Social Work

Program Description

Social work is a profession dedicated to social and economic justice. Social workers focus primarily on the needs and empowerment of vulnerable, oppressed, at-risk populations, and those living in poverty.

The CMU BSW Program Mission is: “To educate students as generalist social work practitioners who embrace the mission and core values of the social work profession, including issues of diversity, service, the dignity and worth of all people, and social and economic justice.”

Program Goals

The Social Work program will:

  • Educate students as generalist social work practitioners with knowledge and understanding of the ecological perspective, the strengths perspective, the empowerment approach, and solid problem solving and case management skills.
  • Assist students in viewing complex human and social issues from a multi-dimensional, multi-level approach involving micro-, mezzo-, and macro-level interventions.
  • Provide opportunities for the application of the social work mission and core values of service, the dignity and worth of all people, the importance of human relationships, integrity, competency, and social and economic justice.
  • Maintain high professional standards and knowledge of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics.
  • Help students strengthen the relationship between theory and practice by engaging them in various service learning projects, leadership development, strong field education placements, and involvement in the social work club.

Professional social workers are found in every facet of community life—in schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior centers, elected office, private practices, prisons, military, corporations, and in numerous public and private agencies that serve individuals and families in need.

Special Requirements

Admission to the University does not guarantee admission to the BSW program; a separate admission application to the BSW program is required, as discussed below.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply to get accepted into the Social Work Program. The application packet is completed during the spring semester of a student’s sophomore year. The application packet and admissions criteria includes:

  • Completion of at least 60 credits of coursework before admission into the program (junior status).
  • Maintenance of a minimum overall GPA of 2.0 and a minimum GPA of 2.5 in social work classes.
  • Personal statement and essay that includes why you would like to choose social work as a major, extracurricular and volunteer activities, work experience, career goals and interests, and a commitment to the social work mission, core values, and the NASW Code of Ethics.1
  • Quality of written material (on application, personal statement, and essay).
  • Faculty evaluations, as indicated by class attendance, participation, communication skills, and ability to work together with other classmates.
  • Student will be notified in writing if they have been accepted into the social work program.
  • If accepted into the program, students will be a part of a cohort program that will complete course work together in a sequential format, for their junior and senior years.
  • Faculty interview.

The 15 credit-hour minor in Social Work can be combined with a major in any field. No application process is required for the minor. This minor will help equip students who desire to work in a human services field upon graduation. A minor in Social Work is also beneficial for any student hoping to gain admissions into a master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) program.

Contact Information

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Lowell Heiny Hall 413
970.248.1696

SOWK 150 Introduction to Social Work3 Credits

Introduction to the profession of social work and its historical development; overview of the knowledge, values, skills, practice settings and groups served by social workers.

SOWK 210 Social Work for Diverse Populations3 Credits

Knowledge and skills necessary for social work practice with diverse populations. Explores issues of stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and oppression. Examines cultural diversity in U.S. society and how to increase self-awareness related to worldviews and beliefs about diversity issues. Emphasis on empowerment of individuals and groups and on multicultural competence.

SOWK 296 Topics:1-3 Credits

Course may be taken multiple times up to maximum of 15 credit hours.

SOWK 301 Child Welfare3 Credits

Signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect of children. Family dynamics in abuse and neglect, and programs of prevention and intervention. Explores foster care, adoptions, delinquency problems, poverty and homelessness, and related issues in child welfare. Examines the crime of human trafficking.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150.

SOWK 308 Medical Social Work3 Credits

Explores interface of social work and patients' rights, medical decision-making, case management, process of diagnosis and treatment, palliative and end-of-life care, and the concept of health care consumer. Focus on the current health care system in the United State, the interface of health care and populations-at-risk, and role of the social worker in medical settings.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150.

SOWK 311 Ethical Issues in Social Work3 Credits

Analysis of specific ethical dilemmas from personal, professional and policy perspectives. Focus on ethical issues common to the social work profession and on the NASW Code of Ethics. Utilize code of ethics as guide to decision making. Explore relationship between professional ethical issues and the development of social policy.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150 and SOWK 210.

SOWK 320 Social Work Practices in Mental Health3 Credits

Practice models and methods of intervention for effective social work practice in mental health care. Includes the promotion of mental health, the prevention of mental illnesses, and delivery of psychosocial treatment and rehabilitation services.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 311, and SOWK 365.

SOWK 344 School Social Work3 Credits

Overview of social work practice in an educational setting. Cooperative work with school personnel in the identification, prevention and treatment of social, emotional and behavioral problems of children and intervention techniques with parents.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150.

SOWK 350 Legal Aspects of Social Work3 Credits

Exploration of the roles of the social worker in the legal field. Legal terms, procedures, state and federal court systems studied. The legal aspects of protective services for children and adults, the child support laws and the juvenile justice system examined.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150.

SOWK 365 Social Work Intervention Methods I3 Credits

Knowledge, values, and skills for multilevel (micro, mezzo, macro) general practices. Focuses on engaging clients in the helping process, interviewing skills, assessment tools, social histories, goal writing, termination and evaluation. Addresses professional ethics and values and applying systems and ecological frameworks to practice situations. Examines strengths-based assessments, the phases of the helping relationship, and the dynamics of change in interpersonal helping relationships, within a framework of social justice and diversity.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, and SOWK 320. This course is only open to social majors who have been formally accepted into the BSW program.

SOWK 375 Social Work Intervention Methods II3 Credits

Examines generalist social work roles and techniques in group work practice. Building on interviewing and engagement skills presented in Intervention Methods I. Focuses on assessment, planning, and intervention with treatment and task groups. Emphasizes basic theory about groups and group process, demonstrates skills necessary for effective practice, explores leadership, group cohesion, and group dynamics. Uses of task and treatment groups in a broad range of settings with diverse client groups.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 320, and SOWK 365. This course is only open to social work majors who have been formally accepted into the BSW program.

SOWK 377 Spirituality and Social Work3 Credits

Overview of the knowledge, values, and skills to provide spiritually sensitive social work practice. Prepare generalist social work practitioners to work with clients and their families from a holistic framework (bio, psycho, social, cultural, spiritual) and with diversity and respect. Use of interview techniques, spirituality assessments, and strengths-based approaches.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150.

SOWK 381 Gerontology and Social Work3 Credits

Overview of health aspects of aging in the United States. Explores theories of aging, social and health issues, family and caregiving dynamics, and end of life concerns. Prepares generalist social work practitioners to work with older clients and their families and with service delivery systems addressing the needs of this population.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150.

SOWK 385 SW Intervention Methods III3 Credits

Emphasizes study of skills from a problem-solving strengths and empowerment perspective with organizations and community systems. Viewed as an integral component of a model for bringing about social change, especially at the mezzo and macro levels. Attention paid to developing processes of building constituencies, mobilizing resources, networking, political participation, leadership development, and grassroots development. Introductory overview of strategies, tactics, and techniques of social change. Explores basic skills necessary to write effective grant proposals.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 311, SOWK 320, SOWK 365, SOWK 375, and SOWK 387. This course is only open to social work majors who have been formally accepted into the BSW program.

SOWK 387 Social Work Research Methods3 Credits

Provides an overview of the principles and methods of basic social work research. Explores qualitative and quantitative research methods and how to critically consume research studies and use research findings to strengthen social work practice. Explore how quality research can assist in making important decisions about the design and implementation of projects, programs, and policies that address the social needs of diverse groups. Create research instruments for numerous purposes (e.g. intake, assessment, client satisfaction, facilitating group services, etc.)

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 311, and SOWK 365. This course is only open to social work majors who have been formally accepted into the BSW program.

SOWK 394 Social Work Practicum Seminar I1 Credit

Discussion of practicum-related issues, professional development, and exploration of learning objectives in field practicum experiences. Requires regular reporting of field activities.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 320, SOWK 365, SOWK 375, SOWK 385, and SOWK 387. This course is only open to social work majors who have been formally accepted into the BSW program.

Corequisites: SOWK 397.

SOWK 396 Topics:1-3 Credits

Course may be taken multiple times up to maximum of 15 credit hours.

SOWK 397 Social Work Practicum I5 Credits

Involves 225 clock hours per semester. Opportunities to apply theories, techniques, and concepts through observation and participation in supervised activities. Assists in the understanding and achievement of learning objectives in field practicum experiences.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 320, SOWK 365, SOWK 375, SOWK 385, and SOWK 387. This course is open only to social work majors who have been formally accepted into the BSW program.

Corequisites: SOWK 394.

SOWK 460 Social Welfare Policy3 Credits

Nature and development of American social policy. Includes history of current structures of social welfare services, the role of policy in service delivery and analysis of current social policy issues including gender policy, homelessness, health care policy, domestic poverty, and child welfare policy. Provides an overview of social policy and legislation and the processes of influencing public policy. It links policy with social work practice.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 311, SOWK 320, SOWK 365, SOWK 375, SOWK 385, and SOWK 387.

SOWK 491 Directed Readings1-5 Credits

Student and/or faculty initiated special projects/independent study that explores some aspect of social work theory or practice such as: intervention methods, policy, research, populations-at-risk, values and ethics, aging, spirituality, child welfare, addictions, mental health, social and economic justice, and diversity

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 320, SOWK 365, SOWK 375, SOWK 387, senior standing, instructor permission, and a plan for study.

SOWK 494 Social Work Practicum Seminar II1 Credit

Discussion of practicum-related issues, professional development, and exploration of learning objectives in field practicum experiences. Requires regular reporting of field activities.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 320, SOWK 365, SOWK 375, SOWK 385, SOWK 387, SOWK 397, SOWK 394, and SOWK 460.

Corequisites: SOWK 497.

SOWK 495 Independent Study1-3 Credits

Course may be taken multiple times up to maximum of 6 credit hours.

SOWK 497 Social Work Practicum II5 Credits

Involves 225 clock hours per semester. Provides students with opportunities to apply theories, techniques, and concepts through observation and participation in supervised activities. Assists students in the understanding and achievement of learning objectives in their field practicum experiences.

Prerequisites: SOWK 150, SOWK 210, SOWK 320, SOWK 365, SOWK 375, SOWK 385, SOWK 387, SOWK 397, SOWK 394. This course is only open to social work majors who have been formally accepted into the BSW program.

Corequisites: SOWK 494.

SOWK 510 History and Philosophy of Social Work3 Credits

Introduction to the social work profession and its historical development. Explores practice setting and vulnerable populations served by social workers. Provides an overview of the knowledge, values, skills, and practice behaviors required for social workers.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 511 Human Behavior and Social Environment3 Credits

Social work perspective on human development across the life cycle. Focuses on the biological, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual aspects of human functioning across a lifetime.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 512 Social Justice in Social Work Practice3 Credits

Focus on power and privilege dynamics to increase students’ awareness, knowledge, and critical skills related to diversity, human rights, social and economic justice, and anti-racist practices.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 513 Social Work Theory and Practice with Individuals and Families3 Credits

Knowledge, values, and skill development across micro (individual) and mezzo (group) areas of practice. Focuses on developing clinical skills to engage clients and families in the planned change process including engagement, assessment, intervention, termination and evaluation of services.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 514 Social Work Theory and Practice with Groups, Organizations, and Communities3 Credits

Knowledge, values, and skill development in group work, organizations, and in communities. Focuses on developing skills to identify and engage constituencies, mobilize resources, network, engage in political participation, and develop grassroots organization.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 515 Social Work Policy and Practice3 Credits

Examination of social welfare policy from historical, political, economic, social, and cultural perspectives. Skill development for political advocacy and the process of policy formulation/development, implementation, and evaluation/analysis at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 516 Psychopathology for Social Work Practice3 Credits

Introduction to psychological dysfunction associated with distress or impaired functioning that is not typical, or expected, based on cultural and societal norms. Content is organized in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 521 Advanced Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Social Work Practice3 Credits

Discussion of values, professional ethics, guidelines for making ethical decisions, ethical dilemmas in professional practice, professional relationships, and laws that impact social work.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 522 Clinical Supervision and Leadership in Social Work Practice3 Credits

Exploration of various leadership traits, theories, conflict management, laws, and the role of diversity in supervision and leadership. Examines various contexts of practice and the influence of politics, economics, technology, and sociocultural factors on leadership and supervision.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 523 Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families3 Credits

Theory and practice of clinical social work, emphasizing social justice frameworks and life course perspectives. Emphasizes specialized, strengths-based approaches to all phases of social work practice.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 524 Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups, Organizations, and Communities3 Credits

Advanced theories, approaches, and skills in social work practice to address complex social issues with disenfranchised groups. This course will engage in effective change in the macro-level social systems environment (e.g., groups, organizations, institutions, communities, and society at large).

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 525 Social Work Research and Program Evaluation3 Credits

Evaluation of social work research across micro and macro-level perspectives. Students will identify issues related to the design, monitoring, and assessment of social work programs and interventions, using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 526 Advanced Psychopathology for Social Work Practice3 Credits

Advanced, comprehensive overview of psychopathology from a historical and current scientific perspective. Focus on conceptualization of issues, systems of classification and diagnosis, research design methods, clinical symptomatology, differential diagnosis, testing, and etiology of psychopathology across a lifetime.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 551 Trauma Informed Practice3 Credits

Exploration of the nature and meaning of trauma, assessing and identifying trauma, and effective practices for treating trauma. Focus on clinical assessments for trauma, understanding diagnosis and trauma, and relational processes as they apply to assessment, case conceptualization, treatment, and theological understandings of trauma therapy and interventions.

Terms Typically Offered: Summer.

SOWK 552 Restorative Justice and Social Work3 Credits

Examination of conceptual framework, strategies, and benefits of restorative approaches to social worker roles and responsibilities. Develop historical and theoretical understanding of restorative approaches, build restorative-based skills, and apply restorative approaches to a variety of client population systems, settings, and needs.

Terms Typically Offered: Summer.

SOWK 553 Substance Abuse: Assessment, Interventions, and Treatment3 Credits

Development of knowledge, assessment, and intervention skills utilized to work with individuals experiencing problems with the use of psychoactive substances.

Terms Typically Offered: Summer.

SOWK 554 Crisis Intervention and Social Work3 Credits

Advanced clinical practice to increase knowledge and skills for working in crisis situations. Apply crisis interventions and theories to various issues such as suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, substance abuse, grief and loss, mental health, and violent behaviors. A bio-psycho-social and cultural emphasis will be applied to the various problem covered.

Terms Typically Offered: Summer.

SOWK 555 Global Relations and International Social Work3 Credits

Exploration and critique of how political, economic, cultural, religious, and environmental factors impact social welfare policies, social work practice, and social development globally.

Terms Typically Offered: Summer.

SOWK 594A Field Education: Foundation Seminar I1 Credit

Integration of foundational social work knowledge, values, and skills into competent practice.

Corequisites: SOWK 597A.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 594B Field Education: Foundation Seminar II1 Credit

Integration of foundational social work knowledge, values, and skills into competent practice. Continuation of SOWK 594A.

Corequisites: SOWK 597B.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 594C Field Education: Advanced Seminar I1 Credit

Integration of advanced social work knowledge, values, and skills into competent practice.

Corequisites: SOWK 599A.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 594D Field Education: Advanced Seminar II1 Credit

Integration of advanced social work knowledge, values, and skills into competent practice. Continuation of SOWK 594C.

Corequisites: SOWK 599B.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 597A Field Education: Social Work Practicum I5 Credits

Integrative experience of theory and practice at the foundational level. Provides students with opportunities to apply theories, techniques, and concepts through observation and supervised participation in practice. Field education is the signature pedagogy of social work.

Corequisites: SOWK 594A.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 597B Field Education: Social Work Practicum II5 Credits

Integrative experience of theory and practice at the foundational level. Provides students with opportunities to apply theories, techniques, and concepts through observation and supervised participation in practice. Field education is the signature pedagogy of social work. Continuation of SOWK 597A.

Corequisites: SOWK 594B.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.

SOWK 599A Field Education: Social Work Internship I6 Credits

Integrative experience of theory and practice at the advanced level. Provides students with opportunities to apply theories, techniques, and concepts through observation, co-facilitation, and independent practice. Field education is the signature pedagogy of social work.

Corequisites: SOWK 594C.

Terms Typically Offered: Fall.

SOWK 599B Field Education: Social Work Internship II6 Credits

Integrative experience of theory and practice at the advanced level. Provides students with opportunities to apply theories, techniques, and concepts through observation, co-facilitation, and independent practice. Field education is the signature pedagogy of social work. Continuation of SOWK 599A.

Corequisites: SOWK 594D.

Terms Typically Offered: Spring.