Dominican University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares students for the competent practice of globally focused, relationship-centered social work. Consistent with the mission of Dominican University, the graduate-level social work program seeks to educate students for service to individuals, families, groups, communities, and the profession.
Students can complete the MSW in two years of full-time study, or in three years with our flexible part-time tracks. In addition, an advanced standing option allows students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited institution to complete the MSW in as little as nine months.
Courses may be taken at either our campus in River Forest, Illinois, or at the University Center of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois. In addition, some courses are offered online.
An MSW from Dominican University will mark you as a well-prepared, practiced, and compassionate professional in the field of social work.
Globally Focused, Relationship-Centered
Our students gain a global perspective in both classroom study and fieldwork alongside expert faculty, with numerous opportunities for local, national and international field placements and externships.
Our program also focuses on the nature of families in terms of culture, community, the life cycle and the components and dynamics of family systems.
In our progressive program, you’ll take courses in social work fundamentals such as community analysis, human behavior and social welfare as well as elective courses to help you focus your course of study in an area of your interest. We also offer students the option to focus their coursework in the in-demand areas noted below.
Our field placements provide students with hands-on experience to build their careers in social work. Optional 10-week international field placements offer the chance to work in multiple countries such as Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Ireland, Mexico or South Africa.
The Master of Social Work degree requires students to complete 60 semester credit hours (20 courses). This number includes:
- Required coursework in family-centered, community-based, and global social work, mental health, human behavior, and diversity
- Elective courses (which may include required courses for option areas of focus noted below)
- A total of 1,080 hours of supervised practice and fieldwork experience in partnering social service agencies
- Related field practicum courses
Time to Completion
Full-time students in the full MSW program can expect to complete the 60 credit hour requirements for the degree over 4 continuous semesters (2-years).
Part-time students in the full MSW program should anticipate 3-4 calendar years to complete the 60 credit hour requirements.
Change in status (from full-time to part-time) is permitted. Sample plans of study for full-time and part-time students are available from the School of Social Work.
Advanced Standing Option
Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program may be eligible for advanced standing. The advanced standing program requires of 30 credit hours of required and elective coursework (10 courses), including a minimum of 20 hours of fieldwork (per week) and related field practicum courses.
Full-time advanced standing students can expect to complete the 30 credit hour requirements for the MSW in 9 months.
Part-time advanced standing students can expect to complete the 30 credit hour requirements for the MSW in 2 years.
Areas of Specialization
Students must choose their track (or area of focus) prior to starting their concentration year in one of the six fields:
Aging, Adulthood and Gerontology *
Children, Youth and Family *
School Social Work *
Global Social Work Practice for Immigrants and Refugees
Health and Well-being
(* existing “concentration”: now changed to “track”)
Ageing, Adulthood and Gerontology
In the Aging, Adulthood, and Gerontology track students will learn about aging across the middle and later years. This includes a national and global understanding of how the rising number of older adults affects individuals, families, systems, and society.
The Child Welfare track offers students an opportunity to work and engage with children and their families. Focusing on the policy and history of child welfare including child welfare laws and initiatives that shape social workers role in working with children and families in and out of the system, this track prepares students to be culturally sensitive practitioners and advocates. Through course preparation of two required child welfare electives, students will be eligible to take the following exams Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths, Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol and Child placement Worker as well receive their Child Welfare Employee License.
In the Military Social Work track, students will learn about military-specific mental health issues and treatment, military culture and command structures, and policies and programs for military personnel, veterans, and their families. Students will study innovative, evidence-based treatments for PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicide ideation and traumatic brain injury. Students will come to understand the services available to veterans and their families at a local, state and federal level and the role social work plays in and outside of the military.
School Social Work
The School Social Work track offers coursework that prepares students to qualify for the Professional Educator License in Illinois. School social work certification requires completion of rigorous coursework mandated and approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). SSW students take three courses specific to school social work practice and policy, included coursework on exceptional children where they learn skills such as: resource brokering; addressing school climate; advocacy; collaborating and consulting with school staff; implementing school wide and other multi-level interventions; trauma informed mental health; addressing racial inequities and needs of English Language Learners; informing, and providing special education services including Individual Education Plans (IEPs), among many others.
Global Social Work Practice for Immigrants and Refugees
The Global track offers coursework that prepares students to work with immigrant, refugee and Indigenous populations locally, nationally and/or globally. Students will be engaged in content that addresses the historical and theoretical process of migration, positionality and critical consciousness, and global issues as they relate to the well- being of communities and societies. Students in this track will with immigrant refugees and/or Indigenous populations in areas such as resettlement, policy initiatives, trauma informed services and other issues related to the unique needs of the populations serviced.
Health and Well-Being
In the Health and Wellbeing track students will learn about factors that impact health and wellbeing across the life course. This track prepares students to take a person centered approach to health, work collaboratively as a member of an interdisciplinary health care team, and to participate in advocacy for access to equitable health care resources for underserved communities.
Requirements for All Graduate Degrees
- Maintain a minimum of a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
- Complete the degree within six years.
- Submit an application for graduation to the Office of the Registrar by the filing deadline for the semester when requirements will be completed.