1 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Department of Social Work BSW Program: Frequently Asked Questions NOTE: Beginning in Fall Semester, 2014 the SIUE Social Work Program will be initiating a new admissions procedure. Students who are interested in entering the Program during this semester or later should look closely at the admissions sections below. General Questions What are the benefits of a Social Work Degree? Social work is a very broad field of study offering a wide variety of professional opportunities in areas such as child welfare, aging, mental health, juvenile services, domestic violence, health prevention and treatment, criminal justice, and education. The range of services social workers can provide can be found on the National Association of Social Workers website, at I can obtain a social service or human services degree from a College nearby that isn t CSWE-accredited, isn t that basically the same thing? A social work degree at either the baccalaureate or graduate level from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program offers students greater professional opportunities than a non-accredited degree. Additionally, students who graduate from accredited programs with a BSW are often eligible for advanced standing MSW programs, which effectively cuts a year or so off their time in a graduate program. What personal qualities should I have to be a competent social worker? Good social workers have concern for the problems that people, groups, and communities face, and an active interest in helping to resolve these problems; they display honesty and integrity, are capable of treating persons from diverse backgrounds with respect, communicate well with others and employ a high degree of critical thought in making professional decisions.
2 Isn t there an ethical code that Social Workers need to abide by? All social workers follow the Profession s Code of Ethics, which is developed by the National Association of Social Workers. The Code can be reviewed by visiting the NASW website at A more extensive discussion of the requisite skills qualified social workers should have is found elsewhere on this website, in the BSW Handbook. All students entering the Social Work Program at SIUE are required to review the BSW Behavior Policy as well as the profession s Code of Ethics, both of which detail expected behaviors of students in the Department. Pre-requisite, Supporting and Transfer Courses What courses do students need to take prior to entering the SIUE Program? Other than English 101 and 102, which must be taken prior to entering the Program, all social work students are required to have taken the following courses prior to or shortly after entering the Social Work Program at SIUE: o A Critical Thinking or Reasoning and Argumentation (RA) course o An Introductory Speech Communication Course o Biology 111 or an introductory biology course with a strong human biology component o Anthropology 111b or an introductory anthropology course with strong cultural anthropology component. o Psychology 111 (Introduction to Psychology) o Psychology 206 (Social Psychology) o History 201 (U.S. History from 1877-present) o Political Science 112 or an introductory political science course o An introductory macro- or micro-economics course o English 201 (Professional Writing) It should be noted that some of these courses are specific pre-requisites for Social Work classes, and therefore should be taken prior to the semesters these major classes are offered. In addition, all students are required to meet SIUE requirements for the Lincoln Plan (general education), and an Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) course at SIUE. What happens if I haven t taken some of these courses? Interested students should contact the BSW Program Director regarding their progress in meeting outside courses, and determine a schedule for completing these courses. As stated above, while all supporting courses do not need to be completed prior to admission, as many as possible should be, especially since some are pre-requisites for required social work courses. Students able to take summer classes may be capable of catching up easier than those not able to take classes in summer.
3 I ve taken a human sexuality course already; is this OK for the biology requirement? Since much of the knowledge for social work practice is based on various elements of human biology, we require a broad-based overview. More specific courses such as human sexuality or anatomy and physiology are not global enough to fit this requirement. Likewise, a very broad biology class that includes human biology with plant or animal biology or other such issues would probably not provide enough human biology content to qualify. I ve taken a few social work courses at my college; can these be transferred? The Program accepts social work courses only from accredited CSWE Programs. Students may be asked to submit syllabi of courses, since there is not always a good match between the transferred course and the SIUE BSW equivalent. Other university Social Work programs may also have a different course sequencing than ours, so it may be a challenge to graduate in the expected time period, especially since we only offer required courses one semester each year. The Program and Curriculum Can you tell me a bit about the SIUE BSW Program? The Program at SIUE is fairly small in size (approximately eighty or so BSW students, and a similar number of MSW students), which allows for personal contact with professors and the students in a particular cohort. The vast majority of Social Work courses are taught by tenure-track faculty who are active researchers and have attained a Ph.D. in Social Work or a closely-related profession. The Program follows standards set by the Council on Social Work Education. Information on both the BSW and MSW Programs are provided on our website, located at the following web address; What type of curriculum will I have once I get into the Program? The BSW Program has a standard curriculum model that provides a generalist overview of the profession. All students take several introductory courses, four practice courses, two human behavior in the social environment classes, two policy courses, a research and a statistics class, and two field placement courses. In addition, students need to take three social work or equivalent electives in specific fields of practice areas (e.g., child welfare, mental health, disabilities, health care).
4 How are these classes provided? The core major sequence is two years and only begins in the fall semester. Since most major courses are only offered during either the spring or fall semester, and upper-level classes are built on previous courses, students must take classes in the proper sequence. The standard sequence for students is located elsewhere on this website, as well as at the end of this FAQ, and includes 3-5 social work courses for each semester during a student s junior and senior years. Failing to register for or dropping any of the courses required in a specific semester will put the student behind a full year. In order to ensure timely progress through the Program, it is essential that students meet with the BSW Program Director prior to registration for their junior year. Can I take summer classes? Many students take summer classes, either to ensure that they can graduate on time, or to lighten the load during other semesters. Summer courses, however, are not required. Students may take courses outside SUIE that can be transferred in, but must first check to make sure that the substitute course is transferable. The Program offers a very limited selection of required undergraduate Social Work courses during the summer semester. Importantly, students cannot catch up during the summers. In other words, students entering the Program in spring semester and wanting to graduate in a year-and-ahalf (considering all supporting and pre-requisite courses are taken) are not able to do this, since the Program only begins in Fall Semester. Can I take a minor? Social work students are not required to take a minor, and many don t. Those students who take a minor that is related to the Profession will have the three social work electives waived. Students wanting to know whether their proposed minor will be accepted in lieu of these electives should contact the BSW Program Director. How many hours do students need to complete in order to graduate with a BSW degree? SIUE requires all students to have at least 124 hours in order to be eligible to graduate with an undergraduate degree. 124 hours is also the Social Work requirement. All students should monitor their own schedules in order to ensure that they will have the required number of hours and courses for graduation, as well as make sure they are meeting all other University requirements.
5 Admissions Process (Students starting the Program in Fall, 2014 or a later year) I am planning on coming into the Social Work Program, but still have to finish other classes, and am hoping to enter the Program in Fall of 2014 (or later). Students beginning the social work two-year sequence in Fall 2014 will go through a revised admissions procedure. These students will apply to the Program between November 2013 and January 31, 2014, and submit admission materials that are available either on the Social Work website or from the Department Office (1306 Peck Hall). These materials shall include 1) a personal statement of interest, and 2) GPA and transcript information, along with required courses that have not been taken, and the student plans for these courses. In February of each year the BSW Curriculum and Planning Committee will review applicant materials, and will make decisions about student admissions. Students may only be declared as Social Work majors after they have completed this process. The Program may continue to accept students for Fall admission after this date pending space in the Program. What will be the basis for admission into the Program? All applicants will need to have completed English 101 and 102, and need to have established a 2.5 GPA in order to be declared and begin the Fall major classes. The BSW Curriculum and Planning Committee will also consider non-social Work course completion as well as the quality of personal statements. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the Program Director prior to the Jan. 31 deadline date to discuss the Program. All students who haven t met with the Program Director prior to this date should do so ASAP following it, in order to develop a course schedule for their time in the Program. I want to come into the Program, but didn t know about the January 31 st application date. Am I out of luck for the year? Students can still apply after the deadline period, but are only admitted on a space availability basis. If the Program is full, students will be informed of this. They may keep their application on file and remain on the waiting list should other students decide to change majors, or have their GPA drop below the 2.5 requirement. When will I know if I ve been admitted into the Program for the following Fall Semester? All students will receive notice from the Department by the beginning of March. This will allow students time to figure out their registration needs for the Fall Semester.
6 I m somewhat unclear about the new admissions policy, and whether I can submit application materials now or wait. Students who would like clarification about the new admissions procedure, or where they fall considering the courses they have already taken, should set up a meeting with the Program Director Dr. O Brien. His contact information is included below. For students who live a distance from the University, they can make contacts via . If I am not admitted into the Program, will I be informed why, and will I have an opportunity to appeal the decision. All qualified students have a right to be informed of why they have not been admitted into the Program, as well as a right to file an appeal with the Department BSW Curriculum and Planning Committee. What if I am admitted into the Program, but then change my mind and declare a different major? Students in this situation are asked to contact the Program Director as soon as possible about this, since other students may be waiting to enter the Program. Can I take Social Work courses if I have not applied for or been admitted into the Program? Students are encouraged to take SW 200 prior to admission into the Program, as this will help them decide if they are interested in the major. Our elective courses and diversity course (SW 390) are also open to non-majors. Other major courses, however, are only open to majors, though in rare situations the instructor and BSW Program Director may choose to waive this requirement. Matriculating Through the Program What is the process of registering for classes once I get into the Program? Students who completed the application process and been accepted into the Social Work BSW Program for the following Fall Semester will be declared, and are assigned to a College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) advisor. The advisor meets with the student prior to registration, goes over his/her curriculum plan, sets up a schedule for the semester, and gives the student his/her PIN number, which is required for registering in the Banner system. Students then register themselves, and ensure that all holds are taken care of. Students who have difficulties with registration, or who require a waiver, should see the CAS advisor or BSW Program Director.
7 What if my GPA goes below a 2.5? Students who have GPAs under 2.5 at the end of a semester after being declared in the major are placed on academic probation for a semester (either spring or fall, whichever follows most closely). Students have one semester to bring their GPA over 2.5, and are required to communicate often with both their mentor and the BSW Program Director. If students do not attain the 2.5 GPA, they are removed from the Program, although they have a right to appeal this decision. Students may reapply once their GPA rises to 2.5 or above. All students must have a 2.5 GPA upon graduating from the Program. Students must also have a 2.5 GPA prior to beginning a practicum placement. All BSW students should be aware that entrance criteria for the SIUE MSW Program (as well as many others) is a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. I m having problems in a required Social Work class, and I m afraid of getting a C or D; how might that impact me? Students getting a D or below in a required major course will need to retake the class with a higher grade in order to graduate with a BSW degree, as C or better is required for all required Social Work courses. While a C won t necessarily hurt a student s progress through the BSW Program, it may impair his/her ability to get into an MSW Program, as many graduate programs (including the SIUE Program) expect students to have at least of B in core Social Work classes. I know that students have both an advisor and a mentor; what is the difference between the two? Advisors attached to the College of Arts and Sciences assist all undergraduate students with ensuring that they are taking the correct courses and developing a course schedule. Mentors, who are faculty members in the social work department, aren t directly involved with class registration, but rather are to meet with students periodically to discuss issues related to the student s professional development, such as career goals, preparedness for the profession, and long-term professional and education options. Mentors, along with the BSW Program Director, have primary responsibility for overseeing completion of student portfolios, and assist with resolution of any concerns students may encounter in classes or their field placement. What is the process of preparing for field placements; and who arranges these? Students take two field courses, in the fall and spring of their senior year. These placements within agencies allow students to engage in the day-to-day work within a professional setting. For the vast majority of students, these will be at the same placement setting. Placements are set up during spring semester of the student s junior year, and this process is supervised by the Director of Practica, Dr. Carol Wesley. The Program has existing relationships with a wide range of agencies in the region.
8 Can I complete my field placement and work at the same time? Students complete a minimum of 400 hours under MSW supervision in their placement settings over two semesters. Class schedules usually allow for two or three full days per week in field. While the number of hours per week in a practicum can be negotiated between the student and the supervisor, it is very difficult to complete coursework and practicum while working full-time. Evening and weekend field placements as well as paid practica are extraordinarily rare, and thus should not be expected. If you have questions regarding your field placement, you may contact Dr. Carol Wesley who is the Director of Practica. Her address is I still have a number of courses other than those required to take during my Senior year; is this likely to be a problem? It can be. During their senior year, all students take Field Practicums both fall and spring Semesters. Students generally take Practicums Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and classes Tuesdays and Thursdays. This means that their schedules are quite full, and they generally can t add classes that don t fall on a Tues/Thur. schedule. It is suggested that students keep the most flexible courses (e.g., IS class, electives) for their senior year. I m concerned about taking too many classes my Senior year, especially since it might hurt my GPA. Can I take Summer courses after my Practicum semesters in order to lighten the load, and graduate in Summer instead of Spring? If so, will this hurt my ability to get into a Graduate Program? Students can and often do choose to go this route. Classes such as the IS course or a social work elective, or even SW 390 could be held over until the Summer after the spring and fall senior semesters. Students can still apply for an MSW Program that begins in the following fall semester (though not one that begins in the summer), as the requirement is that all required undergraduate courses are completed by the initiation of a graduate program, and these courses presumably would be. Spreading courses out to the final summer may help a student s GPA as opposed to cramming a lot of classes in. Students do need to make certain that any classes held over until summer will be offered. What is the Senior Assignment in the Social Work Program like? Beginning in spring, 2011 the Senior Assignment in Social Work is a portfolio completed by the student and including both completed products (papers, assignments, etc) in the important areas of the curriculum, along with self-reflections about these papers and student learning in the Program. These portfolios are completed toward the end of the student s final spring semester, and they are graded on a pass/fail basis by at least two social work faculty members.
9 When should I complete a Graduate Check, and what is the process for this? Graduation checks are developed by the Registrar s Office at SIUE. A graduation check is completed in order ensure that students have taken all required courses, and, for those courses that require a specific grade, that they have attain this grade. Students are strongly recommended to request a graduation check prior to the midpoint in the fall semester of their senior year. What should I do if I think I m interested in applying for the MSW Program in the Department, or at another University? Students who are interested in exploring the MSW Program at SIUE should first check the Department website. Updated information on the MSW, requirements for admission, and application forms, are all included on the site. Students who have questions about the Program should contact the MSW Program Director, Dr. Bryan Duckham What if I need clarification about any of these issues or have a question that isn t included here? Your first point of contact is the BSW Program Director, Dr. Gerald (Jerry) O Brien. His address is You may also contact Dr. Kathleen Tunney, the Department Chair. Her address is
10 Social Work Major Course Sequencing Following is the Course Sequencing for Required Social Work Classes at SIUE. The courses listed below are only offered during the Semester noted, and a different sequencing is not possible within our Program. Since classes during previous semesters are pre-requisites for those that follow, students must take the classes in this order. This listing does not include supporting and pre-requisite courses. It also does not include Social Work 390 (Diversity), which is a floating course, English 201 (Professional Writing) or Social Work Electives. Fall Semester Junior Year Social Work 200 Social Work 201 Social Work 211 Social Work 302 Introduction to Social Work. It is recommended this course be taken prior to the student s junior year. Since it is an introductory course, it will give students a better understanding of the field, and whether they want to proceed with the major. Introduction to Social Work II. Interviewing in Social Work. Human Behavior in the Social Environment I Spring Semester Junior Year Social Work 301 Social Work 303 Social Work 315 Social Work 316 Social Work Policy Human Behavior in the Social Environment II Practice I (Individuals and Families) Practice II (Groups) Fall Semester Senior Year Social Work 400 Social Work 480 Social Work 482 Practice III (Communities and Organizations) Research in Social Work Practicum I Spring Semester Senior Year Social Work 401 Social Work 481 Social Work 483 Policy Analysis Statistics in Social Work Practicum II