Dean: Kristie Wilder
Faculty: Evie Nogales Baker (Field Director), Stephanie Guster (Field Director), Annette Heck (BSW Program Director), Lorri Merchant (MSW Director), Nina Nelson, Corneliu Rusu, D. Laura Racovita-Szilagyi, Kristie Wilder
Adjunct Faculty: Bennett Judkins
Program Coordinator: Annette Heck
The philosophy of the School of Social Work and faculty rests on the cornerstones of social justice and service. Social justice encompasses protecting human rights, caring for God’s creation, peacemaking, advocating for the poor and vulnerable, and empowering individuals, families, and communities. Active service to others on campus and to the larger community demonstrates the Biblical message of peace and social justice.
The School of Social Work is committed to academic excellence in both majors. A grade of a C or better is required in all core social work (SOCW) classes. Social work majors must maintain an overall GPA of 2.50 or higher to be admitted into the program and to remain in the program.
Programs in the School of Social Work
The School of Social Work offers Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in Social Work. Both programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Minors are also available in Behavioral Science and Sociology.
The study of social work is one of the most exciting and important fields of inquiry and practice within the human sciences. A historic and defining feature of the social work profession is its focus on individual well-being within a social context coupled with a keen interest in the well-being of society as a whole. Particular attention is given to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Fundamental to social work is its emphasis on environmental forces that create, contribute to, as well as ameliorate problems of human existence.
Social Work Program Mission Statement
The mission of the social work program is to prepare students within a Christian learning environment for service and excellence in generalist, evidence-based practice.
Bachelor of Social Work
The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) prepares students for entry-level social work generalist baccalaureate practice. The BSW is the foundation degree for social work careers in mental health, child welfare, health care, public welfare, schools, family service, developmental disabilities, service to the aged, industry, business and labor, and criminal justice. The degree is designed to also prepare students for informed community participation in social welfare issues. The BSW is the preferred preparation for the terminal graduate practice degree, the Masters of Social Work, (MSW). Job opportunities in the social work field are projected to grow at an above average rate during the near future.
The program makes available a number of experiences, both curricular and extracurricular, to enrich its students’ academic experience. Multiple volunteer opportunities deepen understanding and compassion. A number of field experiences enhance commitment and skill building. National and international study tours are available to engender cross-cultural and global perspectives (see below). The center piece of the applied dimension of the curriculum is the 400 hour FIELD PRACTICUM in which each student participates in “real life” experience while being supervised by a seasoned and credentialed professional social worker.
Extracurricular opportunities include membership in the student-led Social Work Club, National Association of Social Workers and the Phi Alpha Honor Society. Social Work Month is celebrated each March.
Social Work Program Policies
Students who are admitted to the social work program are considered adequately mature to realize the importance of accepting personal responsibility for their learning and professional behavior.
The social work program BSW Student Handbook outlines the policies of the program. Each student accepted into the program is responsible to become acquainted with and to abide by these policies. The BSW Student Handbook can be accessed through the School of Social Work website at www.southern.edu/socialwork.
Transportation for volunteer and practicum experiences is not provided by the program. Students will be expected to provide their own transportation and make arrangements to share this expense with fellow students participating in the same experiences.
The social work program reserves the right to deny admission to and to remove students from the social work program who have an unresolved felony on record in any state and who have records of misconduct, legal and otherwise, that would jeopardize their professional performance.
The social work program reserves the right to revise, add, and withdraw policies and/or courses as necessary to ensure a quality social work program.
The social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Admission to Southern Adventist University does not automatically enroll the student in the social work program. Declaration as a social work major is not equivalent of acceptance to the program. The final decision on acceptance and continuation in the program is made by the program’s BSW leadership team (program director and additional faculty members). During the second semester of the sophomore year the student is to submit a formal application to the social work program. Application forms may be obtained from the School of Social Work website. The deadline for application is in the school calendar and student handbook. Students must adhere to application deadlines.
Minimum requirements for admission to the program are listed below:
- Acceptance to Southern Adventist University.
- Completion of the application form which includes submission of three references and a personal statement that encompasses autobiographical information and perspective on various social issues. The personal statement is primarily intended for the faculty to become familiar with the student in order to improve the quality of advisement. In addition, the statement provides a context of the student’s motivation for a career in the social work profession and his or her understanding of the profession. The personal statement is used to gauge student writing abilities and provide early intervention if a student needs to improve his or her writing skills.
- Submission of a current Program Evaluation (degree audit).
- Having an overall grade point average of 2.50 or higher.
- Having completed (with a grade of C or higher) SOCW 211 - Introduction to Social Work (F-1), SOCW 212 - Social Welfare as an Institution (F-1), and SOCW 213 - Interviewing Skills. Having completed cognate courses BIOL 103 - Principles of Biology (E-1), PSYC 122 - General Psychology (F-1), and SOCI 125 - Introduction to Sociology (F-1). Exceptions may be made for persons who do not meet introductory course and cognate requirements if they are strong candidates on the basis of other criteria.
- Participation in social work sponsored activities (convocations, vespers, community service activities, etc.).
- Having demonstrated ethical behavior as outlined by the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. Further references may be required regarding character, attitude, and coping ability in case of a question in this area.
- Students whose native language is not English must achieve at least 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
- Completion of a successful interview with the BSW leadership team. The purpose of the interview is to clarify documentation and review any issues raised in the autobiography and essay.
The BSW leadership team reviews the application material, conducts the interview, and makes a decision concerning the application. Applicants are notified of the team’s decision by a letter from the program director. An applicant denied admission to the social work program may appeal the denial decision in person and/or in writing to the BSW leadership team. If this process is unsatisfactory to the student, the University appeals process described in this Catalog may be followed.
Students intending to major in social work who are attending other colleges or universities, or who are transferring from another major at Southern Adventist University, will be expected to apply for admission to the Social Work Program.
Those applying to the social work major after their sophomore year will be considered on a case by case basis. This may delay admission consideration until the following semester and may result in graduation taking more than four years.
The social work program seeks to maintain a heterogenous student body by enrolling students who represent diverse backgrounds and cultural perspectives.
The social work field practicum is designed to provide students with a chance to put into practice the theories and skills they have learned in the classroom. The practice of social work is a combination of theory and interpersonal skills with the field practicum a key component of the educational process. The focus of the field practicum is on the interactional process between student worker and client system(s) and use of specific interventions; students have the opportunity to connect the theory and knowledge with actual practice experience. This experience is essential to developing the entry level helping skills required of all undergraduate social work professionals. The nature of the field practicum is practice-oriented, builds on skills and theories learned in cognate social work classes, and involves direct contact and intervention with individuals, families, and groups. Only social work majors may take the field practicum and must have met the required prerequisites. The field practicum experience is eight (8) credit hours which are taken concurrently with the Integrative Field Seminar.
Field Practicum Admission
In the winter semester of the junior year, following the completion of most required prerequisite courses, students begin the application process for the social work field practicum, which is a requirement for graduation with a BSW degree. All students entering the field practicum must have a GPA of 2.50 or higher in all classes designated SOCW in order to be considered academically eligible for the field practicum. Since the primary purpose of social work education is to prepare students for entry-level social work positions, quality field placements are essential. The placements are designed to provide students with a chance to put into practice the theories and skills they have learned in the classroom.
All students applying to the Field Practicum must have completed these courses or have these courses completed by the end of the semester in which they apply.
These courses are:
SOCW 310 - Social Work Practice with individuals and Families
SOCW 311 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment I (W)
SOCW 312 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment II (W)
SOCW 319 - Social Work Practice with Groups, Organizations and Communities
SOCW 391 - Junior Field Practicum
Department Study Tours
The School of Social Work sponsors a study tour to New York City yearly during Thanksgiving vacation and a study tour to Europe every other summer. The objectives of these tours are to facilitate a better understanding of peoples and cultures and to enable the participants to work with people more effectively. Academic credit is given for these tours and each requires classroom time (see SOCI 294 /SOCI 494 , SOCW 294 /SOCW 494 , SOCI 296 /SOCI 496 , SOCW 296 /SOCW 496 ).