For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Community and Public Service section of this catalog.
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 on social justice and on meeting the significant professional workforce needs of an expansive West Michigan social services sector remain strong. Another 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:
- The School of Social Work provides a generalist social work curriculum in a high-quality learning environment that prepares B.S.W. 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 not limited to West Michigan and the State of Michigan.
- The School of Social Work provides an M.S.W. foundation curriculum in a high-quality learning environment that prepares students for success in our advanced generalist social work specialization.
- The School of Social Work provides an advanced generalist social work curriculum that prepares M.S.W. 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 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 the profession’s Code of Ethics, incorporating diversity into their practice, and advancing the profession’s reputation and knowledge base.
- Graduates of the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs have the knowledge, skills, and values they need to create and/or acquire new information about professional social work practice as they advance throughout 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.
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 the 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.
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 B.S.W. program:
- To prepare students for entry into the social work profession as generalist practitioners
- To 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)
- Completed 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 one general education
- Met School of Social Work prerequisite course requirements
- Earned a minimum grade of B- (2.7) and not have repeated the following courses more than once: PLS 102; PSY 303; PSY 360 or SOC 360; SOC 105; SOC 313 or SW 300; SOC 252; SOC 315; and SW 150.
- Though it is recommended that PSY 303, PSY/SOC 360, and SOC 313/SW 300 be completed prior to candidacy, you may complete these courses concurrent with SW courses outlined in the third year. These courses must be satisfied to continue in the fourth 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 B.S.W 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
B.S.W Field Education Coordinator: Scheuerle
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:
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 the 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.
Master of Social Work Program
The Master of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
The goals of the M.S.W. advanced generalist program:
- 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 model integrates the advanced practice skills concentration curriculum to equip graduates to meet the diverse demands presented by unique social service delivery systems.
Features of the advanced generalist model are designed to
- enhance the depth and breadth of practice in a multimethod, multilevel, multi-systemic, 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, and advocating for environmental justice through community engagement;
- expand and enhance the foundation of generalist social work core competencies with advanced knowledge and practice behaviors; and
- through high-impact learning, acquire advanced skills in leadership, collaboration, administration, advocacy, assessment, problem solving, intervention, cultural competency, communication, 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 and Pierce, 2006).
Admission and Academic Requirements
For general requirements, see the Admissions section of the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog.
Admission to the Regular M.S.W and M.S.W. Advanced Standing Programs
GVSU School of Social Work welcomes applications to the master’s program. There are three distinct admission dates that guarantee review:
- February 1 for students applying for full-time advanced standing
- March 15 for students applying for part-time advanced standing or regular admission in the full- or part-time program
- October 1 for students applying for winter semester, part-time regular program only
- Applications received later than these dates are not guaranteed review.
The following standards are requirements for admissions:
I. Admission Requirements for M.S.W. Advanced Standing Students:
Policies and Procedures for Advanced Standing
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 M.S.W. program.
A minimum GPA of 3.0 in each social work course from a CSWE accredited baccalaureate program may qualify prospective students for 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. Advanced standing students are required to maintain a 3.00 GPA throughout their program.
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 spring/summer semester 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.
- Applicants must have an overall GPA no lower than 3.0 in their undergraduate coursework.
- Official transcripts must note that the B.S.W. degree has been awarded from a CSWE accredited program.
- All B.S.W. coursework must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to qualify for application for advanced standing.
- Exception to above statement: if applicant possesses a GPA below 3.0 in a B.S.W. course, they must have a cumulative overall 3.5 GPA social work coursework.
- Three professional (academic or employment) recommendations are required from individuals able to attest to the candidate’s qualifications for graduate work and professional practice.
- Must demonstrate successful (3.0 GPA) performance across ALL areas of field with no major concerns.
- A current resume, detailing work and volunteer experiences.
- Graduate admission statement: A personal statement answering the five questions detailed in the Admissions packet.
- Coursework Requirement Form, found in the Admissions packet.
Advanced Standing Graduate Eligibility Degrees
Advanced standing is awarded only to graduates holding degrees from baccalaureate social work programs:
- Accredited by CSWE, or
- Recognized by its International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service, or
- Covered under a memorandum of understanding with international social work accreditors.
II. Admission Requirements for Regular Degree-Seeking M.S.W. Applicants
- Three professional (academic or employment) recommendations are required from individuals able to attest to the candidate’s qualifications for graduate work and professional practice
- Applicants must have an overall GPA no lower than 3.0 in their undergraduate coursework
- Graduate admissions statement, responding to the five questions detailed in the Admissions packet
- Current resume detailing work and volunteer experience
- Coursework Requirement Form, found in the Admission’s packet.
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 cognitive and affective processes. Placements are made in a wide variety of human service settings in the public and private sectors.
Field Education for Advanced Standing Students
Eight of the 41 credit hours required for the M.S.W. degree are devoted to field education. Admitted students will participate in two consecutive academic semesters of supervised, agency-based field instruction, for a minimum of 21 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 nine core competencies provided by the Council on Social Work Education (2015). 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 a B.S.W. degree;
- possess and maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA, and;
- have no more than one incomplete grade.
Field Education for Regular M.S.W. Students
Twelve of the 60 credit hours required for the M.S.W. degree are devoted to field education. Admitted students will participate in three consecutive 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 nine core competencies provided by the Council on Social Work Education (2015). 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, and;
- 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 regular program students will begin field education practice spring/summer semester.
Students who are not seeking a graduate degree or who have not completed all of the admission requirements of their chosen program may apply for nondegree-seeking status. A maximum of six Social Work semester credits earned at Grand Valley State University as a nondegree-seeking student may be considered for transfer to degree-seeking status. Enrollment as a nondegree-seeking student does not guarantee formal admission to the M.S.W. program. Nondegree status students are limited to two of the following: SW 600, SW 601, SW 610, and/or SW 620.
Changing Status from Nondegree- to Degree-seeking
Students who seek a change in status must
- submit all required admission materials; and
- submit a degree-seeking graduate 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.
- The maximum of 18 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