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Social Work - Child and Family Practice

Social Work students who are interested in working with children (up to age 18) and their families will find the Child and Family Practice sequence most suited to their needs.

Students will specialize in agency-based practice with and on behalf of children and families at risk. It emphasizes the development, delivery, and management of services to meet the specific needs of children and families. The curriculum prepares graduates for advanced practice across an array of settings including mental health centers and institutions, public and private child welfare agencies, substance abuse programs, youth centers, prevention agencies, hospitals, homeless programs, domestic violence centers, courts, and community centers. This concentration gives special emphasis to four key social problems affecting children and families: poverty, mental illness, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Understanding these social problems is central to serving at-risk clients.

Student experience and specialized knowledge are expanded through the selection of practicum sites and electives concerning special populations and specific social problems, and the related practice methodologies. These include, but are not limited to: foster care and special needs adoption, substance abuse, family violence, sexual abuse, physical and mental illness, agency administration and program planning, and supervision.

University Admission Requirements

A student applying to a master's program must:

  • have earned a four-year bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, or do so within one academic year
  • present official transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. Transcripts can be emailed from the university to or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Office of Admissions, 201 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 2200, Normal, IL 61790-2200

International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions.

Additional Program Admission Requirements

A student applying to this program must:

  • have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • have a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework or any previous work in a master's program
  • submit a current resume
  • submit names and email addresses of two references for letters of recommendation within the online application. Recommendations should be written by individuals who are familiar with your academic achievement, potential, and relevant professional and/or volunteer experience in the field of social work or other human service related field.

    Advanced Standing Applicants: you must provide one academic reference and one reference from a field instructor. If you have not begun your advanced field practicum, you may provide one reference from a professional or volunteer social service/human service experience.

    Full Program Applicants: You must provide at least one academic reference if graduating within a year of applying to the MSW program and one reference from paid or volunteer experience in social service/human services. Applicants who are currently working full-time must provide one reference from a social service/human service supervisor, one reference from a professional colleague or former supervisor and one reference from paid or volunteer experience in social service/human services (especially for candidates who are changing careers).

    Please provide the following guidelines to your recommender for completion of a letter of recommendation on behalf of an applicant:

    • How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
    • What is your evaluation of the applicant's capabilities and suitability for graduate education?
    • What is your evaluation of the applicant's capabilities and suitability for subsequent practice in the field of social work (i.e. applicant's level of competence in his/her ability to work with others, level of comfort with social and cultural differences, respect for differences, and commitment to social and economic equity)?
    • How would you assess the applicant's potential for professional growth and development, capacity for self-awareness, and sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others?
    • Identify leadership ability, work performance (academic or professional) and personal characteristics that you believe could either help or hinder the applicant's development as an effective social worker.
    • Other comments
  • submit an essay. The essay should demonstrate an applicants interest in obtaining their master's degree and working in the social work field. Applicants should draw from their academic, personal and professional experiences to respond to the essay questions. The essay should be 5-10 pages in length and follow the American Psychological Association (APA) format.

    The questions that need to be addressed are:

    • Why are you interested in pursuing an MSW? What led you to choose ISU’s program? What are your intended career goals? How do your intended career goals and interests fit with either the Child and Family Practice, School Social Work or Gerontology concentration?
    • Explain your understanding of cultural competence? What challenges have you experienced and what have you done to address them? What actions have you taken to promote equality and inclusion?
    • Please identify a current social justice issue. As a social worker, what steps would you take to address this issue? What actions have you taken in your life to challenge any social injustice?
    • What is your history of academic and/or professional success? If you've had challenges academically, how have you addressed those challenges? What is your plan to be academically successful in graduate school?
    • What volunteer experiences and/or professional development activities have you participated in? How have these activities prepared you for the profession?
    • What is your plan to pay for graduate school and meet your living expenses? What changes do you plan to make in your daily schedule to accommodate the time demands of graduate school.

Admission Dates and Deadlines

Term Application Deadline
Fall (August)  February 15 for full program applicants only 
Spring (January)  No admission 
Summer (May/June)  No admission 

Graduate Assistantship Information

The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.


To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,

  • be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
  • be in good-standing
  • be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).


Graduate assistants receive

  • monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
  • a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
  • a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment

Cost & Funding

See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from continuous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.

Graduate Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Tuwana Wingfield  Rachel Cooper 309  (309) 438-5005 
2016-08-30T13:46:29.206-05:00 2016