Social Work


Top 50 Bachelor Social Work ProgramsWith a goal of enhancing human well-being, fostering respect and dignity among all and promoting social justice, social work is a time-honored and vital profession. Trained and professional social workers can improve societal conditions by addressing the needs of those who are vulnerable, and those affected by poverty.

Social workers might work with disadvantaged children, or elderly citizens who are in transition for housing or services. They might counsel a young mother so that she’s better able to care for her children, or steer family members toward an agency or organization that can help them find temporary housing.

Alvernia’s social work program mirrors Franciscan values and the idea of “knowledge joined by love” that are hallmarks of the University’s philosophy and mission. As a social work major at Alvernia, you’ll be a member of a rigorous, caring and inclusive learning community. We not only strive for academic excellence, but work to foster students who are broadly educated, life-long learners; reflective professionals; engaged citizens; and ethical leaders with moral courage.

Accredited by The Council on Social Work Education, Alvernia’s social work program prepares you for employment or for graduate studies. Due to the program’s accreditation status, you can pursue an expedited curriculum to earn your master’s degree, if desired.

Much of your learning will not take place in Alvernia’s classrooms, but in the field. As a junior and senior you’ll be placed in internships with social service agencies that are tailored to your interests. Alvernia’s location in a small, ethnically diverse city provides ample opportunities for training to become a generalist social work professional. As a senior, you may have the opportunity to participate in a block field placement in Washington, D.C.

Regardless of the nature and location of your field placements, at the end of your study at Alvernia you’ll be ready to enter the social work profession as a competent and effective worker who will make a difference in the lives of those they serve.


Why should you study social work at Alvernia University?
Because at Alvernia you get all the benefits of an outstanding university education in a manageable setting with personal attention and unique opportunities that can benefit you as you move toward your career.

Small Class Size
Alvernia has an average 12:1 student-faculty ratio, with fewer than 20 students in most classes. This facilitates valuable, professional relationships among faculty members and students. In these small class settings, you get individual attention to help you excel.

Faculty Who Care
Alvernia’s faculty members aren’t just teachers. They’re experts in their fields who are committed to passing along their knowledge and expertise to their students. In small class settings faculty members become mentors and advisors, intent on helping you learn, grow and succeed.

Research Opportunities
Social work majors may have opportunities to work with faculty members on research projects relating to their areas of concentration. This collaboration prepares students for professions and/or graduate school.

Honors Program
Alvernia’s Honors Program for students who are academically gifted and highly motivated is designed to allow students to work at their own pace and to recognize and encourage academic excellence. Honors students interact with one another to exchange ideas and information across a wide range of disciplines and interests.

The Honors Program offers co-curricular activities, service opportunities and intellectual and social support to encourage students to exceed their own expectations. Learn more about Alvernia’s Honors Programs at

Get Real
Classroom learning is valuable and necessary, but out-of-the-classroom, experiential learning provides social work students with hands-on, real world learning opportunities that enrich your educational experience and are highly valued by employers.

You’ll have opportunities for experiences such as internships, co-ops, clinical experiences, field experiences, community service and campus events. Participating in these types of experiences help you stretch and grow toward your full potential.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Get Real program at

Study Abroad
Living and studying outside of the United States can change you in ways you can’t begin to envision. Students who study abroad typically gain immeasurable confidence and experiences they could not have imagined.

Many social work majors have benefitted from participation in a Study Abroad program in countries including New Zealand, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Morocco, Palestine, China and Mexico.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Study Abroad program at


With a degree in social work from Alvernia University, you will be prepared to work in an entry level position in the generalist social work profession. You might seek employment in an area such as child welfare, geriatrics, the medical field or mental health. Or, you might work with individuals who have intellectual disabilities or have been placed in the criminal justice system.

Graduates of Alvernia’s social work program generally find jobs rather easily. About 99 percent of graduates find employment before, or soon after graduation, often with the agency where they completed undergraduate practicums. Students who meet the GPA requirement upon graduation may be eligible for advanced standing for a master of social work degree. Eligible students can have credits from their undergraduate degree applied to their master's degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social workers is expected to increase by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022 – a rate higher than average for all occupations. Some career opportunities for social workers include:

  • Addiction counselor
  • Agency director
  • Caseworker
  • Child or family counselor
  • Child welfare worker
  • Crisis intervention worker
  • Foster care and adoption specialist
  • Criminal justice prevention and rehabilitation
  • Foster care and adoption
  • Department of Public Welfare employee
  • Hospice worker
  • Mental health rehabilitation specialist
  • Nursing home social worker
  • Religious or ethnic social worker
  • Therapeutic support staff

While some social work graduates seek employment immediately, others choose to continue their educations in pursuit of a master’s degree.

Some graduates have gone on to complete their Master degrees at he following colleges and universities:

  • University of Pennsylvania, Hunter College
  • West Chester University,
  • Marywood University,
  • Widener University and other accredited programs.

For more information about Alvernia’s social work program contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or For more information about the study of social work in general, including what types of jobs are available for graduates, go to the National Association of Social Workers’ website at


All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree, and social work majors must complete 65 credits in the major.

Required courses for social work majors are:
SW 201 Introduction to Social Work
SW 301 Social Welfare
SW 302 Social Policy
SW 303 Human Behavior/Social Environment I
SW 304 Human Behavior/Social Environment II
SW 305 Social Work Practice I
SW 306 Social Work Practice II
SW 316 Introduction to Field Education
SW 401 Social Work Practice III
SW 402 Social Work Practice IV – Capstone
SW 403 Senior Field Education I
SW 404 Senior Field Education II
SW 405 Methods of Social Research
SW 407 Senior Field Education I Seminar
SW 408 Senior Field Education II Seminar

Required courses in related areas are:
BIO 109 Human Biology
MAT 209 Probability and Statistics
Psychology course (3 credits)
Sociology course (3 credits)

Choose nine elective credits from:
SW 202 Social Services to Children
SW 203 The Process of Aging
SW 207 Intervention Strategies for Families
SW 209 Death, Dying and Bereavement
SW 211 Intervention Strategies for Families
SW 220 Mental Health Across the Life Span
SW 231 Culturally Sensitive Human Service Practice
SW 318 Child Advocacy I: Perspectives on Child Maltreatment and Advocacy
SW 319 Child Advocacy II: Professional & System Responses to Child Maltreatment
SW 320 Child Advocacy III: Responding to the Survivor of Child Abuse & Survivor Responses
SW 322 Healthcare, Chronic Illness, and the Social Work Profession

Social work majors can tailor their educations to receive a minor in gerontology, a field with job opportunities that are rapidly expanding. A minor in gerontology offers one-to-one involvement with older adults, class experience in a variety of geriatric settings and the theory necessary to work effectively with this population.

Required courses for a gerontology minor are:
SW 201 Introduction to Social Work
SW 203 The Process of Aging
SW 209 Death, Dying and Bereavement
SW 211 Intervention Strategies for Families
SW 305 Social Work Practice I
SW 316 Introduction to Field Education

You can learn more about all courses offered by Alvernia University by viewing the 2015-2016 Academic Course Catalogue at

Your Real World Learning Experience
Alvernia believes that real world experience is extremely important, as it can improve your confidence and introduce you to professionals in your intended field of employment. That’s why all social work majors are required to work in social agency settings during their junior and senior years. Your faculty advisor can help you determine field placements that make sense for you and will help to advance your careers goals.

In addition to field placements in your major, all Alvernia students participate in service learning, a teaching and learning experience that enables students to get real-world learning while benefiting a community partner.

Social work majors also have an opportunity for a block field placement in Washington, D.C. If you’re in good academic standing as a sophomore, you can apply to participate in the field placement during the last semester of your senior year. If accepted, you would be placed in an agency that could provide experience specific to policy, child welfare, aging, mental health and many other areas, and you work and live with other students from all parts of the country.

You also may have an opportunity to spend a semester in Washington, D.C. at The Washington Center, an organization that offers residential academic programs and internships in the nation’s capital. Students typically participate in The Washington Center program during their junior year. If you participate, you could be placed in a non-profit that works with disadvantaged youth, or a government agency that addresses social policy issues.

You can learn more about the Washington Center and opportunities available there at Also, you can find out more about real world learning at

Research Opportunities
Research is a valuable aspect of any education. Social work majors have the opportunity to assist faculty members who conduct research and write on a variety of complex topics, including the use of social media in social work practice and community intergenerational health and well- being.

The Honors Program
If you’re academically gifted and highly motivated, you may want to learn more about Alvernia’s Undergraduate Honors Program. Honors students have opportunities to take courses dealing with unusual topics and participate in a variety of activities. You can learn more about the Honors Program and how to apply at

The Eight-Semester Plan
You can do it! It’s easy to stay on track to graduate in four years if you pay close attention to what classes you need and make sure to take them in a timely manner. Advisors are available to assist in planning academic programs, course selection and registration, but it’s your job to make sure that you meet all academic requirements and comply with University policies.

Start planning well in advance for your field placements, study abroad or other off-campus experience, as you’ll need to assure that you will be able to complete all required coursework.

Study Opportunities beyond Campus
Your college years are the perfect time to broaden your horizons and participate in experiences that will change your life. Alvernia offers some great opportunities for students who want to spend some time studying beyond its campus.

In addition to spending a semester at the Washington Center, you might want to consider a semester abroad.

Study Abroad Programs
Studying in a different country can be life changing. Alvernia’s Study Abroad Office works closely with students who want to spend one or more semesters in a different country. Social work students have studied and traveled in, among other countries, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and England.

You pay the regular Alvernia tuition while studying abroad, and continue to receive financial aid, if applicable. Credits earned count toward your Alvernia undergraduate degree.

If you’re interested in studying in another country you should start planning early, as you’ll need to start the application process about a year in advance.

You can get more information about these programs from the Study Abroad Office at or by contacting

Year-by-Year Major Map


Think Globally

  • Explore opportunities for study abroad, alternative break trips, pilgrimage to Assisi, the Washington Center and service trips
  • Start at the Study Abroad Office or

Take the Right Classes

  • Review general education, University and Major requirements
  • Be aware of which semester required courses are offered
  • Focus on getting good grades

Get Good Advice

  • Get to know social work faculty and your advisor
  • Visit the Educational Planning Center on the first floor of Bernardine Hall

Real Life Learning

  • Explore opportunities for upcoming field placements
  • Utilize skills acquired in First Year Experience

Make the Right Connections

  • Identify peers that support your academic goals
  • Get involved by joining the Social Work Association or look into applying for the Phi Alpha Honor Society. Consider getting involved with the Student Government Association, or join some of the many other student clubs and community organizations

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Develop a working resume
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Begin the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


Think Globally

  • Review opportunities for extended learning and, if applicable, start planning with the Study Abroad Office

Take the Right Classes

  • Make sure you’ve reviewed which semester required courses are available
  • Focus on getting good grades

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to social work faculty and your advisor about your career interests and how to identify opportunities that may enhance your chances of finding a job in that area
  • Start planning for field placements in your junior and senior years
  • Apply for participation as a senior in block field placement in Washington, D.C., if interested
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that relate to your specific interests
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests
  • Get familiar with the Educational Planning Center’s Internship data base

Make the Right Connections

  • Volunteer for community service
  • Stay involved in clubs and organizations
  • Observe the roles of those in leadership positions
  • Form study groups

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Update working resume
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Complete the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


Think Globally

  • Participate in Study Abroad program, if applicable
  • Participate in service trips or “May”mester

Take the Right Classes

  • Work with your advisor or other faculty member to secure a field placement
  • Focus on getting good grades and improving GPA
  • Consult with your advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to faculty members about career or graduate school opportunities
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Get familiar with, a career services library available on Educational Planning Center’s website

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that related to your specific interest
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests

Make the Right Connections

  • Assume leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in your field

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Get feedback on your working resume from the Educational Planning Center
  • Get resume ready for practicum applications and job fairs
  • Work on getting recommendations
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Look for coaching opportunities


Think Globally

  • Look for service opportunities

Take the Right Classes

  • Successfully complete two field placements
  • Participate in block field placement in Washington, D.C., if applicable
  • If minoring in gerontology, make sure you’ve completed all the necessary courses

Get Good Advice

  • Work closely with your advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Talk to faculty members about career or graduate school opportunities
  • Ask for advice from professionals in your area of interest

Real Life Learning

  • Successfully complete your field experiences
  • Participate in off-campus activities, such volunteering with an Alvernia community partner

Make the Right Connections

  • Continue in leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in your field
  • Attend campus events at which alumni are present
  • Meet professionals in the community who work in your area of interest

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Fine tune your resume
  • Search for jobs through
  • Finalize recommendations
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Attend the Alvernia Job Fair

Alvernia is committed to serving the needs of its students. Whether you have questions or problems related to academics, life on campus, student activities, social activities or any other issue, there is someone available to help you. You can learn more about all student services at

Educational Planning Center
The Educational Planning Center offers advice and support to help you with any problems or issues related to your Alvernia education. It also assists with career exploration and preparation. The office is open every day and can be contacted at 610-796-8266.

Career Services
Staff members at the Career Development office will help you with any questions you have about exploring or planning careers. They also will guide you about how to look for and apply to jobs as you get closer to graduation. The office also has a career resources library. You can learn more about career services at, or by emailing

Financial Aid
The Financial Aid office is the place to contact with any questions you have about the cost of an Alvernia education and options for paying for it. Nearly all undergraduates at Alvernia get some type of financial aid, and everyone is encouraged to apply for it. You can learn more at or by emailing

Admissions Office
If you’re interested in applying to the social work program at Alvernia, contact the Admissions Office at 610-796-3011 or at

Faculty Members
Alvernia’s social work program is staffed by dedicated, highly qualified professionals who are committed to sharing their expertise and knowledge with students. Faculty members have extensive experience in various areas of social work, and bring their professional expertise to the classroom. They often work one-on-one with students to enhance the student’s learning experience, and serve as mentors to aspiring students.

Social work faculty members are engaged in research, have written books and chapters of books, produced articles that have appeared in prestigious publications and presented nationally and internationally at conferences.

You can learn more about Alvernia social work professors and their impressive backgrounds and credentials at


There is so much more to college than classes, and social work majors at Alvernia have some excellent opportunities to get involved in activities that are both enjoyable and provide beneficial, hands-on experience. Students who get involved and engaged in extra-curricular activities benefit both academically and socially, and open themselves to integral life lessons from beyond the classroom.

You’ll be encouraged to participate in a range of activities, including some rewarding and inspiring service projects. Some organizations and activities you might enjoy include:

  • The Social Work Association encourages and promotes service throughout the university, surrounding community and the world. Social work majors are highly encouraged to join this group, which works on community service projects during the year. Membership also is open to any Alvernia student who is interested in service.
  • Alvernia’s Zeta Upsilon chapter of the Phi Alpha Honor Society is dedicated to the promotion of humanitarian goals and ideas, and provides opportunities for social work majors to work together and share common interests. Students who have achieved an overall grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and who have achieved a 3.25 grade point average in required social work courses are invited to apply for membership.
  • You can learn more about Alvernia’s Student Government Association, becoming a Student Ambassador, joining the Residence Hall Association, student trips and other activities at
  • The Holleran Center for Community Engagement serves as a bridge between the University and the community. The Center partners with a variety of organizations to provide Alvernia students with opportunities to serve. You can read more about volunteer opportunities at

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