Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Overview


With 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 (CSWE), Alvernia’s social work program prepares you for employment or for graduate studies.  A major advantage to pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is that graduates, who meet the criteria, are eligible for Advanced Standing.  This means that they can complete an accelerated curriculum to earn a master’s degree in social work from CSWE-accredited MSW programs.

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 participating agencies and facilities 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 for graduate school or to enter the profession as a competent and effective social worker who will make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

Careers in Social Work

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 social worker
  • Therapeutic support staff

hile 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 of Social Work (MSW) degrees at the following colleges and universities:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Hunter College
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Marywood University
  •  . . . and other CSWE accredited MSW programs.

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 208 Introductory Statistics or 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 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 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
Experiential Learning 

Through internships, students have opportunities to apply theories and knowledge learned in the classroom in a variety of professional settings. In addition to providing exposure to the activities and expectations of a real-world workplace, internship experiences help students develop their network of professional contacts.


To determine the cost of this program, please visit our Tuition page.  For a personalized estimate, please contact an admissions counselor at 610-790-8269 or at

Financial Aid

Alvernia offers loan, grants, scholarships, and payment plans. Our admissions counselors can help you identify the aid that is available to you and for your program. For more information, visit our Financial Aid page.


Alvernia University's social work program is accredited by The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

All programs offered by Alvernia University are approved by the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.



Learn More

For more information about Alvernia’s Social Work Program, please contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or, or reach out directly to:


Ohenewaa White-Ra, MSW

Instructor of Social Work
BSW Program Director
Alvernia Philadelphia Center
1355 W. Cheltenham Avenue
Melrose Park, PA 19027

Social Work

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