Social Work, B.S.W.

Program Code: SOCWK_BSW

Program Description

The Bachelor of Social Work major provides broad-based educational experiences for undergraduate students interested in working in the private and public sector to provide social services for diverse people and communities. Students will learn to critically engage in social problems by understanding the cultural, economic, environmental, and historical conditions individuals and groups face, and they will be prepared to promote individual, family, and community well-being. Students will be engaged in the scholarly study of social issues, and they will have clinical experiences in community-based organizations, foundations, and government offices.

What is Social Work?

The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s dual focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice.

(National Association of Social Workers, 2022)

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You have a desire to promote social justice and social change in society
  • You enjoy engaging with diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
  • You are enthusiastic about helping others cope effectively during challenging times
  • You are passionate about alleviating poverty and improving living conditions
  • You are interested in helping people manage acute medical conditions, chronic stress, and illnesses
  • You are fascinated about providing mental health and substance use treatment services

Entrance to Major

Entry to the Social Work major requires:

  • the completion of the following four entry-to-major courses with a C or higher grade: SOCW 195, SOCW 205, SOCW 215, SOCW 290
  • a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher
  • a minimum of 29.1 credits

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Social Work degree in Social Work, a minimum of 122 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 7
Requirements for the Major 92

22 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits of GWS courses; 4 credits of GQ courses; 3 credits of GHW courses; 6 credits of GS courses.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
BBH 143Drugs, Behavior, and Health Keystone/General Education Course3
HDFS 301Values and Ethics in Health and Human Development Professions3
PSU 8First-Year Seminar University College1
PSYCH 100Introductory Psychology Keystone/General Education Course3
PSYCH 270Introduction to Abnormal Psychology3
SOC/HDFS/CMAS 258NIntroduction to Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies Keystone/General Education Course3
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
CAS 100Effective Speech Keystone/General Education Course3
ENGL 15Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course3
ENGL 202AEffective Writing: Writing in the Social Sciences Keystone/General Education Course3
PUBPL 304WPublic Policy Analysis3
SOCW 195Introduction to Social Work with Field Hours3
SOCW 205Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Keystone/General Education Course3
SOCW 215Introduction to Social Welfare History, Policy, Programs, and Services Keystone/General Education Course3
SOCW 290Human Behavior and the Social Environment Keystone/General Education Course3
SOCW 300Social Work Methods - Individuals3
SOCW 301Social Work Methods - Groups3
SOCW 302Social Work Methods - Families3
SOCW 303Methods - Communities & Organizations3
SOCW 315Assessment, Documentation, and Effective Interviewing Skills in Social Work3
SOCW 407Research Methods in Social Work3
SOCW 495ASocial Work - Internship3
SOCW 495BSocial Work - Internship9
STAT 200Elementary Statistics Keystone/General Education Course4
Additional Courses
ECON 102Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course3
or ECON 104 Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
RHS 433Trauma-informed care for school & human service professionals3
or PSYCH 442 Trauma and Resiliency
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 3 credit Sociology Courses (SOC)3
Select a 3 credit Political Science Course (PLSC)3
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 6 credits of Social Work 400-level courses6

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

Greater Allegheny

Christopher Robinson, LSW
BSW Program Director/Assistant Professor, Social Work
Frable Building, 201F
4000 University Drive
McKeesport, PA 15132
412-675-9093
cmr6836@psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2022-23 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contains suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Social Work, B.S.W. at Greater Allegheny Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PSU 81SOCW 205 (GS) (US/IL)*#3
SOCW 195 (GS)*#3ECON 102 or 104 (GS)3
ENGL 15 (GWS)‡†3CAS 100 (GWS)‡†3
General Education Course (Sociology)3General Education Course (GN)3
General Education Course (GA)3General Education Course (GA)3
Elective3 
 16 15
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
SOCW 215 (GS) (US)*#3SOCW 290 (GS)*#3
PSYCH 100 (GS)3BBH 143 (GHW)3
Political Science Course (US)3ENGL 202A (GWS)*‡†3
General Education Course (GN)3General Education Course (GQ)3
General Education Course (GH)3General Education Course (GN)3
 15 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
SOCW 300*3SOCW 302*3
SOCW 301*3SOCW 303*3
PSYCH 270 (GS)3SOCW 315*3
SOC 258N (GS) (GHW)3HDFS 3013
STAT 200 (GQ)*‡†4General Education Course (GH)3
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
SOCW 495A*3SOCW 495B*9
SOCW 407*3400-Level Social Work Supportive Course3
RHS 433 or PSYCH 4423Elective3
PUBPL 304W*3 
400-Level Social Work Supportive Course3 
 15 15
Total Credits 122
*

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education

#

Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Program Notes:

Social Work, B.S.W. at Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PSU 81General Education Course (GH)3
ENGL 15 (GWS)‡†3ECON 102 or 104 (GS)3
General Education Course (Sociology)3CAS 100 (GWS)‡†3
General Education Course (GA)3PSYCH 100 (GS)3
General Education Course (GN)3General Education Course (GA)3
Elective3 
 16 15
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Course (GH)3General Education Course (GN)3
General Education Course (GN)3BBH 143 (GHW)3
Political Science Course (US)3ENGL 202A (GWS)‡†3
General Education Course (GQ)3SOC/HDFS 258N (GS) (GHW)3
PSYCH 270 (GS)3STAT 200 (GQ)‡†4
 15 16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
SOCW 195 (GS)*#3SOCW 302*3
SOCW 215 (GS) (US)*#3SOCW 303*3
SOCW 205 (GS) (US/IL)*#3SOCW 300*3
SOCW 290*#3HDFS 3013
SOCW 315*3SOCW 301*3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
SOCW 495A*3SOCW 495B*9
SOCW 407*3400-Level Social Work Supportive Course3
PUBPL 304W*3Elective3
RHS 433 or PSYCH 4423 
400-Level Social Work Supportive Course3 
 15 15
Total Credits 122
*

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education

#

Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Program Notes:

Students must have a minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA and complete and earn a C or higher grade in SOCW 195, SOCW 205, SOCW 215 and SOCW 290 for Entrance to Major.

Career Paths

Social workers work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare, human service agencies, hospitals, group homes, community development corporations, and private practices. Advocacy is an important aspect of the social work profession. Social workers advocate or raise awareness with and on behalf of their clients and the profession on local, state, and national levels. Overall employment of social workers in the United States is projected to grow 12 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Nearly 78,300 openings for social workers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years.

(U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021)

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT POTENTIAL CAREER OPTIONS FOR GRADUATES OF THE SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Social work students who earn a BSW degree from accredited Council on Social Work Education programs may be eligible for advanced standing in MSW degree programs. With advanced standing, graduate social work students can earn an MSW degree in less than one year in select programs.

Professional Resources

Accreditation

The Pennsylvania State University is currently seeking accreditation for the Bachelor of Social Work Program by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

CSWE is a nonprofit national association in the United States representing more than 2,500 individual members, as well as graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education. Founded in 1952, this partnership of educational and professional institutions, social welfare agencies, and private citizens is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE COUNCIL ON SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION

Professional Licensure/Certification

Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.

Additional Professional Licensure Information

Contact

Greater Allegheny

Frable Building, 201F
4000 University Drive
McKeesport, PA 15132
412-675-9093
cmr6836@psu.edu

https://greaterallegheny.psu.edu/academics/social-work