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.
The mission of the baccalaureate program is: we value service, justice, integrity, competence, and the power of scientific inquiry to create a diverse, equitable, and accessible School focused on human rights and enhanced quality of life for persons and communities, locally and globally.
The goals of the program are:
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.
Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively with diverse, vulnerable, and underserved populations.
Possess critical thinking skills, embrace social work values, and have the requisite skills needed to formulate and realize a vision of a just society.
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.
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
- Senior services
- Social service agencies
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.
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.
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.
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.
Goals and Objectives
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.
College of Arts and Sciences
African American and African Studies | Anthropology | Comparative Religions | Climate Studies | Criminal Justice | Environment & Sustainability | Gender & Women’s Studies | Global & International Studies | Non-Profit Administration | Political Science | Psychology | Public Affairs & Administration | Race and Ethnic Relations | Sociology | Spanish | World Languages