2020-2021 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog 
    Feb 28, 2024  
2020-2021 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work BSW

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College of Health Sciences and Education
First accredited in 1975
Department Chair Susan McDonald, PhD


James Calderone, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, AB Wilkes University; MSSW University of Wisconsin-Madison; EdD Temple University

Viviana X. Lucabeche, Associate Professor of Social Work, BA Muhlenberg College; MSW University of Pennsylvania; PhD Widener University

Susan McDonald, Associate Professor of Social Work, BA Kings College; MSW Marywood University; PhD Fordham University

David Hage, Assistant Professor of Social Work, BSW Misericordia University; MSW Marywood University


The mission of the social work program is to prepare students for entry-level generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations. Inherent within this mission is a commitment to the development of BSW graduates who are dedicated to improving social, economic, and environmental conditions among diverse populations; and to promoting the Sisters of Mercy values of mercy, service, justice, and hospitality.

Curriculum Policy Statement

The social work program curriculum is organized around the primary goal of preparing competent baccalaureate-level generalist practitioners. It evolved institutionally from the Sisters of Mercy’s own call to compassionate service through the ministries of teaching and healing and developed according to those mandates for curricular content established by the Council on Social Work Education. These mandates include a liberal arts perspective, which is also the base for all professional programs in the university, and a professional foundation composed of required social work courses and field practicums designed to provide an integrated learning experience. This experience intends to educate students in the critical areas of social work values and ethics, diversity, social and economic justice, at-risk populations, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policies and services, social work practice, and research.

Program Goals

The goals of the social work program are:

  1. To educate and promote the development of problem-oriented, undergraduate generalist social work practitioners whose knowledge and skills base enables them to assess and address problematic situations among diverse individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations.
  2. To foster students’ ability to integrate the institutional and professional ideals of social justice and intervene on behalf of those discriminated against and oppressed.
  3. To enhance student’s critical thinking and problem solving skills for contextual understanding and intervention with all social systems.
  4. To prepare students for graduate studies and foster commitment to a process of continued professional growth and development.

Program Objectives

The social work program objectives reflect mandated competencies and practice behaviors included in the Council on Social Work Education’s 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. (See Student Handbook and Field Instruction Manual.)

Social Work Competencies

  1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
  2. Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
  3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
  4. Engage in Practice-Informed Research and Research-Informed Practice
  5. Engage in Policy Practice
  6. Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  7. Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Field Instruction

Field instruction is the principle means through which students demonstrate application of knowledge and skills. Offered in a variety of settings in both the public and private sectors, field instruction presents students with a structured educational experience that enables them to integrate classroom information, learn about the structure and operation of social work agencies, and experience actual practice situations. Students receive a minimum of 600 hours of supervised field experience through assignments in both their junior (200 hours) and senior (400 hours) years.

Social work field instruction is limited to social work majors who have successfully completed a specific sequence of courses and have been formally admitted into the social work program. Transportation to and from field placement is the student’s responsibility.


Although students who meet university admission criteria will be admitted into the social work major as first year students for the purpose of academic advising and support, formal program admission does not occur until the end of the second semester of the sophomore year. The following criteria will be used in determining formal admission:

  1. Personal interview with a member of the full-time social work faculty;
  2. Completion of a minimum of 45 credit hours, including all first year and sophomore social work core courses listed in the university catalog;
  3. Attainment of a minimum grade of C (2.00) in all Social Work (SWK) courses required for the Social Work major.
  4. Attainment of an overall G.P.A. of 2.50 and a minimum of 2.50 in SWK core courses;
  5. Acceptance of and sensitivity toward diversities among people;
  6. Emotional and mental maturity and stability for effective social work practice;
  7. Values, ethics, and behaviors consistent with those of social work;
  8. A personal statement and narrative response.

Any student not fulfilling the criteria above will be duly notified by the department chair of program probation or dismissal. Students placed on probation will be allowed one semester for grade replacements and/or other corrective actions. Students dismissed from the program will not be readmitted. Specific procedures for admissions can be found in the student handbook and field instruction manual. Excerpts of these policies and procedures can also be requested from the admission’s office.


Continuation in the major requires that students maintain a 2.50 GPA in the social work major courses and a minimum overall GPA of 2.50. All SWK courses for the social work major must be completed with a minimum grade of “C”. One of the two core courses in the natural sciences (indicated with a double asterisk (**)) must be in a life science field (either biology, or an equivalent subject in transfer).

Transfer Students

Both internal and external transfer students must first interview with the department chair or designee prior to formal admission into the major. The program and its policies will be discussed and an evaluation will be made of transfer credits. Two recommendations from individuals capable of assessing the student’s character and potential for the BSW degree are required. Formal program admission occurs after successful completion of one full semester in the major and prior to enrollment in SWK 371 Field Instruction I . Transfer students must also meet all standards expected of incoming first-year students.

Curriculum Options

Flexibility within the major exists to allow students to elect minors in such areas as gerontology, addictions counseling, psychology, and religious studies.

The social work program is entering its fifth decade of accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education. Graduates may be eligible for advanced standing in numerous graduate schools of social work throughout the country, thus potentially decreasing the length of time and cost of graduate school.

BSW graduates may apply to take the BSW licensing exam through the Pennsylvania Licensure System (PALS).

Sequence of Required Courses

First Year

Total Credits 15

Second Semester

Total Credits 15

Sophomore Year

First Semester

Total Credits 16

Second Semester

Total Credits 15

Junior Year

Senior Year

First Semester

Choose One

Total Credits 13 (or 16)

Second Semester

Choose One

Total Credits 16 (or 19)

Total Required for Graduation 121 Credits

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