Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)


The social work profession seeks to identify and alleviate the individual and social causes of problems related to meeting basic human needs, and helps people interact effectively with one another and with the environment. With that in mind, our mission with the Bachelor of Social Work program is to provide a generalist social work education that covers a broad range of helping skills designed to enhance the social functioning of individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations.

At the WMU School of Social Work, you'll learn to advocate for social and economic justice and personal well-being for all people. The program promotes social and economic justice by teaching you to critically examine oppressive and discriminatory social constructs, policies, practices, attitudes and assumptions.

Learn more about this degree and the School of Social Work at one of our information sessions.

What is Social Work

What is social work?

Social workers work in communities with people finding positive ways forward in the challenges they face in their lives. They help people build the kind of environments in which they want to live, through co-determination, co-production and social responsibility. Economic health cannot be achieved without social health.

Career info   Our programs

Where do social workers work?

When you earn your BSW from Western Michigan University, you will be prepared for entry- or mid-level careers in various settings, including:

  • Adoption agencies
  • Child welfare departments
  • Community mental health agencies
  • Corrections and public safety departments
  • Employment services
  • Family service agencies
  • Foster care agencies
  • Human rights and advocacy organizations
  • International aid and refugee relief organizations
  • Labor unions
  • Local, state and federal governments
  • Public interest groups
  • Schools
  • Senior services
  • Social service agencies


  • Video of WMU Social Work: Paths to social work careers

    Social Work Careers

  • Video of BSW Transfer Info Session

    Transfer Info Session

Learn more

Learn more about our programs and what's going on in the WMU School of Social Work by visiting our YouTube channel.

Interdisciplinary Education

As a practicing social worker, you'll regularly work with health care professionals like nurses, physician assistants and physical therapists. At WMU, you'll learn beside the people you'll work with after graduation.

The WMU School of Social Work is part of the College of Health and Human Services, which regularly offers interdisciplinary learning activities with programs like nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy and more.

That interdisciplinary experience prepares you for your career. More than that, an interdisciplinary perspective will make you a better social worker.

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Fieldwork opportunities

In this program, you'll get 400 hours of internship experience over two semesters. But when it’s time for your BSW fieldwork, you won't be on your own to figure things out. We have staff dedicated to helping you manage your fieldwork experience from beginning to end.

The WMU School of Social Work partners with more than 600 agencies in Michigan, the Midwest, and internationally. We have more internship sites available than we have students, which means we can work with your professional goals and internship preferences to find a great fit that will prepare you for the social work career you want after graduation.

Learn more about fieldwork

Accelerated MSW

Once you have earned 60 credits (and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0), you can apply to the accelerated MSW program, which allows you to take 12 credits of graduate-level classes (SWRK 6100, SWRK 6310, SWRK 6330, and SWRK 6400) that count toward your bachelor's degree AND your MSW.

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Active faculty

At WMU, the work you’ll do with faculty will actually advance the field of social work. Our faculty are active in their communities and our research is focused on current movements in social work field.

Members of our faculty have founded initiatives like Seita Scholars, which helps WMU students transitioning out of foster care adjust to college life, and the Children's Trauma Assessment Center at WMU's Unified clinics, which employs a nationally renowned model for trauma treatment and just received millions in grants for expansion. You’ll impact your community and your future profession at WMU.

Faculty Spotlights

Goals and Objectives

  • Undergraduate Program Goals
    1. To provide a professional education that prepares generalist practitioners to enhance, advocate, and support social and economic justice and personal well-being for all people.
    2. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively with diverse, vulnerable and underserved populations.
    3. Possess critical thinking skills, embrace social work values, and have the requisite skills needed to formulate and realize a vision of a just society.
  • Undergraduate Program Objectives
    1. Conduct reflective practice, develop and articulate reasons for practice decisions, and generate alternative intervention strategies as needed.
    2. Practice within the values and ethics of the social work profession and with an understanding of and respect for the positive value of diversity.
    3. Demonstrate an awareness of how personal feelings, thoughts, attitudes, values, and experiences influence your practice.
    4. Maintain the mutuality of worker-client system and demonstrate a willingness to explore, learn and grow through interactions with client systems.
    5. Assess the psychosocial impact of oppression and discrimination, and empower clients by mobilizing and enhancing their strengths and resources to resolve problems and reduce oppression.
    6. Understand the histories of social welfare and the profession of social work, and appreciate the profession's unique commitment to social justice.
    7. Apply the principles and techniques of generalist social work practice in intervening with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.
    8. Use a theoretical framework to understand the interactions among individuals and between individuals and social systems (i.e., families, groups, organizations and communities).
    9. Apply knowledge of bio-psycho-social variables to interpret human growth, development, and behavior relative to the broader environmental context. The broader environmental context is understood to encompass social, cultural, historical, political and economic forces.
    10. Analyze the impact of social policies on client systems, workers, and agencies, and engage in intervention strategies that facilitate socially just policies and practices within human service systems and the larger community.
    11. Seek out, critically consider, integrate, and apply relevant professional literature to practice.
    12. Evaluate the effectiveness of your own professional practice through reflection, consultation, supervision and application of formal models of practice evaluation.
    13. Recognize and appropriately respond to the unique characteristics, strengths, and dynamics of diverse populations and client systems.
    14. Communicate effectively with colleagues and members of the community to build networks and engage in collaborative processes for decision making.
    15. Demonstrate a commitment to professional development by seeking out and using consultation and supervision, through participating in professional associations, and by keeping abreast of the professional literature.
    16. Assess organizational structure (formal and informal) and function effectively within the parameters, strengths and constraints of the agency.
    17. Evaluate organizational and program effectiveness and advocate for improvements in order to enhance service delivery and client functioning.

Compatible minors

The BSW degree leaves plenty of room for student to take electives of their choice. While a minor is not required, they are one way to meaningfully use those electives towards developing a knowledge base that complements an interest in particular areas of social work practice.

The list below is NOT an exhaustive list of available minors at WMU, however, they are minors that many of our students have selected in the past, or that may be relevant to your future career. If you are interested in adding a minor to your degree, contact CHHS advisor Jill Hamilton to adjust your degree plan.