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.”
- 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.
- HBSSW is one of three 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:
Hold a master’s degree in social work from a
CSWE accredited program
Completion of specific course requirements for the School Social Work License
Completion of a required field practicum in a school setting
Receive a passing grade on the UWM school social work praxis exam that demonstrates proficiency in the knowledge, skills, and disposition required for an initial SSW educator license
The following are the course requirements for completing the licensure program at HBSSW: COURSE # COURSE NAME CREDITS SOC WRK 250
SOC WRK 705
Human Development and the Social Environment
OR Individual Behavior and Social Welfare
non-degree, certification only
SOC WRK 771 Development of the Family over the Lifespan 3 SOC WRK 754
SOC WORK 753
OR Adult Psychopathology
(754 offered in fall and spring semesters)
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
(Recommended that this course is taken in conjunction with field practicum in a school setting)
3 SOC WRK 791 School Social Work Practice
(Must be taken in conjunction with your field practicum in a school setting)
3 SOC WRK 791 Explore Institutional Racism: School Social Work 3 Native Americans in Wisconsin: Varied options
for completion (choose one of the options listed below):
The content of coursework in Native Americans in Wisconsin must include the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty rights of American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin. 1-3 credits Option 1:
History of Wisconsin Native American Indians 3 Option 2:
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:
Independent Reading in Wisconsin
Native American History
Exceptional Education: Varied options for completion (choose one of the options listed below): Option 1:
The Exceptional Individual non-degree, certification only Option 2:
Inclusion for Secondary Educators: Humanities, the Arts and Foreign Language Option 3:
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.)
The Exceptional Individual
(This is a UW-Extension Service Independent Learning course.)
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 Celine Italia, Program Assistant, at email@example.com.
- 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 exception is determined on an individual basis.)
- 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.
- Steps in the portfolio review process:
1. Student submits portfolio electronically or hard-copy
2. Portfolios are reviewed in the order received
3. Applicant is notified of any changes or additions that are needed
4. Student makes any required edits to portfolio
5. Changes are reviewed
6. 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: Portfolios should be completed while in the program. There will be a $300 portfolio review fee for any portfolios that are submitted 30 days or more after completion of the last course at UWM.
- Note: We cannot guarantee that late portfolios will be reviewed within any specific timeline (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 whatever the current requirements are at the time of returning to the program. This may include having to take additional coursework different from what was required when the student was in graduate school.
- If you currently have an MSW from an accredited university, but did not complete the School Social Work requirements we will need a copy of your transcripts and a recent resume. Email this information to program assistant Celine Italia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tim Schwaller will contact you after he reviews your information to discuss your specific requirements. (If you have any questions, please contact Tim at email@example.com or (414)-229-4695.) Before taking any classes, you will need to apply for admission to UWM as a Non-Degree Student. Apply for non-degree status here.
- 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 have met any of these course requirements, please submit the syllabi for the courses that you would like reviewed. Please email these documents to program assistant Celine Italia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Completion of Field Education requirements:
A two semester field placement in a public school, under the supervision of a licensed school social worker in Wisconsin, will be required for obtaining a school social work license. An exception of one of these two semesters may be granted to Individuals with an MSW degree provided they have at least three years of post MSW social work experience in an agency setting whose primary mission is to serve children and youth. In addition, the student must be able to provide evidence of the knowledge and skills required of PI 34.02, 34.04, 34.15, and the Content Guidelines for School Social Workers.
- Individuals without significant experience with children and youth will be required to take an additional field placement in an agency whose primary mission is to serve children and youth.
- Note: Instructions for submitting applications for a school social work field placement can be found here. The deadline is February 15 for a fall semester school practicum, and September 15 for a spring semester school practicum. We cannot guarantee a field placement for late applications.
- 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.
- Individuals who hold a School Social Work License or a School Social Work Certification in another state may apply directly to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to obtain a school social work license in Wisconsin.
- 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 Celine Italia, Program Assistant, at email@example.com.
- 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.
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.
- School Social Work
Tim Schwaller, MSSW, LCSW
- School Social Work
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Helen Bader School
of Social Welfare
PO Box 786
Milwaukee, WI 53201