The Exemption Process

In our MSW Program, students may exempt from certain foundation year courses. There are two routes to course exemptions. The first route is to show you have taken an approved social work course(s) in a CSWE accredited Social Work Program; or have an approved non-social work course (for statistics, research methods and/or psychopathology). The second route is by taking exemption exams.

Students without a BSW

Those entering the program who do not have a BSW from a CSWE accredited program may seek exemption from one or more of the foundation year courses and/or the Statistics1 prerequisite in one of two ways: (1) Course Review or, (2) Exemption Exam(s). These students may seek exemption from the following foundation year courses equivalent to our SW 6052, SW 6062, SW 7102, SW 7112, SW 6123, and SW 6503. Exemptions are not granted for Advanced Practice courses.

1 previously taken course(s) must meet the criteria outlined in statistics course description to be eligible for exemption consideration.

2 previously taken course(s) must have been taken in an accredited CSWE accredited program, not be older than five years old to be eligible for exemption consideration and have earned a grade of ‘B’ or better.

3 previously taken course(s) must not be older than 5 years old from date of graduation to date of starting the MSW program and have earned a grade of B or better to be eligible for exemption.

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Exemption by Course Review - Students without a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution

Exemption by course review is a process whereby a student shows they have taken a course(s) that meet the required foundational social work content, including the statistics prerequisite. To determine if you took a similar course eligible for exemption, first review the UW-Madison Social Work Generalist Course Descriptions.

If you have taken one or more equivalent course(s), complete the Course Exemption Form. It will be reviewed for meeting program requirements. Submit the form AFTER you’ve been admitted and have accepted to attend our MSW program. If the course(s) taken are not on the Social Work/Social Welfare Course Equivalency Chart, a syllabus is required along with the Course Exemption Form.

Eligibility Criteria - Students without a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution

Eligibility for review- all courses, except statistics, research methods and psychopathology, must be from an accredited CSWE Social Work program, not older than five years from date of graduation to date of starting our MSW Program, and earned a grade of ‘B’ or better. A passing grade is required for Statistics. Foundation year courses taken outside of an accredited CSWE social work program will NOT be reviewed, except statistics, research methods and psychopathology.

Submitted Course Exemption Forms (along with required syllabi) of admitted students will be reviewed and decisions communicated via email by Advisors. Processing time may extend if a syllabus review by a professor is needed if the course(s) are not listed on the Social Work/Social Welfare Course Equivalency Chart.

Exemption by Exam - Students without a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution

An exemption exam is a way to demonstrate sound understanding of foundational generalist social work content required for our MSW Program. Exemption exams are intended for students who have had prior exposure to the required content. This option is recommended for students who have taken a similar course, but NOT eligible for exemption by course review, or did not earn a grade of B or better in the equivalent course(s). Two hours are allotted for each exam. Exemption exams are only administered to admitted students. There are no fees for the exams.

Students with a BSW

Students entering the program with a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program, not older than five years from date of graduation to date of starting the MSW program, will receive Advanced Standing (see Prospective Students for more information about Advanced Standing) upon entry to the program and are exempt from all foundation year courses, except Psychopathology and/or the Statistics prerequisite (exemption based on course review).

Students with a BSW from UW-Madison do not need to complete the Course Exemption Form.

Students with a BSW from other CSWE accredited program will need to demonstrate that an appropriate statistics and psychopathology course(s) were taken to satisfy our MSW program requirements. Exemptions are not granted for Advanced Practice courses.

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Exemption by Course Review - Students with a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution

Exemption by course review is a process whereby a student shows they have taken course(s) that meet required foundational social work content, including the statistics prerequisite. Students with a BSW from another CSWE accredited institution, will need to complete the Course Exemption Form to review Statistics and psychopathology. Submit form AFTER admission and confirmation of attending our MSW Program. Course syllabus will be required if the course is not listed on the Social Work/Social Welfare Course Equivalency Chart.

Eligibility Criteria - Students with a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution

The equivalent psychopathology course must have been taken in the last five years from date of graduation to date of starting the MSW Program.

Statistics must meet our statistics course description. There is no limit as to when statistics was taken; a passing grade in statistics is required.

Exemption by Exam - Students with a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution

Passing an exemption exam is a way for students to demonstrate they have a sound understanding of the foundational social work content required in our MSW Program. This is an option for students with a BSW older than 5 years from date of graduation to date of starting the MSW program.  Students with a BSW who do not meet exemption for psychopathology (either did not take an equivalent psychopathology course, or not exempt by exemption review) may take the exemption exam for psychopathology. Two hours are allotted for each exam. There is no fee for the exams. Exemption exams are administered to admitted students. Exemption exams are offered for all foundation year courses.

Exemption by Portfolio - Students with a BSW from a CSWE accredited institition

If you have a BSW older than 5 years from date of graduation to date of starting the MSW program, and are interested in seeking exemption from SW 400/401 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar I and II by portfolio, please refer to the Field Education Handbook:
Full Time MSW Field-Handbook
Part Time MSW Field-Handbook

Exemption Exam Schedule

Exemption Exams are typically offered before the semester begins. All exams are open to both Full-Time MSW Program and Part-Time MSW Program students unless otherwise noted. Exams will take place virtually. Students are required to register for EACH exam they are interested in taking no later than one week BEFORE the scheduled date of exam(s). Complete the registration form found at the bottom of this page. Students are only allowed to take each exam one time. If you have a conflict with the scheduled date of an exam, please contact pt-course-exemptions@socwork.wisc.edu to discuss if you may take the exam at a separate time. Once registered, you will receive an additional email with instructions about the exam one week prior to the scheduled exam date. Study materials are also found below. Students who pass an exemption exam are considered ‘exempt’ from that course; therefore, they do not take the course(s) in the MSW Program.

Exemption Exam Next Scheduled MSW Program Exam
SW 606 Social Policy

*Only offered to FTP students in Winter

January 11, 2024 6-8pm
SW 612 Psychopathology for Generalist Social Work January 12, 2024, 6-8pm
SW 650 Research Methods January 15, 2024, 6-8pm
SW 710 Diversity, Oppression and Social Justice in Social Work January 8, 2024, 6-8pm
SW 711 Human Behavior and the Environment

*Only offered to PTP students in Winter

January 9, 2024, 6-8pm
SW 442 Generalist Practice with Organizations & Communities

*Only offered to PTP students in Winter

January 10, 2024, 6-8pm

Exemption Exam Details/Study Materials

SW 400 & SW 401 FIELD AND INTEGRATIVE SEMINARS I & II

This is a special exam and exam process only open to BSWs who graduated more than five years from the academic year of graduation to the academic year of enrollment in the MSW Program. Please see the Field Handbook found in the Student Resources section of the website for complete details and necessary forms for this exam. The exam is for both courses.

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SW 441 PRACTICE II: GENERALIST PRACTICE WITH INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES & GROUPS

SW 441 focuses on developing generalist social work knowledge and skills for working with and on behalf of individuals, families, and groups. Lecture and labs focus on development of basic social work direct practice skills and techniques necessary for working at the micro level, with individuals, groups and families. It integrates content on multiculturalism, diversity, social justice, and social change issues.

To prepare for this exam, review and study any of the following:

Kirst-Ashman, K. & Hull, G. Jr. (2002). Understanding generalist practice (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning.

OR

Kirst-Ashman, K. & Hull, G. Jr. (2006). Understanding generalist practice (4th ed.). Belmont, CA:Thomson Higher Education.

OR

Kirst-Ashman, K. & Hull, G. Jr. (2009). Understanding generalist practice (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.

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SW 442 PRACTICE III: GENERALIST PRACTICE WITH ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMUNITIES

SW 442 is designed to assist the student in learning about the theory and practice of planned change in communities and organizations and to incorporate a generalist model into practice at these levels of intervention. The course focuses on developing knowledge and skills that will allow the student to intervene in a variety of organizations and communities. It integrates content on multiculturalism, diversity, social justice, and social change issues.

Students preparing for this exam should study:

Brueggemann, W.G. (2006). The practice of macro social work (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

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SW 605 FIELD OF SOCIAL WORK

SW 605 provides a basic introduction to the history, evolution, and current status of the profession of social work and social welfare institutions. It covers historical and political development that shaped the emergence and role of the social work profession and highlights critical issues for the profession as we move into the 21st century.

Students preparing for the 605 exam should review and study the following:

Day, P., & Schiele, J. (2013). A new history of social welfare (7th. Ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Popple, P. & Leighninger, L. (2005 or 2008) Social work, social welfare and American society (6th or 7th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Trattner, W. (1999). From poor law to welfare state: A history of social welfare in America(6th ed.). NY: The Free Press.

Wilensky, H. and Lebeaux, C. (1965). Industrial society and social welfare:The impact of industrialization on the supply and organization of social welfare services in the United States. NY: Free Press, Ch 6, 10, and 11.

Encyclopedia of Social Work. (2008) Articles on Historical Overview, Origins of Casework, History of Social Work as a Profession and Community Organization (20th ed.). Silver Spring, MD: NASW.

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SW 606 SOCIAL POLICY

Social Work 606 has three main purposes: To provide an overview of American social welfare policy, particularly income support policy (including descriptions of all the major social programs); to provide an analytic framework that can be used in understanding current social policy discussions; and to provide a brief overview of policy making processes. The course also includes content on the measurement of poverty, trends in poverty, causes of poverty, and the antipoverty effectiveness of various social programs.

Students preparing for the Policy exam should have knowledge of current events and should study:

Dolgoff, R. & Feldstein, D. (2013). Understanding social welfare: A search for social justice (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

The Social Work Library has this textbook on reserve now.

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SW 612 PSYCHOPATHOLOGY FOR GENERALIST SOCIAL WORK

Please be aware: If you exempt from this course and plan to seek licensure for clinical social work in the State of Wisconsin, you will need to take SW712!

This foundation course prepares social work students to recognize major mental health concerns across the lifespan. The course includes an introduction to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (DSM) as the organizing framework for reviewing major mental disorders and critique of the current “medical model” approach to mental health in the United States. The course considers mental health issues from a generalist perspective including the role of the social environment, culture and stigma in mental health services, access and policy.

Students preparing for the 612 exemption exam should review and study the following:

  • Review the SW 612 syllabus.
  • Review the course materials on stigma and cultural formulation.
  • Corcoran, J. & Walsh, J. (2015) Mental health in Social Work: A Casebook in Diagnosis and Strengths-based Assessment (2nd Ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

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SW 710 DIVERSITY, OPPRESSION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE IN SOCIAL WORK

Social Work 710 (formerly 640) is designed to provide students with a knowledge base that should enable them to make their assessments and interventions more responsive to racial and ethnic differences. Typical themes include socio-economic inequality, discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, assimilation, biculturation, cultural pluralism, traditional helping networks, etc. Problems are explored in light of the combined implications of having simultaneous membership in multiple groups — racial, ethnic, gender, class, and/or sexual-affectional orientation groups.

Students preparing for this exam should study and review:

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo, 1962-. (2014). Racism without Racists: Color-blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.,

Anderson, Margaret L. & Collins, Patricia Hill (2016). Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology, 9th edition. Cengage Learning. ISBN: 978-1-305-09361-4

Tracy E. Ore, (2018). The Construction of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality, 7th edition. Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0-190-64796-

Carbado, D. et al. (2013) “Intersectionality: Mappings the Movements of a Theory.” DuBois Review, 10:2 (2013) 303–312.

Takaki, Ronald T., 1939-2009. (1993). A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

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SW 650 RESEARCH METHODS

The purpose of SW 650 is to develop students’ understanding and skills in the approaches, techniques, and challenges of conducting social work research and to enable students to be competent and discerning consumers of social science literature.

Students preparing for the Research Methods exam should study:

Rubin, A. & Babbie, E. Research methods for social work (7th ed. or later). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thompson Learning. [NOTE: Chapters 22 and 23 will not be covered on the exam.]

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SW 711 HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Social Work 711 surveys the behavioral science knowledge base of social work practice as it relates to understanding and intervening in the problems of clients and constituents. It draws together relevant social science theories – primarily from sociology and psychology but also from biology, anthropology, economics, history and political science – to form a multi-disciplinary view of human behavior. Current knowledge about individuals, both male and female, families, communities, including racial and ethnic minority communities, society and culture is included in the course. The primary social work practice goal is to facilitate the process of problem identification and assessment, and intervention planning at both direct and indirect service levels.

Students preparing for the 711 exam should study:

Hutchison, E. (2018). Dimensions of human behavior: The changing life course (6th ed.). CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

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STATISTICS

Students preparing for the statistics exam should study any basic text in statistics. It is not advisable to take this exam unless you have taken a course in statistics.

  • Course topics that must be covered include: distributions, measures of central tendency, dispersion and shape, the normal distribution, experiments to compare means, standard errors, confidence intervals, effects of departure from assumptions, method of least squares, regression, correlation assumptions and limitations, basic ideas of experimental design.
  • A passing grade is required

MSW Exemption by Exam Registration