Spring Arbor University

Social Work

About the Social Work Program

social work program at SAU

Social workers help people who are made vulnerable by social/economic injustice and discrimination. The social work program at Spring Arbor University teaches students to implement planned-care processes in order to help others improve relationships and resolve problems. We train students to focus on the ways that people interact with their environments and equip them with the techniques that they’ll need to intervene appropriately and effectively.

A bachelor of social work (BSW) prepares students to work with a broad client population and in a variety of settings. Our BSW accredited program makes students eligible for admission into advanced master of social work (MSW) programs, which prepare students for specialized practice, including individual, family and group psychotherapy.

In addition the the traditional undergraduate BSW, Spring Arbor University offers a BSW for nontraditional students, an online BSW and an MSW program.


We are dedicated to preparing competent generalist social workers, dedicated to Christ, sensitive to and appreciative of diversity, committed to social and economic justice, and ready to empower people, families, groups, organizations and communities.

Why should you choose SAU’s social work program?

  • It’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  • SAU’s 100% online BSW is accessible to students worldwide.
  • Our faculty’s field experience allows them to better prepare students for their own post-graduate professional experiences.
  • Our faculty is dedicated to mentoring, nurturing and supporting students as they develop academically and professionally.
  • Our curriculum balances theory and skill development.
  • Our small class sizes provide ample opportunity for student participation.
  • Students are required to complete fieldwork through a junior-level exploratory and senior-level internship.
  • We encourage our majors to integrate the Christian faith with the knowledge and skills that they acquire in college.

Online Program Requirements

Recommended BSWO Admission Criteria for the online BSW:

  1. A completed application
  2. An ACT composite score of 20 or an SAT of 940 (Critical Reading and Math) and a high school GPA of 2.60 or higher are recommended as minimum criteria. Those below the minimum recommended see catalog for probationary admittance.
  3. If ACT/SAT and high school completion is more than 3 years old satisfactory completion of the writing sample which demonstrates the competency required to function in the program will be accepted.


An ACT composite score of 20 or an SAT of 940 (Critical Reading and Math) and a high school

GPA of 2.60 are recommended as minimum criteria. Applicants whose scores and GPA are below these recommendations may be admitted probationally. Freshmen admitted probationally are guided carefully in course selection and are given individual academic assistance from Academic Student Connections during the freshman year. Certain courses will be required based on individual test scores. Freshman applicants submitting scores from the General Educational Development (GED) test must have an average standard score of 500 for regular admission.


A GPA of at least 2.50 is recommended. Applicants whose GPA is less than 2.50 may be admitted on probation.


Courses and Descriptions

Courses for the 43-hour social work major cover topics such as human behavior in the social environment, racial and cultural minorities, statistics for the behavioral sciences and social welfare policies.

View course requirements and descriptions for the social work program at SAU in the undergraduate catalog.

Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

A bachelor of social work prepares students to work in the following settings:

  • Nursing homes
  • Hospices
  • Hospitals
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Mental health/Mental retardation/developmental disabilities services
  • Churches and church related agencies
  • Community action agencies
  • Family service agencies
  • Child welfare
  • Aging services
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Domestic violence programs
  • Homeless shelters
  • Criminal justice agencies
  • Schools (elementary and secondary)

On-Campus Opportunities

On-Campus Opportunities

Spring Arbor University offers a wide range of activities that give social work students opportunities to apply what they’re learning in the classroom and meet other students with similar passions.

  • Interfaith Shelter Ministries — The Interfaith Shelter is a homeless shelter located in downtown Jackson. SAU students spend one day each week serving food and visiting with the people of the shelter. They also lead small group fellowships and organize an annual food and clothing drive. For more information about volunteering at the Interfaith Shelter, call 517.789.8735.
  • Spring Break Mission trips — During Spring Break, a handful of mission teams gear up and hit the road to minister to and serve people around the country and abroad. For information, contact Cecilia Said at cecilia.said@arbor.edu.
  • Social Work Association —  Social work majors meet to support each other as they grow in knowledge and experience from students to professionals.
  • Action Jackson — Student-led volunteer group where at-risk children and adolescents from the Jackson community are paired with college student mentors and engage in weekly enrichment activities.

Meet the Faculty

Meet the Faculty

  • Bonnie Holiday, SWK Dept. Chair & MSW Director
  • Randy Baxter
  • Emily Dixon
  • Dorothea Epple
  • Vanessa Fitzpatrick
  • Kurt Hoffman
  • Ama Larsen
  • Cindy Livingston, Director of Field Instruction
  • Cynthia Reynolds