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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of social work?

The Preamble to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers states: The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.

What do social workers do?

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), social workers help people overcome social and health problems, such as poverty, mental illness, child abuse and neglect, emotional instability, illness, economic uncertainty, domestic violence, homelessness, and drug abuse. They work directly with individuals, couples, families, and groups to identify and overcome these problems. Some social workers also work with communities, organizations, and/or systems to improve services and/or administrate social and health programs. Social workers apply their professional knowledge and skills to help people make the most effective use of their own abilities. When adequate services do not exist in a community, social workers promote the development of new services and programs.

Where do social workers practice?

Social workers are found in many settings, including private practice, mental health, health, schools, community agencies, public welfare, agency administration, legislative services and policy and planning. Social work’s approach is unique among the helping professions because it focuses on people’s problems in the context of their social environment. Social workers believe that people are influenced by the strengths and weaknesses of those around them – in their families, communities, workplaces, and organizations.

What is the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree?

The Master of Social Work Program prepares students for advanced direct professional practice with individuals, families, households, groups, organizations, and communities. Students learn the clinical, organizational, policy and administrative skills necessary for promoting social and economic justice and enhancing the quality of life for all people through agency-based, culturally sensitive advanced professional practice.

What MSW program options are offered by Boise State?

At Boise State we offer a Regular Program 63 credit MSW degree and a 37 credit Advanced Standing MSW degree in Boise and a 37 credit Advanced Standing MSW degree in Coeur d’Alene. Persons with undergraduate degrees in social work (BSW) from a baccalaureate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education may qualify for admission to one of our Advanced Standing MSW Programs. The Advanced Standing MSW may be taken as a full-time, one-year program or as a half-time, two-year program at the Coeur d’Alene site. The Regular Program MSW is taken as a two-year, full-time program in Boise. Graduates of all our MSW programs receive their degrees from Boise State University.

What is the focus of the Boise State MSW Program?

Our MSW Program prepares students to work with diverse populations and issues. We educate students for professional advanced direct practice with individuals, families, households, groups, organizations and communities.

Do you have a half-time program?

We offer a half-time option in the Advanced Standing MSW Program on the Coeur d’Alene campus. Interested applicants should request that option when they apply for admission. Our Regular Program MSW is offered full-time in Boise only.  For additional information, please contact the MSW Program Coordinator.

What qualifications are expected for applicants to Boise State MSW programs?

We are seeking potential students of exceptional maturity, with values compatible with those of professional social work, with capacity for critical thinking and self-reflection, and with strong potential for personal and professional growth.

What is the criteria for admission into the MSW program?

  • Completion of the Boise State University Graduate Admissions Application and The School of Social Work Application for admission as a graduate student.
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a distribution of liberal arts courses (70 quarter credits or 46 semester credits) and a minimum of 10 quarter credits or 6 semester credits in each of the general distribution areas: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences/mathematics. Applicants must have also completed coursework with a minimum of a “C” letter grade in a human biology course with a lab (4 semester credits) and a course which contains content on descriptive and inferential statistics (3 semester credits).
  • Completion of course work that provides the student with a basic understanding of the biological processes of human behavior.
  • An overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher and a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the junior and senior years of undergraduate study.
  • Note: Applicants may not receive academic credit for work experience in the field or for life experience.

Is the Graduate Record Examination required?

The Graduate Record Exam is not required for admission to Boise State University School of Social Work Master of Social Work programs. However, applicants may choose to submit GRE scores if their undergraduate Grade Point Averages do not reflect their academic ability.

When will classes begin?

Classes begin in Mid-August for the Regular Standing program and Early June for the Advanced Standing program.

What is a typical class schedule?

Regular Program students in Boise study for four semesters earning 15 to 16 credits per semester. Full-time advanced standing students complete their MSW degrees in one year. Half-time Advanced Standing students complete their MSW studies in two years. In Boise most classes are offered during the day on Mondays and Tuesdays. There are some evening classes. The Coeur d’Alene site typically has classes in the evenings on Mondays and Tuesdays with an occasional online elective class.

How large are classes?

Classes are kept small to foster maximum interaction and exchange of ideas among students and faculty. Classroom classes typically have no more than 25 students. Practicum seminars typically have no more than 12 students.

Who are the faculty?

Boise classes are taught by full-time members of the School of Social Work faculty complemented by outstanding, community-based social work professionals. Northern Idaho classes are taught by full-time members of the faculty of the Boise State University School of Social Work, by members of the Lewis Clark State College Department of Social Work serving as Boise State adjunct professors and by outstanding, community-based social work professionals.

How much is it going to cost me?

The Boise Program for 2021-2022 is anticipated to cost $4,819 per semester for Idaho residents and $13,279 for non-residents. The MSW program in Coeur d’Alene is self-funded. The program receives no appropriated funds from the Idaho Legislature. 2021-2022 costs per credit  are $400 (37 credit program) for the Coeur d’Alene program.

Where can I get additional information?

Prospective graduate students should refer to the Graduate Catalog, available on-line, or request that the Graduate College mail a paper copy. All information for the MSW degree is on the School of Social Work web site. We are happy to receive your calls or e-mail if you have additional questions.

Information about all Boise State MSW programs is available from:

Boise State University School of Social Work
1910 University Drive
Boise, Idaho 19725-1940
Ph: (208) 426-1568

How do I get a license to practice social work?

Licensure to practice social work in Idaho is administered by the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses and requires either a baccalaureate or masters degree from an accredited program of social work education, a passing score on the national licensing examination, and good moral character. Graduates who have earned MSW degrees are eligible to take the exam to be licensed as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Following a period of social work practice supervised by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) MSW graduates are eligible to take the LCSW examination.

I want to get a social work license without getting an MSW. Can I take a few courses from this program as a non-matriculated student?

Maintaining our status as Idaho’s oldest and largest school of social work accredited through the Council on Social Work Education prohibits us from offering classes to students not enrolled in the MSW Program.

How can I become certified to practice school social work?

Idaho no longer requires the Institutional Recommendation or the school social work course.  All that is needed for the Idaho School Social Worker Certificate is an MSW and current, valid master’s level social work license issued by the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses. Here are the requirements listed on the Dept of Ed’s Certificate for Pupil Service Staff page to become a Certified School Social Worker:

  • Official Transcript with Master’s in Social Work
  • Copy of Idaho Master’s Level Social Worker License issued by the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses
Please note that school social worker requirements vary by state.