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Department of Social Work

Do you want a career helping people? Are you interested in a course of study that helps you integrate your Christian faith and values with research grounded practice methods? If so, I hope you will spend some time exploring what our department of social work has to offer.

Our bachelor of social work has three delivery models so you can pick the one that best fits your needs:

  • Main campus program: This program is designed for the traditional student who would like a residential campus experience or for a commuting student whose schedule accommodates day time classes. Visit the traditional undergraduate social work page for more information.
  • Professional studies program: This model is designed for busy students who need to attend classes at night. The program meets one night per week throughout the year and is offered at eight sites throughout the state of Michigan. Visit the professional studies social work page to learn more about our site-based program.
  • Online program: This model is delivered completely online with no residency requirement. It’s designed for busy students who are prevented from attending class due to time constraints, distance or both. Visit the BSW online page to learn more.

We also offer a master of social work program. Our MSW is a 60-credit hour program that can be completed in two years. A one year 30-credit hour MSW is available for students who qualify for the Advanced Standing Program.

Each delivery model has its own distinct features, but there are certain qualities that they share. The social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and they have examined both delivery models. Both campus and off-campus classes are small and students go through their social work courses with the same group of students, forming supportive and caring relationships. We believe this facilitates learning as students and faculty create a safe environment in which students can experiment as they learn new knowledge and skills. Both the campus and off-campus classes also have social work faculty who care about students as individuals, have professional experience in the areas they teach and are passionate about social work.

Curriculum themes

Our curriculum is integrated around four defining themes of generalist social work practice: values and ethics; ecological systems approach; problem solving process; and empowerment. The first foundation theme is the values and ethics of the social work profession as defined by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics and the CSWE Curriculum Policy Statement. This theme provides the guidelines for how you will practice generalist social work. The purposes, values and ethics of social work are infused throughout our curriculum, so by the time you graduate you will have a very clear understanding of the purposes of the profession and how to make ethical decisions in your practice.

The second theme is the problem solving process. This theme defines the skills that are used to accomplish the purposes inherent in the values of social work and provides a format for intervening with clients as individuals, families, groups or communities. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has identified the purpose of social work education as being “to prepare competent, effective social work professionals who are committed to practice that includes services to the poor and oppressed, and who work to alleviate poverty, oppression, and discrimination.”

The third foundation theme is the ecological systems perspective. This theoretical framework provides a tool for social workers to understand the complex interaction between individual behavior and their social context. An important distinguishing characteristic of social work practice is that we don’t look for the source of human problems just in the individual or in social institutions. We recognize that we may have to bring about change in both to solve the problems of our clients.

The fourth foundation theme is empowerment. Empowerment provides the method of accomplishing the purposes of generalist practice. Social workers are especially concerned about populations who are at risk of poverty due to discrimination because of racial and cultural background, gender, age and other forms of diversity. We are also concerned about social policies that do not provide equal opportunity to accomplish life tasks and obtain needed resources. You will learn practice skills that empower individuals and groups of individuals to make changes that improve their lives. You will also gain the knowledge and skills that will empower you to impact unjust or ineffective policies at the agency, state and national level.

Employment opportunities

The Social Work Program is accredited by the CSWE, which ensures students, employers and graduate social work programs that our graduates have received an education that meets CSWE’s rigorous standards. Upon completion of graduation requirements, students will receive a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree.

Some of the employment possibilities for individuals with a BSW or an MSW are:

  • Family and children’s services, including protective services and intense services to families at risk
  • Substance abuse prevention and treatment
  • Case management with mentally ill or developmentally disabled individuals in community mental health centers
  • Casework in juvenile justice settings
  • Probation case work within a legal setting
  • Community work to develop and provide programs to help elderly adults remain independent
  • Leading groups to empower victims of abuse
  • Working with children and adolescents in residential treatment programs
  • Administering shelters for run-away youths, abused women or homeless adults
  • Social work in health care settings such as hospitals (usually requires an MSW) and nursing homes
  • School social work (if teaching in Michigan, usually requires an MSW earned in Michigan)
  • Providing therapy for individuals and families in a family service agency (requires an MSW)

Prospective students can obtain more information about social work as a profession by accessing the web site for the National Association of Social Workers or the National Association of Christians in Social Work

Graduate school

Our alumni have been accepted to the following MSW Programs:

  • Wayne State University
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • University of Michigan
  • Michigan State University
  • Washington University/St. Louis
  • University of Illinois/Chicago
  • Indiana University/Purdue Indianapolis
  • Loyola University/Chicago

Obtaining a social work degree from an accredited program makes alumni eligible for advanced standing MSW programs. Different universities have different policies, but all acknowledge that these students have already obtained social work content by waiving certain courses. Basically, the undergraduate course content is comparable to the first year MSW content. People who want to obtain an MSW degree but with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines, like psychology, sociology, nursing, family life education, criminal justice, or education, can enroll in a two-year program. We have over a 95 percent acceptance rate for alumni who apply to MSW programs. These alumni report that they felt well prepared for graduate study.

Online resources

Interested in learning more about the social work field? Check out these websites dedicated to helping those interested in the field.

Council on Social Work Education to verify accreditation