Department of Social Work

114 W. Rosedale Avenue
Michele Belliveau, Chairperson


ASSOCIATE PROFESSORS: Belliveau, Dente, Tully


The social work program is accredited on the baccalaureate level as a professional degree in social work by the Council on Social Work Education.

The mission of the undergraduate social work program is to prepare students for beginning social work practice and lifelong learning. To this end, the program teaches the knowledge, values, and skills of generalist social work, with an emphasis on self-evaluation, critical thinking, information literacy, and understanding the intersections of people and their environments. Students apply micro, mezzo, and macro frameworks for assessment and intervention through experiential learning that includes two field placements over the course of three semesters. The program prepares students to adhere to the ethical standards of social work, to advocate for social and economic justice, and to promote the strengths and well-being of diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students graduate with the core competencies appropriate to entry-level generalist social work as well as the foundation for graduate social work education.

The B.S.W. program has three phases: the first is the pre-candidacy courses along with their general education requirements; the second occurs when students formally apply for candidacy, which is the professional social work track where advanced course work and the junior field experience are completed; and the third is at the conclusion of the spring junior year when students successfully complete a competency exam and enter the senior field experience. The bachelor of social work is conferred on undergraduates who complete all the academic requirements of the program and West Chester University. The B.S.W. is recognized as the first professional level of social work practice.

Goals for the B.S.W. Program

The undergraduate social work program goals are linked to core practice competencies as set forth in the Council on Social Work Education’s 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS). With the liberal arts as its foundation, B.S.W. graduates are prepared to engage in entry-level social work practice through mastery of these ten core competencies. As such, the department’s goal is that, by completion of the program, students are prepared to

  1. engage in evidence-based, entry-level social work practice with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations within a multicultural society;
  2. practice according to the principles, values, and ethics that guide the social work profession;
  3. influence social policies with the goal of alleviating poverty, oppression, and social injustice as well as advocating for human rights;
  4. indentify and affect the bio-psycho-social, spiritual, and cultural functioning of people;
  5. evidence practice from a culturally sensitive perspective that recognizes and appreciates diverse cultures, particularly those that differ from one’s own.

The B.S.W. program has the following core competencies:

  1. Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly
  2. Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice
  3. Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
  4. Engage diversity and difference in practice
  5. Advance human rights and social and economic justice
  6. Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
  7. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment
  8. Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services
  9. Respond to contexts that shape practice
  10. Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities

All students must demonstrate attitudes and professional behaviors consistent with the values and ethics of professional social work and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Social Work Code of Ethics.

Policy for Social Work Majors

Majors are required to meet with their social work adviser to plan an integrative course of study, to select courses prior to scheduling, to discuss career opportunities, and to keep abreast of departmental activities. Handbooks are provided to help students be aware of requirements and procedures in the department. Social work majors should be aware of social work prerequisite courses and must see their adviser before registering for classes.

Academic Promotion Policy

Social work students who have a grade of D, F, or NG (no grade) in required courses must repeat these courses and achieve a satisfactory grade before entering the junior field placement. Not achieving at least a C- in social work required courses is considered grounds for dismissal from the social work program. Students must achieve an overall GPA of 2.5 in order to be accepted into candidacy and to begin their first field practicum. Students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in order to graduate with a B.S.W. that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Department-Related Activities

The Social Work Club is a student organization that elects officers and sets a yearly agenda. The activities of this organization are open to all students. The honor society, Phi Alpha, is sponsored by the Department of Social Work and is the Chi Gamma Chapter of the National Social Work Honor Society. Eligibility requires an overall GPA of 3.0 and 3.25 in required social work courses. Active Minds is a social work organization open to all majors and focuses on mental health awareness of college students. Rotaract is another social work organization that is sponsored by the local Rotary Club and focuses on international and national issues that affect groups, families, or individuals. For more information, see the Student Activities and Service Organization sections of the catalog.

Department Field Placements and Volunteer Experiences

Social work students are expected to provide a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer work, approved by their adviser, as a requirement to be accepted into candidacy. During the second semester of the junior year and in both semesters of the senior year, students will be placed in various social work agencies (see partial listing of social work field placements).

Students must have completed SWO 200, 220, 225, 300, 320, 332, and 350 with a cumulative average of 2.50 before they register to take the junior field placement in the spring semester.

INSURANCE. Students are also required to carry liability insurance coverage during the second semester of their junior and the entire senior year. Students may join NASW and become a member of a national social work organization and receive liability insurance at a reduced rate. Students need to apply for child abuse clearance and state police background check in the fall semester of their junior year prior to being matched with a field placement. Field sites may have additional requirements of students prior to the start of their field placement.

Social Work Field Placements
Below is a sampling of settings where students have been placed to fulfill their field experience requirements:
ARC of Chester County
Bucks County Children and Youth
Chester County Children, Youth, and Families
Chester County Intermediate Unit
Chester County Juvenile Probation
Chester County Office of the Aging
Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC)
County Office of Services for Older Adults
Delaware County Adult Probation and Parole
Department of Human Services
Devereux Foundation
Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County
Family Services of Chester County
Friend’s Association
Philadelphia School District
Resources for Human Development
Ronald McDonald House
Salvation Army
The Garage Community Youth Center
University of Pennsylvania Health Systems
Values Into Action
Vitas Hospice

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet University requirements for admission. After successfully completing the first year of pre-candidacy social work course requirements, students may apply for candidacy for the professional social work track.

For admittance to senior field placement, students must pass the junior competency exam requirements in social work and fulfill the requirements outlined on the guidance record sheet.

In compliance with the Council on Social Work Education, the national accrediting body for social work, the program only accepts upper-division social work courses from accredited programs that correspond with West Chester University B.S.W. program sequencing. No social work credits are granted for life and work experience.


120 semester hours

  1. 1. General ed. requirements, see pages 38-44 (48 semester hours)
    (Must include a course in the following areas: BIO; HIS; LIT/CLS; PHI; PSC; PSY ; SOC)
    (Students are required to take nine semester hours of writing emphasis courses. The social work curriculum includes two [SWO 300 and 351]. Students need to choose an additional writing emphasis course to fulfill this general education requirement.)
  2. Additional liberal arts foundation course (15 semester hours)
    To support the liberal arts foundation and biopsychosocial perspective in social work, these courses are also required of social work majors:
    PHI, PSC, PSY, SOC, and six semester hours of language. Students may request to take culture cluster courses to meet some or all of this requirement; adviser permission is required.
  3. Social work pre-candidacy courses (12 semester hours)
    Must earn a minimum of 2.50 GPA in these courses to be accepted into candidacy:
    SWO 200, 220, 225 (also meets interdisciplinary requirement), and 300
  4. Social work professional foundation (45 semester hours)
    Students must maintain a 2.50 GPA in these courses:
    SWO 320, 321, 332, 350, 351, 375, 395, 431, 432, 450, 451, 495, and 496

In addition, continued matriculation at the professional level of the B.S.W. program requires that all students

  • maintain an overall GPA of 2.00 or better in the general education requirements;
  • maintain an average 2.50 GPA in the required liberal arts foundation courses;
  • obtain a 2.50 GPA to graduate from the social work program;
  • adhere to field practice requirements in accordance with the Undergraduate Social Work Field Manual; and
  • Comply with NASW Code of Ethics and the professional behaviors established by the social work program.

Transfer Students

Students from other colleges and universities who desire to transfer to the West Chester University baccalaureate social work program should apply through the University’s Office of Admissions, which will coordinate the credit evaluations of social work courses with the baccalaureate social work program director. Transfer students are required to make application for candidacy.
A transfer credit analysis, listing all transfer credits accepted by the University, will be sent to the Department of Social Work and also directly to the student. The B.S.W. program director may accept social work transfer credits from CSWE-accredited undergraduate social work programs.
The field practicum and seminar are concurrent courses in the WCU undergraduate social work program; therefore, they are not transferable. The policies and requirements for the field practice are explicated in the Baccalaureate Program Field Instruction Manual. All other social work courses not meeting the requirements of the program may be accepted as SWO 199 course credit hours.

Internal Transfer Students

Internal transfer students meet the same standards for the program as other students.

Note: The Department of Social Work offers courses in the summer to assist transfer students to begin as a junior when they enter West Chester University in the fall. It is crucial that all transfer students be advised by the undergraduate program chair before the first session of summer.



Symbol: SWO


200 Introduction to Social Welfare (3) An introduction to the social work profession, this course emphasizes the historical, economic, political, and philosophical foundations of the social welfare system in the United States, social policy, and social services. It introduces a framework for the critical analysis of social welfare policy from a system perspective.

220 Introduction to Generalist Practice (3) In this course, students are introduced to the knowledge base, values, and skills of the social work profession that guides practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and societal systems.

225 Race Relations (3) The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of race, ethnicity, and culture. By integrating findings from history, political science, sociology, and social work, students are introduced to cultural differences as they affect family life, the development of law, and the nature and magnitude of racism in our society. The overarching goal of this course is to encourage the student to embark on the process of becoming culturally competent.
Diverse communities course
Approved interdisciplinary course

300 Family Systems (3) This course is an introduction to the family from a systems theory perspective. The course includes discussion of historical and contemporary families: definitions, types, social functions, and life cycle overview. Particular attention is paid to diversity in order to highlight variations in family forms and styles along the lines of race, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. Writing emphasis course.


320 Generalist Social Work Practice I (3) Students apply their knowledge of the strengths and ecological perspectives to the processes of engagement, assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation and termination for social work practice with individuals and families. Social work majors only.

321 Generalist Social Work Practice II (3) Students apply their knowledge of the strengths and ecological perspectives to the processes of engagement, assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, and termination for social work practice with groups, organizations, and communities. Social work majors only.

332 Social Welfare Policies and Services (3) This course introduces students to policy analysis. A main focus is an examination of how the U.S. government supports or inhibits social and economic justice through social welfare, social security, social policy, and social services.

350 Human Behavior in Social Environment I (3) This course examines the life cycle from pre-natal development through young adulthood with an emphasis on micro and mezzo theories of human behavior from a strengths and ecological systems perspective. The course is designed to provide the theoretical foundation that informs the knowledge and skill bases of the generalist social work practitioner.

351 Human Behavior in Social Environment II (3) This course examines the life cycle from middle adulthood through older adulthood and death and dying with an emphasis on mezzo and macro theories of human behavior from a strengths and ecological systems perspective.
Diverse communities course. Writing emphasis course.

375 Field Experience I (6) Junior-year field experience for the social work major in an approved setting and under the supervision of an approved field instructor. Social work majors only.

395  Junior Seminar (3) The integration of knowledge, values, and skills within the theoretical framework of generalist social work practice. This course is the beginning foundation for students to examine ways social work theory and values are integrated into the reality of practice.

431 Methods of Social Inquiry (3) The course introduces students to qualitative and quantitative research, ethical, and cultural issues in research, and fosters critical thinking in evaluating existing research. Students learn how to conduct a research project and the skills of social work practice evaluation.

432 Advanced Policy Practice (3) The relationship between social policy and social work practice is strengthened as students are taught the concept of policy practice or how to develop, influence, and implement social policy in their social work practice everyday.

450 Field Experience II (6) Senior field experience for the social work major in an approved setting and under the supervision of an approved field instructor. Senior social work majors only.

451 Field Experience III (6) Senior field experience for the social work major in an approved setting and under the supervision of an approved field instructor. Senior social work majors only.

495 Social Work Senior Seminar I (3) Integration of field and classroom experiences in discussing the application of the generalist model to the helping process. Emphasis is on all levels of practice (individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities). Social work majors only.

496 Social Work Senior Seminar II (3) Integration of field and classroom experiences in discussing the application of the generalist model to the helping process. Emphasis is on advocacy, social justice, and evidence-based practice. Social work majors only.


222 Social Work and the Law (3) A study of legislation and case law affecting social welfare programs to develop an understanding of legal reasoning and key areas of legal knowledge.

410 Independent Studies in Social Work (1-3) Special research projects or practice in social work. Juniors and seniors only. Permission of department chair required.

421 Mental Health and Social Work (3) This course introduces students to the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Specific practice skills for social work practice, the range of mental health services, and relevant social policies are covered.

423 Child Welfare Practice and Policy (3) Emphasis is placed on assessment of and understanding child abuse and neglect, the long-term effects of child maltreatment, how to engage families in which child maltreatment is an identified issue, the child protective service system, and relevant policies.
490 Seminar in Social Work (3) In-depth topics in social work offered to complement the undergraduate program’s field practicum.

490 Seminar in Social Work (3) In-depth topics in social work offered to complement the undergraduate program's field practicum.