Child Welfare Certificate

The Child Welfare Graduate Certificate is a 12 credit program administered through the School of Social Work. Although the program is designed to provide current specialized knowledge and best practices for child welfare social work practice in the Detroit metropolitan and state of Michigan practice arenas, student will be prepared for practice throughout the US. Historically, professional social workers have worked with families and children impacted by social injustice and adverse economic situations. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the competency required to practice with families and children experiencing child maltreatment, often with compounding issues of poverty, racism, substance abuse, domestic violence and other experiences of trauma.

This graduate certificate is likely to enhance an individual's career opportunities in Child Welfare. It will prepare individuals interested in working with children and families, including in areas such as child protective services, foster care, school social work, and behavioral health settings. Read the university's gainful employment disclosure


  • Child Welfare Certificate applications are accepted year-round and students may start any semester


For admission into the Graduate Child Welfare Certificate Program, the applicant must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Meet Wayne State University Graduate School admission standards
  • Hold a master's degree from an accredited educational institution or be actively pursuing a master's or doctoral degree at Wayne State University
  • Have a combined undergraduate and graduate GPA of 2.75 or above on a 4.0 scale or have completed a graduate degree at Wayne State University.

Program requirements

To earn the Graduate Child Welfare Certificate, the student must successfully complete 12 credits of approved courses for the Certificate Program. Up to 9 of the 12 credits may be applied to both the Certificate and the graduate degree, subject to approval of the relevant academic department and the graduate school. There is a three year-limit in which to meet certificate program requirements.


The Child Welfare Graduate Certificate requires 12 credits, with a combination of required and elective courses.

  • Required Courses (3 credits each):
    • SW 5755 Introduction to Child Welfare
    • SW 6100 Child Welfare and Social Systems: Content for Case Management Practice
    • SW 7700 Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice
  • Elective Courses (select one of the following 3 credit courses):
    • SW 6535 Youth, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice
    • SW 6540 Effects of Drugs & Alcohol on Phys. & Social Functioning
    • SW 6575 Violence Prevention and Intervention
    • SW 8570 Dynamics and Intervention in Family Violence
    • SW 8330 Psychosocial Assessment of Children and Youth
    • SW 8180 Social Work in Schools

Students will work with their advisor to develop a plan for their coursework based on their background and career goals. Most students enroll in one or two courses per term. The courses are offered by the School of Social Work and most are offered at least once per year. 

For students that have already completed a master's degree, the certificate is awarded when they have met all the requirements. For students earning the certificate concurrently with a master's or graduate degree, the certificate is awarded when all the requirements of the certificate and the degree have been met.

Admission process

Applications are accepted throughout the year and students may begin the program during any semester. Please complete the Graduate Admissions application if you are new to Wayne State University and have never applied for graduate admission. Once you apply or if you are already a graduate student at Wayne State University, make an appointment with Naelah Burks, to complete your advising form and then submit your application for the Child Welfare Certificate Program. For questions regarding the application forms contact the Child Welfare Certificate Coordinator, Assistant Professor Kristina Nikolova at



Naelah Burks
Academic Advisor II

Kristina Nikolova, PhD
Child Welfare Certificate Coordinator