Program Mission and Goals

The Social Work Program at Bethel University prepares students for professional generalist social work practice, equipping them to be advocates of hope and change. Students learn to practice in a diverse world through scholarship, service, justice, and leadership, all in the context of a Christian liberal arts learning community.

  • Students will demonstrate a commitment to critical thinking, ethical social work practice, scientific inquiry, and lifelong learning.
  • Students will acquire social work knowledge, values, and skills that promote the well-being of individuals, families, communities, and organizations.
  • Students will integrate a Christian faith and justice perspective that honors the dignity and worth of all persons.
  • Students will develop leadership abilities that promote reconciliation in a local and global context.

Bethel’s Social Work Program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, prepares students to serve individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Graduates are eligible to be licensed as social workers. While preparation for practice is the program’s objective, academically qualified graduates are prepared to pursue graduate-level social work education. (A number of graduate schools offer advanced standing.) The 63-credit major includes classroom and field courses, and select biological, social, and behavioral science foundational support courses.

Field Program Admission

Students may apply for admission to the Field Program during fall of their junior year. Acceptance into the Social Work Program and the Field Program must be finalized before a student begins SOW331. Field courses require students to spend time in off-campus field settings. Students must furnish their own transportation to and from field settings. Students may be required to complete a criminal background check, at their own cost, as part of agency requirements.

International Field Practicum

Junior-level students may fulfill SOW331 Social Work Field Experience II in a social work-approved international semester program. Students must work with the Office of Off-Campus Programs/International Studies and obtain approval from the field director of the Social Work Program. Students must also meet the Bethel requirements to study abroad and be accepted into a study abroad program.

Major in Social Work

Minor in Social Work

Application for Candidacy for the Social Work Program

Candidacy indicates intention to apply for full admission to the program the fall of a student’s junior year. To progress in the program, a student must meet the departmental and Bethel University requirements for academic progress.

A.   At the time of application for candidacy, the student must:

  1. Have second semester sophomore standing;
  2. Be enrolled in or have completed SOW200Z, with a grade of C or better;
  3. Provide a copy of unofficial transcript that documents a current GPA of 2.25 or greater;
  4. Provide summary of progress toward 50 hours experience in a community agency, school, hospital, or other social service organization;
  5. Sign the Statement of Understanding and Agreement form after thoroughly examining all listed documents, including the Code of Ethics and the Social Work Program Field and Policy Manual;
  6. Examine and agree to adhere to the Standards for Academic and Professional Performance; and
  7. Meet with instructor of SOW200Z to review and complete Standards for Academic and Professional Performance Checklist. This signed form will be placed in student candidacy file.

B.   The social work department gives written notification to the applicant concerning candidacy status.

Application for Full Admission to the Social Work Program

The following are minimum threshold requirements to be considered for admission into the social work program. Space is limited, however, and not all qualified applicants are guaranteed admission.

A.   At the time of application for full admission, the student must:

  1. Have completed SOW200Z, with a grade of C or better;
  2. Have a cumulative GPA of 2.25 at time of admission to the program;
  3. Have his or her candidacy application accepted;
  4. Give evidence of ability to meet Standards for Academic and Professional Performance (critical thinking and decision-making, interpersonal relationship skills, professional values and ethics, communication skills, responsible conduct, professional readiness, and self-awareness.) These standards are consistent with the role and responsibilities of the social work professional (note: a criminal history may preclude one’s ability to become licensed as a social worker upon graduation);
  5. Complete an application for admission to the Social Work Program that includes the following steps:

a. Document at least 50 hours of experience in a community agency, school, hospital, or other social service organization;

b. Write admission narratives on five topics addressing your interest in the social work profession;              

c. Complete a self-assessment of your readiness for social work practice;

d. Provide two letters of reference from qualified individuals to assess applicant’s aptitude to pursue  social work as a profession;        

e. Submit a resume; and

f. Submit copy of transcript from Blink.

Interview with social work faculty to discuss application and readiness to enter Social Work Program.

B.   The full-time faculty will assess the application. Written notification of decision will be given to the applicant.

Field Program Admission

Students may apply for admission to the Field Program during fall of their junior year. Acceptance into the Social Work Program and the Field Program must be finalized before a student begins SOW331. Field courses require students to spend time in off-campus field settings. Students must furnish their own transportation to and from field settings. Students may be required to complete a criminal background check, at their own cost, as part of agency requirements.

International Field Practicum

Junior-level students may fulfill SOW331 Social Work Field Experience II in a social work-approved international semester program. Students must work with the Office of Off-Campus Programs/International Studies and obtain approval from the field director of the Social Work Program. Students must also meet the Bethel requirements to study abroad and be accepted into a study abroad program.

Standards for Continuance and Graduation

In order to remain in the program, student must:

1.   Earn a grade of C or better in each social work course (courses with a grade of C-    or lower must be repeated);

2.   Maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.25;

3.   Demonstrate understanding of the NASW Code of Ethics and a commitment to ethical practice in accordance with this code;

4.   Obtain an evaluation from junior-level (SOW331) field instructor and faculty liaison confirming that satisfactory progress is evident and the student is ready for senior-level field practice (SOW432, 433, 434). Application process, field expectations, and standards are detailed in the Social Work Program Field and Policy Manual;

5.   Obtain evaluations during senior-level field practicum (SOW432, 433, 434) from the field instructor and the faculty liaison confirming that satisfactory progress is being made toward competent, ethical, and professional social work practice. Application process, field expectations, and standards are detailed in the Social Work Program Field and Policy Manual;

6.   Obtain a final (SOW432, 433, 434) evaluation from the field instructor and the faculty liaison confirming that the student is adequately prepared to graduate as a professional social worker. Application process, field expectations, and standards are detailed in the Social Work Program Field and Policy Manual;

7.   Maintain ongoing evidence of meeting standards of professional conduct and emotional maturity requisite for professional practice as outlined in the Standards for Academic and Professional Performance, which includes: critical thinking and decision-making, interpersonal relationship skills, professional values and ethics, communication skills, responsible conduct, professional readiness, and self-awareness; and

8.   Demonstrate continued development of professional knowledge, values, skills, ethics, and conduct expected of a generalist social work practitioner as presented throughout the Social Work Program.

Note: Students who request to resume their involvement with the Social Work Program after dropping out of the program or withdrawing from Bethel University for any reason must apply for readmission into the program. Issues that led to the decision to drop out (whether voluntary or involuntary) must be addressed prior to being readmitted to the Social Work Program. Being readmitted to Bethel University does not constitute readmission into the Social Work Program.

SOW200Z • Introduction to Social Work. 4 Credits.

Overview of social work mission, core values, history, and fields of practice. Understanding dimensions of diversity, cultures, and structures that may oppress and marginalize people groups. Significant cross-cultural, community-based service learning in which students communicate and collaborate with diverse individuals. Consideration of social work as career choice.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing; major in social work or consent of instructor. Offered: Fall, spring

SOW250 • Social Welfare History. 3 Credits.

Examines the historical movements of social welfare responses to the poor and oppressed from the colonial period to the present, with emphasis on economic, demographic, cultural, and political forces. Historical documents representing significant turning points in society are presented to gain appreciation of the linkage among past, present, and future reforms.
Offered: Interim.

SOW304 • Social Work Practice I. 3 Credits.

Generalist social work theory and practice with organizations and communities. Application of human behavior in the social environment. Research-based knowledge emphasized. Assignments in community settings focus on engagement and assessment; dimensions of diversity; interaction of social systems; and strategies to promote human and civil rights.
Prerequisites: SOW200Z; major in social work. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW330; SOW313. Offered: Fall

SOW305 • Social Policy Practice. 4 Credits.

Interrelationship of social problems, social welfare policies, and service delivery from historical, economic, political, and program perspectives. Social systems content applied to social policy analysis. Students develop, analyze, advocate, and provide leadership for policy and service delivery that promote economic and social justice through community-based projects.
Prerequisites: Major in social work. (Non-majors may take course only with consent of instructor.) Offered: Spring

SOW313 • Social Work Practice II. 3 Credits.

Generalist social work theory and practice with individuals and families. Beginning professional development, critical thinking, effective communication, Human Behavior and the Social Environment (HBSE), ethical and evidenced-based practice is emphasized. Simulated case assignments provide student development of knowledge and skills of social work practice: engagement, assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation, and termination.
Prerequisites: SOW200Z; major in social work. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW330; SOW304. Offered: Fall

SOW327G • Social Perspective, Human Worth, and Social Action. 3 Credits.

Examines historical and current societal conditions and their impact on individuals and communities. Culture, power, oppression, exclusion, and the impact of diverse realities in the U.S. are explored. Engages students in a comparative examination through the synthesis of contemporary writings, social theory, and diverse voices. Experiential learning and dialogue promotes deepened understanding, justice seeking strategies, and social action.
Prerequisites: [GES130; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES246; World Cultures (U) course]. Offered: Spring

SOW330 • Social Work Field Experience I. 2 Credits.

Provides an introductory field experience in a multi-service community-based agency serving an ethnically diverse population. Students apply and integrate beginning knowledge, values, skills, and ethics for social work practice with an emphasis on developing a professional identity. Weekly on-campus field seminar supports this integration while students work a minimum of 80 hours in a field setting under agency supervision.
Prerequisites: SOW200Z; major in social work. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW304; SOW313. Offered: Fall

SOW331 • Social Work Field Experience II. 2 Credits.

Field experience in which students apply and integrate beginning knowledge, values, skills, and ethics for social work practice with an emphasis on diversity, human rights and justice, and professional generalist practice. Weekly on-campus field seminar supports integration while students work a minimum of 100 hours in field setting under agency supervision.
Prerequisites: SOW304; SOW313; SOW330; major in social work; admission to the Social Work Program; admission to the Social Work Field Program. Offered: Spring

SOW351 • Methods of Applied Social Research. 4 Credits.

Social research methods, including an emphasis on becoming proficient and critical consumers of research-based data, for the purposes of knowledge advancement, informed practice, and program and practice effectiveness evaluation.
Prerequisites: Mathematics (M) course; introductory course in the social and behavioral sciences. PSY230M recommended. Offered: Fall

SOW405 • Social Work Practice III. 4 Credits.

Generalist social work theory and practice with systems of all sizes. Emphasis on groups including task and treatment, group dynamics, leadership, and development of group work model. Case studies promote application of critical thinking, cultural competency skills, and research-informed practice.
Prerequisites: SOW200Z; SOW304; SOW313; SOW330; SOW331; admission to the Social Work Program. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW432. Offered: Fall

SOW431 • Conversations about End of Life. 1 Credit.

Development of advance care planning (ACP) facilitation skills in the context of faith, cultural, healthcare system, and societal perspectives. A First Steps ACP Facilitator Certificate is available for students who successfully complete ACP Facilitator requirements.
Prerequisites: Senior standing in nursing or social work, or consent of instructor. Offered: Spring. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in nursing.

SOW432 • Social Work Field Instruction I. 3 Credits.

Field practicum in a practice setting in which students perform the role of a professional social worker under supervision of a qualified field instructor. Weekly on-campus field seminar, facilitated by social work faculty, supports integration of theory with social work practice. Students work a minimum of 135 hours in field. A structured learning contract provides application of social work knowledge, values, and skills.
Prerequisites: Admission to the Social Work Program; admission to the Social Work Field Program. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW405. Offered: Fall

SOW433 • Social Work Field Instruction II. 3 Credits.

A continuation of SOW432. Time involvement must total a minimum of 135 hours in the field. Satisfactory progress must be made toward competence in professional social work practice.
Prerequisites: SOW432. Offered: Spring

SOW434 • Social Work Field Instruction III. 3 Credits.

A continuation of SOW433. Time involvement must total a minimum of 135 hours in the field. Satisfactory progress in SOW432/433/434 on field assignments, learning contract, and 400 hours of supervised practice indicate student’s readiness to perform the role of a generalist social work practitioner.
Prerequisites: SOW432. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW433; SOW499. Offered: Spring

SOW499 • Senior Integrative Seminar. 3 Credits.

Integration of generalist social work knowledge, values, and skills through ethics-based case studies and completion of practice/program evaluation research applied to field practicum setting. Critical thinking, leadership, and scholarship emphasized.
Prerequisites: SOW405; SOW432. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW433/434. Offered: Spring