For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Community and Public Service section of this catalog.
Acting Director: Grant, Jr.. Professors: Chung, Schott; Associate Professors: Bolea, Borst, Green-Smith, Hayes, Johnson, J., Smith-Colton; Assistant Professors: Banghart Therrien, Berlin, Epple, Imungi, Lopez-Arias, Mulder, C., Schuurman, Smith, S.; Visiting Professor: Langlois.
The School of Social Work derives its mission from Grand Valley State University’s mission of liberally educating students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies. Toward that end, the School prepares its students to attain social work practice and professional leadership; advance the field’s knowledge of effective professional practice and education through research and evaluation; enhance and sustain the welfare and well-being of citizens, organizations and communities of West Michigan, the state, the nation, and the world; and further the goals of the University and of the social work profession in this region and beyond.
All of the School’s programs are grounded in the profession’s body of knowledge, values and skills that support and enhance the opportunities, resources, and capacities of people to achieve their full potential; prevent and alleviate personal, interpersonal, organizational and societal problems; and improve the conditions that limit human development and adversely impact the quality of human life. The School celebrates and affirms the importance of diversity in all of its forms, and it supports the expansion of human rights, cultural competence, empowerment, social and political justice, civic participation and equality in West Michigan and around the world.
The School’s legacy emphases on social justice and on meeting the significant professional workforce needs of an expansive West Michigan social services sector remain strong. A third distinctive feature of the School is its integration and promotion of domestic and international service learning opportunities that prepare students for 21st century practice in increasingly global economic and social contexts.
The School’s overarching goals are:
- The School of Social Work provides a generalist social work curriculum in a high quality learning environment that prepares BSW graduates for entry level social work practice that promotes social and economic justice and endeavors to address poverty and other social problems within organizational, individual, and community contexts within, but not limited to, West Michigan and the state of Michigan.
- The School of Social Work provides an MSW foundation curriculum in a high quality learning environment that prepares students for success in the advanced generalist community social work concentration.
- The School of Social Work provides an advanced generalist social work curriculum that prepares MSW graduates for autonomous social work practice that promotes social and economic justice and endeavors to address poverty and other social problems within organizational, individual, and community contexts within, but not limited to, West Michigan, and the state of Michigan.
- Graduates of all programs of the School of Social work exhibit a professional commitment to enhancing social justice, promoting human rights, ensuring the dignity and worth of all individuals, practicing with integrity, upholding one or more of the profession’s Code of Ethics, incorporating diversity into their practice, and advancing the profession’s reputation and knowledge base.
- Graduates of all programs of the School have the knowledge, skills and values they need to create and/or identify and acquire new information about professional social work practice as such information becomes available throughout the course of their careers.
- Graduates of all programs of the School are competent users of technologies and proficient consumers of training opportunities that support their lifelong professional development, and they are committed to remaining professionally and technologically proficient throughout the course of their careers in the social work profession.
The Bachelor of Social Work Program
The Bachelor of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
The overarching goals of the BSW Program are:
- Prepare students for entry into the social work profession as generalist practitioners.
- Prepare students for continued professional development opportunities.
All social work majors must formally apply to the School of Social Work during the spring/summer semester prior to their junior year.
To be eligible for consideration of candidacy, students must have
- A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 (4.0 scale)
- Completion of the following components of the general education curriculum:
a. All Foundation Categories; except Mathematical Sciences
b. Cultures Category: US Diversity
c. Basic Skills Categories: WRT 150 and MTH 110
- School of Social Work Prerequisite Course Requirements (See chart below right)
- Earned a minimum grade of B- (2.7) and not have repeated the following courses more than once: PLS 102; PSY 303; PSY or SOC 360; SOC 280; SOC 382 or SW 300; SOC 384; SOC 385; and SW 150.
- Though it is recommended that PSY 3203, PSY/SOC 360, and SOC 382/SW 300 be completed prior to candidacy, you may complete these courses concurrent with SW courses outlined in the 3rd year. These courses must be satisfied to continue in the 4th year.
Completed candidacy applications are reviewed by the School of Social Work faculty. Accepted applicants are awarded candidacy for the B.S.W. degree and are eligible for enrollment in speciﬁed third- and fourth-year professional social work courses. Applicants who are not accepted are advised and referred to the BSW Director.
Upon declaration of social work as a major, students will be assigned a faculty mentor to assist the student with questions regarding the profession. In addition, students are encouraged to make contact with the College of Community and Public Service Undergraduate Advising Center. www.gvsu.edu/ccpsadvising
BSW Field Education Director: Lehker
Field education practice is a signiﬁcant and integral part of the student’s total professional training. In the fall semester of the junior year, students are required to complete SW 348 Field Education Practice Laboratory. Students are required to complete and submit the Application for Field Practice in Social Work. The minimum requirements for entering field practice are:
- An overall 2.5 GPA.
- A minimum B- (2.7 GPA) grade in the cognate courses required for BSW Candidacy.
- An overall 3.0 GPA in social work courses.
- Maintenance of ofﬁcial “candidacy status.”
- Successful completion of all ﬁrst-, second-, and third-year required courses.
- A schedule that allows two full days of ﬁeldwork during the fall and winter semesters.
Students commence field practice in the fall of their senior year and must follow course sequence. Students must simultaneously enroll in field education practice and field education seminar. The ﬁeld education practice requirement consists of a minimum of 225 clock hours per semester for two consecutive semesters in a human service agency selected to meet the student’s educational and professional needs and interests. These hours are accumulated at the rate of 15 hours per week for 15 weeks. All field education practice students will receive and are expected to become familiar with the Manual for Field Education Practice: Policies and Procedures. Elective social work practice courses and ﬁeld education seminars are taken in conjunction with a field education practice. Students entering a field practice must arrange or provide their own transportation.
The Master of Social Work Program
The Master of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
The goals of for the MSW Advanced Generalist Program are:
- To award the graduate degree to individuals who are not only skilled practitioners but also capable of assuming leadership and scholarly professional roles in the community, region, state, national and global communities.
- To contribute to the ongoing development of professional social work knowledge and practice through research and scholarly inquiry that employ state-of-the-art technology.
- To maximize the strengths and assets within local, regional, statewide, national and international social welfare and human services communities through direct participation in organizing, leading, and participating in effective capacity building and social and political action activities.
The Advanced Generalist Model
The Advanced Generalist Model is built on a liberal arts education that promotes the use of critical thinking skills and conscientious application of advanced practice social work knowledge, skills, values and ethics. The advanced generalist serves a dual purpose. First the model integrates the advanced practice skills concentration curriculum to equip graduates to meet the diverse demands presented by unique social service delivery system and second it provides the context for students in which the program achieves its goals.
Features of the Advanced Generalist Model are designed to:
- Enhance the depth and breadth of practice in a multi-method, multi-level and theoretically grounded perspective
- Refine and shape advanced practitioners through acquisition of professional competencies to assess, intervene, and evaluate within all systems and within all practice environments
- Affirm that human problems derive from a complex interplay of psychological, social, cultural, economic, political, biological and physical forces
- Prepare students to effectively intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
- Expand and enhance the foundation of generalist social work core competencies with advanced knowledge and practice behaviors
- Acquire advanced skills in leadership, collaboration, administration, advocacy, assessment, problem solving, intervention, cultural competency, communication, collaboration, community building, program evaluation, organizational management, policy analysis, and scientific inquiry
The integration of professional practice skills within the Advanced Generalist curriculum model results in mastery of social work’s core competencies and advanced generalist practitioners are proficient in a wide range of interventions, skills, roles, theories, systems and settings (Jones & Pierce, 2006).
Admission and Academic Requirements
Director of Recruitment and Admissions: Owens
For general requirements, see the Admission section of the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog.
Admission Policies for Regular MSW & MSW Advanced Standing
GVSU School of Social Work welcomes applications to the Master’s program. There are two distinct admission dates that guarantee review:
- February 1 for students applying for “advanced standing”
- March 15 for students applying for “regular admission”
- Applications received later than these dates are not guaranteed review.
- The following standards are requirements for admissions:
I. Admission Requirements for Advanced Standing Students:
Policies and Procedures for Advanced Standing
As described on the University website and in the University Catalog (2009, p. 718), the School of Social Work recognizes superior academic performance by students who have graduated from a Council on Social Work Education - accredited undergraduate social work or social welfare department or program within five years prior to enrollment in the MSW program. Advanced Standing students are exempted from 19 hours of first-year core and may therefore accelerate their graduate study by completing the remaining 41 hours of degree requirements in one calendar year. The courses exempted are SW 600, SW 601, SW 603, SW 610, SW 620, SW 650, and SW 651.
All Advanced Standing students may take a 100-item diagnostic proficiency examination in research methods. A score of 75% or higher on the test will qualify the student for exemption from SW 690 Research Methods I. This reduces to 38 hours the degree requirements remaining for completion.
- Applicants must have an overall GPA no lower than 3.0 in their undergraduate coursework.
- Official transcripts must note that the BSW degree has been awarded from a CSWE accredited program.
- All BSW foundation coursework must have 3.0 or higher to receive credit.
- Three professional recommendations, one must be from her/his BSW field instructor (forms provided).
- Applicants must submit a Field Education competency form evaluation (form provided).
- Must demonstrate successful (3.0 GPA) performance across ALL areas of field with no major concerns.
- A resume, detailing work and volunteer experiences.
- Graduate Admission Statement: A personal statement answering the four questions detailed in our Admissions packet.
- Coursework Requirement Form (form provided).
- Field Education Competency Form (form provided).
Advanced Standing Graduate Eligibility Degrees
Advanced standing is awarded only to graduates holding degrees from baccalaureate social work programs:
- Accredited by CSWE.
- Recognized by its International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service.
- Covered under a memorandum of understanding with international social work accreditors.
II. Admission Requirements for Regular Degree-Seeking MSW Applicants
- Three letters of recommendation from individuals able to attest to the candidate’s qualifications for graduate work and professional practice.
- Graduate admissions statement.
- Current resume detailing work and volunteer experience.
- Field Education competency form (for Advanced Standing applicants only).
- Coursework Requirement Form.
III. Appeal Review Process
Applicants not meeting the basic requirements such as: 3.0 grade point average, 18 credit hours in social sciences, liberal arts foundation, etc. set forth above must include a letter of appeal with explanations clearly defining their academic deficiencies.
The ﬁeld education practice component of the M.S.W. program is the signature pedagogy of the social work student’s overall educational experience. It provides opportunities for the development, integration, and application of professional knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes. Placements are made in a wide variety of human service settings in the public and private sectors.
Twelve of the 60 credit hours (Eight of the 41 credit hours for Advanced Standing) required for the M.S.W. degree are granted for ﬁeld education. Admitted students will participate in three academic semesters of supervised, agency-based ﬁeld instruction, for a minimum of 21-26 hours per week. Placements are made in afﬁliated agencies selected on the basis of their commitment to social work education and their willingness to provide a professional learning environment, meaningful experiences, and supportive resources consistent with the core competencies provided by the Council of Social Work Education (2008). Prior to entering field education practice each student must attend a scheduled mandatory Field Education Orientation seminar.
In order to be assigned a ﬁeld placement and remain in the field education practice setting, a student must:
- Have completed all prerequisites and other requirements for ﬁeld placement.
- Possess and maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA.
- Have no more than one incomplete grade.
Students who would like a field education practice placement in a school setting must take SW 650 Field Education I and SW 651 Field Education Seminar I during the winter semester. All other students will begin field education practice spring/summer semester.
Advanced Standing: Full Time or Part Time
The School of Social Work recognizes superior academic performance by students who have graduated from a Council on Social Work Education accredited undergraduate social work or social welfare department or program within five years prior to enrollment in the Grand Valley State University M.S.W. Program. A minimum GPA of 3.0 in social work courses from a CSWE accredited baccalaureate program may qualify prospective students for advanced standing. Advanced Standing students are exempted from 19 hours of ﬁrst-year core or foundation courses and may therefore accelerate their graduate study by completing the remaining 41 hours of degree requirements in one calendar year. The courses exempted are SW 600, SW 601, SW 603, SW 610, SW 620, SW 650, and SW 651. All Advanced Standing students may take a 100-item diagnostic proﬁciency examination in research methods. A score of 75 or higher will qualify the student for exemption from SW 690 Research Methods I. This reduces to 38 hours the degree requirements remaining for completion. Students admitted to the full time Advanced Standing program must begin their studies during the summer session and continue full time during the subsequent fall and winter semesters. Students admitted as part time Advanced Standing students begin fall semester and continue part time during the subsequent two years. The school may, in certain instances, prescribe additional coursework in areas of particular weakness or need. Advanced Standing applicants may be interviewed prior to admission.
The School of Social Work B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs do not award academic credit for students’ life experiences or previous work experiences.
Students enrolled in School of Social Work curriculum must be cognizant of the fact that past or future criminal conduct may limit or prevent placement in a field practice agency. Because field practice is a B.S.W. and M.S.W. curriculum imperative, the social work degree is awarded only after successful completion of all requirements. Furthermore, past or present criminal conduct may render an individual ineligible to secure a state license and the privilege to practice social work.
Students who are not seeking a graduate degree or who have not completed all of the admissions requirements of their chosen program may be granted non-degree seeking status. A maximum of six SW semester credits earned at Grand Valley State University as a non-degree seeking student may be considered for transfer to degree seeking status. Enrollment as a non-degree seeking student does not guarantee formal admission to the M.S.W. program. Non-degree status students are limited to two of the following: SW 600, SW 601, SW 610, and/or SW 620.
Changing Status from Non-degree to Degree Seeking
Students who seek a change in status must:
- Submit all required admission materials.
- Submit a degree seeking application form to the GVSU Admissions Ofﬁce.
The School of Social Work has established procedures for determining the award of credit for previous academic coursework and to address the issue of redundancy. It is noted that:
- The maximum of 30 semester hours of transfer credit for graduate courses completed with a grade of B or better at another CSWE accredited M.S.W. program.
- A foundation course may be waived when the student demonstrates proﬁciency through examination in the speciﬁc foundation course. In this instance, the course is waived but the number of credits must be satisﬁed with other coursework.
- Transfer credits are not granted for courses completed more than ﬁve years before enrollment in the Grand Valley M.S.W. program or for courses taken toward the completion of another degree.
The following programs are available:
Bachelor of Social Work
Master of Social Work
School Social Work Certification