maximum career flexibility within its approach of working with others and the skills to be an effective advocate for children, adults, and diverse communities. Whether you want to work with the elderly, lead a non-profit, or work in a school, St. Ambrose has a program for you.

Our graduates work in social services, with children and families, for lawmakers, in addiction services, with veterans, and more. They run non-profits, launch organizations, and initiatives that are meeting basic human needs and improving the world. In the past 20 years, we have educated more than 500 MSW students who are now actively helping individuals, families, communities, and society.


Ambrose Advantages

  • Nationally Accredited by CSWE
  • Focus On Empowerment, Social Justice, and Advocacy
  • Outcome-Oriented

Katie VanBlair Field Seminar

Field Seminar

Social Welfare Class

SAU provides education and training that is on the cutting edge of modern social work practice, yet remains firmly rooted in knowledge and advocacy. Our MSW faculty offer a program that is dynamic, alive, and lets you reach beyond campus and into the community.

Read Our MSW Program Fact Sheet


Students share why they chose the Ambrose MSW program
"In my gut, I knew this was the place for me."


More Information on the Master of Social Work Program

What is empowerment social work?

St. Ambrose Professors Emeritus Dr. Brenda DuBois, Michael O'Melia, and Karla Miley were among the first to develop an empowerment curriculum and guide this perspective.

Empowerment social work is a method, a theory, and an ethical stance all pulled together. It is a strength-based approach that focuses on the client's resources and resilience rather than things that are 'wrong.' It allows a client to lead the process and self-initiate change. In this approach, social workers are not working on a client but working with a client and their relationships, and the social and political environment. Empowerment social work is believed to be the most effective and transferable method of practice. Read more about it here

These former professors also believed social workers must be effective advocates, so we weave advocacy skills (such as reaching out to legislators) into the curriculum. As a result, you learn how to influence policy-making as well as day-to-day issues in the lives of your clients. You learn to address challenges at every level – individual, family, organizational, community, and societal.

DuBois, O'Melia, and Miley wrote one of the first textbooks about empowerment social work practice, and it is used in our classrooms and around the world. This means your education and training is on the cutting edge of modern social work practice, while also rooted in the historical traditions of knowledge and advocacy. You graduate with broad skills that provide you with broad career opportunities.

About Empowerment Professors

DuBois joined the St. Ambrose MSW faculty in 1997 and served as the program director from 2001-2008. She retired in 2012. Prior to her death in November 2016, DuBois was a recognized international expert in empowerment social work. She presented nationally and internationally on social work ethics, social justice and empowerment, and co-authored two social work textbooks and companion instructor's manuals currently used to teach MSW students across the world.

O'Melia co-authored textbooks and was recognized for his expertise in family therapy and work with mandated and resistant clients. He retired in 2015.

Our MSW faculty continues to be active supporters of empowerment social work. They teach it, and they live it, too. They are defining and advancing the practice through research, presentations, consulting, clinical practice, volunteer activities and in our classrooms.

What will I learn in this program?

Generalist Foundation courses emphasize empowerment, cultural competence, and social justice. You will learn how to assess, plan and intervene; affect change in groups, organizations, and communities; practice with diverse groups in diverse communities; collaborate with clients and focus on strengths; and create solution-focused dialogue.

During your second year, you'll study change strategies including case management, mediation, solution-focused approaches, use of community resources, psychotherapy and play therapy, systems approaches, organizational and community change strategies, and advocacy and networking.

You choose your electives. You can learn more about social policies affecting the elderly, couple and family therapy, child welfare, mental health services and case management, social work in schools, and more.

All students complete field placements. Students in the two-year, full-time program work 16 hours per week in different placements each academic year. Students in the Advanced Standing Program work one year in full-time residence. Part-time students work 16 hours per week during their second and third years of study. Our Director of Field Education works closely with you to find an organization that fits your interests and goals.

We prepare students for the Master of Social Work licensure exam by including the exam review in our curriculum, and exam pass rates are strong.

If you want to expand your skills even more, we are the only university in Iowa to offer a three-year MSW-MBA program. See below to learn more.

Tell me more Ambrose Advantages
  • Unlike most universities, we don't ask you to pick a specific track of social work practice to study. Instead, we give you a wide range of skills by teaching the empowerment method, which prepares you to work with any population. With our program, you get maximum career flexibility.
  • We give you choices. Take classes full-time, part-time, or through advanced standing and complete your degree more quickly. We are also the only university in Iowa to offer a MSW-MBA program.
  • We have community connections with more than 400 regional agencies and organizations. You have so many options for field placement. Our Director of Field Education will help coordinate a placement that fits your educational goals.
  • You can work directly with patients at the St. Ambrose Interprofessional Healthcare Clinic. Here, you team up with graduate students in Speech-Language Pathology, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies programs, and provide comprehensive patient care to local residents. Watch this SAUtv story about the Interprofessional Health Clinic
  • We have great tools for learning. You get to hone your interpersonal skills in state-of-the-art observation labs.
  • Our students create and complete projects that have significant community impact. In the past, MSW students advocated for major changes to Iowa drug court policies; organized town hall meetings with citizens and legislators; raised funds for nonprofits; and more. Student capstone projects have expanded research and discussion about challenges same-sex couples face in adoption; trauma and mental health; Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) in schools; and trauma-informed residential treatment models.
  • Every year, the SAU School of Social Work organizes an annual conference and coordinates several on-campus continuing education programs for professional social workers. You can attend these events for free, and doing so can deepen your education while networking with your peers in the field.
  • Throughout the year, St. Ambrose University hosts a number of community presentations, events, town hall meetings and other activities on topics that are closely tied to social justice. You can also attend many of these events for free. 
  • Immerse yourself in a different culture and learn the role social services play in other countries. We offer a three-credit, elective winterim course. This year our students will travel to India and learn about mental health practices and policies. Next year, students will travel to Ecuador.
  • Want to learn more? Mark Leveling shares why he choose to attend St. Ambrose. Click to Watch

We invite you to contact us for more information. Come and visit us, sit in on a class, talk with a faculty member or student, and learn first-hand what makes us stand out.

What have alumni of this program done?
  • Kathryn Schuster '14 MSW is a therapist at the Orchard Place Guidance Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Jabari Woods '02, '05 MSW, is the Associate Director of Human Resources and Equity for the Davenport School District. Prior to taking that position, he launched YAH's Dollar Project, a charitable organization that helps the less fortunate.
How much does this program cost?

We know a graduate education is a personal, professional and financial commitment. The cost can seem daunting, but there are many ways to reduce, and finance, the cost of your education.

Tuition for the 2017-18 academic year is $915/credit hour, and there are some additional costs.

Graduate students are usually eligible for low-interest federal loans. Contact our Financial Aid Office to learn more. You may be eligible for some scholarships offered through our department. Or, consider working with our faculty as a graduate assistant.

Scholarships

For information on MSW scholarships, send an email to msw@sau.edu.

Fees

St. Ambrose University sets rates for tuition and fees each fall. Tuition, fees, room and board are due each semester before students attend class, unless payment arrangements are made with the Student Account Services Office.

All students attending St. Ambrose University will be assessed a technology fee based upon courseload. Some courses carry additional fees.

2018-19 Fees

Graduate level students taking 9 or more credit hours $280/yr. ($140/semester)
Graduate level students taking 8 or less credit hours $140/yr. ($70/semester)
Online course fee $25/credit hour
Matriculation $75 (undergraduate only)

Graduate Assistantships

The School of Social Work at St. Ambrose University seeks six part-time (up to 10 hours) and one extended-time (10+ hours) graduate assistant for the 2017-18 academic year. 

A part-time graduate assistant earns $400/month with paychecks issued on the first of each month. Each assistant works with an individual faculty member for a nine-month contract period, August 15 through May 15. There is no tuition remission associated with these assistantships. The extended-time assistantship includes $3,400 tuition remission as well as $400/month. 

Selected individuals will assist assigned School of Social Work faculty in activities related to carrying out research, literature and internet searches, research of legislative policy, administrative assistance and/or other projects assigned by faculty. The successful applicant will need to possess excellent writing skills, the ability to work independently, and to carry out research assignments in a timely manner.

Applicants should submit the following items to the Director of the School of Social Work by April 1, 2018:

  • A cover letter that includes the basis for interest in serving as a graduate assistant in the School of Social Work. Please explicitly state if you would like to work as the GA for the Director. This letter should state what skills you have or want to develop, time management skills, leadership abilities, and research skills and interest. Also include three personal references (with current address and phone number) from persons familiar with the your employment or academic record.
  •   Current résumé that includes social work areas of interest and any prior research experiences.
  •   Applicants must be taking at least nine credit hours per semester and not on academic probation.

Although work assignments are with a specific faculty mentor, all graduate assistants are under the direction of the Director of the School of Social Work and may be asked to help with programmatic events such as conferences. Direct any questions about the positions to Director Katie VanBlair.

Degree Options

Full-time

This program calls for two academic years of study (18 months, exclusive of summers) and completion of 60 credit hours. Students ordinarily spend two consecutive days per week on campus taking classroom courses and 16 hours per week in social work agencies or settings gaining social work experience under supervision.

These combined experiences help the student synthesize and integrate social work theory and practice. Practicum education accounts for 14 academic credit hours, and classroom experience accounts for 46 academic credit hours of the MSW degree. Usually, practicum placements can be developed for students in agencies within the region they live or work. Practicum placements are 16 clock hours per week.

First Year (Generalist) Curriculum

Fall Semester
MSW 510 Generalist Practice I, 3 credits
MSW 610 Human Behavior Theories, 3 credits
MSW 710 SW Research Design, 3 credits
MSW 810 Social Welfare Policy, 3 credits
MSW 591 Field Instruction I, 3 credits
Total - 15

Spring Semester
MSW 520 Generalist Practice II, 3 credits
MSW 620 Diversity and Social Systems, 3 credits
MSW 720 SW Program Evaluation, 3 credits
MSW 820 Social Policy Analysis, 3 credits
MSW 592 Field Instruction II, 3 credits
Total - 15

Second Year (Empowerment Specialization) Year

Fall Semester
MSW 530 Empowerment Practice I, 3 credits
MSW *** Electives, 6 credits
MSW 603 Field Seminar III: SW Ethics, 2 credits
MSW 594 Field Instruction III, 4 credits
Total - 15

Spring Semester
MSW 540 Empowerment Practice II, 3 credits
MSW *** Electives, 6 credits
MSW 604 Field Seminar IV: Ethical Decision Making, 2 credits
MSW 593 Field Instruction IV, 4 credits
Total - 15

Empowerment Concentration Electives (3 credits unless otherwise noted)
MSW 550 Empowerment Social Work in Mental Health
MSW 560 Empowerment Social Work in Child Welfare
MSW 570 Couple and Family Therapy
MSW 580 Empowerment Social Work in Aging
MSW 830 Supervision
MSW 840 Exceptional Child for Social Work
MSW 850 Empowerment Social Work in School Settings
MSW 860 Economic and Social Justice
MSW 870 Management in Human Services
MSW 910 Mental Health Practices and Policies - India
MSW 920 Empowerment Social Work in Substance Abuse
MSW 930 International SW and Social Welfare, 1-3 credits
MSW 940 Feminist Social Work
MSW 950 Empowerment Social Work in Health Care
MSW 960 Collaborative Practice with Clients in Difficult Situations
MSW 970 Spirituality and Social Work
MSW 980 Trauma Informed Child Welfare Practice
MSW 99* Special Topics

Generalist Year Practicum

2 days per week
16 clock hours per week
Fall and Spring Semesters

Empowerment Year Practicum

2 days per week in classroom
16 clock hours per week in Field Practicum
Fall and Spring Semesters

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Part-time

St. Ambrose University School of Social Work has a part-time program offered in hybrid, making it possible for the highly-motivated student to obtain the MSW degree on a part-time basis over three years, including summer sessions.

When progressing through the part-time program, students take courses either online or on Saturdays. Practicum placement requirements take place concurrently with the required social work theory and practice courses in the second and third year during fall and spring semesters (9 credits), and can likely be taken in your area.

Most part-time courses follow a hybrid format, which means they meet online and meet in-person throughout the semester. Schedules vary based on the ratio of online to in-person classes. Some elective courses are taught fully online.

Some students find that a four-year schedule is necessary due to personal responsibilities, but the MSW program encourages students to graduate wtihin the three year time frame. Students must fulfill all degree requirements within four years from date of initial enrollment.

First Year Generalist Curriculum

Fall Semester
MSW 510 Generalist Practice I, 3 credits
MSW 610 Human Behavior Theories, 3 credits
Total - 6 credits 

Spring Semester
MSW 520 Generalist Practice II, 3 credits
MSW 620 Diversity and Social Systems, 3 credits
Total - 6 credits

Second Year Generalist Curriculum

Fall Semester
MSW 710 Social Work Research Design, 3 credits
MSW 810 Social Welfare Policy, 3 credits
MSW 591 Field Instruction I, 3 credits
Total - 9 credits 

Spring Semester
MSW 720 Social Work Program Evaluation, 3 credits
MSW 820 Social Policy Analysis, 3 credits
MSW 592 Field Instruction II, 3 credits
Total - 9 credits

Empowerment Specialization Curriculum

Summer Semester
*****MSW Electives (See below), 6 credits

Third Year Specialization Curriculum

Fall Semester
MSW 530 Empowerment Practice I, 3 credits
MSW 603 Field Seminar III: SW Ethics, 3 credits
MSW 593 Field Instruction III, 3 credits
Total - 9 credits

Spring Semester
MSW 540 Empowerment Practice II, 3 credits
MSW 604 Field Seminar IV: Ethical Decision Making, 3 credits
MSW 594 Field Instruction IV, 3 credits
Total - 9 credits

Summer Semester
*****MSW Electives, 6 credits

Electives - 3 credits unless otherwise noted 
MSW 550 Empowerment Social Work in Mental Health
MSW 560 Empowerment Social Work in Child Welfare
MSW 570 Couple and Family Therapy
MSW 580 Empowerment Social Work in Aging
MSW 590 Advanced Group Work
MSW 740 Advanced Data Analysis
MSW 830 Supervision
MSW 840 Exceptional Child for Social Work
MSW 850 Empowerment Social Work in School Settings
MSW 860 Economic and Social Justice
MSW 870 Management in Human Services
MSW 910 Mental Health Practices and Policies - India
MSW 920 Empowerment Social Work in Substance Abuse
MSW 930 International SW and Social Welfare, 1-3 credits
MSW 940 Feminist Social Work
MSW 950 Empowerment Social Work in Health Care
MSW 960 Collaborative Practice with Clients in Difficult Situations
MSW 970 Spirituality and Social Work
MSW 980 Trauma Informed Child Welfare Practice
MSW 99* Special Topics

Foundation Year Practicum

2 days per week
16 clock hours per week
Fall and Spring Semesters

Specialization Year Practicum

2 days per week
16 clock hours per week
Fall and Spring semesters

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Advanced Standing

The MSW Program at St. Ambrose University offers an accelerated curriculum option available to highly-qualified graduates of bachelor of social work programs accredited by the Council of Social Work Education.

Consideration for advanced standing is given only to those social work graduates with superior academic standing and exceptional references. Applicants for advanced standing must meet all the admissions criteria required for standard admission.

Additionally, Advanced Standing applicants must have graduated from an accredited baccalaureate program within the past seven years from the date of application, with a 3.0 (B) grade in all required social work courses. Applicants should submit an official transcript of their undergraduate work for review by the Admissions Committee of the MSW program. The program may request a baccalaureate program bulletin, course syllabi, title and descriptions of courses, and reading lists. Decisions will be made on the basis of comparability of the undergraduate social work courses to relevant areas of foundation curriculum. Students given advanced standing may receive recognition of up to 21 credits toward the MSW.

Students accepted for advanced standing must complete concentration requirements as well as those foundation year. Full-time students admitted to advanced standing ordinarily begin one six-week summer session scheduled especially for them. During this special summer session, students register for 9 credit hours in foundation courses in Human Behavior II, MSW 620, Research II, MSW 720, and Social Policy II, MSW 820. Other arrangements can be made for advanced standing part-time students, integrating their schedules with those of the part-time schedule.

Course Requirements for the Advanced Standing Program 

Prior to completion of two semesters of the concentration curriculum, advanced standing students will register for three courses (9 credit hours) in a preceding spring or summer session. Advanced standing students will complete requirements for the MSW degree with 39 credit hours. This is apportioned over three semesters with 9 credits in the spring or summer, 15 in the fall, and 15 in the spring. The 9-credit-hour summer session courses present foundation content in an accelerated format prior to the concentration courses. These courses can be taken during the spring session with full-time, first year graduate students or during the summer session for advanced standing students only: 

MSW 620 Diversity and Social Systems (3)
MSW 720 Social Work Program Evaluation (3)
MSW 820 Social Policy Analysis (3)

Empowerment Specialization Curriculum

Fall Semester
MSW 530 Empowerment Practice I, 3 credits
MSW *** Electives, 6 credits
MSW 603 Field Seminar III: SW Ethics, 2 credits
MSW 593 Field Instruction III, 4 credits
Total semester hours - 15

Spring Semester
MSW 540 Empowerment Practice II, 3 credits
MSW *** Electives, 6 credits
MSW 604 Field Seminar IV: Ethical Decision Making, 2 credits
MSW 593 Field Instruction IV, 4 credits
Total semester hours - 15 

Electives 
MSW 550 Empowerment Social Work in Mental Health
MSW 560 Empowerment Social Work in Child Welfare
MSW 570 Couple and Family Therapy
MSW 580 Empowerment Social Work in Aging
MSW 590 Advanced Group Work
MSW 740 Advanced Data Analysis
MSW 830 Supervision
MSW 840 Exceptional Child for Social Work
MSW 850 Empowerment Social Work in School Settings
MSW 860 Economic and Social Justice
MSW 870 Management in Human Services
MSW 910 Mental Health Practices and Policies - India
MSW 920 Empowerment Social Work in Substance Abuse
MSW 930 International SW and Social Welfare, 3 credits
MSW 940 Feminist Social Work
MSW 950 Empowerment Social Work in Health Care
MSW 960 Collaborative Practice with Clients in Difficult Situations
MSW 970 Spirituality and Social Work
MSW 980 Trauma Informed Child Welfare Practice
MSW 99* Special Topics 

Specialization Year Practicum

2 days per week
16 clock hours per week
Fall and Spring Semesters 

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Combined Degrees

BA-MSW and MSW-MBA

The Master of Social Work program has two combined degree programs: BA-MSW (for undergraduates) and the MSW-MBA (for prospective graduate students). 

Making a difference - whether it be to a child, a family, a community, an organization or society at large - is why you want to be a social worker. The Social Work profession attracts people like you who want to partner with people in difficult situations to make the world a better place. A Master's in Social Work gives you maximum flexibility in your professional training.

BA-MSW

St. Ambrose University offers you a path to a master's degree in social work (MSW) in just five years. We want you to get out there and start living the mission of this University and the School of Social Work - to advocate for a just society and enrich the lives of others.

When you major in Sociology, Psychology, Theology, or Women and Gender Studies, some of your classes will overlap with graduate courses as well as satisfy general education requirements. Instead of taking six years, you'll be here for five and have a well-integrated program that wraps your major into a career.

Course outlines for this undergraduate combined program can be found on the undergraduate degrees:

MSW-MBA

This dual degree program pairs management and empowerment so that you are uniquely poised to explore and tackle social issues while also having a savvy and ethical business sense.

As the only MSW-MBA program in Iowa, St. Ambrose University provides a degree program that is relevant and important in today's business climate, as well as various social work outlets. You will graduate with the ability to execute systemic skills that move agencies and corporations forward in an ever-changing market.

Download the MSW-MBA fact sheet (pdf) 

Students must be admitted to both the MBA and MSW programs. MSW students enter the MBA program in the second year of the three-year curriculum.

MBA Admissions 

Credit Summary (84 credits)

  • 57 MSW (3 MBA credits apply)
  • 27 MBA (12 MSW credits apply)

Students will use 9 credits of the MSW for MBA elective and 3 credits of articulated coursework. Students will use 3 credits of the MBA for an MSW elective. Course Sequence

Year 1

Fall semester
MSW 510 Generalist Practice I, 3 credits
MSW 610 Human Behavior Theories (Articulated MBA 621), 3 credits
MSW 710 SW Research Design (Articulated MBA Elective), 3 credits
MSW 810 Social Welfare Policy, 2 credits
MSW 601 Field Seminar I, 1 credit
MSW 591 Field Instruction I, 3 credits
Total semesters hours 15

Spring Semester

MSW 520 Generalist Practice II, 3 credits
MSW 620* Diversity and Social Systems (Art. MBA Elective) 3 credits
MSW 720* SW Program Evaluation (Art. MBA Elective), 3 credits
MSW 820 Social Policy Analysis, 2 credits
MSW 602 Field Seminar II: Policy Practice, 1 credit
MSW 592 Field Instruction II, 3 credits
Total semester hours 15

Year 2

Fall Semester

MBA 600 Data Analysis for Decision Making, 3 credits
MBA 606Accounting for Managers, 3 credits
MBA 615 Ethical & Social Responsibility, 3 credits
MBA 621 MSW610 Human Behavior Theories (Articulated), 3 credits
MBA 785 Human Resource Management, 3 credits
Total semester hours 15

Spring Semester

MBA 626 Managerial Economics, 3 credits
MBA 670 Operations Management, 3 credits
MBA 741 Fundraising & Resource Development, 3 credits
MBA 680 Marketing Management, 3 credits
MBA 800 Strategic Management (Articulated MSW Elective), 3 credits
Total semester hours 15 3 Electives for MBA - Articulated from MSW - MSW710, MSW620, MSW720, 9 credits

Year 3

Fall Semester

MSW 530 Empowerment Practice I, 3 credits
MSW 870 Management in Human Services (Elective), 3 (credit in MBA articulated)
MSW *** Elective (MBA800 Strategic Management Art.), 3 credits
MSW 603 Field Seminar III: SW Ethics, 2 credits
Field Instruction III, 4 credits
Total semester hours 15

Spring Semester

MSW 540 Empowerment Practice II 3
MSW *** Elective, 3 credits
MSW 604 Field Seminar IV: Ethical Decision Making, 2 credits
MSW 593 Field Instruction IV, 4 credits
Total semester hours - 12 

Ready to Apply?

Take the next step in earning your master's degree in social work by applying today!


Apply Visit Info

Contact


Katherine Van Blair, PhD, Program Director

Master of Social Work
North Davenport Education Center
1950 E. 54th St.
Davenport, IA 52807
563-333-3910
MSW@sau.edu

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