Social Work

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The Bachelor of Science Degree with a Major in Social Work (BSW) prepares students for generalist practice in a variety of settings. It also prepares students for graduate school. Students who have a BSW from an accredited program are generally eligible for advanced standing in master of social work (MSW) programs. This means that after earning a BSW, a student may achieve an MSW in one additional calendar year.

The mission of PSU’s Social Work Program is to prepare bachelor level social workers to utilize the knowledge, skills, and values of the social work profession in order to enhance the lives of individuals, families, groups, and communities and to promote social and economic justice locally, nationally, and globally.  

To that end, the PSU Social Work Program aims to prepare students for:

  • Generalist practice at all levels of the social environment and across the lifespan
  • Utilization of the professional self which includes adherence to the Code of Ethics, professional demeanor, effective communication skills, self-awareness, and self-care
  • Critical examination of and contribution to research, policies, and practices
  • Living and working in a diverse environment
  • Promoting human rights and social justice
  • Graduate education
  • Licensure

Additional information

  • Career Options
  • Licensure
  • CSWE Accreditation
  • Social Work Faculty
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Terminology

Where are social workers employed?

  • Mental Health
  • Child Welfare
  • Addictions
  • Probation and Parole
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Disability Settings
  • Home Health
  • Nursing Homes and Assisted Living
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
All states require licensure at some level for social workers. Kansas licenses social workers at three levels: LBSW, LMSW, and LSCSW. All levels of licensure may be found in a variety of practice settings, but some settings may require the LMSW and LSCSW. The LSCSW is a  "clinical license" which will allow a social worker to go into private practice. In addition, in Kansas, a social worker may choose to become dually licensed with the LBSW and an addictions license, the LAC. This will allow the social worker to work in certain addiction settings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What type of careers will a degree in Social Work prepare me for? What else might I do if down the road I no longer want to be a social worker?

A: So many options! Social work is a growing field, and graduates work in many, many settings, including, but not limited to mental health, child welfare, addictions, corrections, long-term care (elderly), hospitals, schools, home health, hospice, and many more. In Kansas, one must have a degree in social work from an accredited program to be a social worker. With a BSW from an accredited program, one is eligible to enter an MSW program, which can be completed in one calendar year.

One of the nice things about the social work profession is that if one no longer likes what they are doing, they don’t have to leave the profession; they can make a big change while staying in the field. For example, a social worker might work in child welfare for some time and then later decide to work with older adults. Later, they may decide to work with people with addictions. Some people work at the bachelor level for a number of years and then pursue a master’s degree and practice at a different level. 

However, if one wanted to leave the field altogether, they could put their people skills and problem-solving skills to use in any number of settings. 

Q: Is it possible to complete the program within four years?

A: Absolutely. For our BSW program, students take 4 semesters of social work courses, but we are flexible about how they do that. Students don't have to have all their gen eds/pathways courses completed before taking social work courses, and students can go full or part-time. Students apply to the program after taking Intro to SW and Basic Helping Skills. Some students transfer those in; most take them here and apply the semester that they are completing those classes. We walk students through the process. 

Q: What do most students select as their minor?

A: A minor isn’t required for the social work major, but some students sometimes choose a minor in areas such as psychology, justice studies, youth and adolescence, public health, Spanish, or political science. 

Some students plan to seek addictions licensure as an addition to their social work licensure. There is an additional course to take, and the social work practicum will be in an addictions setting. We help students plan for this if it is part of their career goals. 

Q: Will I be doing any research?

A: All social work students take a research class in which they plan and carry out research under the mentorship of a doctoral level faculty member. 

Q: Is the degree mostly class work in lectures or are there some experiential things where we get to go places and do things?

A: We love students to gain experience and complete projects that will be useful to their future. Students start out the program by completing 4 rotations at area agencies where they have exposure to settings that serve 1) children and families; 2) people who are economically disadvantaged; 3) individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and 4) older adults. Students practice interviewing skills in two of their classes. Students lead and participate in a social work student support group. All social work students complete a project that benefits the community. 

Q: I have an interest in Public Policy and Advocacy work. How will my experiences in this program help me prepare for those areas?

A: Advocacy is a key part of social work, and social work has a systems perspective that prepares students to understand policy and the way it affects the people we serve. Throughout the history of the social work profession, social workers have influenced public policy. Indeed, Frances Perkins and Henry Hopkins were instrumental advisors to President Roosevelt and influenced the New Deal legislation. Social workers are well suited to public office from local offices to national offices. Currently, there are five social workers serving in US Congress. 

Q: Are there any important “out of class” experiences I should have to build my resume?

A: Students may seek employment in agencies such as mental health centers, intellectual disability organizations, child welfare agencies, and schools. These types of jobs provide invaluable experiences. 

Q: What would it take to some day be a college professor teaching Social Work?

A: Those with an MSW and two or more years of experience may teach adjunct courses and some other faculty positions. Generally, a doctoral degree is preferred by social work programs, especially for tenure earning positions. 

Q: Is it possible to shadow a social worker to decide if I would like the work? Will I be doing any kind of an internship? 

A: Yes. Sometimes students seek out this type of experience to learn more about social work. 

In our program, students take a class called Basic Helping Skills, and a 1 credit hour field experience goes along with that. Students complete four 3-week rotations in the community at agencies that serve 1) children and families; 2) older adults; 3) people with intellectual/developmental disabilities; and 4) people who are economically disadvantaged.

Students may choose to complete an Intermediate Internship as an elective for 1-3 credit hours.

Finally, all social work students complete a 480-hour practicum their final semester. The practicum takes place in an agency under supervision of a licensed social worker. 

Q: Are there scholarships available for this program?

A: The university has some scholarships available with applications due each winter and awarded in February. 

Occasionally, students in the honor society apply for scholarships through Phi Alpha. 

Students might find something of interest in here: 

Q:  Are there any student organizations that I can join and what do they do?

A: Our program has a club called Social Work PLUS. It is open to social work students and other interested students. We have a chapter of Phi Alpha, the national honor society for social work students. Student 2 Student is a mentor group for social work students that pairs veteran students with students new to the program. Some students choose to participate in Natural Ties, an organization that facilitates friendships among college students and adults with intellectual disabilities from the community. 

Q:  What knowledge and skills are important for someone in this major?

A:  Problem solving skills, empathy, compassion, open-mindedness, passion for learning, belief in the dignity and worth of all people, writing skills. Knowledge of general psychology, human development, US politics, systems perspective, ecological theory.

Students who are new to the program might encounter some language and ideas that are new to them, but students come in with varying backgrounds and experiences. We do not assume anything about the level of social work knowledge that incoming students have. We do assume that students have prerequisite skills of reading college level material, writing papers appropriate for college level, utilizing computers, accessing information from the library, and accessing information from the internet. 

Here is a link to a document that includes terminology commonly used in social work and general information about theories upon which social work practice is based. 

SocialWorkDictionary_booklet_updated_2012_Oct23.pdfPreview the document

About History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences Department

Solving the Real-World Issues of Today and Tomorrow 

Pittsburg State University’s Department of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences consists of those specialties that have emerged as so desirable in the 21st century labor force. Students use the tools from GeographyHistoryPhilosophyPolitical ScienceCriminal JusticeSociology and Social Work programs and coursework to examine issues and to find sustainable solutions to complex problems affecting individuals, families, and society. 

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