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, groups, communities, and organizations.
- Students will integrate a faith and justice perspective that upholds the inherent dignity and worth of all persons.
- Students will develop leadership abilities that promote human rights in a local and global contexts.
Bethel’s Social Work Program, is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Graduates are eligible to be licensed as social workers. While preparation for professional practice is the program’s primary objective, academically qualified graduates are prepared to pursue graduate-level social work education. The 63-credit major includes classroom and field courses, and select biological, social, and behavioral science foundational support courses.
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 social work program the fall of a student’s junior year. To be considered for candidacy, students must submit a completed application and meet candidacy requirements.
The Bethel University social work program operates under a selective admissions policy. The policy is based on the need to maintain a program of excellence in the classroom, assure the availability of quality field placements, and adhere to accreditation requirements. The social work program reserves the right to admit a limited number of students each year. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee a student will be accepted as a candidate in the program. Students who are denied candidacy may reapply during the next candidacy review cycle, and/or meet with their academic advisor to explore career alternatives.
Students who are accepted for candidacy are not guaranteed full admission and continuation in the program. Students must meet the requirements for each checkpoint in the program.
A. Requirements: To be accepted as a candidate, the student must:
- Have second semester sophomore standing;
- Complete SOW200Z, Introduction to Social Work, with a grade of C or better*;
- Have a minimum cumulative Bethel GPA of 2.25 at time of candidacy application. (Note: GPA is reviewed again at the end of the semester and must remain 2.25 or higher.)
- Complete and submit documentation of 50 hours of approved voluntary or paid experience in a social service organization*;
- After thoroughly examining all listed documents, sign the Statement of Understanding and Agreement form, the Code of Ethics, and the Social Work Program and Student Policies Handbook;
- Examine, agree to, adhere to, and demonstrate evidence of ability to meet the Standards for Academic and Professional Performance (SAPP). Evidence of meeting SAPP at an entry level comes from service learning performance feedback, instructor observation, and assessment of professional skills related to the SAPP in the classroom setting;
- Meet with the course instructor of SOW200Z or designated faculty to review and complete SAPP Evaluation. This evaluation indicates the student is meeting the standards established by the SAPP or an improvement plan is required. Improvement plan is developed by the student in collaboration with the course instructor/designated faculty. The improvement plan is signed by the student and course instructor/designated faculty and placed in the student’s candidacy file. The improvement plan must clearly specify goal(s), methods to measure achievement of the goals, specific actions to be taken to successfully meet the goal(s), and a timeline for the completion of those actions. Actions on the timeline occurring prior to the candidacy review must be successfully completed prior to the review date.
- Complete the Self-Assessment of Values and Skills form demonstrating a) self-awareness of strengths, areas of potential growth and emotional intelligence; and b) values consistent with the values identified in the social work profession.
- Complete a writing sample that corresponds with the Self-Assessment of Values and Skills demonstrating capacity for professional written communication;
- Demonstrate an introductory understanding and corresponding skill-set conducive to the development of professional knowledge, values, skills, ethics, and conduct expected of a generalist social work practitioner as evidenced in service learning performance, instructor observation, and assessment of professional skills commensurate with introductory level social work.
B. Social work faculty review and evaluate submitted candidacy documents, make a decision on candidacy, and provide written notification to the applicant concerning candidacy status. Students wishing to appeal decisions related to candidacy must follow the social work program's appeal process.
* Provisional Acceptance: Students who are in the process of completing 50 hours of voluntary or paid experience and/or students enrolled in SOW200Z at the time of application review, and meet all other requirements, may be accepted as provisional candidates and will be reviewed for full candidacy after successful completion of the required elements.
Application for Full Admission to the Social Work Program
Application for full admission into the program occurs in the fall of the junior year. To be considered for full admission to the program, students must submit a completed application by the deadline and meet admission requirements. To progress in the program, a student must meet the departmental and Bethel University requirements for academic progress.
The Bethel University social work program operates under a selective admissions policy. The policy is based on the need to maintain a program of excellence in the classroom, assure availability of quality field placements, and adhere to accreditation requirements. The program reserves the right to admit a limited number of students each year. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee a student will be accepted into the program. Students that are denied acceptance may reapply during the next admissions review cycle, and/or meet with their academic advisor to explore career alternatives.
The decision to admit a student is based on a review of all materials submitted by the student, as well as evaluation forms and letters of recommendation submitted by the evaluators on behalf of the student.
The following are the minimum requirements to be considered for full admission into the social work program.
A. Requirements: To be fully admitted to the Bethel Social Work program, the candidate must:
- Have previously been accepted as a candidate to the program including completion of SOW200Z with a grade of C or better;
- Have a minimum cumulative Bethel GPA of 2.25 at time of application to the program. (Note: GPA is reviewed again at the end of the semester and must remain 2.25 or higher.)
- Have earned a grade of C or better in each social work course. Courses with a grade of C- or lower must be repeated.
- Continue to demonstrate evidence of ability to meet the Standards for Academic and Professional Performance (SAPP) - 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) Evidence of meeting entry-level SAPP is evaluated from review of service learning performance feedback, instructor observation, interview with a social work faculty, admission narrative, the self-assessment of readiness for social work practice, and assessment of professional skills related to the SAPP in the classroom setting. Students with a previous formal improvement plan must have successfully achieved the identified goals using the measurement listed in the improvement plan.
- Demonstrate evidence of professional oral and written communication, capacity to meet the demands of the profession, and an ability to comply with the SAPP as shown through the application narrative, interview, and the self-assessment of readiness for social work practice.
- Demonstrate evidence of following the NASW Social Work Code of Ethics as shown by performance in the classroom and in the field.
- Successfully complete any on-going notice of concerns and/or improvement plans related to conditional status.
- Submit a complete application including the following components, which will be reviewed for evidence that the above requirements have been met
- Admission narratives on five (5) topics addressing your interest in the social work profession;
- Self-assessment of readiness for social work practice;
- Two letters of reference from qualified individuals who assess applicant’s aptitude to pursue social work;
- Current resume (reflects current number of social work related hours in each work area); and
- Copy of transcript from DegreeWorks.
- Interview with an assigned Social Work faculty.
- If provisionally accepted for candidacy due to being in process of completing the required 50 hours of volunteer or paid service, student must also provide: Volunteer service authentication, documenting at least 50 hours of experience in a community agency, school, hospital, or other social service organization;
B. Social Work faculty review and evaluate all submitted admission documents, make a decision on admission into the program, and provide written notification to the applicant concerning admission status. Written notification of decision will be sent by traditional mail and email. Students wishing to appeal decisions related to full admission must follow the social work program's appeal process.
Standards for Continuance and Graduation
To progress in the program, students must meet the following requirements:
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 consistent and growing commitment to ethical practice in accordance with this code as demonstrated by successful completion of ethics assignment as indicated in syllabi.
4. 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. Evidence of meeting SAPP comes from service learning performance feedback, instructor observation, and assessment of professional skills related to the SAPP in the classroom setting and commensurate with entry level SAPP standards.
5. Be admitted to Field Program and Junior Field Experience II (SOW331) beginning junior year.
6. Obtain a mid-year evaluation from Junior Field Experience II (SOW331) field instructor and faculty liaison confirming that satisfactory progress is evident.
7. Receive a final evaluation from Junior Field Experience II (SOW331) field instructor and faculty liaison confirming that satisfactory progress is evident and the student is ready for senior-level field instruction (SOW432).
8. Receive a mid-year evaluation from Senior Field Instruction I (SOW432), from field instructor and faculty liaison confirming satisfactory progress is being made toward competent, ethical, and professional social work practice.
9. Receive a final evaluation from Senior Field Instruction II and III (SOW433/434), from field instructor and faculty liaison, confirming satisfactory progress is being made toward competent, ethical, and professional social work practice and the student is adequately prepared to graduate as a professional social worker.
10. Successfully complete any on-going notice of concerns and/or improvement plans related to conditional status.
Students dismissed from the social work program will be administratively withdrawn from social work courses in which they are registered for the next term.
Students wishing to appeal decisions related to program dismissal must follow the social work program's appeal process.
Social Work Program Appeals Process
If a student is denied candidacy, full admission, or continuation in the social work program, the student may submit a written request for consideration of conditional candidacy, conditional admission, or conditional continuation in the program. This written request must be submitted to the director of the social work program within two weeks of receiving the decision and needs to include an improvement plan stating how unmet requirements will be achieved. Within two weeks of receiving the student’s written request, the program director, field director, and all full-time faculty will review the plan and notify the student of their decision. If conditional candidacy, full admission, or continuation is granted, conditions for moving forward will be stated. If the student is not granted conditional candidacy, full admission, or continuation, the student may submit a written appeal to the appropriate academic dean. This written appeal must be submitted within two weeks of receiving the department's decision.
While students are encouraged to use the appeals process, those who appeal should be aware of the responsibility of a professional program. It is the social work faculty’s responsibility to recommend for candidacy, admission, continuation, and graduation only students who have demonstrated the capacity to perform professional social work practice. This includes adherence to the Social Work Code of Ethics and ability to meet criteria as outlined in the Standards for Academic and Professional Performance.
Note: Students who request to resume their involvement with the social work program after dropping out of the program, being dismissed from 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.
Field Program Admission
Students apply for admission to the Field Program during the fall of their junior year as outlined in the Social Work Program & Student Policies Handbook. Acceptance into the social work program and the Field Program must be finalized before a student begins SOW 331. Field courses require students to spend 180 hours in their junior year and 400 hours in their senior year in off-campus field settings. Students must furnish their own transportation to and from field settings. Students are often required to complete a criminal background check, at their own cost, as part of agency requirements.
International Field Practicum
Junior-level students may fulfill Social Work Field Experience IISOW 331 in a social work-approved international semester abroad setting. Students must work with the Office of Off-Campus Programs/International Studies and obtain approval from the International Field Director of the social work program. Students must meet Bethel requirements to study abroad.
SOW 200Z • 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.
SOW 240 • Socioeconomic & Justice Issues in Market Economies 3 Credits.
Equips students with knowledge and skills for understanding and critically evaluating how market economies operate, their broad socioeconomic consequences, and their impact on the lives of socially disadvantaged people. Special Note: Carries cross-credit in sociology.
SOW 250 • 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.
SOW 304 • 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: SOW 200Z; major in Social Work. Offered: Fall.
SOW 305 • Social Policy Practice 4 Credits.
vInterrelationship 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.
SOW 307Z • Intentional Urban Living I 2 Credits.
Intensive urban learning opportunity involving exploration and analysis of urban community, urban neighborhood social and political structures, and theological issues that arise in an urban context. Involves living in an urban neighborhood in Minneapolis or St. Paul and substantial interaction in the neighborhood.
SOW 308Z • Intentional Urban Living II 2 Credits.
Intensive urban learning opportunity involving exploration and analysis of urban community, urban neighborhood social and political structures, and theological issues that arise in an urban context. Involves living in an urban neighborhood in Minneapolis or St. Paul and substantial interaction in the neighborhood. Involves an individualized research project and/or action project focused on a change initiative.
SOW 313 • 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: SOW 200Z; Major in social work. Offered: Fall.
SOW 326 • Restorative Justice 3 Credits.
Examines and analyzes the philosophy and principles of restorative justice, including its historical and theological roots by comparing and contrasting retributive and restorative paradigms. Applications of restorative justice examined from the perspective of victim-offender dialogue and the use of restorative justice principles in offender reintegration.
Prerequisites: SOC 324. Offered: Spring, odd # years. Special Note: carries cross-credit with sociology.
SOW 327G • 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: [GES 130; GES 160; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES 244; World Cultures (U) course]. Offered: Spring.
SOW 330 • 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: SOW 200Z; consent of instructor; Major in social work. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW 304; SOW 313. Offered: Fall.
SOW 331 • 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: SOW 304; SOW 313; SOW 330; Major in social work; admission to the Social Work Program; admission to the Social Work Field Program. Offered: Spring.
SOW 351 • 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: SOW 200Z; Mathematics (M) course (PSY 230M reconmmended); introductory course in the social and behavioral sciences. Offered: Fall.
SOW 405 • Social Work Practice III 4 Credits.
Generalist social work theory applied to integrated practice within client systems. Emphasis is on families and groups and on the planned change process. Student development of a group work project and case study review promote application of critical thinking, research-informed practice and culture competence.
Prerequisites: SOW 200Z; SOW 304; SOW 313; SOW 330; SOW 331; admission to the Social Work program. Offered: Fall.
SOW 431 • 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.
SOW 432 • 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: Consent of instructor; Admission to the Social Work Program; admission to the Social Work Field Program. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW 405. Offered: Fall.
SOW 433 • Social Work Field Instruction II 3 Credits.
A continuation of SOW 432. 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: SOW 432. Offered: Spring.
SOW 434 • Social Work Field Instruction III 3 Credits.
A continuation of SOW 433. Time involvement must total a minimum of 135 hours in the field. Satisfactory progress in SOW 432/433/434 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: SOW 432. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW 433; SOW 499. Offered: Spring.
SOW 499 • 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: SOW 405; SOW 432. Corequisites: Must be taken concurrently with SOW 433/434. Offered: Spring.