We are one of the only graduate schools in Wisconsin to offer an approved Department of Public Instruction (DPI) school social work program.

All school social workers in Wisconsin are required to have a School Social Work License (SSW License) through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). According to Wisconsin DPI, “Each educator profession, including school social work, has established program licensure guidelines that further delineate knowledge, skills, and dispositions that must be demonstrated in order to be certified to work in Wisconsin public schools.”

What is School Social Work?
  • School social work is a specialized area of social work practice requiring training and experience that is uniquely designed to assist students in elementary, middle and high schools in being successful and productive.
  • School social workers in Wisconsin have a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW), and a school social work license through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
  • The roles and job responsibilities of school social workers vary according to the specific needs of the students and the school. School social workers work with all students, regular and special education. Their practice includes assessment, crisis intervention, individual and group counseling, home visits, consultation, program development, and coordination of school and community services. School social workers provide a vital link between home, school and community, strengthening partnerships to address barriers within the child and his/her environment that interfere with achievement. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) provides a helpful school social work practice guide that further delineates the roles and responsibilities of school social workers.
  • The Wisconsin School Social Workers Association (WSSWA) website also provides helpful information. Students who are enrolled in a university program to obtain a school social work license in Wisconsin may obtain a one-year membership in WSSWA at no charge.
Requirements for obtaining a Wisconsin School Social Work License
  • HBSSW is one of the universities in Wisconsin that provides the state required “institutional endorsement” for obtaining a Wisconsin SSW license. Those who complete the School Social Work Program at HBSSW will meet all of the requirements for DPI licensure.
  • The following are the main requirements for obtaining this license:
    1. Hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work from a CSWE Accredited Program
    2. Completion of specific MSW course requirements
    3. Completion of a required field practicum in a school setting
    4. Completion and approval of a portfolio that demonstrates proficiency in the knowledge, skills, and disposition required for an initial SSW educator license
Specific course requirements for the School Social Work License
  • The following are the course requirements for completing the
    licensure program at HBSSW:
    SOC WRK 250
    SOC WRK 705
    Human Development and the Social Environment
    OR Individual Behavior and Social Welfare
    non-degree, certification only
    OR 3
    SOC WRK 771 Development of the Family over the Lifespan 3
    SOC WRK 754
    SOC WORK 753
    Child Psychopathology
    OR Adult Psychopathology
    (754 offered in fall and spring semester)
    Adult Psychopathology is a required course to obtain clinical certification (LCSW). We recommend that school social work students take both child and adult psychopathology courses.
    2 OR 3
    SOC WRK 851 School Social Work Policy
    (offered only in spring semester)
    SOC WRK 791 School Social Work Practice
    (offered only in fall semester)
    SOC WRK 791 Explore Institutional Racism: School Social Work (offered only in fall semester) 3
    Native Americans in Wisconsin:
    Varied options
    for completion (choose one):
    The content of coursework in Native Americans in Wisconsin must include the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin. 1-3 credits
    Option 1:
    HIST 473
    History of Wisconsin Native American Indians 3
    Option 2:
    ANTHRO 213
    American Indian Peoples of Wisconsin 3
    Option 3:
    ACT 31 Seminar
    History, Culture and Sovereignty Rights of Wisconsin Indians Receive certificate for DPI
    Option 4:
    U 448-699A
    Independent Reading in Wisconsin
    Native American History
    1-3 credits
  • Exceptional Education:
    Varied options for completion (choose one):
    Option 1:
    EXCEDUC 300
    The Exceptional Individual non-degree, certification only
    Option 2:
    EXCEDUC 531
    Inclusion for Secondary Educators: Humanities, the Arts and Foreign Language
    Option 3:
    EXCEDUC 600
    Survey of Exceptional Education
    (This requirement must include the overview of the special education process; identification and criteria of handicapping conditions; and state and federal laws that govern special education. Students will also be expected to understand the role of the school social worker in the special education process, which may include modifying the regular education curriculum when instructing pupils with disabilities.)
    Option 4:
    U 194-300
     The Exceptional Individual non-degree, certification only
  •  This applies to all course content: Students who believe that they have completed, or are completing, any of the above coursework at another university should submit an official transcript of the courses being considered, along with syllabi from these courses, for review and approval.  Submit transcripts and syllabi to Kaitlin Moser, Program Assistant, at kmchenry@uwm.edu.
Completion of the required field-education (900-1160 hours)
  •  Two semesters of graduate field work must be completed in an elementary, middle or secondary school setting under the supervision of a licensed school social worker, who will serve as the field instructor; and
  •  Two semesters of graduate field work must be completed in an agency whose major responsibility is to service children and youth. (Exceptions may be made for individuals who have significant professional social work experience in an agency whose primary mission is to serve children and youth; or a student who has completed a two-semester field placement in a BSW program in an agency that serves children and youth. This possible exemption is determined on an individual basis.)
  • Exemptions for individuals who have obtained an MSW degree and completed an undergraduate school placement:
    Individuals who have completed an MSW can substitute an undergraduate school placement for one of the two required semesters in a school setting provided that these individuals:
    • completed an undergraduate field placement in an elementary, middle, or secondary school and
    • were supervised by a licensed school social worker (field instructor) and
    • have two final field evaluations documenting their performance by the field instructor as well as at least two written evaluations by the SCD supervisor (field liaison) as required by (PI 34.15 (5) (c) 3a.).
Requirements for completing a portfolio
  • The completion and approval of a school social work portfolio is required by DPI for both current and post-MSW school social work students. Students must complete a portfolio that demonstrates proficiency in school social work competencies as required for an initial educator license.
  •  Information on the portfolio process:
    • UWM has an electronic portfolio process. An information and training session is held at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.
    • For those individuals unable to access the electronic portfolio, the portfolio may be submitted in hard-copy (three-ring binder), with prior approval.
    • Once submitted, the portfolio is reviewed and the applicant is notified of any changes or additions that are needed.
    • Once the portfolio is approved, and all other requirements are completed, UWM will provide institutional endorsement for obtaining a Wisconsin School Social Work License.
  •  Note: Those who are completing the School Social Work Program at UWM will be expected to complete the portfolio within 30 days following the completion of all course requirements. For those individuals, there is no charge in reviewing and approving the portfolio.
  •  Individuals who delay in completing the portfolio will be charged a fee for the portfolio review, and we cannot guarantee that late portfolios will be reviewed within any specific time-deadline (i.e., quickly when a job offer has been made). Please know that licensure requirements are altered or changed periodically. Individuals who return to UWM following extended delays in completing the licensure requirements will be required to meet the then current requirements, which may include having to take additional coursework.
Requirements for obtaining a Wisconsin School Social Work License for individuals with an MSW degree
  • If you currently have an MSW from an accredited university, but did not complete the School Social Work requirements you will need to:
  •  Contact Tim Schwaller at schwall2@uwm.edu or 414-229-4695 to discuss your specific situation and procedures for meeting the DPI requirements for school social work.
  •  Post-graduates must provide evidence (official transcript and copy of diploma) of having obtained an MSW or MSSW degree through an accredited program, and apply for admission to UWM as a Non-Degree Student. Apply for non-degree status here.
  •  Please include a resume with your application.
  • Completion of academic course requirements:
    Please refer to a listing of the required courses in the section above titled, “Specific course requirements for the School Social Work License.” If you believe that you may have met any of these course requirements, please submit the syllabi for all courses that you would like reviewed along with a copy of your transcripts (unofficial copy is okay for this inquiry). Please mail, or email these documents to Tim Schwaller.
  • Completion of Field Education requirements:
    Individuals with an MSW degree who did not complete a graduate field placement in a public school, a one semester (260 hour) graduate field course (SOC WRK 921) must be completed in an elementary, middle or secondary school setting under the supervision of a certified school social worker. In addition, the student must be able to provide evidence of the required knowledge and skills required of PI 34.02, 34.04, 34.15, and the Content Guidelines for School Social Workers.
  • For individuals who completed MSW field work in agencies that did not provide services to children, 5 months of full-time employment as a social worker (post MSW) in a child and youth agency, or as a licensed teacher in a public or private school, can be substituted for each semester in a child and youth agency.
  •   Note: Instructions for submitting applications for a school social work field placement can be found here. The deadline is February 15th for a Fall semester school practicum, and September 15 for a one-semester spring semester practicum. We cannot guarantee a field placement for late applications.
Requirements for out-of-state licensed school social workers
  • The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requires that individuals who have been practicing as a school social worker in another state must obtain a School Social Work License in Wisconsin to meet the state requirements for this position. To discuss the specific requirements that you will need to complete, contact Tim Schwaller.
  •  Out-of-state School Social Work License holders must provide evidence (official transcript and copy of diploma) of having obtained an MSW or MSSW degree through an accredited program, and apply for admission to UWM’s program as a Non-Degree Student. Click here to apply for non-degree status.
  •  Applicants will need to submit university transcripts, syllabi for any prior courses that may exempt the applicant from HBSSW required courses, a resume detailing prior employment, and copies of applicable field evaluations and/or employee performance evaluations.  These documents can be submitted to Kaitlin Moser, Program Assistant, at kmchenry@uwm.edu.
  • Following the review of the submitted documents, the HBSSW school social work liaison will notify the applicant of licensure requirements that still need to be completed.
Requirements for social workers with a Wisconsin DPI emergency license or permit
  • Individuals who have been granted an emergency SSW license through Wisconsin DPI will be required to complete all the licensure requirements in order to obtain a regular SSW license. Wisconsin DPI regulations include specific deadlines for emergency license holders to complete all the necessary coursework and other licensing requirements. HBSSW cannot provide institutional endorsement for any individuals who have not adhered to these requirements. HBSSW encourages students who are completing their MSW degree to simultaneously complete all requirements for SSW licensure and to obtain a regular license rather than an emergency license.
  • According to DPI regulations, those who hold an emergency license and wish to complete the licensure requirements through HBSSW at UWM will be required to:
    1. Enroll as a non-degree student; and
    2. Take a minimum of 6 credits each year of the emergency license until all requirements for licensure are completed;
    3. Complete the portfolio requirement as explained above
  •   Note: Information about emergency licenses can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website.

Note: UWM’s program meets the state licensing requirements, as delineated in PI 34. For additional information about the licensing requirements for Wisconsin school social workers, visit the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website.


Contact Us
  • School Social Work
    Program Coordinator
    Tim Schwaller, MSSW, LCSW
    Enderis 1083
  • School Social Work
    Program Assistant
    Kaitlin Moser
    Enderis 1062
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    Helen Bader School
    of Social Welfare
    PO Box 786
    Milwaukee, WI 53201

Class Schedule