Valparaiso University Advocates for Community Health by Launching Master of Social Work Program

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Valparaiso University has launched a Master of Social Work (MSW) program that will provide an ethical, inclusive, and diverse pool of professionals to schools, criminal justice programs, and other workplaces in the region and across the country. With the demand for social work professionals set to grow by 9% between 2021 and 2031, this program prepares students to enter a rapidly expanding field with immense potential for professional opportunities. 

“Faculty have wanted the MSW program for a long time, and I am excited we can now realize that dream for our students and community.” said Caroline Ban, MSW, program director and assistant professor in the Valparaiso University social work department. “The MSW will provide new opportunities that highlight Valpo’s commitment to quality and integrity. Students will be challenged and supported as we prepare passionate leaders to serve and practice at the forefront of social change.”

The MSW degree allows students to enter the workforce as “advanced generalist practitioners.” These practitioners can find employment in schools and hospitals, managing nonprofits, advocating for community mental health and public safety, and much more. Graduates can even seek employment in all levels of government, lending their expertise and perspective to policy and advocacy. With such an immense range of opportunities, MSW graduates are sure to provide incredible service to the region, nation, and world. 

As a program that will attract graduate students of varying ages and professional commitments, Valpo’s MSW degree program prides itself on having the flexibility to meet a diverse range of scheduling needs. Starting in Fall 2024, a part-time online program, with limited summer residency, will be available. A full-time, in-person program option begins in Summer 2025. For students with their Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), an Advanced Standing option will start in Summer 2026.

The three primary professional pathways offered by the MSW program are direct practice, macro practice, and individualized. Direct practice caters to students that want to take their skills to a clinical setting, while macro practice to those who want to engage in broader social and systemic issues. The individualized pathway allows students flexibility to meet their specific interests and professional goals.

“As a primary employer of mental health and addictions professionals in the community, and a longtime partner of Valpo, Porter-Starke Services is very excited to support the launch of the Valpo MSW program,” Sandra Carlson ’82, LCSW, LCAC, vice president for clinical service at Porter-Starke Services, Inc. said. “For years we have benefitted from the excellent skills the BSW graduates possess that sets them apart from other recent graduates. We find that the Valpo BSW grads learn how to “be” with people. They learn how to effectively help someone by delivering evidence-based practices in the context of a genuine caring relationship.”

Sam Burgett, ’20 MSW, LSW, the police social worker at the Porter County Sheriff’s Office and CEO of the Community Change Center — a reentry program for people leaving prison that she developed as a BSW student at Valpo — also celebrated the announcement.

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“Valpo’s program is unique in that it pushes students to have real-world experiences early on and to begin applying what they learn in the classroom to their work in a way that is different from most other schools,” Burgett said. “Utilizing cohort-style learning, smaller class sizes, passionate, experienced professors, and valuable community connections allows Valparaiso University’s social work program to empower students to begin making an impact in the field even prior to graduation. Personally, I wouldn’t have had nearly the same jumpstart on my career without the support of Valpo’s social work program.” the police social worker at the Porter County Sheriff’s Office and CEO of the Community Change Center, a reentry program for people leaving prison that she developed as a BSW student at Valpo.The MSW program is currently in the multi-year process of seeking accreditation such that it would be retroactive to students beginning in Fall 2024. For more information regarding the requirements and opportunities of the Valparaiso University MSW program, visit the website at