UWM School & College Realignment: The Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, School of Education and School of Information Studies will be housed under the new College of Community Engagement and Professions on July 1, 2023. Learn more.

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 (SSW) license through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). According to the 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.”

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.
Ke’Andra Hagans, MSW, LCSW, SSW

Requirements

The Helen Bader School of Social Work (HBSSW) is an approved Wisconsin program 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
Students in a School Social Work course
Hear Dena Radke discuss school social work at UW-Milwaukee. Dena is the manager of school social work and transition services at Milwaukee 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 of Social Work (MSW) degree 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 their environment that interfere with achievement.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) provides helpful resources for social work program students.

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.

Tier 1 License

A one-year renewable license with stipulations and three pathways.

  • Approved program: The applicant has completed all the coursework at an approved prep program, however still needs to complete something (ex. a portfolio or exam).
  • School district need: The applicant is hired by a school district, has at least a bachelor’s degree and is enrolled in a prep program.
  • Clinically trained social worker: The applicant holds an MSW and a valid certificate or license in social work from the Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board.

Tier 2 License

A three-year provisional educator license with three pathways.

  • Approved program: The applicant completed an approved prep program and received institutional endorsement for licensure.
  • Out-of-state: Applicant completed a comparable out-of-state prep program and had instruction in Wisconsin tribes and bands.
  • Clinically trained social worker: The applicant holds an MSW, has worked in a school as a school social worker for at least one year with a Tier 1 DPI school social work license and has completed training in the following areas:
    • Developmental psychopathology
    • Assessment of children
    • Child abuse and neglect
    • Working with children and families
    • School social work practice
    • Children with disabilities
    • The study of minority group relations, including instruction in the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin
    • Instruction in:
      • 1. Resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff
      • 2. Assisting pupils in learning methods of resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff, including training in the use of peer mediation to resolve conflicts between pupils
      • 3. Dealing with crises, including violent, disruptive, potentially violent or potentially disruptive situations, that may arise in school or at activities supervised by a school as a result of conflicts between pupils or between pupils and other persons

The following are the course requirements for completing the licensure program at HBSSW:

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
SOC WRK 562Child Welfare and Family Services2
SOC WRK 753

SOC WRK 754
Adult Psychopathology*
OR
Child and Adolescent Psychopathology**
(SOC WRK 754 offered in fall and spring semesters)
3

2
SOC WRK 791School Social Work Practice
(Must be taken in conjunction with your field practicum in a school setting)
3
SSW FIELD PRACTICUMMSW students: Two semesters (SOC WRK 721, 722, 821, 822)
Post-MSW graduates: One to two semesters (SOC WRK 921)
SOC WRK 851School Social Work Policy
(Recommended that this course is taken in
conjunction with field practicum in a school setting
)
3
SOC WRK 791Exploring Institutional Racism: School Social Work3
SOC WRK 791Exceptional Individual: School Social Work3
*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.
**If student chooses Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, they need one credit from SOC WRK 821 or 822 for four credits. Please consult with advisor for clarification.

Native Americans in Wisconsin

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.

Varied Options for Completion
(Choose one of the options listed below)

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
Option 1:
ACT 31 Seminar
History, Culture and Sovereignty Rights of Wisconsin Indians (recommended)Receive certificate for DPI
Option 2:
HIST 473
History of Wisconsin Native American Indians3
Option 3:
ANTRHO 213
American Indian Peoples of Wisconsin3
Option 4:
U 448-699A
School Social Work Competency Exam
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 Ke’Andra Hagans at klhagans@uwm.edu.

Field Education

Completion of the required field education (500-900 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.)

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 Ke’Andra Hagans at klhagans@uwm.edu.

Ke’Andra Hagans will contact you after she reviews your information to discuss your specific requirements. (If you have any questions, please contact klhagans@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 Ke’Andra Hagans at klhagans@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 the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (PI) subchapters 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 Feb. 15 for a Fall semester school practicum, and Sept. 15 for a Spring semester school practicum. We cannot guarantee a field placement for late applications.

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 Ke’Andra Hagans to discuss the specific requirements that you will need to complete.