Discipline of Social Work

Why study Social Work?

Social work uniquely prepares graduates to work effectively with individuals, families, small groups, communities, and organizations. Social work is a challenging and fulfilling profession that attracts those with a spark of idealism, a belief in social justice and a love of working with people. The roots of the social work profession lie in turn of the century efforts to meet the needs of people in poverty, neglected children, and exploited workers. If you’ve read about Jane Addams, founder of Hull House; Frances Perkins, first Secretary of Labor; Harry Hopkins, force behind the Social Security Act; or Whitney Young, civil rights activist, you’ve read about social workers. Today social work is a dynamic, growing profession grounded in the social sciences and liberal arts as well as its own knowledge and research base. Social workers are intricately involved in the community, knowing the people, the services and how things get done. Yet, at the same time, social workers are keenly aware of the pain of those not in the mainstream, and are sensitive to the discrepancy between the reality they see and the dream of an ideal society. Social workers have a commitment to service. While there are many considerations that enter into any career decision, the decision to go into social work is usually based upon the desire to contribute to the greater good of all humankind.

Why Study Social Work at PLU?

The BSW program at PLU has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1976. This offers students a curriculum that is up-to-date, passes national review and allows students with excellent grades to apply for advanced-standing, one-year MSW programs nationwide.

Reputation and Community Support
PLU’s Social Work program is held in high regard by graduate programs and the local community. A BSW graduate said he was attracted to PLU because of “the school’s strong reputation for providing a well rounded education with a focus on ethics. The Social Work program seemed to keep a good balance between academics and workplace skills.”

A group of skilled social work field supervisors guide and strengthen PLU’s social work program. Human services professionals are invited to participate in senior case presentations, offering their feedback to students.

Strong Field Program
During your senior year you will complete a minimum of 460 hours of field practicum. You’ll choose a local social service agency that offers the supervision of an experienced and approved social worker. This provides you with the opportunity to integrate your classroom learning with hands-on work with clients who benefit from the help you provide.

Global Emphasis
The social work curriculum is infused with content on other cultures both in this country and abroad. Students have opportunities for study abroad as well as field learning in other countries. PLU’s Pacific Rim location and Tacoma’s diverse community afford students an opportunity to experience cultures different from their own on a daily basis.

Faculty-Student Ratio
Small class sizes mean students and faculty have many opportunities for interaction. Faculty work to create a learning environment where students learn from one another as well as from professors and social workers from the community.

Careers in Social Work

What do bachelor's level Social Workers do?

• Advocate for the disenfranchised
• Provide life necessity services for those in need
• Interview and write social histories
• Make psychosocial assessments
• Plan for community development and write grants
• Work with youth and adults in groups
• Provide case management services

Where are Social Workers employed?

  • Mental Health Agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Care Centers
  • Adoptions
  • Child Protection Corrections
  • Domestic Violence Shelters
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Temporary Assistance
  • Head Start
  • Community Action
  • Faith-based Agencies
  • Volunteer Health Agencies

Students preparing to apply to the social work program should include these courses in their program of study: BIOL 111, ANTH 102, PSYC 101/190, and SOCI 101/190. Students interested in a survey of social work and its opportunities are encouraged to take SOCW 101/190, Introduction to Social Work.

Admission to the Social Work Major

Admission to the Social Work major is selective, and the overarching goal of the program is preparation for generalist social work practice with individuals, families, households, groups, communities and organizations. There is a separate application for admission to the Social Work Program.  For more information, please call 253-535-7595.

Social Work Minor

Students may also choose an 18 credit minor in social work which complements many majors including Psychology, Sociology, Communications, Nursing, Religion, Global Studies and others.