Graduate Certificates and Credentials

PreK-12 School Social Worker Certificate
and Licensure

PreK-12 School Social Worker Information

The School of Social Work at Colorado State University supports MSWs wishing to work in a PreK-12 school setting by offering required coursework and an optional PreK-12 School Social Worker Certificate.


(Required to be a school social worker in Colorado)

The Colorado Department of Education requires social workers to obtain appropriate licensure before working in the PreK-12 school setting as a special services provider. There are a variety of requirements set by the Colorado Department of Education to successfully obtain licensure to practice social work in a preK-12 setting, which 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. As CDE applications are deleted 90 days after registration if not fully complete and submitted by that time, it is not recommended that any information be entered into the application until you have met all the requirements and are ready to apply.

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.

Of the various requirements set by CDE, an institution of higher education, such as CSU, must verify each applicant’s completion of an MSW degree including 900 field education hours, some of which must have been working with children ages 0-21, and the successful completion of coursework specifically pertaining to school and special education law. The School of Social Work at CSU provides coursework pertaining to school and special education law via SOWK 560: Social Work Practice in Schools and SOWK 561: School/Community: People with Disabilities.

Educational requirements for licensure by the Colorado Department of Education, verified by CSU:

  • SOWK 560 - Social Work Practice in Schools (transcripted)
  • MSW from program accredited by Council on Social Work Education (transcripted)
    • Includes a 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 BSW and MSW field education, otherwise, all field education hours must have been completed as part of an MSW 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.

To enroll in the PreK-12 School Social Worker courses, you are not required to apply to CSU, you can simply visit, select the courses you wish to register for, and follow the links on that page.


PreK-12 School Social Worker Certificate

Conflicts often arise in balancing the needs of students, families, teachers, and administrators, making conflict resolution skills extremely valuable for social workers in schools. By earning this certificate, you'll not only obtain the foundational credentials required by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to be a Special Services Provider in the PreK-12 setting, but additional specialized coursework built into the program boosts your employment marketability.

You'll 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.

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 specifically tailored to fit the needs of School Social Workers, covering topics listed below.

  • Social work in schools, including the role of social worker in school settings; history and general perspectives in school social work; assessment, consultation, and planning.
  • The complexities surrounding working with people who have disabilities, including attitudes and perceptions, augmentative and alternative communication, and inclusive education.
  • The fundamentals of conflict resolution, mediation and the core skills necessary to practice the stages of mediation.
  • Power dynamics affecting students and families and how to address those dynamics in appropriate ways according to social work values and ethics.

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

Required to complete the PreK-12 School Social Worker Certificate:

  • SOWK 560: Social Work Practice in Schools **the only course required for state licensure
  • SOWK 561: School Community: People with Disabilities
  • SOWK 551: Fundamentals of Mediation

To register for any of these classes please go to the CSU Online Certificate Overview page.

Students completing all three required classes are able to apply for the PreK-12 Certificate and will pay a $60 fee with their application.

Phone: 970-491-7817