Academic Programs

Academic Units: Department of Social Work

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Mission Statement
The social work department prepares generalist social workers committed to strengthening community life for diverse individuals, families and organizations and promoting social justice through advocacy and action. It offers a program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which leads to the B.S.W. degree. In addition, the department offers minors in family studies, gerontology and nonprofit studies, and a certificate in gerontology. The Department of Social Work is committed to the following:
  • Preparing students to work effectively in a broad spectrum of social service agencies by providing an environment geared toward achieving professional growth and excellence.
  • Preparing students for advanced academic study by providing an environment geared toward achieving academic excellence.
  • Being recognized by our students, graduates, field agencies and the professional community for excellence and integrity in academic programs, advancement of professional knowledge and professional service.
  • Being recognized by the professional and local community as responsive and oriented to their needs by providing continuing education opportunities for the professional and local community and service to the university’s service region.
Back to top of page Career Opportunities
  • Aging services
  • Child and adult day care centers
  • Children and youth services
  • Community action agencies
  • Criminal justice agencies
  • Domestic violence programs
  • Family service agencies
  • Homeless shelters
  • Hospitals/home health programs/hospices
  • Income maintenance programs
  • Legal services agencies
  • Mental health services
  • Mental retardation/developmental disabilities services
  • Nursing homes and residential communities
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • School Programs
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Vocational rehabilitation services
Back to top of page Marketable Skills
  • Advocacy
  • Assessment/analysis
  • Case management/brokering
  • Communication
  • Community outreach
  • Crisis intervention
  • Intake/referral
  • Intervention/service planning
  • Interviewing
  • Networking
  • Policy Analysis
  • Problem solving
  • Program development/evaluation
  • Recording/writing
  • Relationship/interpersonal
  • Research
  • Service provision
  • Team/group/collaborative
Back to top of page Co-curricular Activities and Organizations
  • The Social Work Organization offers the opportunity to socialize, meet professionals and volunteer in the community. SWO is a student-run organization that encourages attendance at professional social work meetings and sponsors speakers, films, and field trips. The JMU-SWO founded the Virginia National Association of Social Work Student Rally in 1980. Membership in SWO is open to any student interested in a career in the helping professions. This organization selects student(s) to serve as representatives to social work faculty meetings.
  • Phi Alpha Social Work National Honor Society strives to provide a closer bond among social work students and to promote humanitarian goals and ideals. Membership in Phi Alpha is by invitation and based on grade point average. Students must successfully complete nine credit hours of required social work courses before they are eligible to join.
  • National Association of Social Workers serves the critical and diverse needs of the entire social work profession. JMU has a student unit of this nationally recognized organization, the National Association of Social Workers-Program Unit. This association provides a connection to over 155,000 social work colleagues. It also provides a variety of specially designed services and the information needed to stay in the forefront of the social work profession. Membership is open to all social work majors and provides opportunities for both social and professional enrichment.
Back to top of page Admission Requirements
  Social Work Program
Students may declare a major in social work at anytime; however, they must apply for admission to the social work program the semester following completion of SOWK 287, Introduction to Social Work, and SOWK 288, Social Welfare. For unconditional acceptance, students must have a 2.0 overall average with no single grade lower than a “C” (2.0) in SOWK 287 and 288, and have completed the 20 hours of community service work required in SOWK 287. Students are evaluated on the basis of community service and life experiences, academic performance, communication skills, work related habits, ability to work with others, motivation, value orientation and career plans. Students must complete this process or admission to upper-level courses will be restricted. See the Social Work Handbook for guidelines. Applications are reviewed by two or more social work faculty members who make a recommendation to the head of the social work department. The student will be notified of the decision in writing. Decisions are to admit, to admit conditionally, not to admit, or to defer decision. If admitted conditionally, the conditions for acceptance will be described. If the decision is deferred, the student will be notified in writing as to why. If not admitted, the student may appeal the decision to the head of the Department of Social Work.
Back to top of page Field Practicum Application
Students admitted into the social work program are seniors who have completed the core social work requirements, with no grade lower than a “C” (2.0) in SOWK 287, 288, 305, 317, 320, 335, 465, 466 and 467, have an overall GPA of 2.0, and who have completed 50 community service hours related to human services after SOWK 287, are eligible for field practicum. During the field practicum, students spend four days a week for one semester completing a minimum of 472 hours of directed field practice. Students seeking admission to SOWK 481, Social Work Field Practicum I, and SOWK 482, Social Work Field Practicum II, must complete a field placement application and interview with the director of field placement. The field placement director, with the assistance of social work faculty members, will determine the acceptance and placement of students. See the Social Work Handbook for the field application, documentation of community service guidelines and guidelines for the placement process.
Back to top of page Degree and Major Requirements
  Bachelor of Social Work
Degree Requirements
Required Courses
Credit Hours
General Education courses1
41
Social Work core courses
42
Social work electives
6
Electives
32-35

120
1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
Major Requirements
Core Courses
Credit Hours
SOWK 287. Introduction to Social Work
3
SOWK 288. Social Welfare
3
SOWK 305. Social Work Research Methods
3
SOWK 317. Skills for Generalist Social Work
3
SOWK 320. Human Behavior in the Social Environment
3
SOWK 335. Social Policy
3
SOWK 465. Social Work Practice in Mezzo Systems
3
SOWK 466. Social Work Practice in Micro Systems
3
SOWK 467. Social Work Practice in Macro Systems
3
SOWK 481. Social Work Field Practicum I
6
SOWK 482. Social Work Field Practicum II
6
SOWK 494. Senior Seminar in Social Work
3
SOWK Electives: Elective courses are offered on a rotating basis. See course descriptions in catalog
6
The minimum requirement for the B.S.W. degree is completion of the General Education requirements, 42 credit hours of core social work courses, prerequisite courses as specified in course descriptions and elective hours, six of which must be in social work, for a total of 120 credit hours. If a grade of “C” (2.0) or above is not achieved the first time a social work course is taken, the student may repeat the course only once. All social work majors are expected to abide by the NASW Code of Ethics. Additionally, all majors participate in social work student outcome assessment measures.
Recommended Schedule for Majors
First Year
Credit Hours
Cluster One: Skills for the 21st Century
9-12
General Education courses1
18-21

30
 
Second Year
Credit Hours
SOWK 287. Introduction to Social Work
3
SOWK 288. Social Welfare
3
General Education courses1
10-13
Electives
11-14

30
 
Third Year
Credit Hours
SOWK 305. Social Work Research Methods2
3
SOWK 317. Skills for Generalist Social Work
3
SOWK 320. Human Behavior in the Social Environment2
3
SOWK 335. Social Policy2
3
SOWK Elective
3
Electives
15

30
 
Fourth Year
Credit Hours
SOWK 465. Social Work Practice in Mezzo Systems2
3
SOWK 466. Social Work Practice in Micro Systems2
3
SOWK 467. Social Work Practice in Macro Systems2
3
SOWK Elective
3
Electives
3
SOWK 481. Social Work Field Practicum I2
6
SOWK 482. Social Work Field Practicum II2
6
SOWK 494. Senior Seminar2
3

30
1 Certain General Education courses may also meet prerequisite requirements for social work courses. Pay close attention to General Education requirements when selecting the following courses: MATH 220, Cluster 3; GPOSC 225 and GSOCI 210, Cluster 4; GPSYC 101 or GPSYC 160, Cluster 5.
2 Check prerequisite requirements.
Back to top of page Minor Requirements
  Family Studies Minor
  • R. Ann Myers, Minor Adviser
The interdisciplinary minor in family studies is designed for undergraduates seeking enhancement of their major and career potential, desiring to increase understanding of self and relationships and seeking to make a positive contribution to society. For a full description of the requirements for the minor in family studies, see “Interdisciplinary Programs.”
  Gerontology Minor
  • R. Ann Myers, Minor Adviser
The interdisciplinary minor in gerontology is designed for any undergraduate major desiring a concentration of study of aging for personal understanding or career preparation. For a full description of the requirements for the minor in gerontology, see “Interdisciplinary Programs.”
  Nonprofit Studies Minor
  • R. Ann Myers, Minor Adviser
The nonprofit studies minor prepares students from a variety of disciplines to understand the unique role of nonprofit organizations in American society today. Emphasis is placed on history, theory, legal issues and management topics. The minor includes a capstone seminar and a field experience in a nonprofit agency with the focus to be determined in conjunction with the adviser. For a full description of the requirements for the minor in nonprofit studies, see “Interdisciplinary Programs.”