Nov 29, 2023  
Undergraduate Catalog 2020-21 
Undergraduate Catalog 2020-21 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work Major (122 hours)

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The Undergraduate Professional Program

Bachelor of Social Work

Minimum Hours Required for Graduation: 122 hours

The undergraduate professional program is designed to prepare students for beginning generalist social work practice and to provide preparation for graduate training in social work and related professions. Emphasis is placed on a conceptual framework of systems theory, the ecological model, and a strengths-based approach to problem solving. Generalist social workers are taught to address a range of social issues, to work in a variety of practice settings, and to facilitate positive change that will enhance the social functioning of individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities. 

The BSW program utilizes the development of knowledge and skills in the areas of human behavior in the social environment, social work practice, research, social policy, diversity, ethics, and values. A personalized instructional approach is used to engage students in a learning process that promotes critical thinking and self-reflection. Commitment to educating students to work towards the creation of a more just and humane society by advocating for services and resources for oppressed, vulnerable, and other at-risk populations is a main emphasis of the program. All students must demonstrate mastery of a set of competencies and practice behaviors, as required by our accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education.

Students enrolled in the undergraduate social work curriculum are required to complete a major consisting of 38 hours, 23 hours of support courses, and 6 hours of research, totaling 67 hours. As part of the program, students complete a 400-hour field placement in a social work practice setting. No minor is required.

Social Work majors can obtain specialty certificates offered by the College of Health and Human Services in conjunction with their social work degree. Students with other majors can obtain a 15-hour minor in social work. For further information about certificate programs and the social work minor, please consult with the College of Health and Human Services academic advisor.

The BSW program is offered at the Kalamazoo main campus, as well as at the Southwest Regional Site in Benton Harbor as a BSW degree completion program.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in the social work major will be admitted into the pre-social work curriculum at the time of admission to the University. This does not guarantee admission to the social work major. Students who have completed or are currently enrolled in SWRK 2100: Social Work Services and Professional Roles, and completed a minimum of 30 credit hours with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 may apply to the Undergraduate Social Work Major. General information necessary for admission includes: 

  • Completion of the Social Work Undergraduate Application
  • Submission of all academic transcripts
  • Supplemental (personal) Statement

All applications are submitted to Office Admissions and Student Services of the School of Social Work. Deadlines for submitting applications are, April 1 and October 1 of each year. Selection of students to be admitted to the major occurs after review of all applications by the Admissions Committee composed of social work faculty. Admissions for students currently enrolled in SWRK 2100 will be conditional based on their successful completion of that course. This is a competitive admissions process with a specific number of students admitted each year. Specific criteria for selection of candidates are based upon:

  • Competitive overall grade point average
  • Work and life experiences in the field of social work
  • Participation in community services, leadership activities, and volunteer experience
  • Written communication skills, personal qualifications, and basic knowledge of the profession as evidenced in the supplemental statement

Field Education

The field practicum provides students with opportunities to learn and apply generalist knowledge and beginning level skills in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students in the social work major complete two consecutive semesters of field education (SWRK 4100/4110) in a human service agency. Field education and the courses taken concurrently, SWRK 4010, 4020, and 4600 are open only to students formally admitted to the B.S.W. program.

Placement is made through the School of Social Work, following the application and interview process established and conducted by the Director of Field Education. The timing of each student’s field education internship is determined upon admission to the major during the program planning process. Students complete a field placement application at least one semester prior to the scheduled start of field education. The application is due according to the time frame established for each field cohort by the Director of Field Education. Failure to complete the application process according to the established deadline may result in delaying the start of field education.

Field education consists of required components in field work and classroom study: on-campus field seminars and associated assignments, and 400 hours of work at the agency where the student is placed. Each student works with a field instructor at the agency and a faculty liaison at the University. During the field hours at the agency, students work with a professional, their field instructor, to develop social work skills and gain hands-on experiences. The Council on Social Work Education guidelines require a minimum of 200 hours per semester at the agency. Field education is graded on the standard University grading system.

Social Work Curriculum Requirements

General Education Requirements (37 hours)

Required Research Component (6 hours)

  • Any undergraduate STAT course Credits:  3 hours

Required Support Cognate Courses (24 hours)


Electives (20 to 26 hours)

Students are encouraged to elect additional courses in any area of their specific interest. Particularly recommended in preparation for social work practice are: anthropology, communications, economics, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, Spanish, or gender and women’s studies. The following social work courses are also available as electives for undergraduate students.

Grade Requirements

Any student who fails to meet the following criteria will be notified in writing by the School of Social Work undergraduate advisor that he/she is in jeopardy of being terminated from the social work major:

  1. A student must receive a “C” or higher in each required social work course to remain in the major. A student may repeat one required social work course to raise his/her grade. 
  2. The student must maintain an overall average of 2.0 in the required support courses. Transfer students should be aware that courses transferring into the minor are accepted with no grade (so an “A” at a two-year college can’t be used to balance a lower grade in a course at WMU).

The school may refuse to permit a student to continue in the curriculum if at any time it is deemed that the student is exhibiting a pattern of professionally incompetent or inappropriate behavior as determined by the standards of the National Association of Social Work Code of Ethics. Further details on this policy and procedure may be obtained from the School of Social Work’s Manager of Recruitment and Outreach.

Accelerated Program in Social Work

Once a BSW student has obtained 60 credits with a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0 (either at WMU in the social work major or have obtained 60 credits from an institution that has a shared articulation agreement with the School of Social Work), students may apply to the accelerated MSW program. This program allows students to take 12 credits of graduate-level foundation social work classes (SWRK 6100, SWRK 6310, SWRK 6330, and SWRK 6400) in place of the traditional undergraduate social work courses. These 12 credits will count both as credits towards their undergraduate degree and as graduate credits.

General information necessary for admission includes:

  • Completion of the Accelerated Master of Social Work program application
  • Submission of all academic transcripts
  • Supplemental (personal) statement
  • Resume
  • Three professional references. One academic reference recommended
  • WMU Graduate College Application

All applications are submitted to Office Admissions and Student Services of the School of Social Work. The deadline for submitting applications to the Accelerated Program is April 1 of each year. Selection of students to be admitted to the Accelerated Program occurs after review by the Admissions Committee composed of social work faculty.

If a student is accepted into this program and maintains all standards, an offer of admissions to the graduate program at WMU School of Social Work will be automatic. If a student achieves a 3.25 GPA and receives no more than one grade below a “B” in a social work required course, then they will be offered admissions to the Advanced Standing MSW program (see graduate catalog). If the student maintains a 3.0 but does not meet the 3.25 requirements, they will continue into the Accelerated MSW program, which will require 48 graduate credit hours (12 fewer credits than a standard MSW). This allows students to secure a path to graduate school early in their undergraduate education and provides an opportunity to complete both degrees in a shortened period of time and at a lower cost.

SCHEDULE AND CAMPUS LOCATION: While undergraduate students both from the Southwest Campus and the Kalamazoo campus are eligible to apply, campus locations of the courses will vary based on the size of the cohort in any given year.

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