Public Mental Health and Substance Use Program


social worker sitting at desk

Program for BSW & MSW Students

Utah State University’s Department of Social Work receives funding each year from the Utah legislature with the goal of increasing service capacity in our public sector. The Social Work department administers these funds to students (undergraduates and graduates) who are preparing for careers working in publicly supported mental health and substance use treatment agencies. In exchange for receiving financial support, BSW and MSW graduates are required to complete their practicum in a Public Mental Health and Substance Use (PMHSU) setting, and then after graduation, seek employment at a PMHSU agency within the state. The work commitment is 12 months of full-time employment for every $5,000 awarded. Students will not be required to pay back any money as long as they meet all of the eligibility requirements (see below).

Please direct questions to the PMHSU Administration:

Morgan Walton | | (435) 797-1754

Dr. Jess Lucero | | (435)-797-9122

PMHSU Funding

Bachelor students who complete their practicum at a PMHSU agency are eligible for $5000 of funding during their senior year. Master’s students who complete their practicum at a PMHSU agency are eligible for $10,000. Students in the 3-year program must complete two practicums and therefore, if both practicums are completed with a qualifying agency, they may be eligible for $20,000.


 Eligibility Requirements

  • Qualifying Field Placement. Program participants must complete a Qualifying Field Placement during their pursuit of a Qualifying Degree. During the Qualifying Field Placement, students must maintain a satisfactory or above performance evaluation, complete all assigned practicum duties, maintain regular and predictable attendance, and must not be subject to corrective or disciplinary action by USU or the Qualified Field Placement facility.

  • Qualifying Degree. Participants must complete a Qualifying Degree within six years of initially receiving funds.

  • Qualifying Job. Participants must work in a Qualifying Job in the state of Utah for one full year for each $5,000 received. For example, if a participant receive a total loan amount of $10,000, then they must work in a Qualifying Job for two full years.

Qualifying Field Placements and Jobs

Students must complete their practicum and work requirement in a public agency. Qualifying agencies are divided into two tiers:

First-tier agencies are the county treatment authorities. Generally, these are the Medicaid-approved providers for the county. A link to the treatment authorities by county can be found here.

Second-tier agencies are any public agency offering mental health or substance use services. Such agencies include schools, domestic violence shelters, and the VA Hospital.

Application Procedure

  • Notify your field faculty coordinator at your campus during the practicum placement process so they can look for opportunities for placement with qualifying agencies.
  • Review the promissory note to ensure you understand the terms of funding and repayment.
  • Complete an interest survey.*

*completion of interest survey, which serves as the application, does not guarantee an award

Question mark

Frequently Asked Questions about PMHSU