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PreK-12 School Social Worker

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Certificate Overview Open Accordion
PreK-12 Social Worker Certificate Online

Earn your school social work certificate

School Social Work is a specialized field of practice devoted to youth and families in educational environments. Social workers within school systems provide services to students to enhance their emotional wellbeing and improve their academic performance by using micro, mezzo, and macro practices. By earning this certificate, you will not only obtain the foundational credentials required by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to be a special services provider (SSP) in the PreK-12 setting, but additional specialized coursework built into the program will boost your employment marketability.

You will finish this certificate poised as a strong competitor for school social work positions, exceptionally prepared to face the unique challenges of this environment with technical knowledge of policy and intervention.

What you will learn

Designed for those holding, or in the process of earning, a Master of Social Work, this is the only certificate in the state to offer a curriculum so specifically tailored to the needs of school social workers, covering topics like:

  • Social work in schools, including the role and functions of social work in various and different practice settings while studying the history, legislation and general perspectives in school social work
  • The complexities of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework and other cultural, linguistic and trauma informed approaches
  • The assessment process of Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and development of Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP)
  • The complexities surround working with youth who have exceptionalities, including attitudes and perceptions, inclusive education, and identification, referral, assessment and service delivery within Special Education
  • The fundamentals of conflict resolution and mediation and the core skills necessary to practice the stages of mediation

More details about the complete requirements set by the CDE to successfully obtain licensure can be found on the Requirements and Curriculum page.

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Curriculum Open Accordion

This certificate requires the completion of nine credits.

Required course:

SOWK 560 – Social Work Practice in Schools (3 cr.)
This course will leave you with an understanding of the historical and cultural context of social work services in schools, state and federal legislation relating to education, terminology surrounding children with disabilities and their needs and rights, current issues, and more.

Select two courses from the following (6 credits):

SOWK 551 – Fundamentals of Mediation (3 cr.)
This course covers basic and advanced dispute resolution skills for a variety of conflict situations, mediation facilitation, conflict theories, power dynamics, discrimination, and more.

SOWK 561 – Exceptionalities in Education (3 cr.)
This course is designed to provide a comprehensive look at the school social worker role in identifying, assessing and intervening with students who have an exceptionality in the educational system.

SOWK 562 – Functional Behavior Assessment (3 cr.)
Functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavior intervention plans (BIP) within the educational settings are an integral part of the school social worker role. Develop the knowledge and skills essential to identify the necessary components of the FBA/BIP and implement a three-tiered prevention model of assessment and intervention in alignment with Colorado Department of Education (CDE) standards. Apply best practice techniques and demonstrate vital data collection.

Licensure Information

The School of Social Work at Colorado State University supports those holding or working toward a Master of Social Work wishing to work in a PreK-12 school setting by offering required coursework and this optional preK-12 school social worker certificate. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) requires social workers to obtain appropriate licensure before working in the PreK-12 school setting as a special services provider.

Educational requirements for licensure set by the CDE:

  • An M.S.W from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (must provide transcripts)
    • Minimum of 900 field education hours, a portion of which must have been working with school-aged children (ages 0-21). Advanced standing students must have completed a minimum of 900 field education hours between B.S.W. and M.S.W. field education. Otherwise, all field education hours must have been completed as part of an M.S.W. program.
    • Field placements completed at any institution other than CSU must be officially verified by the field education director at such institution and include information verifying the student's practicum hours and work with school-aged children.
  • SOWK 560: Social Work Practice in Schools

Those with unique situations that don't meet the educational requirements precisely should contact the certificate coordinator in the School of Social Work, Evan Lowe at for more information.

Information about all the CDE licensure requirements, in addition to the educational requirements, can be found at It is highly recommended that potential applicants create an account with CDE and view the entire application a few months prior to applying. Applications are deleted 90 days after registration if not complete and submitted by that time. To create an account, visit and click "Register" at the top of the page. Please be aware that the application process is detailed and requires advanced planning to successfully complete within a certain time frame.

Note: You must be admitted to this program for the certificate to appear on your official University transcript.

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Applications are reviewed as they are received. You can expect to be notified of your application status within two weeks of submitting all application materials.

Note: Applications submitted after the deadline may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Fall semester August 1
Spring semester January 1
Summer semester May 1

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1 Review Admission Requirements

The online preK-12 school social worker certificate requires students to have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.

2 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online).

  • Select  "PreK-12 School Social Worker (Certificate) – Distance" when choosing the Program of Study. (Note: You must first select “Certificate” at the top.)

3 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript from the institution where you earned your bachelor’s degree. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary):
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


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Nicole Schmidt
Prospective Student Support Coach
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Program Details

9 credits
$725 per credit
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Certificate Awarded
Graduate Certificate in PreK-12 School Social Worker
Time Frame
Varies based on intensity of study and course availability
Admission Reqs.
  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution.

Application Dates

Fall semester
August 1
Spring semester
January 1
Summer semester
May 1

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