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Social Work (BSW)

Facilitate positive change within individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Gain the values, knowledge and skills needed to help others and build a rewarding career in social work.

The first life you'll change will be your own.

Learn to help others improve relationships and resolve problems — and transform your life and career in the process. As a BSW student at SAU, you’ll explore the philosophical underpinnings of social work, including the values of service, social and economic justice, the inherent dignity of human relationships, and integrity and competence in practice. You’ll learn from experienced instructors who genuinely care about your journey, and you’ll have opportunities to put your knowledge into practice during an immersive internship experience.

The Bachelor of Social Work at SAU is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education

Read more about social work student learning outcomes [PDF].

Our Mission

Our mission is to help students build on and integrate their liberal arts foundation with the knowledge and skills of the social work provision in order to apply the social work principles of anti-racist, diverse, equitable and inclusive practice. We are dedicated to producing competent generalist social workers who are prepared to empower individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Teaching and learning in the BSW program is guided by the professional code of ethics, our commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, research-based best practices, and a dedication to social and economic justice, protection, empowerment and human and universal rights.

Program Stats

48 credit-hour program
400 internship hours required
2 year program length

Learning Formats

Our BSW is available to traditional undergraduate and adult students.

Traditional Undergraduate Online

I was a single mom, working as a custodian full-time, when I decided to go back to school. In the four years I attended SAU, I got married, changed jobs and had a baby. SAU was a perfect fit for me, because I was able to work and spend time with my family while also attending class once a week. I am now a social worker! Spring Arbor University was a godsend to me.

-Lauren, BSW Class of 2019, MSW Class of 2020

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Take the next step.

Request more information about SAU’s adult and professional BSW.

Request Info

The BSW is offered via Zoom virtual classroom and online. The BSW is also available to traditional, undergraduate students on our Spring Arbor campus. For more information, please call 517-750-6336.

Virtual Classroom Option

This option combines online learning with face-to-face interaction. Study from home, like in an online program, while still engaging with your classmates face-to-face. For more information, please contact your admissions representative or fill out a program inquiry form.

Virtual Classroom Video

Start Dates

Request more information and an admissions representative will contact you as soon as possible.


The BSW at SAU prepares students to become licensed social workers in the state of Michigan. Information about licensure can be found in the BSW Program Guide. 


BSW graduates are qualified to work in a variety of roles in the following key fields:

  • Family and child services
  • Adoption and foster care agencies
  • Domestic violence prevention
  • Substance abuse prevention and treatment
  • Case management with mentally ill or developmentally disabled individuals in mental health agencies
  • Juvenile justice correction
  • Probation casework within a legal setting
  • Residential geriatric facilities
  • Youth/child support
  • Health and wellness agencies
  • Medical social work
  • Refugee programs
  • Community development

As a BSW graduate, you’ll also have the option of continuing your education through graduate school programs. Over 95 percent of program alumni who apply to graduate school programs are accepted. Learn more about the Master of Social Work at SAU and how graduates of SAU’s BSW can earn a specialized MSW.

More information on social work as a profession is available online. Visit the National Association of Social Workers or the National Association of Christians in Social Work to discover other career possibilities.

Key Courses

Through a balance of theory and skill development, our BSW curriculum provides students with the knowledge and experiences they’ll need to begin their career or graduate studies after graduation. As a BSW student, you’ll be required to take all of the following key courses:

  • SWK 281 Introduction to Social Work (3)
  • SWK 305 Human Behavior in the Social Environment (3)
  • SWK 311 Racial & Cultural Minorities (3)
  • SWK 335 Interviewing (3)
  • SWK 340 Practice with Individuals and Families (3)
  • SWK 352 Research Design (3)
  • SWK 442 Social Welfare Policies (3)
  • SWK 446 Practice with Groups (3)
  • SWK 447 Practice with Communities & Organizations (3)
  • SWK 480 Internship Seminar (2) 

In addition to the courses above, all social work students are required to complete a 400-hour, 10-credit-hour internship in an approved agency with an approved site supervisor.

General education requirements vary depending on a student’s chosen BSW delivery format.

Find a complete list of social work courses in the undergraduate catalog.


Bonnie Holiday, Ph.D., LMSW, ACSW — Dean, School of Social Science, Chair, Department of Social Work

Sarah Bartzen, DSW – MSW Director, Associate Professor of Social Work

Sandra Stephenson, LMSW – Internship Director, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Emily Dixon, LMSW – Associate Professor of Social Work

Ama Larson, DSW – Associate Professor of Social Work

Leona Mickles-Burns, Ph.D – Associate Professor of Social Work

Jerry Walden, LMSW – BSW Director, Associate Professor of Social Work

Stacy Mack, LMSW – Assistant Professor of Social Work

Lisa Marquette, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Nicholas Pollak, LMSW — Assistant Professor of Social Work

Matthew Winner, LLMSW — Academic Advisor, Global and Online

Admission Requirements

Admission to SAU’s adult and professional BSW program takes place in two phases. First, students must gain admission to SAU by completing the following steps:

  1. Apply online.
  2. Submit a writing sample.
  3. Submit all official transcripts from previous institutions to SAU.

    Send transcripts to or via USPS to the following address:

    Spring Arbor University
    Attn: SAU Docs
    106 E. Main St.
    Spring Arbor, MI 49283

Once admitted to SAU, students can apply for admission to the BSW program. Students can submit a formal application to the program after successfully completing the first course (SWK 281). They will be notified of acceptance after successfully completing the second course (ENG 304).

In order to be accepted into the BSW program, students must have previously earned 58 transferable credit hours. The following courses are prerequisites for BSW students:

  • A science course with content on the human body
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • A political science course covering local, state and federal government
  • Introduction to Economics
  • A course on racial and ethnic minorities

These credit hours can be earned through taking classes at SAU, testing (e.g., CLEP, DSST) and transferring credits for approved courses taken at other accredited institutions.

Students applying for admission to the BSW program must take the following steps during SWK 281:

  • Submit references from three individuals
  • Sign a statement to show that you have read the National Association of Social Work (NASW) Code of Ethics and agree to abide by it while engaging in social work activities
  • Submit a written personal statement (completed as an assignment in Module 1)
  • Complete a personal interview with a social work faculty member

If you have questions about the admissions process or want to meet with a program representative, call 517-750-6336.

Tuition & Financial Aid

View current tuition rates and fees for the BSW on our Adult & Professional Tuition & Aid page. Learn more about obtaining financial aid on our Undergraduate Financial Aid page.