Bachelor of Social Work

A time-honored profession that is vital to enhancing human well-being, social workers improve societal conditions by promoting social justice and addressing the needs of those who are vulnerable and affected by poverty. Social workers primarily assist families, disadvantaged children or elderly citizens who are in transition. Alvernia's Bachelor of Social Work program offers a rigorous, caring and inclusive learning community, preparing you for employment or for graduate studies.


Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) graduates who meet the criteria are eligible for Advanced Standing, meaning they can complete an accelerated curriculum to earn a master’s degree in social work from CSWE-accredited MSW programs.


Getting Started

Where You Can Get A Degree

The Bachelor of Social Work is available at the following Alvernia University campus:

General Notes
  • A minimum of 123 credits are required for graduation.
  • Credits earned for COM 100 and MAT 100 do not count toward the 123 credits required for graduation; however, COM 100 students may petition for elective credit.
  • Where appropriate, courses required for the major can be used to satisfy General Education requirements. However, the credits earned for these courses are applied to either Gen Ed requirements or the major, not both.
  • Paths of Knowledge coursework may count towards major or minor requirements, but may not fulfill a second Mid-Level Liberal Arts Exploration requirement.
  • Students are expected to follow the catalog requirements for General Education, the major, and additional requirements.
  • A minor or second major within the areas listed under Paths of Knowledge automatically fulfills that area of the Gen Ed requirements.
Application Instructions

Through a rolling admission process, prospective undergraduate students — including first-year, transfer, and international students — may apply via the Alvernia web portal or The Common Application. To learn more about how to complete your application, please visit our application page.

Financing Your Education

There are options to assist in financing your education and making the tuition affordable. Visit our Student Financial Services page for a detailed overview of the process, including a link to complete the FAFSA application, as well as more information about tuition, the tuition payment plan and the tuition deferment program we offer. Alvernia’s Title IV code for the FAFSA is 003233. The Office of Student Financial Services is available to help with any questions you may have. Call 610-796-8201 or email sfs@alvernia.edu.

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Why Choose Alvernia?
• A nationally ranked comprehensive regional university, Alvernia offers more than 50 majors and minors.
• An ever-expanding number of experiential learning opportunities includes internships, field experiences, co-ops, research projects, and study/service abroad programs.
• A rich campus life allows students to enjoy a full calendar of activities and events, more than 50 clubs, intramural sport and student leadership and governance opportunities.
• In growth mode, Alvernia continues to add value to its student experience: expanding academic programming in new facilities; adding student living space and updating residence halls; partnering with a community health provider; and adding amenities including a game room and new performance space.


 

Program Overview

Major Notes
  • A student must complete 45 credits before making formal application to the program. See the departmental Student Handbook for additional information.
  • Social Work applicants must complete an application for entrance into the department, plus have an interview with a departmental faculty before being informed of acceptance.
  • Students who achieve junior status must maintain an overall GPA of 2.5 to remain in good academic standing within the Social Work Department.
  • Students may repeat/delete one Social Work course throughout the Social Work program.
Curriculum: General Education

All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. You’ll need to complete 54-56 liberal arts core credits and complete community service hours. In addition, Social Work majors must complete 64 credits in the major.

First Year Curriculum: Enduring Questions

  • SEARCH Seminar-Enduring Questions or Honor Search-Enduring Questions (3 credits: SRH 101 or HNR 160)
  • COM 101 Composition & Research: Must earn a C or higher (3 credits)
  • THE 105 Foundations of Theology (3 credits)
  • PHI 105 Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits)


Mid-Level Liberal Arts Exploration Credits

  • Exploring the Natural World (6-8 credits)
    • Lab Science (Met in related requirements)
    • Math (Met in related requirements)
  • Individuals & Communities (6 credits)
    • History or Political Science
    • PSY 101, HIS, POS, SOC, SSC, or ECON (Met in related requirements)
  • Culture & Language (9 credits)
    • Communication (Not COM 100 or 101)
    • World Language – 2 courses in sequence
  • Creative Expressions (6 credits)
    • Literature (ENG)
    • Art, Music, or Theatre


Ethical Leaders and Followers Credits

  • Theology or Philosophy (200-400 level)
  • Theology or Philosophy (Ethics/Morality @ 200 level)
Curriculum: Paths of Knowledge

Paths of Knowledge may count towards minor or Related Requirements, but not Mid-Level Arts Exploration requirements. Choose one path.

PATH 1: Interdisciplinary Study (IS)

Three courses, at least two from Liberal Arts disciplines, not the major, at the 200-400 level from the interdisciplinary minors of Women & Gender Studies, Digital Media, Community & Environmental Sustainability, Community Engagement, Cultural Studies, Leadership Studies or Pre-Law.

PATH 2: Multi-disciplinary Study (MS)

Three courses, at least two from Liberal Arts disciplines, not the major, at the 200-400 level employing multiple disciplinary perspectives to explore the Enduring Questions in one of the following themes: Cultural & Global Studies, Imagination & Creativity, Peace & Conflict, Poverty & Wealth or Sustainability, Science & Technology.

PATH 3: In-depth Disciplinary Study (DS)

Three courses at the 200-400 level in one Liberal Arts discipline other than one’s major, guided by common ideas and methods of inquiry. Students choose from Art, Biology, Chemistry, Communication, Computer Science, Economics, English, History, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Theology, Theatre or World Languages. This path may be used to give students a firm foundation in a discipline supporting their chosen major, or to pursue an interest in one of the Liberal Arts disciplines. 

Curriculum: Major Requirements

All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. You’ll need to complete 54-56 liberal arts core credits and complete community service hours. In addition, Social Work majors must complete 64 credits in the major. A grade of "C" or better is required for all Social Work courses.

Social Work Major Requirements (43 Credits)

  • SW 201 Introduction to Social Work
  • SW 301 Social Welfare (pre-requisite: SW 201)
  • SW 302 Social Policy (pre-requisite: SW 301)
  • SW 303 Human Behavior/Social Environment I (pre-requisites: SW 201, PSY 101, SOC 111)
  • SW 304 Human Behavior/Social Environment II (pre-requisite: SW 303)
  • SW 305 Social Work Practice I (pre-requisites: SW 201, one course in PSY, one course in SOC)
  • SW 306 Social Work Practice II (pre-requisite: SW 305)
  • SW 316 Introduction to Field Education (pre-requisite: SW 305)
  • SW 401 Social Work Practice III (pre-requisite: SW 306)
  • SW 402 Social Work Practice IV - Capstone (pre-requisite: SW 401)
  • SW 403 Senior Field Education I (pre-requisites: SW 306, 316; co-requisite: SW 407)
  • SW 404 Senior Field Education II (pre-requisite: SW 401; co-requisite: SW 408)
  • SW 405 Methods of Social Research (pre-requisites: MAT 208 or 209; senior standing, juniors need instructor’s permission)
  • SW 407 Senior Field Education I Seminar (pre-requisites: All major requirements; co-requisite: SW 403)
  • SW 408 Senior Field Education II Seminar (pre-requisites: All major requirements; co-requisite: SW 404)

 

Required Social Work Electives (9 elective credits)

  • SW 202: Social Services to Children
  • SW 203: The Process of Aging
  • SW 209: Death, Dying and Bereavement
  • SW 211: Intervention Strategies for Families
  • SW 220: Mental Health Across the Lifespan
  • SW 231: Culturally Sensitive Human Practice
  • SW 322: Healthcare, Chronic Illness, and the Social Work Profession 


Related Requirement (12 credits)

  • Sociology course
  • BIO 109 Human Biology
  • MAT 208 Introductory Statistics
  • PSY 101: Introductory Psychology
Experiential Learning Opportunities
  • Students participate in internships, interprofessional learning opportunities, community service and engagement activities.
  • Phi Alpha Honor Society provides leadership opportunities and service initiatives for the community.
  • Social Work Clubs in Reading and Philadelphia hold annual initiatives to meet the needs of the underserved.
Accreditation Statement
  • Alvernia University’s social work programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
  • Alvernia is an accredited institution and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Career Outlook

After earning your Bachelor of Social Work, you can pursue a variety of careers, including:

  • 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 social worker
  • Therapeutic support staff


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social workers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than average for all occupations. The median annual wage in 2022 was $55,350.

Opportunities for Majors

The Alvernia University Social Work Association

The focus is on a framework of friendship and international relations through service work with the United Nations. The club requires one international service project per year and one local service project. The two missions go hand in hand. The Social Work Association will further promote the mission of Alvernia University.
 

Phi Alpha, Zeta Upsilon Chapter

Phi Alpha aims to promote a closer bond among students of social work and to enter into more intimate fellowship with those dedicated to the promotion of humanitarian goals and ideals by a professional group for which quality educational preparation is deemed imperative. Students and faculty involved in social work education at Alvernia University would like to foster high standards of education for social work and to invite into membership those who have attained excellence of scholarship and distinction of achievement as students of social work. 

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Get to Know Your Faculty

For more information about Alvernia’s Social Work program contact the Admissions Office at 610-796-8269 or admissions@alvernia.edu. Or reach out directly to Social Work Program Director Michael Hassler at 610-568-1490 or michael.hassler@alvernia.edu.