School Social Work Certification

General Information

School Social Work Certification Application

GVSU students

School Social Work Certification Advising:

Current or recently admitted students interested in pursuing the school social work certification for K-12 school settings should follow these steps:

  1. Complete the application (link) and return it to the MSW Director, Dr. Leon (
  2. She will assign you to Dr. Smith-Colton ( for academic advising. You should no longer work with your previously assigned advisor for course planning. You will develop a plan with Dr. Smith-Colton for the rest of your duration in the MSW program
  3. When you apply for field education, you must check the box on the field application indicating school social work. If you’re an advanced standing (2 semester) field student you must intern in a school to be eligible for school certification at graduation. Regular standing (3 semester) field students may intern in a school or working primarily with children and adolescents. Prof. Ronk ( has options available and will discuss these at the field education orientation. 
  4. Dr. Smith Colton ( is the liaison between GVSU and the Department of Education in Michigan. If you have questions about school certification or school social work you should contact her.
  5. If you decide you no longer want to pursue school certification, please inform Dr. Leon and you will be assigned a different academic advisor. 

Timeline: As eligibility for school social work certification requires grades of a B or better in SW 661, SW 663 and SW 664 AND the requisite field experience, completing the application as early as possible is beneficial. Full-time regular standing students that want to intern in a school and full-time advanced standing students should complete the application for school social work prior to beginning the MSW program.  Part-time advanced standing and regular standing students are strongly encouraged to apply for the school certification option within your first year in the MSW program. If you are further along in the MSW program and want to opt into the school social work option, please complete the application and we will advise you accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions About School Social Work

1. What is School Social Work?

School social work is a specialized area of practice within the social work profession. School social workers act as liaisons between the school, home, and the community to aid in student success. Social workers in this field work directly with school administrators to provide leadership in forming discipline policies, assisting in mental health intervention, crisis management, and support services.

2. What are the State of Michigan requirements to become a School Social Worker?

  • Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from a CSWE accredited institution.
  • Obtainment of Limited Licensure (LLMSW) or Full Licensure (LMSW)
  • 500 hours of field education working with children and adolescents or 500 hours post-graduation working with children and adolescents.
  • 3 classes (9-credit) School Social Work courses: SW 661, SW 663, SW 664

3. What courses are required for School Certification?

A “B” grade or better in each course must be earned, NO SUBSTITUTES OR EXCEPTIONS!

  • SW 661:School Social Work in the Educational Setting (3-credit)
  • SW 663: Child & Adolescent Development Practice (3-credit)
  • SW 664: Social Work Practice in Schools – Special Education (3 credit)

4. Are there prerequisites for these courses?

Yes! Prerequisites for SW 661 are 600, 601, 603, 610, and 620. Prerequisites from SW 663 are 600, 601, 603, 610, 620, and 622. Prerequisites from SW 664 are 600, 601, 603, 610, and 620.

5. Are there requirements for how I complete my Field Education Internship?

Yes! Field Placement Internships for those seeking the school social work certification must intern at a venue that serves children and adolescents and/or a K-12 educational setting.

6. What do I need to know about School Social Work Certification?

Note: Changes are being made by the Michigan Department of Education in obtaining School Social Work Certification after graduation. Grand Valley State University will post updates on the process as changes are confirmed.

**School Social Work Certification expires five (5) years from initial date of approval and can be renewed for an additional five years via completion of a GVSU refresher course offered by GVSU School of Social Work.

After ten (10) years, course work (SW 664 – School Social Work Practice in Schools) MUST be repeated to again obtain temporary school social work approval.

7. How do I obtain School Social Work Certification?

Note: Changes are being made by the Michigan Department of Education in obtaining School Social Work Certification after graduation. Grand Valley State University will post updates on the process as changes are confirmed.

Current changes may include processing School Social Work Certifications through an online application system known as Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS), but the specific process has yet to be confirmed.

8. What should I do if I have an interest in School Social Work Certification?

  1. Consult your advisor and inform him/her of your interest.
  2. Attend a scheduled advisement session with GVSU School of Social Work Liaisons (Dr. Robin Smith-Colton and Dr. Cray Mulder). Sessions will be announced via student listserv and on SSW website. Note: Two (2) advisement sessions will be scheduled per semester. Arrange to be present at one of them. Additional sessions will be held if necessary or if changes to the program are made.
  3. Review and follow the curriculum for school social work approval.

9. What do I do post-graduation?

GVSU students that did not complete courses and post-graduate professional work history may obtain school social work certification after graduating, but you must complete the required courses (SW 661, SW 663 and SW 664) to do so along with possible internship.  Be advised that you must meet all requirements for school certification.

10.  If you already have your MSW from another state, and have questions about obtaining your school certification, please contact Dr. Robin Smith Colton (