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 (SSW) License
  • 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 competency exam, to demonstrate 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:
    COURSE # COURSE NAME CREDITS
    SOC WRK 250
    OR
    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
    OR
    SOC WORK 753
    Child Psychopathology
    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 665 Cultural Diversity 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:
    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 of the options listed below):
    Option 1:
    ExED 300
    The Exceptional Individual
    Option 2:
    ExED 531
    Inclusion for Secondary Educators
    Option 3:
    ExED 600
    Survey of Exceptional Education
    Option 4:
    ExEd 605
    Child Learner, Disabilities
  •  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 Jeanne Wagner at jeannew@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 exception is determined on an individual basis.)
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 we will need a copy of your transcripts and a recent resume. Email this information to Jeanne Wagner at jeannew@uwm.edu.
  •  Jeanne Wagner will contact you after she reviews your information to discuss your specific requirements. (If you have any questions, please contact jeannew@uwm.edu.) 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 Jeanne Wagner at jeannew@uwm.edu.
  • 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.
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. Wisconsin offers reciprocity for licenses from another state.
  •  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.
  •  The Department of Public Instruction will inform you of any additional requirements. If they direct you to first go through the university for “institutional endorsement,” then contact Tim Schwaller to discuss the specific requirements that you will need to complete.

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
  • Jeanne Wagner, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
    jeannew@uwm.edu
    414-367-9515
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    Helen Bader School
    of Social Welfare
    PO Box 786
    Milwaukee, WI 53201

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