Social work is a dynamic profession dedicated to the improvement of social functioning in an ever-changing world.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do I want to help people? Do I want to make a difference in making life better for others? Do I care about injustices and oppression? Do I want to have a wide variety of options in my career? Am I interested in growth and development for myself and others? Do I want a major that will clearly prepare me for a career in a helping profession?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, social work may be the right choice for you.
What is social work?
Social work can be described in many ways. The U.S. Department of Labor defines social work as:
“… a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people’s lives. Social workers help people function the best way they can in their environment, deal with their relationships, and solve personal and family problems.”
The National Association of Social Worker’s Code of Ethics states:
“The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty.”
Some people describe social work by the jobs we do. A few of these jobs include:
- Helping children in schools to better cope with the stresses of growing up so that they can be better learners.
- Providing persons in hospitals with the support needed to cope with chronic, acute or terminal illnesses.
- Assessing and treating individuals with mental illness or substance abuse problems.
- Developing programs that work to eliminate child abuse, homelessness, poverty and violence.
- Raising funds or writing grants to support programs for children with developmental disabilities.
- Running support groups for family caregivers of aging parents with disabling diseases.
No matter what the definition, social workers are people who care — who care enough to learn the skills of helping; develop the knowledge to help effectively; and accept the values of social work that embrace diversity and respect for the dignity of all people.
What is the curriculum at Shippensburg?
Shippensburg University offers a bachelor of social work degree. The social work program is organized by learning objectives and competencies that are integrated throughout the curriculum. A liberal arts foundation sets the stage for critical thinking and the ability to draw knowledge about the human condition from a wide variety of disciplines. The social work specific curriculum builds upon this foundation in a sequence of courses designed to prepare the entry-level social worker for practice. These courses prepare students to know about and to be able to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.
Social work courses blend theoretical and practical components throughout the plan of study. Many courses require client, agency or community contacts. In the senior year, students have a field practicum and seminar. The arrangement of the field practicum is coordinated by a faculty member. This capstone experience is designed to integrate theory and practice with agency-based supervision and a concurrent seminar course. Students are also encouraged to use their elective hours to earn a minor in a related interest area (e.g., language, gerontology, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, ethnic studies, coaching) to name a few of the options.
The social work major courses include:
- SWK 102 Social Work in Social Welfare
- SWK 150 Human Relations Lab
- SWK 250 Assessing Individuals in the Social Environment
- SWK 265 Understanding Diversity
- SWK 270 Social Work Practice with Individuals
- SWK 275 Social Work Skills for Working with Groups
- SWK 327 Social Work Skills for Working with Families
- SWK 340 Assessing Organizations and Communities
- SWK 360 Research Techniques for Social Work
- SWK 370 Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities
- SWK 388 Preparation for Field Practicum
- SWK 389,390,391 Field Work in Social Work and Seminar in Social Work Methods
- SWK 420 Gender Issues for Helping Professionals
- SWK 450 Social Welfare Policies and Services
Why choose Shippensburg for a social work major?
There are three reasons—personalized educational experience, the dedication of an excellent faculty and accreditation.
Personalized educational experience: Becoming a social work major at Shippensburg University means you are joining a community. Our department has a student resource room, mailboxes for each student, active student organizations that plan social and professional activities and many opportunities for informal interaction with faculty and other students.
Dedicated faculty: The social work faculty is highly dedicated to teaching and is genuinely interested in the growth and development of our students. Faculty members bring rich and diverse practice backgrounds—diversity from life experience in racial, cultural heritage and international perspectives. Social work faculty members provide leadership on campus as well as in the professional community in a wide variety of consulting, research and advocacy roles.
Accreditation: Our social work program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a national council that sets standards for and monitors social work educational programs. This accreditation assures students a quality educational experience, designed and implemented to prepare them for entry-level social work practice. Graduating from a CSWE accredited program grants you privileges in employment opportunities, licensing and in advanced standing for graduate school.
What are the job opportunities?
Job opportunities vary widely. In addition to working directly with people, indirect roles such as supervision, planning, development and management are employment possibilities. While some positions focus on people’s problems through individual, family or group intervention, other positions focus on system change and development. Employers in the region regularly recruit our graduates because of our program’s excellent reputation. Salaries vary according to the field of practice, but are comparable to other human service professions. Social workers are employed in child welfare, health, aging, mental health, corrections, schools, business and industry, substance abuse, domestic violence, preschools, mental retardation and family service, to name some of the options.
Where can I get more information?
For specific program information, contact:
Department of Social Work and Gerontology
382 Shippen Hall
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257-2299